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Yesterday I wrote a blog looking at the different ways in which fashion retailers handled the process of capturing customer data when they signup to email alerts.

It turns out that the procedure varies quite drastically between sites, with some businesses requiring just your email while others need to know a great deal of personal information.

A day later and the welcome emails have arrived, however not all of the brands could be bothered to roll out the red carpet.

Though I signed up to 16 email newsletters only 11 welcome emails arrived, with ASOS, Schuh, Miss Selfridge, Boohoo and Office failing to get in touch.

And here’s a quick look at the types of messages I received from those that did welcome me to the fold...

Subject lines

The standard format is “Welcome to (brand name)” though there are a few variations. For example Reiss takes the opportunity to say thanks, Hugo Boss asks to confirm my subscription and New Look says “Welcome aboard & Good Luck!”

The most unique subject line comes from Threadless, which calls me “pal” and “special BFF.” This is slightly quirkier and inline with the brand image, so it makes a good change from the standard subject line.

Sender name

The sender is a small detail but can actually have an impact on whether people open the email or not.

While a majority of the companies have opted for their brand name or a more descriptive variation, such as “H&M Fashion News,” a couple of them have clunky default names.

River Island’s comes from ‘online@riverisland.com’ and Next’s is the rather cold ‘noreply@next.co.uk.’

These come across as being a bit spammy, so the brands in question should take action to make the sender name more appealing.

Content

As with the sign up process, the exact content of each welcome email varies between retailers. Selfridges takes the opportunity to try and get me to personalise my emails, as I avoided answering its questions at the sign up phase.

Also, the header to Selfridges’ email is almost identical to its ecommerce site, which is a good way of maintaining consistency across its digital properties.

Overall it’s brief and to the point, which is a good idea for a welcome email.

Hugo Boss is also extremely brief, however it also suffers from a lack of any imagery so it’s really quite dull, even for a welcome email.

Mr Porter has one of the best welcome emails in my opinion. It’s attractively laid out and again takes the opportunity to spell out exactly what I’ve signed up for.

There’s also a decent CTA directing me to visit Mr Porter, should I feel the urge to continue shopping.

As with Selfridges the header is very similar to its ecommerce store, which helps maintain brand consistency.

Among the other retailers, Topshop packs in the most content, perhaps a bit too much actually, with four different sections describing various offers. Only the most dedicated shopper would bother to read it all.

However Next manages to come up with the worst design, opting for a dull plain text layout complete with a load of unappealing hyperlinks.

Call-to-action

There are a few options for your welcome email CTA, depending on how much personal information was collected at the sign up phase.

It can be an opportunity to ask subscribers to part with more personal data, which is exactly the route taken by Selfridges and the CTA is the most prominent feature of its welcome email.

In contrast, House of Fraser collected all the information it needed so opts to try and get me back to its ecommerce site. Unfortunately it’s make a really bad effort at designing a CTA.

And at the other end of the scale, Reiss doesn’t bother with a CTA at all, it just says thanks for signing up and asks politely if I can add the company to my address book so that emails continue to arrive in my “in-box.”

H&M’s effort is also worth flagging up, as it comes with a 25% off code but there’s no CTA trying to encourage the subscriber back to its ecommerce store other than the rather bland “Happy shopping” hyperlink.

It’s a great opportunity to drive a few extra sales, so this email is a bit of a missed opportunity.

Mobile optimisation

Stats show that up to 41% of email is now opened on a mobile device and that figure is growing.

However businesses have been quite slow to react, as 32% of respondents in the Econsultancy/Adestra Email Marketing Census 2013 said their strategy for optimising email for mobile is ‘non-existent.’ A further 39% described their strategy as ‘basic’.

This quite accurately reflects the situation among the retailers I looked at, as only Next’s welcome email was readable on my smartphone, and that was because it used a plain text layout.

                     

David Moth

Published 25 July, 2013 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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Comments (11)

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Cliff Guy, Head of Marketing at dotMailer

Nice work David. It's striking how many brands miss the opportunity to cross promote their social channels at this stage too. And how many don't bother monitoring replies to these kinds of emails. We did a similar study just published, that you might like: dotMailer.co.uk/hittingthemark - there are some smashing welcome emails in there.

almost 3 years ago

dan barker

dan barker, E-Business Consultant at Dan Barker

Great idea for a blog post, and very interesting stuff too.

I like Cliff's point - such a simple little extra, and works really well whether people receive the email on their computer/phone/tablet.

The Next 'text only' one is good too - probably difficult to get stuff like that past the marketing department, but works really well for exactly the reason pointed out at the end. Text only emails often feel a bit more personal too.

almost 3 years ago

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Deane McCloy, Sales Manager at dotMailer Ltd

On the Next text only campaign they are potentially missing a trick regarding priority inbox at Google.

The campaign doesn't exactly compel you click through and the text only nature means there is no open tracking. This means their initial level of engagement with the user is going to be lower in Google's eyes than say the Selfridges campaign which complies the user to at least download the images as a minimum.

almost 3 years ago

dan barker

dan barker, E-Business Consultant at Dan Barker

Deane: Gmail can recognise open rate even when there are no images.

almost 3 years ago

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Richard Jones

Design is important if it focuses on impact. But results are the key driver to email design including accessibility in mobile. I wonder if Next has the best CTR? It's hard to judge with our subjective marketing opinions about what actually works best. Be great to have some actual results...

almost 3 years ago

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Sophie Lockard

I work for boohoo and would just like to clarify that we do have comprehensive conversion and welcome programmes in place. We do have a test segment that falls straight into newsletters so maybe you were part of this.

almost 3 years ago

Lenka Istvanova

Lenka Istvanova, Marketing Project Manager at Freestak

Great follow-up to your previous article, David. I can't believe that Next has got such a dull welcome email and the same goes with Hugo Boss. As I mentioned in your previous post, I quite like the H&M offer but as you explored they could really improve on CTA in their welcome email. You would suppose that big brands will have their emails optimised to the last bit but as you can see some of them make elementary mistakes.

almost 3 years ago

David Moth

David Moth, Editor & Head of Social at EconsultancyStaff

Thanks for your comments everyone.

@Sophie, thanks for clarifying that point. It's always good to get feedback from the brands in question.

almost 3 years ago

Parry Malm

Parry Malm, CEO at Phrasee Ltd.

Great review, and points taken about aesthetics etc. - but I'd love to know what the response rates are. Sometimes the simple but usable ones do better than the uber-designed ones... all depends on what the goals are. If anyone from these brands is reading this article please comment!

almost 3 years ago

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Kev Sure

Yeah companies - can we have your results please? Better still, explain all the A-B splits and your demographic base, give the *exact* results over time and - don't forget - your rivals promise not to look at all the data you happily shared with your competitors that they can't be arsed to reciprocate. If we could have your future growth plans, media spend splits and strategy goals that would be equally *awesome*. Thanks!

almost 3 years ago

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Reverend Lovejoy

Thanks Kev, productive comments.

almost 3 years ago

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