Email marketing is a great way to reach your target audience, particularly when you combine it with other marketing campaigns. However, there’s always a chance to do it wrong. Here are some of the worst email marketing campaign fails and how they could have been avoided.

Adidas and the Boston Marathon

Nearly everyone knows about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. This event killed three people and injured more than 250 more, some of them catastrophically. In 2017, Adidas decide to send do an email marketing campaign to everyone who participated in that year’s Boston Marathon.

The subject line they chose for their email was: “congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon!” While this would have been okay for almost any other race or fitness competition, it was highly offensive to many who ran the Boston Marathon or remembered the events of 2013. Adidas apologized, but it didn’t do a lot of good.

How It Could Have Been Avoided

Chances are, no one in the marketing department remembered to proofread the subject line. More importantly, having an outside marketing agency could have brought in someone with a fresh perspective and objective view who would’ve seen and prevented this mistake.

Airbnb Afloat

Airbnb had an email marketing campaign in 2017 entitled “floating world.” The idea was to promote some of their beautiful water-themed houses, where guests could get back to nature. The email featured phrases like “stay above water,” and “live the life aquatic with these floating homes.”

The email campaign was planned out well in advance and very carefully. The problem was the timing. When they sent it out in August 2017, hurricane Harvey was busy drowning the city of Houston.

How It Could Have Been Avoided

It’s not enough to proofread for sensitive issues within the email itself. You also have to pay attention to the current climate, which can easily change the tone of your email campaign if you get your timing wrong. If Airbnb had put off the release of this marketing campaign by just two months or so, there wouldn’t have been a problem.

Topman Subject Line Fail

Topman sent out an email to all subscribers, thousands of them, with the subject line “insert clickbait title.” It’s pretty obvious why this was a fail. Not only did the email not work, but Topman showed their cards and precisely what they were doing in that email marketing campaign. People don’t want to see the man behind the curtain!

How It Could Have Been Avoided

Once again, it’s not enough to check the email body itself. You also have to proofread your subject heading, greeting, tagline, and all the pictures you include. Another eye at the proofreading stage or an objective outside view could have prevented this mistake.

Shutterfly Offends Everyone

Shutterfly was running a special campaign for customers who had recently made the sort of purchases that indicated they were new parents. Unfortunately, Shutterfly got their email database mixed up. Instead of sending the email only to those they had good reason to believe were new parents, they sent it to everyone in their entire email database.

The result could have been catastrophic. People who were struggling with infertility, single people longing for a family, and those who had just lost children were highly offended. In this case, the damage was mitigated by quick action on the part of Shutterfly’s CMO, who immediately released a direct, sincere apology accepting complete responsibility and showing genuine concern for customers.

How It Could Have Been Avoided

Once again, having a second, third, and even fourth eye to look over the email marketing campaign before it went live could easily have stopped this from happening.

A Flawless Email Marketing Campaign

Make sure your email marketing campaign avoids these and other serious errors by contacting Wren Interactive today. We have the expertise to help you sidestep common mistakes and the dedicated staff to make sure all your email marketing is a success.