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Ken Magill

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Umm... About Last Week's Newsletter; Or How to Get Attention in a Bad Way

By Ken Magill
Dear Readers:
Last week, many of you got a dozen or more copies of this newsletter.
Some of you got nothing.
The reason: My system went haywire and began acting like I hit “send” 20 times or more. 
Dozens of readers alerted me instantly to the problem in my inbox and on my Twitter feed.
My wife said her computer, which audio alerts her when a new email comes in, went: “Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!”
And to make matters worse, the same system that was blasting my readers repeatedly was kicking me out repeatedly, preventing me from stopping the email equivalent of a runaway train.
For a few minutes on Tuesday, my vocabulary consisted entirely of: F*ck! F*ck! F*ck! F*ck! F*ck! F*ck! F*ck! F*ck! F*ck! F*****CK!!!!”
I kept logging into the send part of my publishing package. It kept booting me out and sending more messages to subscribers and I kept saying: “F*ck!”
When I finally got it shut down, there were still 160 lucky souls in queue who didn’t get any of the messages.
Here is an explanation of the glitch sent by tech support and what they did to fix it. I don’t fully understand it, but maybe some of my more technical readers will.
“The issue with the duplicate emails, occurred due to an error in the restartSender functionality. The script is meant to shutdown the sender, and restart it. Due to a server issue the script is failing to find the already running sender, after failing to find the already running version, it just starts up another copy of the sender which causes the duplicate sends. Disabling the restartSender script resolves the duplicate emails. We’re moving the sender to another server to help mitigate any issues with duplicates occurring again.”
In any case, some good did come out of last week’s snafu. I found out I have the coolest readers on the planet. With three exceptions in dozens of messages, everyone was highly supportive and understanding.
I did have one reply with “REMOVE!!!” in the subject line and two demands I stop spamming them, as if I was sending the same newsletter over and over and over again on purpose.
Of course, I removed Miss REMOVE!!! immediately. Altogether, I got around 15 unsubscribes last week.
Frankly, if you’re reading this newsletter and don’t know that sometimes things happen that are not in the sender’s control, I don’t need you as a reader and my vendor readers certainly don’t need the pain in the ass you’d be as a client. So good riddance.
But the vast majority of the communications were of the “shit-happens” and “did-you-put-your-scotch-glass-on-the-send-button?” variety.
I also got one “oh, the irony” message.
It was highly ironic that the multiple-send snafu would happen so quickly on the heels of having written this. I compared email marketing to farting and then promptly crapped all over my subscribers’ inboxes. 
One colleague said: “If you weren’t an email marketer before, you are one now.”
Whenever I send a Magill Report email out, I sit glued to my screen, repeatedly checking my inbox and Twitter feed to make sure nothing crazy is happening.
I shudder to think of what would have happened last week had I hit “send” and walked away, neglecting to shut my email fire hose down.
I have said repeatedly that email marketing is populated with some of the nicest, most professional executives around.
I had that belief confirmed in spades last week. Thank you. Hopefully this week, I am telling you this just once.

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Terms: Feel free to be as big a jerk as you want, but don't attack anyone other than me personally. And don't criticize people or companies other than me anonymously. Got something crappy to say? Say it under your real name. Anonymous potshots and personal attacks aimed at me, however, are fine.

Posted by: Richard H. Levey
Date: 2015-04-29 09:15:09
Subject: The Glove's On The Other Foot!

Ken: *Laughing* Welcome to the world of empathy journalism! Yes, yes: These things happen. It ain't like sending out a poorly conceived "humorous" marketing message. It ain't necessarily like sending out a solicitation with a broken or missing link. It ain't like sending out copy with egregious spelling or grammar mistakes -- or, even worse, a substantially richer offer than was intended. In this case, there was no review you could have done to prevent this. This was the HAL 9000 deciding it was time to change the course of the mission. Anyone who has spent any time on the Internet, or monkeying about with email, or even -- back in the day -- playing with autodialers has run into this. My one regret? After receiving my eight copies of your newsletter, I didn't reach out to you and bust your chops. That was human error, and if this ever happens again, I pledge that I will not let that delicious opportunity pass. I do want to thank you, by the way, for your follow-up email from last week promising every reader of the Magill report a year's supply of beer and organic tomatoes. I'm eagerly awaiting my first shipment, and am sure that your other readers are as well.
Posted by: Julien
Date: 2015-04-29 05:37:10
Subject: I was one of the lucky ones

I didn't receive your newsletter last week. I was sad because I like to witness this kind of stuff :) I'm a developer, and the first time I wrote the code to send a newsletter, a bunch of years back, there was a glitch that resulted in many duplicates. Since then I've witnessed a lot of similar issues from other developers, or from customers, and I built some stuff that prevent precisely that from happening in my products. I think it has to happen once to everyone in the industry (but it's a bad thing if it happens more than once). It's also a good chance to understand how critical email actually is.
Posted by: Jason Yee
Date: 2015-04-28 19:02:29
Subject: I was amused

I too thought the majority of your readers would be understanding. But I was looking forward to how you would address the situation with your usual wit and sarcasm. Thank you for not disappointing! As for the tech response, that's a prime definition of unhelpful answer. Nothing there tells you what you can do to minimize a repeat occurrence or what to do if it happens again. The solution they included just "mitigates" future repeats. Sure sh*t happens, but shouldn't they tell you want you can do if it happens again?
Posted by: Linda Woolley
Date: 2015-04-28 17:41:16
Subject: Last Newsletter

Yes, I wondered, too. And, yes, sh*t happens. Of all sorts of varieties. Hang in there.
Posted by: Jon
Date: 2015-04-28 17:05:05
Subject: My thoughts

Huh, and here I was thinking this was some kind of brilliant performance-art piece since the subject of the email was spam regulations.
Posted by: Kirk Gray
Date: 2015-04-28 16:53:10
Subject: Happens to the Best of Us

What I found interesting was that the first 18 of then I got all went to my primary tab, the other two went to the promotions tab...if anything can be said about Gmail is that it is consistently inconsistent.... Ken, this was the perfect opportunity to throw your ESP under the bus....which are you using, LOL!
Posted by: Chris Ceparano
Date: 2015-04-28 16:49:03
Subject: Feedback Is Welcomed!

I was wondering what went wrong, but thanks for the explanation. This article was indeed a funny read :)
Posted by: Michael Evans
Date: 2015-04-28 16:27:57
Subject: Doh!

Welcome to the club...