It’s the Little Things that Kill You, When You’re Sending Mass Email

Here’s a small example of why pushing the “send” button on a mass email is the scariest thing in the digital politics communications world:

Mass email oopsie

Yes, the message template had a little snippet of default text at the top, and whoever formatted the message and tested it prior to sending didn’t notice. This email came from A Player In The Digital Politics Space yesterday, and I’m not highlighting it to make fun of them — we’ve ALL done something similar over the years.

My personal best: the one time I sent an action alert to several thousand people in Arizona, linking to an online tell-your-congressmember form. The problem? Because I’d made a mistake when setting up the action page: it only worked if your zip code was in the District of Columbia. Oopsie! Several dozen confused emails from Arizona later, we sent out a correction…and I hung my head in shame.

Wrong headlines [“Test Subject Line”], broken links, orphan text, images that only load if you’re on the computer used to create the message…they’re all traps for the unwary, half-asleep or too too busy. With most online content, you get a do-over, the chance to edit, update or correct, but not with email — once you’ve hit “send,” the message is gone, baby, gone. That’s why my finger always hesitates at the last instant, as I scan the message preview one final time, desperate to find what we all missed in the setup frenzy. Sometimes I even spot it! But that’s when I’m lucky…and no one’s lucky all the time.

Update: check the discussion that popped up around this article on my Facebook link. I think it was cathartic.


Written by
Colin Delany
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