Written by What B2B marketing can learn from the NHS email blunder

What B2B marketing can learn from the NHS email blunder

On Monday the NHS hit the news for the wrong reasons when a ‘test’ email was mistakenly sent to more than 840,000 employees. Over 200 million emails in a four-hour window caused chaos to the server when the recipients started hitting the ‘reply all’ button.

Staff were impacted by everything from; a slow server, to crucial patient related emails being missed or not getting through at all. Staff took to social media to vent their frustrations, which in my opinion amplified the situation socially to the wider world of the human mistake/virus. In short, a mess.

Although this was an internal broadcast there are learnings for us in B2B marketing in how we can turn a miss email broadcast from something negative into something positive.

  1. Get on and fix it – if an email has gone out with the wrong message or to the wrong audience, there’s no question that it needs fixing, swiftly and with as little external fuss as possible. Send a holding email out apologising, you never know you may be able to address the issue before the vast extent of the emails are opened. Clearly if this is from Outlook beware the ‘reply all’ nightmare, or the ability for recipients to know who each other are. Externally facing the business can be calm, whilst internally the tone can be different.
  2. Saying sorry does not need to be the hardest word – sending the wrong email to customers may not be apparent to all recipients, but it may be to others. So sitting tight is not an option. Being proactive and holding your hands up with an explanation of what went wrong, and outlining what you’re doing to resolve the issue would put everyone’s mind at ease (or it should).
  3. Give that rain cloud a silver-lining – as part of the acceptance email, there is an opportunity for re-engagement. Depending on the audience and if they are from inbound/outbound sources there is an opportunity for a group who does not usually engage to do so, reigniting lapsed opportunities. Via lead scoring and syncing up of your Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms any engagement can be passed to your sales team accordingly. Plus, through reviewing email performance you’ll be in a position to see total engagement, and the potential damage (or lack of).
  4. Learn from the mistake – clearly a business does not want to spend all its time and resources fixing miss sent email communications. Therefore, there’s an opportunity once the dust has settled to step back and look at the process to tighten up future broadcasts.

Mistakes/glitches however unfortunately happen. Fact. We can automate as much of the marketing process as we like, but we’ll never be able to fully remove that opportunity. We can however, look to minimise the possibilities of them happening, but as soon as the preverbal hits the fan the world will be looking at how we respond, and cope.