You might subscribe to your competitor’s emails, but that tells you nothing about how those campaigns perform. You’ve got to dig into their analytics. Once you get access to that site’s metrics and stats, you can drill into their email performance.
First, Google Analytics will need a touch of housekeeping.
Make Your Analytics Reflect What’s Coming In
Traffic from Gmail, Outlook and Yahoo Mail all comes in as “referral” traffic, not “email” traffic. Luckily, Brian Massey from Conversion Sciences offers a helpful fix.
We’ve included his screenshot here so you can reference it when you create your own filter.
This will rename incoming “mail” traffic. With that filter in place, your email traffic will show up as, well, an email campaign. Congratulations, you’ve just decoded something that usually acts fuzzy inside Google Analytics.
Which Email Campaigns are Most Successful?
Now you will be able to tell how effective email is for another company’s site. That’s unheard-of business intel. You can dig into the information and see which email campaigns are driving the most traffic. That might help you prioritize messaging and promotions of your own.
What are they promoting?
Once you have this more realistic view set up, you can get to work.
If you click through the filtered email channel, you see a list of the landing pages that they send email links to. If your competitor has a pattern happening in what they promote, you’ll be able to spot it. You might have lucked into that as a recipient of their emails, but there’s a good chance you’ve missed some.
Keep in mind that even if you signed up for their newsletters (or you bought a product) you might not be getting every campaign. More sophisticated retailers often segment their audiences and send different messaging (or offers) their way.
What are you missing?
By seeing all of their landing pages, you keep that information from slipping through your fingers.
Watch for things like “Come Back” offers and shopping cart abandonment offers. Since you have the analytics available to you, you can follow those threads to find out how well they convert.
Now you’ve got a window into a competitor’s acquisition channel that you would have otherwise missed.
Dive a little deeper
Have you thought of searching an email platform’s analytics via Nacho? When you review the landing pages you’ve uncovered, signatures like Marketo, MailChimp, etc. will start to show up. That tells you the email platform that the company uses.
Now you’re casting a bigger net. You can start to look at how multiple businesses make the most of email.
We recently tried viewing MailChimp’s platform inside Nacho Analytics. Because of how they use subdomains, it’s easy to identify the brands who are using that platform.
This ties into the idea that it might be helpful to view analytics from sites that aren’t your competition. There could be marketing ah-ha! moments tucked away in a completely different email campaign. B2B businesses can still learn from B2C best practices–and flipped around, too. Remember that human behavior is what makes marketing work. People’s interest in the potential message is what drives open rates. If a business is killing it with their subject lines, you can learn from that single detail regardless of which industry they are in.
You might even find a popular newsletter that gets major traction. Subscribing to that could inspire your ideas for subject lines and layouts.
Consider it Pre-Testing
Data helps nudge you toward better decisions. Let’s say that you’ve spotted a stand-out high-converting campaign from Native Deodorant. They drive high traffic to their landing pages, so you know that the emails themselves are compelling enough to earn the click.
Study what went into that email that you could test for yourself. The helpful idea is that hundreds (but probably thousands) of people have already gotten this email and found it to be worth interacting with. To me, that feels like it’s been pre-tested. You don’t know with certainty that a new layout will drive your click rate. You do, however, know that the same layout tested well with another audience. It’s like a small recommendation that you might try it with a little more confidence than what you had before.