Ecommerce email marketing is just like speed dating.
It’s all about making your first impression count.
Speed dating gives you a total of 5 minutes to get to know the person sitting opposite you, and ultimately, to judge the book by its cover (and maybe the blurb too).
Email marketing is no different. Your first interaction with a customer is make or break. You’ve got at least 2 clicks to impress your customers, and if you succeed, you have the chance to build a lasting loyal relationship.
The first email your customer receives is vital.
It allows the subscriber to make a quick judgment of your website, and in turn will result in whether they chose to opt-in or opt-out of your service.
Don't treat your subscriber as an open wallet.
Make the effort to demonstrate that you understand their needs.
Instead of selling first, show off your full potential and make a lasting first impression - that's how to keep your subscribers coming back for more.
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According to Experian Marketing Services, welcome emails generate 3x the transactions and revenue than any other email.
You heard it here folks.
The best ecommerce brands focus not on providing the largest giveaway or promotion, but on how they communicate with their customers to make sure their customers keep coming back for more.
Our tribe of ecommerce Gorillas have inboxes to make a spam filter weep in abject terror. We’ve analysed thousands of welcome email examples from all types of online retail brands – and some of the finest (and most competitive) examples can be found in the women’s fashion vertical.
We want to help email marketers from any industry learn from womenswear’s finest, so we’ve pulled together a list of five women’s apparel online retailers using different tactics to create a winning ecommerce speed dating first impression.
We have identified the key components five of the best womenswear ecommerce brands use (listed below), to give you some proven welcome email examples of different ways to make a successful first impression on your subscribers.
5 different ways for your brand’s email to make a winning first impression:
#1. Discounts and Promotions - Gooseberry Intimates
#2. Pop-Over Optimisation - Missguided
#3. Professional Sophistication - Anthropologie
#4. Awareness and Education - Shoes of Prey
#5. Language and Tone - Princess Polly
It is extremely important for ecommerce brands to take innovation and learn from one another. Whether your online store sells clothing, homewares or jewellery – you need to know how to use email to create the perfect first impression.
So…let the speed dating begin!
Girl Number 1.
She sits across the table in her black lace lingerie.
She looks great.
But after a few minutes of chatting, she lacks colour and interest.
Yeah, Gooseberry Intimates does a great job at selling her message (have you seen the followers on her Instagram page?).
Unfortunately, she lacks charisma and charm.
Selling lingerie should be simple and easy for Gooseberry Intimates. She’s got the pretty lace matching bra and brief set, followed by the absolute babe of a model showing them off to the world - but there’s one glaring thing is missing:
Where is the push to subscribe?
After clicking through to Gooseberry Intimates’ store from a social media post or a Google search, a clean and clear popover appears.
The copy is good, effectively using FOMO with their copy to resonate with new subscribers.
20% off you say?
This should immediately draw the customer in, but when the potential lifetime customer accidently clicks outside the popover – the chance to subscribe is lost forever.
There's no other option to sign up for emails in sight.
The discount code has also disappeared without a trace.
Why not have a clear subscribe call-to-action on every page? And add a coupon code prompt for 20% on product pages for first-time users?
These two simple additions should skyrocket Gooseberry’s long term relationship prospects.
The customer likes what they see in the 20% discount popover offer.
After subscribing, a welcome email hits their mail inbox in under 5 minutes.
Solid first impression.
We’re ticking some boxes in the looks department:
#1. Beautiful product imagery
#2. Clean, uncluttered and simple design with a sophisticated monochrome colour palette
#3. Large icons prompting the user to connect on social media
#4. Colour contrast used to make the call-to-action link (‘Shop Now’) stand out
But let’s be honest here – you kinda expect this level of performance.
These features are table stakes.
Gooseberry are successfully nailing down the fundamentals of a good subscriber welcome experience.
But ‘Good enough’ doesn’t get second dates.
On closer inspection, Gooseberry is starting to look a little rough around the edges.
#1. Why is the call-to-action it so small? Are they really interested in making it past first base?
#2. The Gooseberry welcome email preview text is non-existent. That’s a clear missed opportunity to increase open rates (and the chances of a potential conversion).
#3. And the subject line – it’s a little dull and generic. Take the chance to excite, to entice, and to engage your audience!
#4. The image looks like it’s spent some time with a Photoshop user. A more realistic model shot, or a user-generated image gathered from a previous customer could create a more personal connection with a new subscriber. Check out the incredible product imagery from lingerie startup Jewel Toned - these shots immediately differentiate the brand in the mind of the user, and show any digital pro how to use images the right way.
If Gooseberry Intimates really want to stand out from the competing crowd, why not offer something valuable for the customer, without just trying to seal the deal.
Take your customer out for a drink before you make your proposition. If you go too hard too early, you might cop an immediate, definitive rejection...
Gooseberry could infuse some helpful content into their welcome email. Subscribers who aren’t yet ready to buy will benefit from informative, educational or entertaining content related to your brand and their needs.
Victoria’s Secret do the groundwork with content marketing to score some brownie points with their researching shoppers.
The Angel Bra guide is a perfect example of the type of helpful research-based content that Gooseberry Intimates could use to nurture their subscribers from interested to buying.
The tool allows shoppers to take a simple quiz to find out their perfect bra size, and filter their shopping experience based on their personal preferences.
Your time with Gooseberry Intimates is up.
You like what she has to offer, you can see so much potential, but there are plenty more fish in the sea, right?
She just doesn’t stand out, there’s no ‘wow’ factor, none of that special chemistry you need to form a lasting bond.
Good, but not great won’t cut it.
Your ecommerce brand can’t afford to welcome new subscribers just like everyone else. You need to be better. You need that head-turning, jaw-dropping, knockout first impression to attract those new customers, and keep em for good.
Girl number 2.
She looks pretty cool.
She’s got a unique look about her, she knows what she’s talking about, and loves her squad.
Her name: Missguided.
Instantly, you can tell you like her a lot more than number 1.
Those vital first few seconds on have you hooked. She definitely knows what she is doing in the ecommerce world; she’s got it down.
Missguided’s online store is brimming with confidence!
Her call-to-action overlay looks great, with a simple minimising option if you aren’t as interested in her as we are.
If you’re that ‘playing hard to get’ guy, she’s got a middle-ground popover option beneath the scroll line if you don’t want to commit straight away.
The way she strings those first few words together on her popover is just tantalising. She’s evocative and interesting - clear about her brand values. You either like it or you don’t, which makes her all the more attractive to the ones who dig her vibe.
She even sets the expectation about what’s to come, combining important information and access to discounts to entice you to subscribe.
Now to her Squad. She talks glowingly about the Missguided tribe of devotees, giving everyone else a serious case of FOMO.
But what is the Missguided Squad? You want to be part of the cool kids’ group.
Well, you’ll have to sign up to find out…
So you do, and that first welcome email is on point.
Even the subject line and preview text send off a cool, unique vibe, communicating strong brand values to her audience right away.
Once you’re a part of the Squad, you’re introduced to the Missguided Universe.
The copy immediately changes the tone from ‘what we are selling’ to ‘what we are giving’.
Customer-focused copy proves the brand cares about more than the subscriber’s back pocket – you’ll get helpful style advice as well as deals and discounts.
She is cool, calm, collected, and (most importantly) calculated.
You can see how Missguided uses a specific language and tone to resonate with her defined target audience, and the FOMO factor of the Missguided Universe means you can’t help but want to turn yourself into a loyal member of her squad.
Girl number 3.
Anthropologie is different to the previous two.
Your first impression is distinct but discrete. Number 3 has no need for flashy showmanship or desperation.
She is the picture of effortless sophistication – a lesson in how to appeal to a specific audience with simple optimisation and classy welcome emails.
Anthropologie is visually appealing. She’s got it going on, and she knows she needs to look good to attract the suitors prepared to pay a premium For the more expensive products the store has to offer.
Immediately, shoppers are met with a clean popover, reflective of the online store’s design.
Anthropologie optimises her chances for new subscribers with this popover, but gives a simple option for users to opt out if need be.
The user can click off the popover to minimise, or select the large cross in the top left-hand corner to continue shopping. It’s okay, she understands.
Did you know that she ships to Australia?
To remove any uncertainty for international shoppers, Anthropologie use geo-location targeting to determine the user’s nationality, and customise the popover message with the reassurance of simple shipping details.
Instantly the shopper is closer to a conversion.
They know they aren’t wasting time virtual window shopping, only to be met with that heart-breaking “sorry we don’t ship to your location” notification on checkout.
Online retailers in any industry can take advantage of small features like this to personalise the user experience and make the effort to show customers you care.
Like Missguided, Anthropologie sets an enticing expectation for email subscribers, including a teaser of the value shoppers will get. There is even a footer email call-to-action subscription button, which is all a part of the expected user experience.
She isn’t trying to clamp on the hard-sell. This tactic earns trust from subscribers.
Any ecommerce business can use this approach can stand out from competitors, by developing a relationship instead of jumping all up in the user’s grill to try and make a cheap sale.
After you’re hooked in, a delightful welcome email hits your inbox...
The product imagery reflects the brand’s ethos - high quality aesthetic with sharp style and clean-cut vibes. The image is aspirational, immediately prompting the subscriber to lust for the lifestyle Anthropologie is about. The clean and consistent design reinforces the sophistication central to the brand.
Unlike the other girls she offers no discount, but in this case, it isn’t a bad thing.
Actually, it works for her.
The language Anthropologie uses in their welcome email allows users to make their own decision at whether they want to shop with Anthropologie or not. Don’t irritate the readers who aren’t ready to buy with a promotional barrage.
The clear call-to-action for social media is another important component of Anthropologie’s welcome email.
This prompts the subscriber to connect with the brand on a number of different channels.
More consistent contact with the brand will help you develop and maintain a relationship with your customers. Any online retailer can make this simple addition to their welcome email, and the return can far outweigh the effort involved.
Your time with Anthropologie is nearing to an end and you’ve really liked her company. She is clear and consistent with her design, and has created an experience designed to develop a long-term relationship with her customers.
Time is running thin now.
Will you find the perfect match?
You’re on your second last little speed-date welcome.
It’s Shoes of Prey’s time to shine. Has she got what it takes?
She is all about shoes. This online retail innovator doesn’t just sell shoes – Shoes of Prey allow users to design their own custom pair.
Number 3 makes a strong first impression.
She is smart, creative and understands that the most important goal in ecommerce is developing long term relationships with people who share the same interests and lifestyle. She knows exactly how to get this done – especially when it comes to generating new email subscribers.
Shoes of Prey optimise their online store for email subscribers within an instant of a click-through to the homepage.
A clear, beautiful popover is used to get any shoe addict salivating with glee. Instead of settling for a simple discount, Shoes of Prey encourage a bigger first order (and a larger profit margin) by offering 20% off on a second purchase.
The call-to-action copy is action-oriented and ultra-specific. Instead of a generic ‘shop now’ message, Shoes of Prey encourage users to ‘start designing’. This sounds more novel and exciting for a first-time visitor new to their concept.
First-time shoppers won’t always be convinced to subscribe immediately, particularly for a new and relatively unknown brand like Shoes of Prey. Lucky she knows how important it is to keep her options open.
A single click subscription bar is used on the homepage to constantly give you the chance to take your relationship to the next level of commitment.
Prominent position and great colour-contrast are both used to make this call-to-action stand out and draw users in.
A constant footer subscription option adds an extra safety net for her.
It’s present throughout the site, just incase a customer decides after a few searches they want to subscribe to the brand.
Number four won’t leave anything to chance. She’s knows the importance of that email address.
On each and every product page, new users are met with another specific popover encouraging subscription.
She’s in for the long haul. If you want to dance with this girl, you’ve gotta be prepared to come back for more.
Still looking for something different to the previous girls? You want that standout, knockout punch, yeah?
You’re interested, so you subscribe, and welcome email is very different to our previous examples.
There is no sales push *sigh of relief*.
Instead, subscribers are met with a clear call-to-action to return to the site and start designing. Not to shop, but to design.
To their target shoe-addicted audience, this message is akin to asking an Oompa Loompa to bathe in a chocolate fountain.
Of course you want to click through and explore. There’s no commitment required, and no annoying pushiness from a desperate brand grabbing at your wallet.
She wants you to make an account and start designing your own pair of unique shoes. No discounts, no about-me’s, no push to be a part of their squad.
It’s all about you – the customer. This is the fundamental criteria for successful email marketing.
Give the audience what they want. Stop making it about your brand, your products, and your profits. Build a relationship, add value and earn trust. Love your customers into repeat sales and lasting loyalty.
Unlike the others, Shoes of Prey use follow-up emails to keep informing, educating and adding value for their new potential.
The first follow-up email is sent 24 hours after the initial subscription, filled with educational content about their shoes, and helpful style advice.
The importance of this email helpfulness cannot be underestimated. Shoes of Prey are able to establish trust, build authority and prove to their customers they understand their needs.
1 week later, another email lands, with another bundle of helpful content for the customer. In this email Shoes of Prey bridge the gap between research and purchase, giving the subscriber one week’s breathing space before the sales pitch - rather than pounding your inbox repeatedly (the strategy of the majority of ecommerce brands).
The message is not overtly sales-focused (asking the subscriber to ‘design’), but the call-to-action does drive the user to the design stage – one step closer to a purchase.
Shoes of Prey have got it going on.
She uses her knowledge and expertise in the shoe industry to produce helpful content for her subscribers, nurturing them and making sure they are cared for properly.
She has established trust, built authority and reduced all uncertainty her shoppers may have had, and they love her for it.
She cares for her customers, and the follow-up emails show this. She wants them to know what coloured dress goes well with blue shoes, she wants them to know what pants they should wear with block heels, and most of all she wants them to keep coming back.
No matter what industry you are in, there is no reason you can’t mirror these tools. The way you reach out to your customers and create a first impression matters much more than you think…
This is her.
She’s the one.
Your first impression lets you know this is the girl you want.
She goes by the name of Princess Polly, and damn she is taking the ecommerce world by storm.
She knows exactly how to keep her customers coming back. Everything about her shows she knows everything about the type of person she’s trying to attract and exactly how to care for their every need.
Immediately, you can sense Princess Polly’s superior ecommerce expertise from the online store’s approach to gathering subscribers.
A helpful discount for subscribing hits you straight away, with a clear and quirky call-to-action popover.
She engages you straight away, showing off her fun, young, and casual personality.
The typography and illustration on the popover immediately convey the sensibility of the Princess Polly brand.
The choice of colour and typeface are similarly deliberate – signalling the brand’s personality to those who enjoy this unique style.
Princess Polly even has a footer option to subscribe, with a simple contrast of colour and funky, unique graphics and fonts that reinforce the brand’s values.
And to top it off, Princess Polly’s blog is a content marketing masterpiece.
Unlike most womenswear retailers, Princess Polly gives users a clear option to subscribe for regular blog updates.
It’s such a simple, easy way to maintain contact with potential customers, communicate your brand’s values, and nurture subscribers into loyal repeat customers.
Now, to the welcome email…
It just keeps getting better folks.
You are now a part of the Polly Mail publication; a separate content brand that immediately sets the expectation that you’re a new member of her exclusive little community.
By giving the email newsletter its own identity, Princess Polly are showing subscribers this is not just an afterthought – it’s intended to be a legitimate value-add for the customer.
A separate content brand like this creates a much more personal connection than a batch-and-blast promotional email would in its place.
The preview text attracts your eye and entices the reader to click - a great teaser.
Again, we’re met with fun design, custom illustrations, and a unique product shot.
The quirky hand-scribed overlay text sets the expectation for the customer, increasing their excitement of the value they can expect to come through their inbox;
Secret sales, sneak peaks, competitions and style advice.
Suddenly, you’ve gone from expecting the obligatory 10% discount email, to the point where you’ll be scanning your email daily for interesting stuff from Princess Polly.
You might not buy immediately, but there’s a good chance you’ll buy on the 6th, 11th, or 29th email (while the annoying sales pitches from other brands have long since been discarded into your spam folder).
There’s something else unique about Princess Polly.
Her welcome email contains an ‘About Us’ section, which establishes a personal, emotional connection with readers, in a way that bigger corporate retailers fail to do.
The brand’s interesting origin story resonates with their target audience and differentiates Princess Polly from price competitive stores like Amazon and David Jones.
The story makes you want to root for this underdog. You feel like you’re a member of their little like-minded community, and you’re prepared to pay a premium for a unique product because you believe in the brand and what it stands for. The use of real, Polaroid images here are also effective - engaging the reader on a more personal level.
She excels herself further with a recommended option at the bottom of the email, which personalises the user experience based on the subscriber’s browsing history, and popular preferences from other similar shoppers.
This little widget is a super effective way to harness your online store data and turn it into a value-add for your subscribers. A little addition like this only helps to show that your brand cares more than the rest.
That’s it, it’s all too much.
Princess Polly is killing it.
She has set the bar soo high for all other online stores. But there’s no reason you can’t take her game and beat it.
Princess Polly knows how to reach out and care for her customers, but you don’t need millions of dollars or hundreds of staff to optimise your site for subscribers, or to nurture long lasting relationships with a valuable welcome email series.
You just need to stop thinking about their wallet and start thing about the value you can add for your customers.
Optimise your welcome email for lifetime relationships - not one-off sales
Unfortunately, all good things come to an end.
Your time in the speed-dating ring is up.
You’ve met 5 very cool, different girls of the online womenswear world. Each is using different tactics to try and make their first impressions count.
You should walk away confident you can attract a whole bunch more potential customers, then turn em’ into lasting loyal relationships.
Don’t just settle for a lazy discount to lure new customers over email.
Optimise your site to gather as many email subscription as possible.
Opt for consistency and sophistication over desperation and sleaziness.
Be careful with your language – the words you use make a lasting first impression.
Educate, inform and help where you can, and earn your subscribers trust and respect so you can cash in the value you add for ongoing repeat sales.
These core principles can be applied to the online shopping experience across any industry.
There is no reason you can’t make an irresistible first impression.
Just remember to wine and dine them before you try to seal the deal.