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I'm sending out an e-mail containing a link as to prove the user had registered with an e-mail address they have access to.

1)What is the name of such an e-mail? Verification e-mail, confirmation e-mail, account activation or something else? In a similar sense what is the name of the link in the e-mail?

2)What should the e-mail say? I want to make this accessible to non-technically inclined users.

3)What should the subject of the e-mail be?

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3 Answers 3

Sadly there is no standard for the name of such an email - all your suggestions are used. But consider the following:

  • Verification Email - used when you can still access services, but need to verify you email in the meantime.
  • Activation Email - used when services (account) are not accessible until email activation takes place. You can argue that there is some more urgency in 'activating' than in 'verifying'.
  • Confirmation Email - I prefer thinking of this is something send as a confirmation of something (purchase confirmation, password change confirmation). You can say that the email is to confirm the user's email address, but term can result some confusion when you write it on the site: "We have sent you a confirmation email. Please confirm your email".

Here are a few examples to get you started (starting with my favourite):

The Noun Project

Please Verify your Noun Project account

Noun Project Email

The good:

  • Very minimalistic design.

The bad:

  • email subject and content terms don't match. Subject says 'Verify' while content says 'Activate'.
  • No need for the 'Activate Account' heading. It is redundant to the button, which is the primary action point.
  • Link contrast somewhat low.

MailChimp

Activate your MailChimp account.

MailChimp Activation Email

The good:

  • Monkey and "Just one more step..." make the system appear more fun and the sentence should motivate people to click on the button.

The bad:

  • No need for the line asking people to click on the button. People should get it without these instructions.
  • Nobody cares for the address of the company, or the copyright clause. Users eyes will skip this.
  • No links in case the email was sent by mistake, or if people have problems when clicking the button.

Pinterest

Please confirm your email

Pinterest Confirmation Email

The good:

  • Nice design.

The bad:

  • Again, no real need for the sentence next to the button.
  • Two exclamation marks can be considered style that is not ideal. Exclamation marks should be used sparingly for a very specific desired effect.
  • The long link is ugly, and in my view unnecessary. This is even more odd as the Privacy Policy is given as a normal link.
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The other answers deal well with what the email should say, but I wanted to share a nifty feature that is currently available in Gmail (I think you have to apply to use it at the moment).

The problem is that users don't like confirming their email address -- it is just another chore. Gmail has come up with a neat solution so that users do not have to actually open the email. Instead, you just show a 'Confirm' button in the subject line. This is how Mailchimp uses the feature:

Confirm subscription Inbox action

You can create one of these buttons by adding some Schema.org markup to your HTML email.

These 'Inbox actions' are still in their infancy, but I like them a lot. They save the user from ever having to view the email to perform obvious and repetitive actions.

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At most doesn't this save just once click? –  Celeritas Aug 13 '13 at 17:16
    
@Celeritas and all the mental overhead and processing required to read and understand the email. It's definitely an improvement. –  Racheet Jun 3 at 10:10

Case: User has registered on your website/portal/application and Now before you allow him access, you need him to verify the provided e-mail address.

As per my view I would suggest following:

  1. Subject should say something like "Activate your <Name of your website/application/portal> account"

  2. The Activation link: I as a user don't like the strange and big URL's that some forums publish in the activation e-mails. I would suggest you to add a Button directed to the URL with a text "Activate Here" / "Activate Account".

  3. The content/design of e-mail. I would like to see something like the sample images posted by "Izhaki" in the e-mail.

Hope it helps.

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