As a marketer, you should know your competition almost as well as your own products and services. Not just what your competition is doing, either, but how they do it – what kinds of messages they send, when and how often they send and the kinds of content they use.
An email marketing competitive analysis gives you the information you need to see how your email program stacks up against your competition. It’s hard to make your email program excel if you don’t know what you’re up against or where the opportunities are to beat your competitors in the inbox.
What you will learn in an email competitor analysis
By the time you finish your email marketing competitor analysis, you should understand how you compare against key competitors and top brands reaching the same audience as you. In the process, you will also find ways to improve your email program.
Things to look out for:
- Are your email templates more attractive and user-friendly, or do they look as if they were stuck in the 1990s?
- Is your email content more interesting and varied than your competition’s? Or, do you send the same few campaigns again and again?
- Are you sending the same variety of triggered emails? Are there key touch-points you are missing?
- What kinds of offers and calls to action does the competition send, and how are they the same as or different from yours?
- What kind of inbox opportunities could you find by knowing your competitors’ email frequency, send-time strategies, promotions and discounts?
Also, keep track of the emails that inspire you. Keep this list handy for future email campaigns or creative briefs.
4 elements in a successful email competitor analysis
These four data-gathering steps will help you develop an informative analysis of your email competition. (Hint: Yes, this looks like a lot of work, but keep reading, and we’ll show you how MailCharts can make the process so much easier):
- Sign up for the email programs you want to track. These includes your own messages if you aren’t getting them already, plus your top three competitors and a few companies whose emails you admire. This will put you on a brand’s broadcast email list, but you should also try to collect triggered emails like browse and cart abandonment.
- As soon as you start getting messages, set up a spreadsheet to track data such as subject lines, message delivery days/times, frequency, cadence, promotional or discount value, email positioning, use of animation (a rising trend in email), dynamic content or personalization.
- Compare competitors and best-in-class brands to your own program using an analysis model like SWOT (Strengths, Threats, Weaknesses and Opportunities) to guide strategic decisions and campaign planning.
- Record your findings in a comprehensive report — make sure to include email screenshots and trend graphs where possible. Share this with your team.
Find, analyze and report on your competition quickly
Most email marketers use a dedicated email address and inbox to sign up for and analyze these emails. This method is free, but it has some serious drawbacks that limit your scope and analysis:
- You’ll spend too much time on the mechanics (searching for and tracking emails, data benchmarking, comparison) and not enough on analysis, insight and execution.
- You’re limited to one kind of message – the broadcast emails that brands send to every subscriber or customer.
You won’t see the behavior — or preference-triggered emails that give you better insight into that brand’s customer-journey messaging strategy. To get those, you need to spend even more time (and money) by browsing, abandoning cart items, buying items to track post-purchase emails, etc.
If you use MailCharts — a searchable email database of triggered and broadcast email messages from 30,000+ business and consumer brands — you’ll get the data you need in just a few clicks.
With a free MailCharts subscription, you can search the database on multiple data points and download relevant creative content right away. You won’t have to wait for messages to straggle into your inbox. Start compiling your email competitive analysis the very first day, and move from research to final report in days instead of weeks or months.
These features take the grunt work out of doing an email-marketing competitive analysis as well as the day-to-day routine of email campaign planning and reporting. You’ll never miss an email and always be informed.
Here’s what you’ll learn about your email landscape :
- See detailed user journeys for key flows including: onboarding, cart abandonment, browse abandonment, and purchaser.
- Benchmark data on the key issues you need to evaluate competing brands, including frequency, cadence, promotional values and scores on best practices. (No long hours doing manual data entry and updating pivot tables!)
- A weekly email report that keeps you updated on the companies you’re tracking
- Holiday campaign planning and analysis.
- Email lists to help you keep track of the best emails and share creative ideas quickly with your team.
- A comparison feature that shows you at a glance how your competitors’ emails and strategies match up against each other or your own brand.
- Export emails easily. It takes just two clicks to export the data as a CSV or as email screenshots.
Here’s another big plus: Long after you finish your email competitor analysis, MailCharts will continue to simplify your email planning and reporting, giving you more time to concentrate on strategy and innovation.
Don’t wait! Start your email marketing competitor analysis today.