“Subscribe and be the first to know about new arrivals and hot sales!” Everyone has come across offers like this while shopping for clothes. You sign up and every time you check your inbox later it feels like Christmas morning — a flow of nonstop sales, discounts, and freebies from clothing retailers.
But is a tempting special perk enough to turn a subscriber into a customer? We decided to find out how fashion brands onboard new subscribers and maintain that bond with email marketing campaigns. So we challenged ourselves with another research project, and now we’d like to present our experience and share our findings. Off we go.
For our fashion email marketing research, we used the same methodology as for the abandoned cart emails study. We chose ten fashion brands and added them to an Excel spreadsheet. Our file contained the name of the company, details on their website navigation, and subscription forms — whether the brand offered lead magnets, used reCAPTCHA, or invited users to set preferences — and some fields dedicated to their email campaigns, in particular, if there were any welcome messages, how many emails the brand sent and how often.
Afterward, we created a separate mailbox and started our journey by checking the websites of selected fashion companies and analyzing how they capture email addresses.
Navigation on all websites is pretty intuitive and easy. A visitor can find the subscription form with no sweat — commonly at the bottom of the page, like on Kate Spade’s homepage:
Some brands like Ralph Lauren opted for a pop-up window to ensure the subscription form reaches the user in no time. The moment potential subscribers visit the website, the pop-up with an offer to sign up literally grabs users by the hand:
Seven out of ten brands we investigated offered an incentive to potential buyers in exchange for their email address — a lead magnet.
However, none of the brands used reCAPTCHA or presented an option to choose email preferences.
Our final step at this stage was signing up for emails. This step allows us to discover the preferable email subscription method among fashion brands — single or double opt-in. The first method consists in a one-step process: a user just needs to submit their email address to join the mailing list. Meanwhile, the second method is more complicated: it requires a user to confirm their email address by clicking a link in the email they’ve got after filling in the subscription form.
Guess how many confirmation emails we got…
just one, from Valfre:
Once the subscription was completed, we received welcome emails from eight brands. The two remaining companies didn’t bother to greet the new subscriber but instead pitched our heads first into the deep end of their promotional campaigns. That is not the best practice as 33% of subscribers show a better level of interaction with the brand if they receive a welcome email.
Another thing worth mentioning is that brands who sent welcome messages reached us with no delay: we received all eight emails with a code for a discount immediately after the subscription. You may see one of the examples below:
The only brand who allowed us to choose preferences at this stage was GAP. The company sent a welcome email series, and one of their messages included a link to update preferences so that we could choose the preferable content and receive it in the future:
We cut the ribbon — joined the mailing lists and received welcome emails — and started monitoring the brand’s activity for two weeks.
When we came back to gather the results, our fashion spreadsheet turned out to be like this:
By the end of our two-week research project, our mailbox contained a total of 136 emails: the record holder on our list sent 19 emails per week, while the lowest number of weekly emails we got was two. This means that each brand worked out their own email marketing schedule. Here is a quick overview of how often the brands sent emails:
In fact, 47% of users decide whether to open an email based solely on the subject line as it’s the first thing they see while checking the inbox. We analyzed which tricks the companies used to catch the subscribers’ eye, and here are our top three:
1. Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO)
And what did the emails have in store? Most brands didn’t miss their chance to promote as much as possible. Some chose single-column templates but filled their emails with different offers reinforced with exclusive deals and discounts — like Victoria’s Secret did.
Others broke the email into two or three columns to include more promoted goods. Take a look at the three-column template sent by GAP:
There were also brands that sent minimalistic emails with one offer inside. Kate Spade’s email below, for example, featured a banner with a single offer and a CTA:
A few brands used emails to break through the promotional noise by sharing some additional information to escalate brand awareness. Have a look at the email we got from Gucci — the brand not only offered subscribers to read the interview with the company’s creative designer, but also invited them to take a sneak peek at his office.
The data we collected during this research has shown that
- 70% of analyzed fashion brands motivate visitors to subscribe using lead magnets — % off the first order and free shipping.
- 90% of fashion companies prefer single opt-in to double opt-in.
- 70% of brands we investigated send welcome emails, whereas only 10% set up welcome flows.
- FOMO is the most used subject line trick among fashion retailers.
- 80% of companies send only promotional emails, while 20% send more or less unrelated content to acquaint subscribers with the company’s team and its history.
We hope this research will come in handy when you build your email marketing strategy with SendPulse. Take care! 🙂