As a marketer, you should know your competition almost as well as you know your own products. Not just what they’re selling, but also how they’re selling it.

What kind of emails do they send?

What does their email copy look like?

And how often are they sending marketing emails?

Figuring this out doesn’t just provide you with inspiration for your own campaigns, it also gives you hints as to what might be working best within your industry. If three of your competitors start Mother’s Day campaigns four weeks before that holiday takes place, it’s probably a good idea to try doing that as well.

Finally, a competitor email analysis also gives you insight into their blind spots. What aren’t they doing that you’re great at? What opportunities can you seize to stand out in people’s inbox?

To improve your marketing, competitive analysis is crucial.



How to perform a competitor email marketing analysis

To get the most out of your analysis, you need a systematic approach. A sort of checklist to make sure you don’t miss anything your competitor does differently, or that you should test doing as well.

You also need a consistent way of gathering email data from your competitors so you don’t just analyze a single campaign but are able to spot it if they make changes to their approach over time, and ask yourself why that is.

We’ll go into both the elements you should analyze and how you should gather competitor email data below.

Elements to analyze in your competitor’s emails

Email templates

  • Are your email templates more attractive and user-friendly, or do they look as if they were stuck in the 1990s?
  • Do all of your competitors send rather sober emails while yours are full of colors and GIFs?
  • How do they present their products? In which way is that different from what you do?

Email content

  • Is your email content more interesting and varied than your competition’s? Or, do you send the same few campaigns again and again while they switch things up regularly?
  • Do your competitors send mostly text-based emails or are they image-heavy?
  • What tone-of-voice are your competitors using? How does their linguistic style differ from yours?

Calls-to-action

  • Are your competitors using buttons where you’re using text links?
  • What wording do they use for their CTAs?
  • Where do your competitors place their CTAs within the email, and how often do they repeat them?

Subject lines

  • Do you use the same type of subject lines as your competitors or do they do something new you could try as well?
  • Are your competitors’ subject lines shorter or longer than yours?
  • Do you use emotions in your subject lines while your competitors don’t?

Sending frequency

  • How often do you send coupon emails? How often do they?
  • How many emails are in each of your drip campaigns? And in theirs?
  • At what times and days does your competitor email? Is this in line with what you do?

Sender address

  • What types of sender addresses do your competitors use? Are they clearer than yours?
  • Are you still using a noreply email address to answer support queries while they don’t?
  • How are their sender addresses reflected in their sender names? 

Now you know what to analyze, here’s how to get a hold of that data – both the easy way and the hard way. 

How to get competitor email data: the hard way

As with many things in marketing, there’s the long, manual way of doing competitor email analysis, and then there’s a more efficient process. We’ll first break down how you can gather competitor email data without using any tools and then we’ll show you a faster way of going about it.

First, set up a dedicated email address and inbox to sign up for and analyze competitor emails. 

Next, sign up for the email programs you want to track. These include your own messages if you aren’t getting them already, plus those of your top three competitors and a few companies you think send great emails. 

Don’t just sign up for the general newsletter but make sure to also take all the necessary actions to trigger browse abandonment, cart abandonment, purchase confirmation, and other action-based emails.

Yes, this means that you’ll need to invest some money to buy your competitors’ products just so you can see what type of emails they send once you’ve done that.

Then, 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.

Because you’re getting all of the emails you’re tracking into an actual inbox, you’ll have to spend quite some time sorting and categorizing them in your spreadsheet before you can start your actual analysis.

Once you have enough data across all possible types of campaigns, compare emails from competitors and best-in-class brands to your own using an analysis model like SWOT (Strengths, Threats, Weaknesses, and Opportunities) to guide strategic decisions and campaign planning.

The key here is to make sure you spend enough time gathering data so you can compare a series of emails from each brand you’re tracking to your own and this for all the different types of emails you send out yourself.

Yes, this could take a while.

Finally, record your findings in a comprehensive report including email screenshots and trend graphs where possible. Share this with your team.

Ideally, you’ll do an analysis like this at least once a year as both subscriber behavior and email marketing trends may change. 

How to get competitor email data: the easy way

We built MailCharts with the sole purpose to make competitor email analysis easier and faster. Our searchable email database of triggered and broadcast email messages from 30,000+ business and consumer brands gets you all 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 sign up for anything yourself or 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.

Our 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 purchase confirmations.
  • 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.

And 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.

 

5 Things You Can Learn From an Email Competitor Analysis

Conclusion

Whether you take the longer, more manual route or sign up for a free trial with MailCharts, doing competitor analysis is indispensable if you want to improve your email marketing and be at the top of your industry. It helps you position yourself amongst your competitors and saves you time figuring out what to test next for your particular audience.