In the closing of 2011, the New York Times did a bit of an email marketing oopsie: a total of 8 million people were emailed instead of 300.
According to an article at The Next Web, an offer about subscription continuation was supposed to be sent to 300 people. Instead, the target group was a little bit bigger: 8 million.
At first the official Twitter account tweeted that it wasn’t from them:
If you received an email today about canceling your NYT subscription, ignore it. It’s not from us.
— The New York Times (@nytimes) December 28, 2011
Afterwards a reporter noted that it was from NYT and something went quite wrong:
UPDATE on NYT email: “The email was sent by the NYT,” a spokeswoman said. Should’ve gone to appx 300 people & went to over 8 mil. Story TK
— Amy Chozick (@amychozick) December 28, 2011
In the end, to clear things up, New York Times sent out an apology mail stating the error and apologizing.
This just goes to show that absolute care and checks should be in place when putting together target groups for email campaigns.
Also, this might affect their inbox placement as quite some people will have marked that first erronous message as spam, meaning that the apology email arriving later was put in the spam folder as well.