Are You Up for the Challenge? Monitoring the Email Competition

With the Olympic Games right around the corner, athletes are making final preparations and getting ready for the competition of a lifetime.  As part of these preparations, you can be sure these athletes have analyzed their competition. What strategy does their competition employ? What are the strengths and weaknesses of their competitors and how can this competitive information be used to the athletes’ advantage?  Of course, tracking the competition and putting this information into action isn’t easy.  The same goes for marketers tracking their competition.

Time Consuming and Incomplete

Like an Olympic athlete, marketers regularly analyze their competition to inform their own strategic program decisions. However, this is often time consuming and tedious, and when done manually, means tracking emails across multiple accounts. In addition, signing up for a competitors’ email program only provides a small window into their email program strategy.

Even with multiple accounts and personas, it is also difficult to get a complete picture of the email program when the emails aren’t based on real email subscribers. What emails are sent to buyers vs. non-buyers? What targeting and segmentation is in place based on prior purchases or website activity? What subject line or creative testing is employed? Even with tools that centralize email collection and provide some data, it is hard to make truly strategic email program decisions based on incomplete data.

No Performance Metrics

While some intelligence can be gleaned from monitoring a subset of the emails your competition sends and when they send it, this information doesn’t provide any insights into how these emails perform.  When your competition sends a unique offer, rolls out a new email template, or increases email frequency, your first instinct might be to deploy a similar campaign or strategy with your audience.  But, what if these campaigns performed poorly or caused a steady increase in subscriber complaints for your competition? In these instances, your competitive intelligence might actually be a detriment to your program. Being able to truly understand how your competitors’ emails actually performed arms you with additional data for your email program strategy and helps you build a stronger email program.

The Future

As I wrote about last month, Return Path is starting to use some new engagement metrics like read rate that provide some additional insights for marketers on their own programs as well as those of their competition. Soon, you’ll be able to not only see what your competitors are sending, but how these emails perform and outperform your competition using a new Return Path tool. Just like an Olympic athlete, you’ll take your competitive insights and beat the competition. Watch this space for more information in the future.