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Sending Apology Emails: 3 Design Tips for Saying “Oops!”

Sending Apology Emails: 3 Design Tips for Saying “Oops!”

We all make mistakes. And saying sorry by sending apology emails is part of doing good business.

Whether your site went down, you sent an email with incorrect content or your users experienced some kind of technical difficulty, it’s important to know how to send an effective apology email. Email marketers know that saying sorry is key to being known as a trustworthy, responsible and humble brand.

Today, we’ll examine the art of saying sorry with these tips for designing and sending apology emails.

Saying sorry is key to being known as a trustworthy, responsible and humble brand. Click To Tweet

When to send an apology email

First things first: Before we get into email design best practices, let’s talk about when you should send an apology email. Some situations warrant an immediate, heartfelt apology, but others might not. It’s best to save your emails for the cases in which they’re truly needed so you don’t barrage your customers with constant apologies.

Some suggest sorting your mistakes into categories ranging from errors that are merely embarrassing (such as typos) to real issues (anything that might hurt not only your customers but also your business). Small mistakes may not need full apology emails, while bigger ones do.

If you made a minor mistake that doesn’t justify an entire apology email of its own, consider simply adding a few lines of text in your next scheduled marketing email to rectify the error. Some issues can also be fixed internally. For example, if you accidentally included a broken link, try redirecting the URL from the back end instead of sending a brand new email.

So when should you send an apology email? You’ll definitely want to say sorry if you made a mistake that affected customer experience. For Lucky Brand, technical difficulties on the company’s website were an issue that touched the large majority of customers — so the brand sent this apology email:

Subject line: Oops, our bad… 

apology email example

Sweaty Betty accidentally sent its email list a message that included photos and links to out-of-stock products. This was a problem that needed a public announcement to clear up any confusion.

Subject line: OOPS! We didn’t mean to send that

apology email

And here, The Grommet apologized for sending an email to the wrong segment.

Subject line: OOPS: We made a mistake

apology email example from brand

Before you start sending off apology emails left and right, take a step back to evaluate the situation and make sure a new email is actually needed. If an apology is in order, use these tips to help craft your message.

#1. Be clear and specific about the correction

If you need to make a correction to an email that’s been sent, be upfront about the change so readers aren’t confused when they receive a second message. Clear things up right from the start by crafting a strong apology email subject line.

In a correction email from True & Co, it’s easy to tell from the subject line that something went wrong. And once the email is opened, the apology is stated at the top of the message in just three sentences:

Subject line: Oops… we’re sorry. Our bestselling bra is still $29

correction email

Positioning the correction and/or apology message at the top of the email makes it nearly impossible for readers to miss. This reduces confusion and builds transparency and trust. In the example below, Rebbl does a great job of this, too.

Subject line: Oops – here’s the correct REBBL Sweepstakes link!

how to write an apology email

#2. Be humble and have a sense of humor

Showing a sense of humor is a great way to make your brand voice relatable. This can be especially valuable when issuing a correction or apology, which is one reason you see “Oops” often mentioned in apology email subject lines. This is a way of showing there’s a human voice behind the brand and expressing that mistakes happen.

This apology email from Peet’s Coffee brings a smile to your face. The photo couldn’t be more on-brand, and it gives the entire email a playful tone. And the special offer with code “Oops” makes it even better.

Subject line: Oops! We’re back online.

funny apology email

Keep your apology emails light and have a sense of humor about your mistake.

#3. Focus on the solution

All the apology emails we’ve collected here have something in common: They cut right to the chase. Keeping your apology message short means it’s more likely to get read, and it also allows you to focus on what readers actually care about: the solution. Often, this is a special discount code or promotion.

At the top of this message, Lucky Brand placed a quick apology before getting to the heart of the story: a 40% off sale. Remember, saying sorry isn’t about you. It’s about your reader, so focus on the solution that will benefit them.

Subject line: Sorry! Technically speaking, we messed up

apology email with discount

Here, Credo Beauty gets straight to the point by including a customer support link to help with any unresolved issues.

Subject line: Oops 😳

good apology email

Wrap-up: Creating apology emails

Issuing an apology doesn’t have to be painful. Just focus on getting your readers a solution as quickly and clearly as possible (bonus points for humor!) and you’re golden. If you’re in a time crunch to get your apology email in inboxes ASAP, use the BEE email editor and our HTML email templates to quickly create effective apology emails. Start designing for free today!

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Kelly Shetron

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