Every successful brand keeps an eye on the competition on a regular basis… and more than one! It is paramount to know competitors’ offers, as well as your own, in order to remain competitive in the long run. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more to competitor analysis than meets the eye. By subscribing to competitors’ newsletters, you will be able to compare whether:

  •       Your newsletter templates are more pleasing to the eye
  •       The frequency of your emails is similar to competitors’
  •       Your promotions are more attractive than competitors’
  •       The content of your emails is more interesting than competitors’
  •       There are some points your campaigns are missing
  •       Your CTAs are more effective than competitors’
  •       Competitors’ audience is better targeted than yours

Basically, the analysis comes down to four key points: the audience, offer, content and email design.

1. Audience Insights

Let’s assume you are aware of the importance of email personalization. Coupled with segmentation, this strategy can make or break an email campaign. That’s why it is important to see how competitors’ are targeting unique groups of people.

For one thing, you may learn different personalization approaches that may come in handy with your own campaigns. In this way, you may find sub-groups that you missed when originally defining your audience.

Learning about new audiences can help with other email marketing aspects as well. I.e., you will be able to come up with additional campaigns that will speak to new subgroups, focusing on the points that competitors’ are missing.

2. Offer Insights

Most brands subscribe to competitors’ newsletters to compare the offers. Namely, among the most popular emails among pretty much all brands are special offers, along with discount and sale announcements. It’s no rocket science, either. People are looking for best deals all the time, and it is only natural that they will be comparing them – and so should you.

Therefore, when you are comparing your offer to competitors’, put yourself in customers’ shoes. Does the competitor offer the same-quality products for better prices? Are competitors’ discounts more attractive than yours? Is your offer equally attractive? If so, why would customers’ choose your offer over competitors’?

The answer to the latter comprises multiple factors. Firstly, you should not only compare discounts and products. It is equally important how they are presented. Is your email more appealing than competitors’?

Secondly, most discounts are time-limited. While many marketers seek to create urgency by aggressively advertising special deals, it is important to note that extremely time-limited offers are more likely to make people look for competitors’ offers than to buy your products.

3. Content

Consider that special deals don’t always come in the shape of coupons and discounts. You should always seek to offer an added value. E.g., think of those customers looking for engaging content. They will appreciate an insider tip, especially if competitors’ are overlooking this aspect.  

Basically, you should compare your content with competitors’. Stellar content is an immensely important factor in winning customers’ trust, but that’s just the beginning. Reliable brands always deliver beneficial content and some added value besides.

It goes without saying that competitor analysis should be exactly that – analysis. By no means should you copy the content; rather, it should serve as inspiration and a reminder on what you may be missing out on.   

As for the added value, think in terms of what you can add to your content to make your offer (and emails, by extension) more appealing. What are competitors including to their messages? E.g., infographics are tremendously popular, but some marketers also add video content or podcasts.

Keywords

Keep in mind that the finest of content features the right keywords. Observe which keywords competitors are using and make sure you’re not lagging behind. Again, copying is not the way to improve your campaigns. Compare competitors’ emails to see if you are using keywords that are too generic and draw ideas from more specific ones.

Subject Lines

First of all, when it comes to email marketing, the single most important factor is the subject line. Whether your email will be opened and read at all depends solely on the subject line. Subject lines often feature keywords as to appear more appealing, but they also must be concise, to the point and followed by well-devised content that expands on them.

Message Body and CTAs

Message body text should be literate, feature a clever mixture of keywords, be attractive and explain clearly what the recipient is to expect when clicking on the CTA button.

CTAs should be readily recognizable in that they should stand out from the rest of the text. Usually, marketers use buttons. Solely placing a button is not sufficient. The CTA text should be clear and attractive and never generic (i.e., “click here to learn more” is not the way to get the recipient to perform the desired action).

Last but not least, mind your measure. No matter how great your content is, too much of it will not do you any good. Nobody is looking for lengthy messages nowadays and indeed, the majority of emails are being scanned rather than read. Keep it simple, especially if you notice that competitors’ aren’t.

4. Email Design

Finally, even the best email marketing campaigns will fall short of expectations if the design is poor. When analyzing competitors’ campaigns, pay attention to how their emails look. However, it is important to keep in mind here that the great majority of emails are being accessed on mobile devices. For the best results, read the message from your mobile device.

Simply put, the best performing emails are clean, simple and feature as few images as possible, if any. If your competitors are sending image-heavy images, try beating them. Smaller images of high quality are the best option and also – you’ll want to try out a different approach. There’s room to experiment here. For example, if competitors are sending family images, you may wish to try with something different – landscapes or similar. Compare the results of your campaigns until you’ve come up with the best combination.

Most importantly, learn from competitors’ mistakes. Use the flaws in their design to make your email campaigns better. No matter what you do, however, stick to brevity, quality and fast loading time.

How to Perform Competitor Analysis

You’ll want to subscribe to competitors’ newsletters. Note that only successful brands targeting the same target groups as your brand should be considered.

Observing emails as they come is not an analysis. It’s just browsing. For best results, make a spreadsheet (that includes all the above-mentioned factors) and track changes. Example features may include: promotional value, discount value and time limit, days and times when messages are being sent, personalization and content.

Compare best competitors’ emails with your own emails to see what your campaigns may be lacking in. Competitor analysis, after all, serves to help you come up with better strategies and discover new audience sub-groups.

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