Smith-Harmon Releases Retail Welcome Email Benchmark Study

Smith-Harmon, reciently announced the release of the Retail Welcome Email Benchmark Study.  Taking a look at welcome email programs and best practices among a number of major online retailers.

Given the opportunity to build trust between the consumer and the marketers, it’s unfortunate that so many still don’t seem to be taking advantage of these messaging programs. Smith-Harmon’s study of the welcome programs of 112 of the largest online retailers, reveals that only 76% even send out welcome emails. While that’s up from 72% in 2007 and 66% in 2006, it’s concerning to see that many are missing out on a great opportunity with these programs.

Key findings from the study include:

  • Text-only welcome emails are becoming increasingly antiquated. More than 89% of retailers sent HTML welcome emails, up from 78% in 2007 and 69% in 2006.
  • The role that welcome emails can play in ensuring future deliverability of emails is growing. More than 68% of retailers used welcome emails to ask new subscribers to add the sender to their address book, up from about 62% in 2007 and 49% in 2006.
  • The number of top online retailers making their emails CAN-SPAM compliant rose significantly. Nearly 71% included both an unsubscribe link and their mailing address, up from 58% in 2007 and 52% in 2006.
  • While 15% of welcome emails include a forward-to-a-friend link, none of those studied included a share-with-your-network (SWYN) link. We expect many marketers to adopt SWYN this year, including adding it to their welcome emails.

Could you be doing more with your welcome program? Get the report here (13.4 MB – right click and save link as…).

Author: Matt V - @emailkarma

Matthew Vernhout is a digital messaging industry veteran and Certified International Privacy Professional (Canada) (CIPP/C) with nearly two decades of experience in email marketing. Matthew is 250ok’s Director of Privacy, and he is currently the Vice Chair of the eec, after serving for several years as the Chair of their Advocacy Subcommittee. Matthew was recognized as the 2019 eec thought-leader of the year.

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  1. From the study, 62% of of the welcome emails came within 10 minutes… that means site-generated, no?

    For the other 38% to come after that, it would suggest either a manual program, or at least a daily load cycle in a customer database somewhere…

    Does this imply that 38% of customers rely on at least 24 hour load cycle to process welcome emails? It certainly suggests it.

    Furthermore, from the study indicates that lag time has increased over the past year…does this mean that over the past year, perhaps retailers have moved towards more advanced data management, with the casualty of timeliness?

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  2. Hi Sean. Great comments and questions. In regards to your questioin on welcome emails that arrived within 10 minutes, those are most likely a combination of messages sent through the site or by using an API to communicate with the sender’s ESP system.

    I would hope if retailers were practicing more advanced data management tactics, that would translate to faster delivery of welcome messages, not longer. But unfortunately, in many cases, as systems become more complex it does require more hoops to jump through and timeliness may be sacrificed.

    For batch processes, I have seen a variety of practices being implemented, from a daily pickup feed, to every two weeks and even out as long as a month.

    Personally, if it’s something that can be automated, I think 24 hours is the maximum duration one should wait before sending out welcome messages. Anything longer than that and the welcome message begins to lose its relevance and impact.

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