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Why #MAfails are the Best Thing That Can Happen to You

We all make mistakes. Want proof? Look no further than an “Oops email” in your inbox from some sorry email marketing professional.

As Forrest Gump said, “It happens.” Marketing automation failures (#MAfails) like this may have happened to you once upon a time, recently or maybe you’re just waiting until it does.

It happened to me.

I was working at the Phoenix Suns and deployed a dynamic email stating that “Due to your interest in the Golden State Warriors, you may be interested in discounted tickets to the next game when they’ll be visiting!”

The only problem? I sent it to people who purchased tickets to last year’s LA Lakers game! This was 2009, people who wanted to see Kobe Bryant kill the Suns did NOT want to see a GSW team without Steph Curry. Doh!

When I realized the mistake, I slumped sadly into my boss’s office. In tears, I should add. It was only a message to a few thousand people and my boss reassured me everything was OK.

This was before everyone would gleefully let you know about your mistake on Twitter. Still, it was awful. I felt like the worst email marketer ever — a stain on the esteemed profession of database marketing.

Mistakes like this can tend to make you feel like a failure. And honestly, that’s KIND of okay. Why? Because you’ll never learn, if you don’t fail a little bit. It’s a natural and fundamental part of growth. The key to this growth? Finding what made the plan go wrong.

You must become a failure detective.

With an errantly sent email, the failure is likely kick-yourself obvious. However, other problems are not as clear-cut. Issues can range from a few factors in the process, all the way foundational elements.

To help you avoid looking like a fool, here are four common marketing automation mistakes for you to proactively guard against:

1. Just click all the links

I know – I know. You have a lot to do, but it’s Murphy’s Law, that one link you don’t click WILL be the one that doesn’t track, or goes to a 404 error or any other slew of annoying little issues that make you feel like a moron.

2. Review your send-to list

When I build send lists with clients, I play a fun little game of “guess the deployment number”! Although it’s fun to see who gets closer, it’s also a tricky way to ensure my client has SOME idea of how many people we’re looking to communicate with. If their number is 3,000 and the list pulls 200 or 20,000 instead, we know there’s likely an issue – with their understanding or the segmentation.

3. Establish service level agreements

Huh? It may not seem obvious, but in my experience managing a team of experts deploying emails who help hundreds of our clients send emails, the number one cause of mistakes is…. Rushing. When you have a boss breathing down your neck that an email has to go out NOW, mistakes happen. Establish SLAs to ensure you have the time needed to review, test and get the job done right.

4. Know your system

If you’ve inherited an MA platform, there ARE cobwebs. If you send an email and someone clicks it, do they automatically get put into a nurture stream? Should they? Take the time to decode the (probably very messy) build out, or listening triggers could make your life sad.

The future is written in pencil. The only way to improve it is by actively erasing FUTURE mistakes. The past in entirely useless. Here’s to a future filled with a conspicuous lack of #MAfails. Cheers!

Have your own #MAfail to share? Leave a comment or hit us up on Twitter using #MAfails

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