If your answer is Not Sure, then they could be outflanking you as you read this. Email is one of the highest-ROI, best direct-response digital tactics available, which is why your competitors have likely implemented robust email strategies. However, not all email programs are created equal. Those differences in programs can make or break your overall digital marketing strategy.
Why is benchmarking the competition so important? If you’re fighting for the same market, it’s critical to know how they are treating that same audience in terms of offers, frequency, tone, and overall messaging themes. You can use that intelligence as part of your overall email strategy and find ways to outmaneuver your competitors while re-framing the unique value of your offerings.
Setting up a process to benchmark your competition can be fairly simple.
Here are 3 quick tips:
- Set up a ‘seed account’ and opt-in to their lists. You’re probably already doing this. Set up an innocuous account using Yahoo! or Gmail, and start subscribing to all of your competitors’ lists. Next level: start opting-in with multiple accounts to see whether alternate contact info triggers different messaging. Be sure to take note of how easy it is to find the opt-in form on their site, as well as how easy it is to complete the process – these can also be competitive advantages.
- Start monitoring email frequency and messaging. Watch how often the competition sends email campaigns, and review the messages for clues to their marketing strategy. It may even help to keep a spreadsheet. How aggressive are the offers? Is the email creative sophisticated or amateurish? Are they effectively personalizing the message for the customer? Use these clues to inform your own strategy.
- Check their reputation. A variety of free services can lend insight into whether your competitor’s emails are even surviving the email delivery gauntlet. Check their sender reputation using SenderScore – perhaps their efforts are actually resulting in ‘spam’ complaints. And of course, watch to see if their messages appear in your Junk folder rather than the Inbox.
We never recommend running your marketing programs in complete reaction to your competition. However, tracking how they operate online gives you the ability to make more intelligent choices in how you’d like to speak to the same audience. We see competitive benchmarking as just one element to inform your overall email strategy.