The Welcome Message: Email’s Opening Ceremony

The goals of the Olympic opening ceremony are a lot like those of a brand’s welcome message. Both want to use the opportunity to make a great first impression, set the stage for what’s to come, showcase content, and keep everyone tuned in for more. With Return Path’s launch of the 2016 Email Olympics, we took a look at how brands competing in eight summer Olympics sports categories measure up when it comes to the welcome message.

While every brand is in it to win it, we have a few training tips to gain a winning edge. First, know who’s joining your team. If you have a broad product line, tailor your welcome message by segmenting sign-ups by referring search term traffic or category landing page. From there, use the welcome message to capture email preferences and make future messages more targeted and relevant. Next, get new recruits into a training program. Most email marketers send a welcome message, but if you want to keep subscribers in the game, give them some initial conditioning with an onboarding series, as you’ll see Everlast does very effectively. Finally, show your team you’re there for them. All brands we reviewed included callouts to connect through social media, but consider also offering easy help through a toll-free number/online chat or showing where to find the nearest store, as Reebok does so effectively.

And now, based on our subscriber experience, here are the gold medalists for “Best Welcome Message” in each sport:

Sender: Dancewear Solutions
Welcome Email #1
Subject line: Welcome to Dancewear Solutions!

What We Like/Message Highlights:

  • Pre-header message complements the subject line
  • “View online” link is prominent if images are blocked
  • Email copy reinforces subscriber benefits
  • Free Shipping offer is visible within the preview pane
  • In the message footer, subscribers can “Update email preferences” as an alternative to unsubscribing.


  • Call out the free shipping offer in the subject line or pre-header message
  • Tell subscribers how they can redeem the offer
  • Utilize open space below “Start Shopping” to call out featured categories and reduce scrolling
  • Two different welcome messages were sent simultaneously. Send the second email 24-48 hours after the initial welcome message and/or only send to subscribers who did not open/click the initial welcome message


Welcome Email #2
Subject Line: Thank you for staying connected with Dancewear Solutions! Free shipping offer.

What We Like:

  • Shipping offer is called out in the subject line and visible in the preview pane
  • Copy clearly communicates how to redeem the offer
  • Clear call-to-action call outs
  • Social media promoted both within message body and template footer


  • Utilize a pre-header message to highlight key message content
  • Incorporate a clear, consistent call-to-action through buttons, arrows, or “Shop” copy
  • Place featured categories above the primary image
  • Reduce primary total image size and/or use a horizontal image to optimize the space


Sender: Nike
Subject Line: You’re In

What We Like/Highlights:

  • “Create an Account” prompts further brand engagement
  • Multiple opportunities for engagement, including: social media; the running app, a link to videos, and “Share this email”


  • Customize “Top Styles You Might Like” to feature shoes relevant to the subscriber
  • Reconsider the primary and secondary goals of the email. Currently the message is focused on driving registration rather than educating the subscriber on the email program they’re already part of.

Images Turned Off – Preview Pane View



Sender: Oakley
Subject Line: Welcome to Oakley
What We Like/Highlights:

  • First name personalization
  • Request for subscriber preferences to customize future email messages
  • Promotion of social networks
  • Primary navigation options, including “Store locator” accessible in the header and footer


  • Request email preferences within the valuable preview pane real estate
  • Use imagery that features Oakley product(s)
  • Inform subscribers about category/product offerings outside of sunglasses


Sender: Everlast
Subject Line: Thanks for Signing-Up. Take 25% Off Your Next Order

What We Like/Highlights:

  • Email offer in the subject line increases the likelihood of email opens/click through
  • Subscribers are reminded about subscription benefits in the message body
  • Category call outs allow subscribers to quickly click through to their primary category of interest
  • Subsequent onboarding series requests email preferences; reminds the subscriber to use the welcome offer; promotes flat rate shipping; offers Q&A chat; and invites subscribers to participate in a social media contest.


  • Optimize the preview pane for image blocking: pre-header summary, ALT attributes and captions for images.

Images Turned Off – Preview Pane View


Onboarding Message 1:
Subject Line: Personalize Your Everlast Email Preferences


Onboarding Message 2:
Subject Line: There’s More to Experience at Everlast


Sender: Reebok
Subject Line: Thank You For Registering


  • Welcome verbiage is about joining an overall experience, not just an email program.
  • Gives an immediate hashtag to follow on Social Media
  • Without requiring a postal address during sign-up, Reebok showed the location of the nearest store, its hours, and even mapped it out
  • Immediate subscription value demonstrated with two separate promotion codes for online and in-store purchases.
  • Promotes contact via telephone


  • Provide a clear explanation of the email program and what to expect as a subscriber



Sender: TaylorMade
Subject Line: Welcome to TaylorMade Golf


  • Prominent welcome verbiage
  • Top website navigation bar
  • Concisely sets clear subscriber expectations
  • Keeps key message/components above fold
  • Social media call outs


  • Set subscriber expectations about email frequency



Sender: Puma
Subject Line: You’re all signed up. Check out the perks


  • Prominent welcome verbiage
  • ”Store Finder” included in top navigation bar
  • Clear, bulleted list of subscriber “perks”
  • Inclusion of social media call outs


  • Offer subscriber preference options to enable more targeted messages
  • Highlight through imagery different sports/products Puma covers


Sender: Speedo
Subject Line: Welcome to SpeedoUSA | Enjoy 15% OFF

  • Customer-friendly top navigation includes phone number and links to “Help” and “My Account”
  • Provides immediate email subscription benefit with 15% off promotion
  • Copy sets subscriber expectations
  • Social Media call outs offer additional ways to connect with Speedo


  • Prompt subscribers to share email preference for future targeting
  • Welcome verbiage and expectations are at the below fold/image. Consider including text within the image.


Be sure to visit Return Path’s Email Olympics 2016 to find out who wins the gold for emails opened, and who got the bronze for emails deleted without opening, messages delivered to spam, and email complaint rate.



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