So you’ve sent an email by mistake – here’s what you need to do.

Ah, hitting that send button on a business email a little too soon. It happens to the best of us. Maybe you’re sending out an internal email to company staff or a marketing email to customers. Even if you’re in the zone, it doesn’t take much to accidentally forget to delete a line, attach a doc, add a link or check your spelling.

Don’t stress! There are always ways to recover from a misstep in email communications, even if the audience on the other end has opened and read what you’ve sent out.

How to unsend an email.

Both Gmail and Outlook – two of the most popular mail clients – have a feature that allows you to undo or unsend emails for a limited time after they’ve been sent.

In Gmail, the ‘Undo send’ feature is automatically turned on. However, you can change the amount of time allowed to recall an email by doing the following:

  1. In the top right, click Settings (the cog icon) then ‘See all settings’.
  2. Next to ‘Undo Send’, select a Send cancellation period of 5, 10, 20, or 30 seconds.
  3. Select ‘Save changes’.

In Outlook, you can opt to delay sending your message for 5 or 10 seconds. To turn on the ‘Undo send’ option:

  1. At the top of the page, select Settings (the cog icon) then ‘View all Outlook settings’.
  2. Select ‘Mail’ then ‘Compose and reply’.
  3. Under ‘Undo send’, choose the how long Outlook.com will wait to send your messages.
  4. Select ‘Save’.

RELATED: 6 ways to maximise positive reviews of your business.

How to recall a business email with Outlook.

If you use Outlook as your mail client for your business email address, you can recall an email from the mailboxes of the recipients who haven’t yet opened it.

However, it’s worth noting that message recall is only available if both you and the recipient have a Microsoft 365 or Microsoft Exchange email account in the same organisation. In all other cases, the ‘Undo send’ feature above is your best bet.

To recall and replace a message in Outlook:

  1. Go to your ‘Sent Items’ folder.
  2. Select the ‘Message’ tab, then in the ‘Move’ group click on ‘Actions’ and select ‘Recall This Message.’
  3. A new window will open with a few options. ‘Delete unread copies of this message’ or ‘Delete unread copies and replace with a new message’.

Outlook can also tell you if a recall succeeds or fails for each recipient. When complete, just click ‘OK’ to recall your email.

What if you’ve sent a mass marketing email in error?

Once marketing emails have been sent,  they’re generally out in the wild and can’t be undone. But it’s okay: these things happen, and the most important thing to consider now is how to recover from it.

Accept that you’ve made a mistake.

If you’ve made a mistake, the best thing you can do is own it and start handling it like a pro. If you report to someone, send an email to your line manager explaining what happened. If it’s just you involved, start thinking about what you’ll do to rectify the situation.

Assess the impact.

How many emails went out? Just how big was this mistake? Was it a simple typo or did you accidentally promote a 100% off sale rather than a 10% off sale? The small stuff can probably slide, but if your mistake is likely to cause customer dissatisfaction, you need to act quickly. So now’s the time to take action.

Put your plan into motion.

In the case that it’s a big ‘oops’ moment, then it’s probably best to respond quickly. You might be able to even get your user to read your replacement email first, since it will generally sit higher in their inbox.

Write a clear subject line like ‘Sorry about that last email’ or ‘Oops, we made a mistake’ so your user knows why they’re getting another email from you. Apologise upfront and own the mistake. Remember to stay on brand and triple-check your message before sending!

How to avoid making email mistakes in future.

  • Never use placeholder text like ‘Lorem Ipsum’ in your emails.
  • Proofread your email once, twice and even three times. If it helps, read it out loud.
  • Always use spell check.
  • Get another person to look over your email to check for errors and to ensure every link or attachment is working.
  • Turn these steps into a checklist so that everyone who works on email marketing in your business follows these steps before they hit send.
  • Have a ‘sorry’ or ‘oops’ template ready to go in the event that you do make a mistake. This will mean you can bounce back faster when mistakes do happen.

Need more help with handling customer comms? Check out our free email campaign planner template or talk to our digital marketing experts to find out how we can help.

For a fresh start with your digital marketing in 2021, get in touch with Yellow Pages.

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