The Power of Email Competitive Intelligence

The Power of Email Competitive Intelligence

Since the dawn of commerce, organizations have needed and sought information about their competitors. Decades before any digital marketing, competitors bought and deconstructed each other’s products, collected and analyzed their print and broadcast ads, subscribed to their direct mail, shopped in their stores, and surveyed their customers.

If understanding your customers is a central principle of marketing management, then so is understanding your competitors. Within legal and ethical boundaries, this is a perfectly legitimate endeavor – and vital to competitive success.

The whole point of the process is to identify competitive successes, gaps, opportunities and the potential for possible remedies and other actions.

Marketing email is fertile ground for demonstrating the need for competitive intelligence – and providing the means to deliver it. However, common methods of gathering information about competitors’ emails, such as signing up for their newsletters or using an average industry benchmark report, do not offer complete visibility.

There are several insights you should expect to gain from a robust competitive intelligence strategy.

1. How big is the total email audience of your competitors

This is important because it reveals their number of potential customer impressions. It can also reveal underperformance relative to your competitors of comparable size and market footprint.

Take action on this by performing a subscriber acquisition audit and inventory. Focus on audience retention and growth opportunities.

2. How many campaigns each competitor is mailing, what types, and when

Intel like this feeds critical knowledge about the scope, nature and timing of competitive email programming and provides insight into strategic customer journeys. It also identifies program gaps and opportunities for you.

Use these insights to plan your own events and campaigns. This should also inform your testing and optimization strategies for sending times.

3. How big is their audience for each campaign

This feeds critical knowledge of competitive campaign reach and segmentation and supports targeting assessments.

Again, this should inform your own event and campaign planning. Are you segmenting your audience sufficiently? Are you running enough campaigns per segment or too many?

4. How targeted are their email campaigns

This indicates a degree of sophistication in their audience selection and is especially significant in relation to the relatively large number of implemented campaigns, in relation to relatively small sending volumes.

Having this type of information supports enhanced sophistication in your segmentation, targeting and personalization.

Leveraging competitive intelligence that proves their email campaigns are more sophisticated than yours can not only provide inspiration but can make a compelling case for more resources for your email team.

5. How often their email campaigns reach each of their subscribers

This reflects competing contact strategies. Too many create a retention risk, but too few indicate opportunities to improve contact.

You can take action on this with contact frequency testing and optimization. Segment your database and try different sending times and frequencies for each group. For example, are you more into email once a day or three times a week?

6. Find out if your competitors’ deliverability and engagement rates are better than yours

Inboxing is strongly driven by message relevance and improved subscriber engagement. It also helps document business/financial benefits in inbox, audience and message optimization.

This data can lead to important diagnostics/best practice audits in your campaigns and help you plan programs and audiences to ensure you’re engaging the right people with the right message.

7. How the topics of competitors are structured

Subject lines can affect deliverability, and they are the most critical tactic in driving opens (even if opens can’t always be accurately measured). This type of information also reveals details about subject placement and practices (eg text, length, use of symbols) related to inbox performance and engagement.

Test your themes and offers based on these competitive insights. Don’t forget the strategic text before the header!

8. What audiences of other senders overlap with yours

This reveals which other emails are competing with you for attention in your subscribers’ inboxes – and for product sales. The best of them will get better engagement. It also provides an interest profile of your email subscribers.

Calibrate your mailings to match (or exceed!) the quality and sophistication of competing mailers. Overlaps for new audience acquisition and engagement, as well as possible strategic partnerships.

These are powerful ways you can put competitive intelligence to work for you. Insights and actions supported by powerful competitive intelligence have a direct financial impact, including visible increases in inbox rates, open rates, clicks and conversions, and average order value. Companies that have and use robust email competitive intelligence can increase their email revenue by as much as three times. Think about the potential impact of that multiple data if you monetize your email and don’t use competitive intelligence.

Are you interested in the world’s leading brands personally discussing such topics? Learn more about World Digital Marketing Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America and Singapore.

Tags: email, email intelligence

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