Newsletter subscribers are an incredibly valuable asset for retailers.

By signing up, customers are actively showing appreciation for a brand, as well as an interest to hear more in future.

As a result - and as our Email Marketing Census highlights - almost three-quarters of companies now rate email marketing as delivering an excellent ROI.

But are retailers really using emails to excellent effect?

From data capture to saying hello, here’s a look at the email sign-up process offered by a range of online retailers.

Let’s start with the best of the bunch.


Long sign-up forms can be off-putting, especially when it stretches to birthday or category preferences.

Despite Gap’s longer-than-average form, signing up turns out to be worth the effort.

With an impressive 20% discount for new customers, Gap delivers one of the most generous welcomes around.

By not giving away the offer before the customer signs up, yet making it the surprise focal point of the email, it demonstrates how a brand can capture customer loyalty from the get-go.

Actively promoting the 20% discount might increase sign ups, but it might also just attract one-time bargain hunters.


Unlike Gap, ASOS just can’t resist promoting its incentive of a 15% discount.

An upfront approach that suits a similarly in-your-face brand, ASOS is all about cool design and clever copywriting

With playful language like “No likey – no problem” – the emails speak to a clear demographic. 

Despite this potentially polarising tone of voice, anyone agreeing to receive a ‘fash-tastic’ newsletter surely knows what they’re signing up for.


Calling anything a ‘club’ makes it seem far more exclusive than it actually is. 

By playing up to this angle as well as including an additional incentive of a £250 prize, Joy’s email sign up is one of the most attractive examples.

Likewise, so is its welcome email.

Showcasing four reasons to love being part of the Joy club (using a rather fancy flashing design), the email combines pleasing graphics with concise, easy-to-read copy.

A joyful experience all round.


The welcome email is not always about offering money off. 

With two-fifths of companies now indicating that content personalisation is part of their email strategy, a more bespoke experience is proving to be just as effective.

With a slick magazine-style format, Reiss’s welcome email is geared around ‘reasons to love’ the brand.

From wishlists to personal shopping, it’s all about helping the consumer find exactly what it is they want. 

The beautiful girl helps too, obviously.

Now, onto the worst culprits...


A retailer that’s better known for homeware rather than fashion – Anthropologie is rather cheeky when it comes to getting new customer sign-ups in the bag.

First, a tiny call-to-action at the bottom of the screen results in this enticing pop-up.

After you have entered your address, a welcome email will arrive in your inbox, complete with a subject line promising ‘the start of something beautiful’.

Sounds delightful so far. But here’s where it gets a little odd.

Despite the fact that you’ve already given away your email, it again prompts you to ‘sign up now’ in order to enjoy free delivery and returns.

Wait – what? I thought I already did?

Oh, but I didn’t give you ALL my details. I see what you did there.

Well played.


When you’re used to receiving bright, image-heavy brand emails, receiving a text-only welcome feels a little strange. 

Like, are we in 2005 or something?

A fairly kooky brand, Monki plays it similarly cool when it comes to emails subscribers.

With a basic black and while sign up form, and a similarly bland welcome email, the brand has clearly opted for a minimalistic style.

Either way, I guess it’s hard to argue with 10% off.

River Island

Unlike Monki, River Island has a high street presence that’s hard to ignore. Much like its website, it is full of beautiful people wearing beautifully bright and catwalk-inspired clothes.

Its emails on the other hand are a little confused.

With a text-only ‘hello’ – and merely a vague promise of ‘exclusive promotions’ and ‘early previews’ - the initial 'welcome' email seems strangely at odds with a brand that has an otherwise vibrant presence on social media.

As it turns out, this is only the sign-up confirmation.

But it's still a little hard to get excited about the real one when it arrives days later.


Usually a fail-safe shopping experience, you'd expect more from Zara.

Yet, not only is this email another boring example of a text-only template, but it also sends out a link requiring confirmation of the subscription beforehand.

Not that there’s anything majorly wrong with brands taking this step – but considering the extra effort required, the uninspired welcome barely seems a fair reward.

In conclusion...

From this small selection, we can evidently see how some brands are failing to make use of welcome emails.

Monki and Zara demonstrate just how uninspiring a poorly designed email can be.

On the other hand, the likes of Joy and ASOS show that it’s not rocket science either.

Ultimately, brands need to realise that getting someone to sign up is not the end of the story. It’s only just the beginning. 

A consistent tone of voice, slick design, and curated content are all ways of keeping the customer interested long term.

That, and a bit of money off never hurts.

Nikki Gilliland

Published 31 May, 2016 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

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

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Comments (2)

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, Founder and Author at Fresh Relevance

I'm the husband of an Asian woman, and I also created an ESP, so may I point out that asking for "first name" and "last name" is annoying - because brands normally apply European rules when combining them together and get your name wrong.

The easiest solution is to ask for Full Name (e.g. "My Linh Nguyen", or "Nguyen My Linh") so shoppers can choose how they want to be addressed.

If you want the option to address your customers informally then ask for First Name ("Linh") as well, in addition to Full Name.

Here are some basic rules for Chinese names, as evidence that rules to join First Name and Last Name correctly are too complicated to attempt:

about 2 years ago


Jamie Fay, Marketing Strategy & Analytics Specialist at Unknown

Great article Nikki. I agree with you all the way, except on Zara's two stage sign-up process. This approach can yield results further down the line due to the extra engagement required to build your base. But you need to test, sign-ups could suffer drastically if you get this wrong.

Interesting point too Pete; names can be a nightmare to handle effectively for all purposes. Users with just one name or with a name with an unusual form can struggle. I read an interesting post recently about people with names that are reserved words (Null, for example). Check out this link:

about 2 years ago

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