Nike, adidas and Under Armour. Sworn enemies.

I'm going to rank the three on their email signup visibility, value offer and velocity, as well as the content in their welcome emails.

By the end, we will have crowned a winner.

1. Visibility

Nike - Signup visibility

Nike barely promotes its email signup function at all, with a solitary link in the footer beneath the store finder on desktop (see below).

One could argue that the homepage, with its scrolling, high-quality imagery is more concerned with brand and aesthetics than dry little buttons such as email fields.

However there is a skinny slider beneath the header menu that promotes free returns, free delivery and in-store pickup. If Nike can make room for these, why not an email prompt?

When it comes to Nike's mobile site (m.), I can't find an email signup field, full stop.

Score: 1/5

nike email signup 

adidas - Signup visibility

Within a few seconds of browsing the adidas site on desktop, a pop-up appeared, prompting me to agree to personalised marketing messages by email.

Whether you like this tactic or not, it's pretty darn visible.

email signup layover

Elsewhere on the adidas site, there is a newsletter signup link at the very top of the page, near the basket and the login buttons.

nike email signup

Finally, every page carries a fairly chunky email newsletter field above the footer links.

This field is the only one that carries over to adidas's lovely responsive layout on mobile. This makes sense, because popups are a bit difficult to use on mobile (not desirable UX), and limited space dictates a header link isn't feasible.

Overall, you'd have to say that email signup is very visible indeed on the adidas website.

Score: 5/5

adidas email signup

Under Armour - Signup visibility

Under Armour has also used a pop-up to encourage me to subscribe.

under armour 

On the site proper, there's a fairly generic email signup field above the footer links. It's not as chunky as adidas's, or as striking, and it doesn't stretch across the whole page.

Considering that once users have dismissed the popup and been cookied, this field is all that remains, Under Armour could do better here.

Encouragingly though, this field is also present on mobile. Like adidas, Under Armour has a responsive website (I used the .co.uk version).

Score: 3/5

under armour email signup

2. Value

The next factor to evaluate is how well each sports brand website conveys the value of signing up to their emails.

Nike - Signup value proposition

We've already seen that Nike's homepage simply carries a footer link saying 'Sign up for email'.

There is no value proposition there at all. It's simply a functional piece of copy.

Once you actually click through (curious but not tempted), you get taken to the page shown below.

There is some copy here designed to speed me along ('Stay informed with our latest and greatest' and '..get special news and offers..') but I think it's a bit of a poor effort given Nike has a whole page to play with here.

nike email signup

Nike does a better job of the value proposition when you choose to create a Nike+ account, rather than simply sign up to email.

The copy below is a bit more exciting.

However, we're just looking at email sign up here. So, let's give Nike a score...

Score: 1/5 

nike registration

adidas - Signup value proposition

adidas pulls out the big guns. Both the popup and the footer field (reproduced below) offer a gift to those that sign up.

'Join us & get a special welcome gift' is a pretty tempting offer to any sportswear fan.

This gift in fact turns out to be a discount code, which you might think is a tad misleading. 'Welcome gift' no doubt generates more signups that 'get 15% off'.

Semantics aside, this is a massive incentive for people to hand over their email address.

email sign up adidas

Once you've entered your email and hit return, you get taken to the page below.

It does a much better job than Nike. There's a huge headline that is subtly brilliant - 'Keep up with what's up'.

There's another subheader saying 'We want you to be one of us' - again, sharp and inclusive copy.

Furthermore, three little green ticks tell us we'll get 'the latest news', 'offers and promotions' and that all-important 'special welcome gift'.

email signup adidas

Lastly, let's look at adidas's header signup button. The button itself says 'newsletter signup' and when clicked, a little concertina form folds out (shown below).

The form includes three icons with three reasons to sign up (stay in the know, exclusive welcome offer, special deals).

There is little more that adidas could do here.

Score: 5/5

adidas signup 

Under Armour - Signup value proposition

Under Armour and its popup try to usher me along by shouting about 'free shipping on your next order' and 'free returns every day'.

This is a pretty good incentive, leaving aside that returns are free anyway and shipping is free anyway when you spend over £49. How was I to know that? This is my first site visit.

I also like the use of upper case to grab the attention, even if the slogan doesn't smack me across the chops.

under armour 

Once the popup has gone, any value proposition to signup for email is completely lost. Look at the form below.

It's an off-the-shelf field and button with some crummy copy. 10 minutes work on the copy would improve it.

Score: 2/5

email signup under armour

3. Velocity

This criterion is about how quickly / easily a user can sign up for each brand's email newsletter.

Nike - Velocity of signup

Pretty poor from Nike again. Eight clicks, one new page load, and I have to enter my date of birth, sex and nationality.

In theory, brands should ask only for an email address (increasing conversion rate) and gather more information further down the line.

Of course, this does enable Nike to segment its welcome emails from the get-go, but as far as velocity of signup is concerned, it's not great.

Score: 2/5

nike email signup

adidas - Velocity of signup

The popup (seen earlier) offers a very quick signup process - I simply enter my email address and hit return.

Using the footer field, signup takes a bit longer - three clicks and one new page load.

Using the button in the header (see below), that page load is done away with, because the form folds out dynamically.

In all instances I am only ever asked for my email address in order to sign up.

Score: 4/5

adidas signup

Under Armour - Velocity of signup

Under Armour is the only one of the brands that always allows me to sign up without loading a new page (whether via a popup or one click from the footer field).

That makes it incredibly quick. Below you can see how this is handled in the footer field - I enter my address, hit return and I get a little message that hovers beneath the field saying, 'Thanks for signing up...'.

I have a slight concern about terms and conditions being rather hidden here, but let's leave that for another day.

Score: 5/5

under armour email signup 

4. Welcome email

Nike - Welcome email

See Nike's email, split in two below.

Firstly, the scalable design leaves the email looking a bit paltry on desktop (with plenty of white space either side, not shown below).

I also think the top of the design doesn't mirror the slick Nike branding from the website. The collage of images is underwhelming, and why is a welcome email immediately trying to get me to register again (for a Nike+ account)?

Nike should be commended though for adding some extra content in the form of suggested products and a link to Nike videos.

I'm unsure if Nike already has some browsing history and has used that to build the suggested products, or it has just taken a punt given it knows my age and gender (extra fields on the signup form).

It's not a bad email at all, it's just not a particularly great one either. 

Score: 2.5/5

nike email  nike email 

adidas - Welcome email

Looking at the three emails in the preview part of my inbox (see below), I think adidas comes across worst of the three.

It's the words 'Online Shop' in the sender, and the 'Experience excellence with adidas' copy that just seem a bit functional and incongruous respectively.

There's nothing massively wrong, but I thought I'd mention it. Nike's subject and copy is nicely informal, Under Armour's is motivating, and then adidas is just...'meh'.

welcome emails 

But what of the email itself?

I've screenshotted it below. All in all, it's pretty straightforward.

The imagery is fairly subtle, incorporating street style and more specialised gym wear.

The copy reiterates that now I'll be the first to know about new products etc., and there's a button to 'shop now', as well as a category header menu.

In the bottom half of the email is my welcome gift of a discount code, and some simple standard links (support, share the email, social profiles and store finder).

I think the focused nature of the email is a little more classy and impactful than Nike's, and the imagery is bigger, too.

Most importantly, adidas's email is responsive, looking big and bold on my laptop, and fitting my mobile screen well, too. This allows the text to be bigger than Nike's email on mobile and full screen on desktop, too.

Score: 4/5

adidas email

adidas email

Under Armour - Welcome email

I found this to be a pretty uninspiring boxy email. Again, the scalable format means the email is not as big as it could be on desktop.

Everything is packed in, in a jumble of font sizes and colours. The copy isn't particularly friendly or inspiring.

Apart from the clear header menu, I think the rest is poor.

Score: 2/5

under armour email

Total scores

  • adidas: 18/20
  • Under Armour: 12/20
  • Nike: 6.5/20

Well, it looks like adidas wins this one by a landslide. I love Nike's desktop website and prefer it to Under Armour's, but it just doesn't handle email subscription very well (an admittedly niche bit of UX, but one that shouldn't be forgotten).

Keep your eyes peeled, I'll be looking at more website features from these three giants soon.

Subscribers can download The Fundamentals of Email Marketing to learn more about email marketing programmes.

Ben Davis

Published 1 November, 2016 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (1)

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Iain Anton, AM at Kickbox

Nice Article. Interesting that none of the above use real-time verification in their webforms. You can make sign up incentives as obvious and pretty as you like, but there's no point in growing a list that could be filled with invalid emails due to typos. Quality not Quantity.

over 1 year ago

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