If you’ve ever seen First Dates, you’ll know that initial impressions count for a lot.

For brands, a welcome email is the perfect way to make one. In fact, according to a study by Return Path, users who read one welcome email will go on to open at least 40% of emails from the same brand in the following 180 days. 

Despite this, however, only 51% of the UK’s top ecommerce brands are reportedly sending dedicated welcome emails. Similarly, just 26% use customer names in a first email, while 11% personalise their interactions further.

With this in mind, I decided to take a look at how a few top retailers are faring on this front. While I wrote a similar article last year, this time I will focus purely on the email content and incorporate non-fashion brands, too.

Here are 10 examples, with insight on what they’re doing right (or wrong).

Topshop

First up, Topshop, which goes for an image-heavy hello.

While there doesn’t seem to be anything personal about the email at first, there is a prompt for customers to enter in their birthday.

Not only does this present an opportunity for Topshop to capture data, but it also gives an incentive for customers to click through to the site itself and (hopefully) have a bit of a browse.

Warehouse

Warehouse is another fashion retailer that opts for impactful imagery. However, it lets itself down a little by failing to offer any personal messaging or strong calls-to-action.

That being said, it nicely highlights its USP – emphasising its delivery and return options and showcasing where customers can find the brand on social.

West Elm

The welcome email from furniture retailer, West Elm, is strong on many fronts.

Not only does it showcase its various category ranges, but it also gives customers a special 10% discount just for signing up – a nice way to offer instant value and encourage a conversion.

This, alongside a personal tone and promotion of its social media and London store, means it's covering multiple bases in a single email.

It could be argued that West Elm tries to pack too much in, but welcome emails achieve high open rates so it's worth testing which elements people are most receptive to.

Farfetch

I had high hopes for Farfetch’s welcome email, however it’s pretty lacklustre in both design and content.

Choosing a ‘thank you’ message over a ‘welcome’ could mean users are less likely to browse there and then. For example, the brand could have also said ‘check out our offers’ rather than ‘you’ll now receive offers’ - a subtle change in tone but one that could make a big difference.

Lastly, I feel like the email could have done with an image or some sort of editorial content at the very least. It's interesting to note the very different designs chosen by Farfetch and West Elm.

Oasis

Despite the Oasis website offering a whole host of enjoyable features, its welcome email doesn’t quite reflect this.

It’s still good – there’s a free delivery code included and prominent call-to-action to start shopping – however it lacks any real personalisation.

Similarly, while the design is subtle, I can’t help thinking that it could do with a few eye-catching photos, though that might detract from the CTA.

Jo Malone

This welcome message is designed to make each consumer feel special, using the ‘world of Jo Malone’ premise to promote a sense of email exclusivity. 

With the prompt to ‘discover more’ as well as the promise of a welcome gift, it is sure to drive customers on-site. 

I also like the fact that it highlights online perks like samples and the Jo Malone signature box – these are small but lovely features that are ideal for highlighting in a welcome email.

Lakeland

Unlike many of the aforementioned brands, homeware retailer Lakeland goes all out with its welcome message. Unfortunately, it could be a case of clutter over substance.

While a focus on trust and privacy might help to reassure customers, surely signing up to the newsletter means people are already happy to give away data? Likewise, addressing the customer by their surname comes off as too formal.

The second half of the email is a bit more appealing, however, nicely pointing the user to editorial content, social, and customer service.

Net-a-Porter

This example from Net-a-Porter is one of the best on the list, mainly because of a strong focus on personalisation.

By prompting users to choose their favourite designers and create their own wish-lists, there is an immediate indication that future emails will be personally tailored to taste.

Similarly, the editorial-style design is pleasing on the eye, prompting users to check out the content found elsewhere on the site.

Marks and Spencer

M&S delivers a subtle but effective first impression to email customers.

I particularly like how it promotes the breadth of its products – and the ‘offers’ tab highlighted in red is bound to drive purchases.

Likewise, the delivery and returns information helps to provide reassurance.

Whistles

Finally, we’re finishing off with Whistles and its highly impactful welcome.

By labelling email customers as the Whistles ‘community’, there is an immediate sense of inclusivity, while the prompt to ‘shop new in’ highlights the fresh and regularly updated product pages.

The brand also incorporates social right from the get-go, encouraging consumers to check out its various channels.

To learn more on this topic, check out Econsultancy’s range of email marketing training courses.

Nikki Gilliland

Published 21 February, 2017 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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