The Good, Bad and Ugly of the Welcome Process
The sooner a subscriber is engaged, the longer and deeper they remain engaged with an email program over time. The welcome email is a critical phase in every life cycle; maximizing it pays big dividends. I decided to dive deep into the email welcome experience, studying an array of businesses with a focus on driving conversions. Opting into a brand's email program sets the stage for a follow-up strategy.
Using Internet Retailer’s list of the top 500 B-to-C retailers based on online sales, I selected the first 80 retailers and went through the process of subscribing to their email program using a Gmail address. Of those 80, eight didn’t have a formal email program, so the final sample set was 72.
Among the companies that sent a welcome email, 9 percent landed in the spam folder. That doesn’t bode well for those programs going forward. Additionally, 33 percent of the retailers that sent a welcome email didn't include any recommendation to add their address to the subscriber’s address book, either in the email itself or on the confirmation page. That’s not going to help their deliverability rate over the long term.
Sixty-two percent allowed me to sign up using only an email address. This is always a trade-off for acquiring subscribers, and clearly most companies are opting for the path of least data gathering resistance.
Seven percent of the retailers asked for a format preference of HTML or text — an unnecessary question that only makes the sign-up process longer than it needs to be. Only two of the 73 companies used a double opt-in process (3 percent). Double opt-in is always a tough sell, but this really showcases how little this approach is used today. While 25 retailers collected a first name, 60 percent of those didn’t use it in their welcome email. Remember, if you ask for a data field, be sure you're going to use it.