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 ‘’ and Next’s is the rather cold ‘’

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


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.


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.