Email showdown: Urban Outfitters vs. H&M


Sure, both brands are trendsetters in the all-too-competitive retail space... but what about in the inbox? Let's find out who provides a better experience to their email subscribers. 

First up: Urban Outfitters. 


Urban Outfitters 


To capture website visitors, Urban Outfitters utilizes a lightbox-style email signup form. They keep things simple by only requiring one field (your email address) and using a straightforward value proposition: "Sign up to receive Urban Outfitters emails and get first dibs on new arrivals, sales, exclusive content and more!"

It's simple but effective, and the choice to include just one field is a smart one: According to our friends at Privy, every field you add to your signup form will reduce conversions by 25%. 




In their regular promotional emails, Urban Outfitters relies heavily on eye-catching, flashy design to capture attention. They use a ton of animated GIFs and keep things fresh by individually designing the majority of their emails rather than reusing templates. 

Instead of including a ton of copy, they lean heavily toward visuals – something that definitely makes sense for a brand known for its signature style both in stores and online. 





After Black Friday last year, Urban Outfitters sent this email to help keep the festivities going. The design is engaging, for sure, but I especially love that they included a map to their nearest brick-and-mortar location to help boost foot traffic to stores. 




As more and more people open email on their phones, nailing the mobile experience has become absolutely critical for retail brands. Urban Outfitters provides a great one with emails that are easy to read, digest, and engage with on a smartphone. 




Now, let's see what H&M has to offer their email subscribers. 



Unlike Urban Outfitters, H&M keeps it old school with a classic embedded form on their website. It's fairly utilitarian but gives new subscribers a more concrete picture of what they'll get when they sign up: 20% off and free shipping on their next order, exclusive offers, styling tips, and the latest fashion news. 

Offering free shipping is a great way to entice more website visitors to sign up for your list: According to Walker Sands, nine out of 10 of the survey participants said free shipping was the number one incentive when asked what would make them shop online more often.




Similar to their website and print magazine, H&M's emails utilize a ton of white space. Their templates are incredibly minimalist, showcasing large product images and small bites of text. 

Their templates usually show off several different products in one long, scrollable campaign, like this.



Though occasionally, they highlight a single product or announcement, like in this app promotion. 




H&M rarely uses GIFs in their emails, so when they do, they really stand out. Perhaps that's why they saved this one for their back-to-school promotion, as it's the second largest retail event after the holiday season. 




Uh oh. 

A digitally savvy brand like H&M (or really, any brand at this point) has absolutely no excuse for sending emails that look this terrible on mobile. With tiny text and links that are impossible to tap on a smartphone, their emails provide an unforgivably poor experience to the 54% average of users who open first on mobile





So, who wins this one?

For Urban Outfitters, email sits at the center of their strategy, while for H&M, it feels like a bit of an afterthought. And with that shoddy mobile experience, the winner of this showdown is clear: Urban Outfitters jumps ahead by leaps and bounds. 



About the Author

McKenzie Gregory

McKenzie Gregory is a senior content manager on Emma’s marketing team. A Nashville native, she can be found covering all things email on the Emma blog, debating hyphenation rules, and watching obscene amounts of Netflix without a trace of shame.

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