According to research, 57% of email subscribers spend anywhere between 10-60 minutes browsing marketing emails during the week.

But while email marketing remains one of the most effective ways to reach and engage with customers, the problem for most brands is still getting people to sign up in the first place.

So, what exactly makes someone want to opt in to a brand email or newsletter? Here’s a look at some of the best examples of big brands enticing customers to hand over their sweet, sweet data.


Lightbox pop-ups are a common way to prompt email sign-ups, confronting customers with the option as soon as they land on a homepage. The reason they tend to work is that they remove all distraction and target customers in a key moment of interest – not when they’re bored of browsing and more likely to click away. However they are also quite annoying.

Anthropologie uses this pop-up box technique to prompt sign-ups, alongside the promise of exclusive information on new ranges and special sales. As well as the unavoidable nature of the pop-up, this instils a sense of exclusivity.

email sign up forms


Considering how valuable an email sign up form can be, it’s surprising how many brands resort to the standard ‘subscribe’ or ‘sign-up’ call to action.

While the language a brand uses obviously differs depending on industry and target audience, it can still be a great opportunity to capture interest through interesting copy.

US fancy dress retailer Shinesty is a great example of this. Furthering its quirky and brash tone of voice, it suggests that its email is far better than any other. Finally, the CTA of ‘let’s get weird’ instils intrigue, prompting customers to wonder what they’re going to receive.

Even the T&Cs are creative, giving the customer a nice little compliment in the process.

New York Times

One of the biggest factors likely to prevent someone signing up to brand email is the fear that they will be spammed or bombarded with irrelevant marketing. This means that brands try to counteract this with the reassurance that they won’t.

The New York Times goes one step further by offering customers the chance to preview previous examples of email newsletters. In doing so, it reassures users about the kind of content they’ll receive – as well as increases levels of interest.

I also like how this section of the site is laid out. Along with concise descriptions of the various newsletters on offer, the subtle ‘sign up’ button by each one nicely catches the eye.


According to research by the Social Habit, 70% of email readers open emails from a brand or company in search of a deal, discount, or money-off coupon.

Unsurprisingly, discounts are a massive incentive for signing up to newsletters, with many brands using this technique to capture email data.

While the formula can be a little predictable, I particularly like this example from TOMS.

First, the placement of the sign-up form at the top of the homepage is very effective for grabbing the attention of visitors. Second, the ability to choose between the categories of men and women is a nice touch of personalisation, giving the sense that emails will be tailored to the individual.

Of course, the 10% off discount is also an incentive, but, it becomes even more effective when paired with other features.

10 examples of welcome emails of varying quality from online retailers


While entering an email address doesn’t sound like much effort, research suggests that 86% of people are bothered by creating new accounts on websites or even entering in basic information.

Everlane aims to take away this friction by offering the alternative of social login.

This option allows users to sign-up in just one-click, while the retailer is able to capture their data at the same time.

More than this, it also allows Everlane to capture much more specific information. This means that customers don’t have to go through the bother of manually entering details (such as gender, location or preferences) – yet they’ll receive greater levels of personalisation. A win-win, you might say.

I also like how Everlane cleverly uses language to promote the exclusive nature of its brand, promising ‘sneak peeks’ and ‘first dibs’ to further tempt sign-ups.


Discounts aren’t the only incentive for signing up to brand newsletters. Adestra found that 41% of consumers want updates on products and services, while 38% sign up simply because they love the company in question.

T2 aims to further devotion to its brand with its email newsletter, which is also part of its loyalty program or ‘T2 tea society’ as it’s known.

Offering ‘a place for tea lovers to call home’, it builds on a personal connection with customers and the promise of more than just marketing comms.

Interestingly, it uses two calls-to-action to increase the chances of conversion. One is the standard ‘sign up to our newsletter’, but the other, ‘join the tea society’, is designed to bring to mind the perks that come along with it.

They do offer the same thing, so it would be interesting to know which one generates the most clicks.


Not all retailers are so brazen about their newsletters. Some, like mattress brand Casper, take a subtle approach to pique the natural curiosity of customers.

The brand’s integrated sign-up box is discreetly located in the bottom-right hand corner of its homepage, allowing users to easily sign-up without being re-directed to another page.

This might sound like a small detail, but by keeping the user on the same page, it is able to create a much more fluid and non-disruptive experience.

This is also a good example of a brand enticing customers without swaying from its wider strategy. If it were to shout about discounts or promotions, it would look out of place against the rest of its rather minimalist style – both in terms of communication and design.

And its subtle approach doesn’t mean it isn’t effective. The offer of ‘free bedtime reading’ is a nice nod to its core product, while the nearby social buttons offer cross-promotion, pointing users in the direction of its other channels.


Finally, an interesting example from fast food chain Chilango, which prompts users with a pop-up lightbox.

Instead of actually asking people to sign up to its newsletter, however, it asks them to ‘try our new summer duo’ – detailing its new seasonal recipe.

This confronts the user with something a bit more stimulating than a standard email promotion, evoking the sense that they’re seeing something new or exclusive to them.

While this tactic has its negatives – potentially annoying customers or appearing salesy or even misleading – it does allow the brand to promote a new product while simultaneously prompting customers to sign up.

Email newsletter sign-ups: How fashion brands welcome new subscribers