How to Use Competitive Reviews
Quick! You need some new ideas to improve your email or social network marketing program. What do you do? The tried-and-true competitive review, in which marketers gather communications from competitors and analyze them for ideas, has a lot to offer. It doesn’t cost much — if anything — and it shows a range of tactics. To get the most valuable information out of competitive reviews, marketers should observe some basic steps.
1. Review the sign-up experience. Customers and prospects will engage with email, mobile or social networking communications more at the beginning of a relationship than at any other time. As a result, how marketers gather new opt-ins can matter as much as what they send. To evaluate the sign-up experience, look at some basic factors:
- How easy is it to find a place to sign up?
- How does the marketer incentivize the consumer to sign up? Is there a discount or other offer such as exclusive content?
- How much information does the marketer gather? Six questions to 10 questions seems to be a good sweet spot.
2. Don't just log content, offers and timing . Marketers tend to focus on the working parts of the communications — offers and content. However, timing also plays a key role in understanding the value of email, mobile or social networking communications. Does a brand send emails weekly? More? Less? How often does it update its Twitter feed or Facebook page? Understanding a competitor’s frequency can help you get a sense of a basic communication cadence for a category. For instance, if most brands send out emails once per week in a category, start by sending emails weekly and then test around other cadences.
Social networks give even more powerful feedback on cadence. By reviewing competitors’ feeds, a marketer can determine what level of updating drives an appropriate amount of commenting, retweeting and other activity.
3. Don’t assume it worked . Competitive reviews fail the most by far when the marketers who conduct them assume that any given tactic succeeded. Marketers tend to assume that a brand using an offer or design element worked, particularly if the competitive review turns up multiple examples of that offer or element. However, since brands are like magicians and tend to keep their tricks secret, you never really know. I can tell you f rom personal experience that many marketers persist in inefficient practices primarily out of habit or budgetary constraints. Nevertheless, a marketer seeing a specific practice in a competitor’s newsletter may lead them to believe that it worked.
Of course, competitive reviews mean nothing until you put the findings into practice. As a result, don't stop at the findings; continue testing. While competitive reviews help cull down a list of ideas, testing proves the value of those ideas. What worked for one marketer might not work for another.