Find out how to ship an apology e-mail
By Liz Willits January 26, 2021
Use these examples as a guide if you ever need to send a warm or even humorous apology.
When your company makes a mistake, you need to act quickly. A sincere apology email can often help repair the damage.
But there is a lot at stake. Use the wrong words in your sorry email and you could piss off your audience.
To avoid such disasters, we've rounded up 6 brilliant examples of companies that apologize. Think of this as the hall of fame of apology emails. Use it as a guide if you ever need to send a heartfelt – or even humorous – apology.
When should you send an apology email?
Before sending an apology email, check if the situation warrants it.
Ask yourself two questions:
- Would subscribers be bothered or confused if I did Not send an apology?
- Have I (or my company) offended or pissed off my audience by doing something wrong?
If you answered “yes” to any of the questions, you should send an apology email.
Different mistakes require different answers. Here are examples of apology emails for some of the most common mistakes businesses make.
Incorrect information, broken links and typographical errors
If you forget to carefully examine and test your email, you may be sending an email with broken links or typographical errors. A lot happens. (Pro tip: test your emails before sending them.)
When you do, send an email to give people the correct information and apologize for the mistake.
BuzzFeed sent a newsletter with the wrong link. They quickly sent an apology email with the correct link and a light hearted explanation.
The wrong audience
Accidentally emailing the wrong list or segment? Don't panic, we are all human.
This is exactly what Uberflip admitted in its apology email to subscribers who had received information about a webinar that they had not responded to.
Accidentally sends email
If you hit send too soon, or if you send an email you never meant to send, calm down and apologize.
If the email you accidentally sent is funny (let's say it only contains a cat) then you can even make your apology humorous, like in Fab's perfect email below.
Missing information or details
Did you forget to include important information or details in your email? Send a follow-up email to correct your mistake.
Notice how Really Good Emails apologizes for sending another email on the same day and shares the forgotten information.
Technology doesn't always work. If your website is down or you have any other technical issue affecting your target audience, email them apologizing and get an update.
Joanna Wiebe, founder of CopyHackers, sent an apology email after her webinar platform went down during her apology email presentation. (I think she bewitched herself.)
Wine insiders also encountered technical difficulties on their website. As explained in the e-mail, the error was not recognized in time due to a company vacation. So they offset this by extending a time-limited deep discount.
Defective products or poor service
A bad experience with your business can destroy your relationship with a customer and lead to negative reviews of your product or service.
When a large group of customers have a bad experience because of you've delivered a bad product or service, the negative effects are compounded. However, you can send an apology email to reduce the damage.
After Passion Planner shipped defective products to its customers, it sent an email with an apology and an offer for a full refund.
If you've made a serious mistake, you own it. No excuses. Apologize and explain how you are going to address the problem so it does not recur.
Check out the sorry email AirBnb sent below for a fatal error.
How to write an sorry email subject line
Not sure what to put in your subject lines? Try one of these tips.
Explain exactly what happened and what you are going to do about it.
Example: Passion planner
Subject line: Problems with Eco? We hear your concerns.
Mention your mistake.
Realize the mistake you made right in your subject line.
Example: Really good emails
Subject line: We forgot some stufferoo
Everybody makes mistakes. Use a human tone like Buzzfeed and maybe even add an emoji as long as you haven't done a serious one.
Subject line: Let's try again … ????
Excuse your mistake with a present. However, be sure to mention it in the subject line or subscribers will not know what they are missing.
Example: Wine insider
Subject line: Oops! Our mistake – your reward!
Connected:Your guide to writing the world's best email subject lines
Own your flaws.
It is much better for your brand to apologize than to say nothing when an error occurs. Besides, it's the right thing.
Need help writing other emails? Download our free guide to What to Put in Your Email. It contains more than 45 email templates to fill out.
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Additional coverage from Amanda Gagnon & Kelly Forst