Typos, wrong recipient, lost in spam – we’ve all been there and, for the most part, these mistakes are pretty harmless. But when it comes to business, the margin for error on emails rapidly drops while the risk skyrockets.

If you want an example of what not to do when sending business emails, here are 5 email fails that led to shut-the-front-door level consequences.

Media agency hits ‘send all’

What could make planning a mass redundancy more uncomfortable? Over to Carat Media, who accidentally sent restructuring plans for layoffs to their entire staff. In fact, they hadn’t even decided on how many people would be affected before their top HR executive’s finger slipped to ‘send all’.

On a serious note, mass redundancy is a highly sensitive and complex process, one that requires careful communication in order to keep employees informed where possible. So it’s no surprise that this scandal made worldwide headlines and still affects Carat Media’s reputation today.

Lesson: Don’t switch off until your email is sent. And please be wary of the ‘send all’ button.

Billions risked over misspelt domain

Remember that big fish can make mistakes too! In fact, the bigger they come the harder they fall – which is exactly what happened to Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs, when a contractor accidentally sent highly confidential brokerage account information to a random ‘gmail.com’ address, instead of an internal ‘gs.com’ account.  

“Don’t panic, don’t panic, PANIC!” This mistake put billions of dollars at risk. After attempting to contact the email user and receiving no response, a court order ensued, forcing Google to delete the email from the recipient's account. Eventually, Google agreed to block access, confirming that the mystery account hadn’t been logged into since. And breathe…

Lesson: Double check domain spellings. And for highly sensitive emails, check and check again.

A picture is worth… the spam folder?

Why bother typing words into your B2C email when you can draw up the whole thing as an eye-catching high-res image? Here’s why. Fashion retailer, Mara Hoffman, unknowingly condemned their email marketing budget to the spam folder by choosing large, 100% high-res imagery for their flash sale mass mailer.

The result was a fantastic looking, but ultimately poorly performing flash sale email. Spam folders are stricter than ever these days, and with high quality images taking so long to load, it’s worth rethinking the imagery on your next campaign.

Lesson: Beware of high-res imagery, and consider a balance of text and image.

Amazon caused a mass pregnancy scare

Segmentation can be a powerful weapon in your email marketing arsenal, as long as you get personal with the right people. Unfortunately, Amazon missed that day in email marketing school. In a now infamous scandal, the ecommerce retailer sent a follow-up email with a new gift to who they thought were parents-to-be, but ended up in the inboxes of customers who weren’t expecting.

A PR nightmare ensued, not to mention the fact that this could've been incredibly triggering for some people. A bad look for a big player.

Lesson: Make sure personalised emails are relevant, and double check their destination before sending.

Your information *isn’t* safe with McAfee

How can an innocent post-event follow up message go so horrifically wrong? After hosting a conference in Sydney, the cyber security beast McAfee ironically compromised the private details of 1400+ attendees with a warm thank you email. 

The temperature soon dropped when recipients opened the attachment – a spreadsheet with the names, contact information, employment details, and dietary requirements of every delegate. A demonstration of how not to convert a customer after a successful event, that no doubt cost them trust and business. 

Lesson: Do a quick security sweep before sending mass emails Oh, and speak to us for cyber protection you can really trust!

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