E-commerce Link: Keeping Up With the Joneses
Every company has marketing activities it performs exceptionally. For example, one marketer may have superior e-mail creative, while another may have mastered the use of triggered messaging. While we all strive for excellence, it’s a fact that we can’t shine in every area. It’s a good idea to turn your focus outward and analyze your competition. You just might learn something.
Many of you monitor competitor e-mails. But you should have a rigorous and structured approach to competitive analysis.
1. Look at Sign-up and Registration
This step is relatively easy. Enroll in your competitors’ e-mail programs, and take notes and screen captures along the way. Build a spreadsheet, and map out their respective approaches.
• Prominence and visibility of e-mail sign-up. Where is e-mail sign-up promoted on their homepages? Do they romance the calls to action with brief benefits statements? Are e-mail programs also promoted on interior pages of the Web sites? Do they immediately capture e-mail addresses?
• The online sign-up process. Do they use registration pages? Do they restate the benefits of opting in? Do they provide links to view sample e-mails? Once registration is complete, do they bring people to a confirmation page? What messaging elements are on this page?
• Permission and choice. Do your competitors offer options during sign-up for different types of e-mail communications? Do they require double opt-in, or do they employ less stringent standards? Do they include a statement about how the information will be used internally by other departments or divisions?
• Data and profile capture. What fields are mandatory? Do they collect interest preferences? How much data do competitors collect?
• Welcome e-mail. Do they send welcome e-mails, and how quickly do they arrive? Are they simple thank-yous for signing up? Do they embed promotional offers?
Once you’ve finished this step in the review, determine whether there are any elements you’d like to incorporate into your sign-up process.
2. Map Out Your Competitors’ Calendars
This step is more painstaking, but if you do it right, you’ll have a better picture of your competitors’ marketing strategies. The elements you choose to track are more arbitrary depending on your marketing focus. We’ll base this example on marketers who send promotional e-mails. Collect e-mails for at least a two-month time frame to do your analysis.
• Frequency. How many e-mails did they send? Are there particular days of the week they regularly use? Can you determine whether any e-mails are off-cycle for a special reason?