7 clever examples of "oops!" emails

McKenzie Gregory

This post was updated in January 2019.

Whether it’s due to complicated tech issues or just plain 'ole human error, marketers are bound to make a mistake every once in a while.

But no worries, friends: No matter how glaring your error may be, your customers will forgive you – especially if you handle your mistakes gracefully, apologetically, and with a little bit of humor. So one of the best ways to gain back customer loyalty and trust is through a clever “oops” email.

“Oops” emails perform extraordinarily well – we’re talking sky-high open and click rates. That may only be the case because people really like watching train wrecks happen, but regardless, those high success rates make “oops” emails the perfect opportunity to form a strong rapport with your audience.

Here are six excellent examples of brands that quickly bounced back from a marketing mishap and came back stronger than ever.


1. Caskers

It would be a travesty for a booze-centric brand to not make the obvious “drinking makes things difficult” play. So when they accidentally sent “back in stock” notifications to their customers for items that weren’t actually back in stock, they sent out this clever email.

Our favorite bit? “Apologies with a dollar sign attached are always better.” Truer words were never spoken, Caskers. Well played.



2. Madewell

This apology email from Madewell was incredibly timely; their website was on the fritz at the same time the media was up in arms about Mercury being in retrograde (an astrological phenomenon often blamed for chaos, tech problems, and miscommunication). So they had the perfect tie-in to address the issue and offer customers a special discount for their troubles.



3. American Eagle

We’re all about GIFs in email, and this one from American Eagle was especially on-point. The imagery was relevant, eye-catching, and the perfect way to add a little humor to their mishap.

We also loved the email’s punny subject line – “Son of a glitch.” That’s definitely a way to capture attention in a crowded inbox!




4. Urban Outfitters

What better way to apologize for messing up than to send your audience a photo of not one, but five tiny, adorable kittens? You can’t possibly be mad at those little faces (free shipping is pretty nice, too!). Bonus points for the kittens looking up at copy – it draws your eye right back to the main message and call to action.




5. Sur La Table

Anyone with experience pressing “send” on marketing emails knows that the whole process can make you pretty antsy. But when Sur La Table got a little overzealous and accidentally sent an email about their sale a day early, they quickly recovered with this message that was equal parts apologetic and crafty (the eggs weren’t broken in the original email – a fun detail on their part).



6. TShirtPusher

This one was a pretty serious “oops!” – someone at TShirtPusher accidentally re-sent an old email promoting a Boxing Day (December 26th) sale… at the end of January. Instead of retracting the offer, however, the brand decided to just go with it – a move that both helped win back the confidence of their audience and, in all likelihood, drive more sales.


6. Frame Bridge

Frame Bridge does a great job of owning their mistake and apologizing, which, as a customer, can be truly refreshing. This simple and minimalistic design focuses on the sentiment while also showing they're a stand-up company willing to own up to their mistakes and fix the situation right away. Bravo, Frame Bridge!

Image: Really Good Emails


About the Author

McKenzie Gregory

McKenzie Gregory is a senior content manager on Emma’s marketing team. A Nashville native, she can be found covering all things email on the Emma blog, debating hyphenation rules, and watching obscene amounts of Netflix without a trace of shame.

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