Marketing’s Weekly Dose of the Truth

Ken Magill

About Us

What's the Stupidest Email Mistake You Ever Made?


By Ken Magill

All the recent coverage of email privacy—or lack thereof—in the news lately begs one big question: Why does anyone put anything in email that would embarrass them if anyone other than the intended recipient saw it?

“Never put anything in an email you wouldn’t want posted on the company bulletin board,” is the way my sister once put it.

“Never put anything in an email you wouldn’t want on the front page of the New York Times,” said a colleague recently.

That said, we’ve all done stupid things with email over the years.

My dumbest email mistake was the day a source forwarded me an email with evidence that someone in email marketing was engaged in some pretty nefarious activity.

I responded with something along the lines of: “Thank you for the tip. This is pretty juicy. It’ll be fun to nail [company name] for pulling this nonsense.” I then gave a few details about how I would try and draw the company out.

Then I hit “send.”

Then I said: “oh nooooooooooooo!”

As I hit send, I realized I was replying to the email the source had supplied as evidence; hence, I was replying to the company I was about to attempt to out.

I had just killed any possibility of taking them by surprise.

My second dumbest email mistake was when a reader emailed a contrarian opinion to a columnist of mine over a piece she had published in the trade rag I used to edit, iMarketing News.

She forwarded the email to me saying she found the guy’s opinion abhorrent. When I replied to her, I hit “reply all” by mistake, accidentally informing the letter writer that the columnist found his opinion abhorrent.


In any case, on the heels of the wildly unsuccessful bad-marketing-metaphor contest I ran recently, I thought I’d take another stab at calls for entry and try and get some stupid email stories from readers.

What’s the dumbest thing you ever did with email? Send it to

I’ll publish whatever publishable responses I get. And remember: The publishing standards here are pretty low.


Show: Newest | Oldest

Post a Comment
Your Name:
Please type the letters in the image above

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: Vince
Date: 2013-07-09 19:59:43
Subject: Never

Never write an internal email that will wind up as the lead story on Ken Magill's column...