At Pure360, it pains us to see that in 2021 the inbox is still full of some frankly really bad emails.

We see constant hard-sells, poor welcome and onboarding campaigns, and generic content which is of little interest to our wants and needs.

In email marketing, it can be easy to get caught up in experimenting with new features or the latest strategy recommendations. We are the first to encourage experimentation and advancement in email maturity. But not if it risks the email basics.

Because no matter who your brand is, you have to consistently get the basics right for a more advanced email strategy to work.

One of the most common ways that brands fall into this trap is trying to beat the competition.

They assume that to get ahead in their industry, they need to practice the most sophisticated email marketing. But in reality, you just need to be better than your competitors.

And actually, that may be easier than you think.

In this blog post, we will show you how you can gain insight into your competitors’ email marketing. And what you can do with this information to improve your own email results,

Sign up for your competitors’ email updates

The key to being better at email marketing than your competitors is research.

Research allows you to gain a full understanding of what the competition does (and doesn’t do), and how you can fill in the gaps or excel in specific areas to gain the upper hand.

The first step in research is to sign up for your competitors’ email updates. This is likely in the form of a newsletter, but may also give you access to their product promotions, sales announcements, and company updates.

Email updates are all about getting the basics right. So, immediately you will be able to review their email design style, tone of voice, subject line creativity, communication frequency, and basic personalisation such as first name.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do their emails stand out in my inbox?
  • Once opened, do the visuals grab my attention?
  • Is there a clear objective to this email, or is it confusing and overwhelming?
  • Does the CTA clearly encourage me to take action and click through?
  • Do all of the links work correctly?
  • Is their tone of voice engaging?
  • Is their email frequency too much? Or is it so infrequent I forget they exist?

If the competitor isn’t hitting the mark in any of the above, you already have a list of straightforward improvements you can make to get ahead. 

Email Marketing Example - Sports Direct

Purchase from the competition

Handing over your well-earned cash to your competitors may seem counterintuitive. But bear with us.

Email updates are a great starting point for reviewing competitor activity, but the insight it offers is fairly limited.

To really dig into your competitor’s email strategy you need to experience their buying journey. Which is only possible when you purchase from them.

And the more engagement you provide the competitor, the more data they hold on you. Which could provide even more insight into how advanced their automation and personalisation strategies are.

That being said, don’t dive straight into a purchase. Tease the competitor a little by browsing certain pages regularly, or adding items to your online basket. By doing so, you can see if this triggers any automations such as browse abandonment or basket abandonment.

Once you have made a purchase and handed over your details, you have long term access to their email marketing.

Keep a lookout for:

  • Purchase confirmations and delivery updates
  • Welcome campaigns
  • Post-purchase feedback
  • Recommended product promotions, such as up-sell and cross-sell campaigns
  • Anniversary emails, such as birthday celebrations
  • Re-engagement campaigns

All of the above are best practice email campaigns that support the customer journey. If you notice any of these emails are missing from your experience, adding them to your own email strategy should be a priority.

And of course, review each email in the same way you have reviewed the more basic email updates. But as these emails often utilise more data, ask yourself the following questions

  • Are the emails tailored to my past browsing and purchase behaviour?
  • Are any recommended products of interest to me? Or do they feel generic?
  • Are emails tailored to my location, such as language, currency, or seasonality?
  • Do they effectively use my basic demographic details? Such as first name personalisation or birthday celebrations?
  • Are emails only triggered from my own activity? Or am I receiving regular updates?

All of the above should help you to determine how advanced your competitors’ email marketing is. If they are using your data effectively, if they have added you to a nurturing series, and how many email automations they have set up.

And again, any gaps that you notice are perfect opportunities for you to improve your email marketing in a targeted manner.

Email Marketing Example - Ruggable

Automate your processes

By now you should have a more in-depth understanding of your competitors’ email activity. And hopefully, you’re armed with a list of ways you can boost your own email marketing.

We started this blog by stating that your email doesn’t have to be advanced to beat the competition. And we stand by that.

However, we would still recommend considering email automation to improve your email marketing and beat the competition.

That’s because with email automation brands can set up simple to advanced communications to run in the background with little manual input. Leaving the marketer more time to focus on improving strategy and keeping an eye on the competition.

Email automation doesn’t have to be complex. You can start simply with a triggered welcome email or birthday celebration.

And you can always advance to using automated personalisation within emails, such as dynamic content blocks to showcase the most relevant products.

Analyse your own results

Gaining a full understanding of competitor activity is essential to stay ahead in a busy inbox. But it’s not the only element that should inform your email strategy.

As well as watching competitors, be sure to watch your own results.

Target audiences can change from brand to brand. Meaning that your competitors’ audiences may interact with emails differently, and demand different things from marketing.

So keep a close eye on your open and click-through rates, as well as your unsubscribe rates and engagement over time.

This analysis is even more important when it comes to testing out new email campaigns to trailing new strategy. Whilst a competitor may do something different to you, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is working for them. Or that it will work for your audience.

So before making any drastic changes to your email, ensure you are AB testing alongside your regular email campaigns, to establish if those changes will really work for you and your brand.

Email Marketing Example - Kayak -

Are you looking to get ahead of your competition?

Then you’ve come to the right place.

At Pure360 we offer an all-in-one AI email and web marketing platform alongside a Customer Success Team whose sole mission is to get you better results.

Get in touch to find out how we can help you be the best in your industry.