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I’m an idiot

Today was an embarrassing day.

It was supposed to be a great day.  We launched a brand-new email newsletter.  We were all very excited.

So excited, in fact, that we sent the newsletter to the wrong email list. We spammed our best friends.

Then I made it worse.  I sent an apology to the list.  But the poorly-worded apology made it appear that the original mistake, and the apology, were both shameless scams to promote our new newsletter.

I’m getting a ton of angry email from friends who think I broke their trust.  Worse, I’m getting a ton of emails congratulating me on my supposed cleverness.  So even the people who like us think we spammed them as a marketing stunt.

This is horrible and embarrassing.

My career and philosophy are based entirely on teaching trust and ethics. For years I actually made my living fighting spammers and teaching companies how to use email ethically.

For the record: This was not our intent, we would never do such a thing, and I’m sorry.

Email to a friend:

Privacy: We won't save or reuse these emails.

Comments

  1. Dr. Azrael Tod June 26, 2008 at 5:22 pm #

    it should be obvious that if you sent an email that could be mistaken as spam ther is one thing you should NOT do: sent another.
    Anyway at the University here noone seems to understand this litle fact by himself.

  2. Alanna June 26, 2008 at 5:51 pm #

    For what it’s worth, I took your apology email as genuine. It never occurred to me you might have spammed on purpose. Mailing list mistakes happen.

  3. Jeffrey Lee Simons June 26, 2008 at 5:56 pm #

    I was one of the responders who mentioned that I’d be interested to see how many sign ups you got to the new newsletter. But I didn’t mean to imply that I thought you did it on purpose. I only meant to say that, in the same way that proper handling of a customer service snafu can earn a customer’s loyalty but that I would never advise creating an error to gain that loyalty, I thought your apology was appropriate and raised you in my estimation. So here’s a vote of confidence for your integrity. Accidents happen. How you handle them is what’s important.

  4. Zane Safrit June 26, 2008 at 6:18 pm #

    I feel left out. I didn’t get either.
    Hey, it happens to the best of us. And…you’re in that group.

  5. S.Hamel June 26, 2008 at 6:32 pm #

    Hey! But think of it now, you’ve even managed to get a fair share of social marketing. I came from http://minethatdata.blogspot.com/2008/06/mistakes-happen.html and discovered your blog!
    You are a genius! I wouldn’t have though of that. Wrong email list, doing it wrong a second time with a badly written apology, then posting on your blog about how stupid it was and your set! Now you are forever trapped in this loop!
    Just kidding, I sympathize… had my share of bad moves to!
    And now, from your blog, maybe some of your readers (angry or not) will visit mine at http://immeria.net (shameless plug!!!)
    Cheers,
    Stéphane

  6. Randy Combs June 27, 2008 at 6:30 am #

    I suppose you’re catching fallout because this “Ooops, I screwed up” technique has become common with numerous marketers. Indeed, the overused technique breeds even more cynicism.
    But fear not, everyone makes honest mistakes. Your credibility and generosity will overcome the cynicism.

  7. Alexandra Gibson June 27, 2008 at 9:09 am #

    Andy,
    I would imagine that for every nasty email that you received there are 5 people out there who realize that mistakes happen and were not offended. I’m sorry that happened on a day that was supposed to be so exciting.
    While I am not a very religious person it seems fitting to think about the verse in the bible that says “Let he without sin cast the first stone.” We’ve all done something like this.

  8. Bill Gammell June 27, 2008 at 9:57 am #

    Andy,
    I received the newsletter and the apology. I know you are trustworthy and I know your intentions – so no problems here.

  9. Bob Roth June 27, 2008 at 12:47 pm #

    We live in an adolescent culture. Adolescents make mistakes. And as long as we apologize for those mistakes, we will always receive more benefit because of the apology than to not have admitted the mistake.
    In America, we don’t believe in perfection. We believe in trial and error and learning from our mistakes. If something is perfect, then it couldn’t be improved… not our foray.
    So always apologize and deal with the cynics. Apologies keep the mass of your readers happy and, in turn, makes you more real since we all make mistakes!

  10. Scott Silverman June 27, 2008 at 2:16 pm #

    I never doubted that your apology was sincere. Anyone who knows you, knows that engaging in deceptive practices or spamming goes against the grain of everything you stand for.

  11. Kevin Coolidge June 27, 2008 at 4:53 pm #

    I did think at first that it was a clever marketing stunt. I didn’t really mind as I love the book and thought the newsletter that I didn’t sign up for sounded useful. Andy promptly emailed me with an apology, even though I wasn’t upset. That’s good, thoughtful service in my book.

  12. Paul Chaney June 27, 2008 at 8:20 pm #

    You’re not an idiot. You’re human. Mistakes happen. Apology accepted. Nuff said.
    Ok, well maybe not. This reminds me of the time I tagged a bunch of people on a note at Facebook, including you, not releasing that wasn’t the purpose of tagging. I also got slammed pretty hard for what was an honest mistake.
    Now, nuff said.

  13. Martha June 28, 2008 at 3:04 am #

    #1 They will get it over it.
    #2 If they don’t, forget them and forge ahead.
    #3 Re-read numbers 1 and 2
    We are all eagerly awaiting the next “gold nugget” of newletter info.

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