I will quickly set the stage: it was a Friday, I was rounding out my first 6 months at the company with the launch of a new marketing automation platform. It had been a grueling experience, fraught with homegrown CRMs and having all of one person in the marketing department (me). My boss asks me to come into the sales room around lunchtime for a quick announcement. Surprise! I'm given a certificate and am announced as employee of the month for my hard work these past few months. Handshakes all around and I get on with my day.
Around 6ish PM that night, I receive a frantic text message from my boss: Why did I get the newsletter with your name in the subject line?
And another one: [CEO] just got the newsletter with your name in the subject line. What the ***** is going on???*
At that point I frantically log into the ESP to find I had not used the first name TOKEN in the subject line, but my first name. So ~80k subscribers were magically named Jimmy for one Friday in late August. The approvals and verifications didn't pick up on the lack of a dynamic first name because, obviously, the email guy sent the test to himself and clearly the first name is correct. At this point, I started to put together a quick summary of the error as well as a rough outline of a new approval process that would help catch any error like this in the future. I save the draft and get on with my weekend.... Until Sunday.
More texts from my boss: Why am I seeing [Brand A] logo in this email? Where is [Brand B] logo? Oh god. Why is [CEO] saying he sees [Brand A] logo in his email? AHHHH
I get to my computer at a full sprint just to log in and find out my smart list was targeting the entirely wrong audience and had basically invited paying members of [Brand B] to log into their non-existent accounts at [Brand A]. This time it was to an audience of roughly 120k.
I will be honest, it was slightly awkward arriving at work on Monday. I spent the better part of Sunday night, as well as the subsequent morning, writing out a detailed and thorough approval process for emails that would help prevent my weekend mistakes from ever happening again. I presented them to my manager along with a full write-up of the mistakes and how they happened.
I wish, at this point in the story, I could provide a happy ending. Sadly, that process was never approved or implemented by my manager, and about 4 months later I left the company to pursue a different opportunity. While definitely my biggest failure as a marketer, I value having experienced it and having learned from the experience. At my current position, I now have a very strict approval process in place that provides a set of checks and balances that a rogue token or spelling error has zero chance of sneaking past.
My best tip for achieving #NoFailMail? Create an approval process before disaster strikes, and make sure to only start messing up after they give you an award :).