yahoo-email-outage‘Tis the season for holiday ecards, emailed party invitations, long missives from faraway family, and—most notably for ecommerce—targeted email offers. So, what happens when a huge chunk of your online consumers can’t receive your emails?

Virtually ignored by most major news outlets, the Yahoo! Mail outage in effect since early this week definitely has people talking. A quick Google search on Wednesday morning showed a report from a local Colorado news outlet, but not much else. By Wednesday evening, several other news outlets, such as PC World, Business Insider, and Tech Crunch had finally picked up the story. However, Twitter is ablaze with scathing commentary for @Yahoo, as the outage is still in effect for an unknown number of users. Some are funny; some will make clear just how detrimental this outage might be to your ecommerce efforts.

Ecommerce Impact

As an ecommerce company, you should feel some outrage. Millions of Yahoo! Mail customers have received zero emails sent since Monday evening. Your “thank you for purchasing email” is languishing in cyberspace, just waiting for some kind of direction. Any offers you sent out between now and then are in the same place. How many potential sales have you missed simply because your customers didn’t know you had a sale going on? 

You can use this to your advantage, if you’re quick and clever. We’ve put together a very simple message below that you might send to your customers who use Yahoo! Mail. Segment your database for contacts where the email address contains “@yahoo.com” to locate those contacts who haven’t received any mail from you since Monday evening. Then, when their email program finally comes back up, hit them up with this message (feel free to customize, this is just a suggestion):

Hello [Customer Name],

Welcome back! These past few days without your Yahoo! Mail must have felt so lonely. We hate to imagine how many holiday messages you missed from friends and loved ones. Now that your email has been restored, you probably have several hours of replies ahead of you.

While you were gone, you may have missed a few important notes from us, too. Did you know you could have received [discount] on [product] for ordering before midnight last night? We understand that you didn’t get a chance to participate, and that wasn’t your fault. To make it up to you, we’d like to extend the offer for Yahoo! Mail users until midnight tonight.

We hope your holiday season is merry, bright, and unmarred by future email service interruption. If you have any questions about other offers you may have missed while you were away, our customer service team is happy to help.

Happy emailing!

Avoiding These Issues

There’s not a lot you can do to keep Yahoo! Mail online—or any other email platform, for that matter. You can, however, be ready for such possibilities in the future. Your customers need some way to contact you when problems arise. If email is the only option you offer, you’re missing out on excellent customer service opportunities.

Make sure your phone number is listed in a very conspicuous place on your site. In fact, a footer that shows on every page is an excellent choice. Your “Contact Us” page should be so much more than just a contact form. Give all your social media accounts, list your phone number again, and if possible, offer a live chat option. With these in place, many customers may not even notice their email account is down. Okay, maybe that’s too much to hope for. But at least you’ll provide options for your users, which is more than Yahoo! Mail has done since Monday.

How has the Yahoo! Mail outage affected your business? Will your grandma ever receive that singing reindeer ecard you sent? We want to know! Tell us all about it in the comments.

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Originally published Dec 12, 2013 2:00:00 PM, updated October 20 2016

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Ecommerce Public Relations