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When a user registers on our site, we redirect him to a success page telling him the following:

enter image description here

Some users have complained that they didn't receive the email. After some investigation, we found that those users went to their emails expecting to see the verification email immediately after they saw the success message, but the emails could take up to 5 minutes to be delivered.

So, how we can enhance the success page to notify users that they may have to wait about 5 minutes before receiving the email?

Update

After some modifications based on the great answers here, the percentage was still depressing for us (about 30% didn't confirm), so we decided to go for postponing the confirmation step and letting user signin directly after registration (as per the accepted answer here)

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34  
Can't you just add a sentence saying: 'The email might take up to 5 minutes to arrive?' Most of these messages also have a 'Also check your spam folder'. –  JonSpr Jun 18 at 13:24
2  
Would it be enough putting this sentence, or it is hard enough reading long sentences? , you know, normal users won't read too many words! –  AbdelHady Jun 18 at 14:18
    
If you're afraid users won't take time to read: "It will take up to 5 minutes to arrive"-- which I think is really not a problem at all -- Then you could also change the green 'v' sign into three loading dots. For example: realtime.goldenmilegroup.org.uk/tmx/sites/goldenmile.nsf/… -- this way users know they still have to wait for something to happen. Although this could create some other difficulties as well. –  JonSpr Jun 18 at 14:36
6  
Why does it take 5 minutes or so? Is the receiver side causing the delay (gray listing etc.) or are you sending the email with delay? In the latter case, send it more quickly. Optimizing the excuse is less important if the annoyance occurs less often. Since my receiver generally does not delay mails, an email delay will lower my opinion of your website, no matter which phrasing you use. –  CodesInChaos Jun 19 at 12:05
    
Tell them messages don't go on a Ferrari. They take time to travel. Also put that in bold. –  Awal Garg Jun 19 at 12:32

6 Answers 6

up vote 62 down vote accepted

There are already good answers on optimizing the existing success page. I want to add an alternative.

Demo mode

Skip the success page and log the user in immediately. There are a lot of examples of web applications, which allow access before verifying your email address. The user may browse the content, configure his profile, ... but public content submissions or monetary actions are allowed only after verifying the email address.

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4  
+1, this is the correct way. I would add, add a visually noticeable message indicating that e-mail is not verified in every page, with a link to re-send, so people don't forget about it. –  Darkhogg Jun 18 at 20:44
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But please don't provide any functions which should depend on the proof of owning the mail address. Like Facebook, where an attacker (who is not in control of the address) could see who is e-mail-connected to the real owner of the mail address (at least some years ago, when I tried this out). –  Paŭlo Ebermann Jun 18 at 20:51
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As Darkhogg noted you need to show an hint that email still needs verification, therefore the other answers about wording are important too. –  Chris Jun 18 at 20:58
    
I'm totally with your answer. Actually, this feature is in our backlog after some other higher priority features, but unfortunately it will take some time to be implemented in our case (handling all actions the user shouldn't take before verifying his email) –  AbdelHady Jun 19 at 11:05
1  
This introduces a whole lot of extra problems, both relating to UX (making sure the user doesn't forget about the email), but also technical. –  Paul Jun 19 at 16:29

First, I'd suggest reading my answer from a few years ago which explains the importance of the wording.

Secondly, if you can eliminate the delay that'd be ideal. Even with changing the instructions, you're still going to get some complaints with a 5 minute delay.

But assuming the delay is here to stay, here's how I'd write it...

Almost done...

We'll send an email to joe.doe@gmail.com in 5 minutes. Open it up to activate your account.

You don't need to be too specific at this stage about what you're sending or that the email contains a "verification link". By simplifying the text as much as possible the user is more likely to read it in its entirety and pick up on the details that are actually important.

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1  
Better yet, tell them it will take 10 minutes. If you overshoot, they can't complain "it wasn't here exactly 300 seconds after the website said" –  Perchik Jun 18 at 19:50
16  
You could go super casual like "Grab a coffee while we set up your account. We'll send an email to joe.doe@gmail.com when it's all done." –  bendataclear Jun 19 at 12:11
    
"We'll send an email in 5 minutes" sounds like the system deliberately keeps me waiting for the mail and there is not the slightest chance that it will arrive earlier than that. –  J_rgen Jul 22 at 12:13
    
@J_rgen - Like I mentioned, it'd be better to eliminate the delay. But if you can't do that, I think it's best to under-promise and over-deliver. That's also Amazon's philosophy with their shipping estimations. –  Steve Wortham Jul 22 at 14:43

The primary issue here is that people do not know and nor do they care that email is not an instant technology. Albeit very rare, email has been known to get caught up in retry cycles and delivered weeks or months after it was initially sent.

Since you have zero control over what happens when the message leaves your server such as routing, spam filters, and blacklists there is no definite way to tell a person to wait X amount of time for a message. It can be instant, it can take 1 minute 36 seconds, it can take a year, or it may never arrive at all.

However, I can see your users are frustrated because they are actually being given false hope with the instructions.

It states:

Please click on the that has just been sent to your email account to verify your email and continue the registration process.

A politically correct message would say:

We have sent an email message to your email address so with any luck the great guardians of the internet will delver this message to your inbox, or spam folder if you are lucky. If it has not arrived in 5-10 minutes then abandon all hope and click this link to try again.

I would recommend:

We have sent an email with a confirmation link to your email address. Please allow 5-10 minutes for this message to arrive.

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Yes. Put those users in their place. The internet exists to serve us technology gods, not mere mortals like them. –  AJMansfield Jun 22 at 2:09

The checkmark is misleading, it makes it seem like something has already taken place. I don't think I'd use a checkmark if there is as much as a 5 minute delay. I'd just put some messaging up that indicates the user will receive an email shortly.

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The thing is your sentence says the verification link has been sent and some users may understand it as "has been received". If not they're frustrated.

I'll change the title sentence with something like "Check your email account in a few minute" And then "You'll receive a verification link you'll have to click to confirm your subscription".

But I guess the best you could do is send the email immediatly.

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Additionally to "click here to send the mail again" you can also add "click here to change the email address", just in case they had a typo or something like that.

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+1 for changing email address. Sounds like a good idea. –  Chris Jun 19 at 5:32
4  
Rather than cluttering the page with an extra link, just make the "resend" link point to a page that lets the user check and change the address. –  David Richerby Jun 19 at 9:21

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