Welcome e-mails gain popularity for retailers

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Welcome e-mails are on the rise, as 72 percent of major online retailers regularly send out welcome e-mails this year, up from 66 percent last year, according to a new study by the Email Experience Council, the Direct Marketing Association's group that focuses on the e-mail marketing industry.

In its second annual report titled "Retail Welcome Email Subscription Benchmark Study," the EEC examined the welcome e-mails of 118 of the top online retailers, tracked via RetailEmail.Blogspot. The study identifies a number of best practices and benchmarks in the areas of merchandising, relationship-building, deliverability and CAN-SPAM compliance.

"There has been a tremendous increase in the adoption of welcome e-mails this year," said Jeanniey Mullen, EEC founder and a senior partner and executive director for e-mail and dialogue services at OgilvyOne Worldwide. "I think that over the past year e-mail's positioning has changed from being strictly a direct marketing tool to being more of a customer relationship [component]. A welcome message is a good way to start this relationship."

This year, for the first time, the EEC also tracked the passage of time between subscriptions and the delivery of welcome e-mails. While the majority of retailers deliver their welcome e-mails within 10 minutes of sign-up, 19 percent take more than 24 hours to deliver and nearly a third of those taking more than a week.

The report also found that 58 percent of welcome e-mails were CAN-SPAM compliant in terms of including both a mailing address and unsubscribe method, versus 52 percent last year. In addition, 62 percent of welcome e-mails asked the subscriber to whitelist them by adding an e-mail address to their address book, up from 49 percent last year.

HTML-based welcome e-mails were up this year, with 79 percent of retailers sending out e-mails in this format, up from 69 percent last year. The remaining 21 percent sent text-only welcome e-mails.

According to the report, 75 percent of the welcome e-mails include the retailer's brand name in their subject lines, which remained consistent from last year.

"I think that the retailers who use their name in the subject line are going to have better results," Mullen added.

Retailers are moving away from offering incentives during sign-up, as 32 percent of welcome e-mails include a discount, reward or incentive, down from 34 percent last year.

For more information on the report, visit http://www.emailexperience.org/Login-Whitepaper-Room.

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