March 2, 2016

Damage control: How to avoid negative brand perception

March 2, 2016

Damage control: How to avoid negative brand perception

Some mistakes are small (such as turning up late to a meeting), whereas some mistakes are much bigger and can potentially have negative repercussions on your brand reputation. We all have moments in our life where we sit in utter disbelief at a mistake we’ve made. We are, after all, only human. Mitigating the fallout from a mistake can be a balancing act, especially when a business reputation is at stake. Sometimes it’s best to do nothing, while other times it calls for a serious case of damage control.  

Dean Mannix from SalesITV (a Step Change partner known for Australia’s complete system for sales results – the next evolution in sales training and coaching) details the best way to proceed after sending out a sales email that has noticeable mistakes.

What if you make a mistake in your sales email?

The Direct Marketing Association reported that the average Return on Investment (ROI) for email campaigns is 40:1. The company Message Systems reinforces this by reporting 63% of marketers found email marketing campaigns as the most effective means for customer conversion. We, salespeople, know exactly how powerful and critical a sales email is and when something goes wrong it can seem like a disaster. 

We tend to fret over any imperfection, wondering just how much of a negative impact it will have on our reputation for quality and brand perception.


Fail points abound

Mistakes can creep into sales and marketing emails in a number of ways. We’ve experienced all of these and you’ve no doubt borne witness to some yourself, for example:

  • Typos
  • Leaving placeholders in the subject line
  • Incorrect links
  • Broken images
  • Mixing up the call to action

While any of these are pretty painful to behold, particularly if you’re the person responsible, it helps to remember that not only are we all mortals (and therefore fallible), but that our customers mostly understand this and are more interested in how we deal with the mistake than the mistake itself.

In fact, sometimes dealing with a mistake in the right way can humanise your brand and lead to improved customer satisfaction.


Damage control (if necessary)

For many errors, such as typos, that don’t dramatically alter the meaning of a sentence or aren’t numerical errors that could lead to customers assuming we are offering more than we can (e.g., 5% vs. 50% discount), it’s probably unnecessary to say anything at all. In fact, there are few instances when sending an ‘oops’ email is appropriate.

By letting it slide, we don’t draw undue attention to our mistake and we avoid clogging up our customers’ inbox with what is ultimately a needless apology.


Work around technical errors

If the problem is technical, for example if the link in the email points to the wrong landing page or there’s a misspelling in an image link or in the image itself, you can fix these on the server side. That could mean remapping that weird URL in your email so that it points to the correct landing page or at least redirects to it. Likewise with images, if you’re using a sophisticated mass communications system you should be able to fix the image on your end with no need to resend the original email.

What about those big, embarrassing mistakes?

Unfortunately, sometimes the mistake is serious enough to warrant sending in the cavalry.

If it’s something embarrassing it’s also likely to be highly entertaining. The last thing you want is for your faux pas to go viral. You’ll want to fire up your social media dashboard and have a well-written explanation and apology in response to anyone posting complaints or questions.

Depending on how many people have seen the error, you may need to deploy more than one person to this task.


Capitalise on the situation with humanity and offerings

The silver lining surrounding this dilemma is the goodwill you can generate by offering a sincere apology and perhaps offers like discounts to smooth over any inconvenience you might have caused.

Here are some hints:

  • Actually apologise, don’t dance around the issue trying to absolve yourself of blame
  • Use clear and concise wording
  • Personalise the email (i.e. send it from a real individual with a name)
  • Make sure the content is authentic – it’s got to be in tune with your audience and the mistake that was made. So don’t use it as another opportunity to sell
  • Offer some compensation. Just something small, maybe free shipping or a 10% discount for a very limited time (48 hours is common)

Don’t sweat, everything will be OK

While we don’t recommend dropping your guard entirely, neither should you lose sleep over mistakes in your email campaigns.

If you limit the damage and do everything possible to address the resulting confusion you can turn what at first might seem a mortally embarrassing blunder into a highly visible example of excellent customer service. You might even improve your sales results.

As they say, “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”. We would add the provision, “so long as you handle it correctly.” Good luck!

SalesITV is the next evolution in sales training and empowering your sales managers to be better sales coaches. As Australia’s leading sales performance system, SalesITV blends world-class content, proven sales coaching methodology, online tools and a highly experienced team to deliver extraordinary ROI for their clients. Their clients leverage SalesITV’s mobile cloud-based platform to gain access to the world’s largest library of sales and service training content, enabling them to train anyone, anytime, with any of SalesITV’s Australian-made content. All of this supports the development of a more robust sales culture, confidence in sales coaching and engaged salespeople driving sales growth and customer loyalty.

Learn how SalesITV can help you achieve sales results here.  

P.S Check out Dean Mannix's post on writing persuasive sales and marketing emails here






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