A must-have tool for email marketers: How to use Bird’s Competitive Tracker

A must-have tool for email marketers: How to use Bird’s Competitive Tracker

A must-have tool for email marketers: How to use Bird’s Competitive Tracker

Jun 26, 2024

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It’s the 21st century—there’s no time or need for guesswork anymore, and it’s not enough to rely solely on intuition to stay ahead of the competition.

You have to leverage data. 

What if we told you that we are able to gather intel on just about every email your competitor sends—in real time? 

Enter Bird’s Competitive Tracker, a tool that analyzes billions of emails (and counting) across millions of domains from 250,000 of the world's most prominent brands. The extraordinary data set powering the Bird platform comes from years of gathering emails from paid panelists, who are people we’ve paid to opt-in to hundreds of promotional emails and share access to those emails with us. 

With an unparalleled level of breadth and depth, Bird offers a comprehensive overview of what your competitors are doing with email right now. It’s not just a way to keep an eye on the competition, but a key to understanding the state of email marketing as it evolves each year. 

If you’re looking to improve your email marketing strategy and stay ahead of your competition, you need the email intelligence provided by Bird’s Competitive Tracker. Leverage the insights gleaned by our platform to create a data-informed email marketing strategy that optimizes every message you send for success. 

But first, why does competitive intel matter?

In the every-little-tweak-matters world of email marketing, staying ahead isn't just about the copy or design your team creates; it's about knowing the field you're playing on inside and out. Competitive intel is vital for understanding where you stand in your industry.

Here are two critical reasons to have competitive intelligence in email marketing:

1. You can benchmark your performance against others

Every marketing team wonders, "How are we doing compared to our competitors?" 

Competitive intel provides a definitive answer to that question, holding up a mirror to your own performance metrics. By examining the read rates, deliverability, and overall engagement of your competitors' campaigns, you gain a benchmark for comparing the success of your emails. 

Are you leading the pack, or is there room to grow? Competitive intelligence provides the context necessary to answer these questions with confidence and clarity. By comparing your performance to others, you gain an understanding of where you currently stand with your peers.

2. You can be simultaneously reactive and proactive 

To navigate the competitive landscape of email marketing, you need to strike a keen balance between reactive agility and proactive innovation. With competitive intelligence, you can be a master email tactician, playing both sides of the chess board at once.

When you're equipped with up-to-date insights about your competitors' movements, you have the foresight to anticipate their next moves. For instance, if a competitor launches a sale, you can quickly assess the impact of their campaign and decide whether to match their offer, outdo it, or not respond. You’re always prepped to react and recalibrate your tactics, keeping your promotions irresistible and your timing impeccable.

On the flip side, competitive intel empowers you to be proactive—not just following trends, but establishing them. By dissecting what’s working from your competitors’ campaigns, from eye-catching designs to compelling subject lines and persuasive email copy, you can identify what’s landing with audiences in your industry and take for yourself the elements that succeed (while avoiding the pitfalls of those that fall flat). You're not just adapting to the landscape; you're actively sculpting it, creating campaigns that resonate deeply and drive results.

So competitive intel is clearly an advantage—and it’s accessible at your fingertips with Competitive Tracker.

What Competitive Tracker does

Bird's Competitive Tracker provides a multifaceted toolkit designed to discover and dissect the strategies of your competitors. 

Let’s explore six of its cutting-edge features and see how they translate into strategic advantages for your email marketing game:

1. Journey Mapping

Imagine deploying "secret shoppers'' into the world of email marketing—email subscribers who are meticulously tracking, analyzing, and reporting back on the nuances of email campaigns across your industry. Journey Mapping allows you to step into these users’ shoes, revealing the cadence, tone, and messaging that define the subscriber experience.

Journey Mapping offers a deep dive into five distinct consumer journeys:

  1. Welcome

  2. Birthday

  3. Purchase

  4. Abandoned Cart

  5. Shipping 

For each of your competitors across each of these journeys, you can see a panoramic view of how they orchestrate their email campaigns—and how effective those campaigns ultimately are. It’s like having a VIP backstage pass to the most successful email marketing show in your industry, allowing you to learn from the best and identify areas where your campaigns could do better.

For example, you can see the email sequences that competitors send to convince subscribers to complete their purchases, such as this one from Gap:

These journeys reveal which cadences of communication lead to high (or low) engagement rates. By understanding the frequency and timing of your competitors’ email sequences, as well as the tone and messaging that’s getting audiences to engage with them, you can craft your campaigns to mirror the proven successes of industry leaders. 

2. Brand Tracker

More than just keeping tabs on a rival, Brand Tracker allows you to deep dive into the nuances of their email marketing strategy. It offers a singular, comprehensive view of a particular brand’s marketing emails, including engagement metrics, deliverability rates, and the overall health of their email campaigns. 

It's like having a high-powered microscope focused on the DNA of your competitors' email strategies, revealing the core elements that determine their success or failure.

For example, here’s a look at how Gap’s email campaigns are doing, according to Brand Tracker:

Brand Tracker also shows you who the main competitors for any given brand are. You can use this intel to identify your direct and indirect competitors and keep an eye on other players in your industry. In this screenshot, you can see that some of Gap’s biggest competitors, especially in the inbox, are Burlington, Levi, Express, Hollister, and H&M.

3. Brand Compare 

Brand Compare is Bird’s comparative benchmarking tool that positions your brand in the wider context of your industry’s email marketing landscape. 

With this feature, Bird customers conduct in-depth analyses of their brand by directly comparing themselves with up to three others within the same sector. This goes beyond surface-level metrics and instead examines the granular details of email marketing performance, such as list size, reach, send volume, and more. 

You can compare competitors to each other, or sub-brands within one company, as seen in the screenshot from Brand Compare below comparing the performance of Gap’s brands: Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, and Banana Republic Factory.

Look at each of your sub-brand’s or competitors’ best and worst campaigns, figuring out which emails captivate and which ones miss the mark, to understand what truly resonates with your shared audience.

Plus, do you want to know the best day and time to send your emails, or how your campaign volume stacks up against the industry leaders? Brand Compare lays it all out, presenting a competitive roadmap for strategic planning and optimized execution.

4. Advanced Search 

With Advanced Search, you can comb through billions of emails to derive the exact insights you need for your next email marketing campaign. By applying dozens of flexible filters, you can drill down and discover the emails most relevant to your needs. 

For example, let’s say you want examples of emails that…

  • Have a high read rate

  • See excellent deliverability

  • Boast best-performing Abandoned Cart emails in the Apparel industry

  • Come from fashion brands based in Australia

Thanks to Advanced Search, you’d be able to see the handful of emails that fit that very granular criteria.

Or consider this scenario: Your team of marketers for an e-commerce apparel brand is preparing for a Christmas marketing spree. By running a search for emails sent by apparel brands in the last 30 days leading up to Christmas, Advanced Search quickly surfaces over 18,000 examples of targeted campaigns. You can then filter through these results even more specifically to find highly relevant nuggets of email marketing gold to inspire your upcoming campaign. 

5. Overlap Analysis

In an ideal world, you’d be the only brand in your customer’s inbox, not needing to compete for attention. But that’s not the reality of email marketing. Still, there’s something you can gain from the need to compete: a look into how your brand intersects with others in the inboxes of your shared audience.

This is the essence of Competitive Tracker’s Overlap Analysis; you can uncover the intricate web of connections that bind your brand to others in the eyes of your customers. 

Overlap Analysis dives deep into your industry, revealing the top overlapping brands that appear alongside your emails in user inboxes. As Steve McElroy, Sr. Product Manager at Bird, succinctly puts it, "We’re introducing customers to competitors they may not even be considering."

In this example, it’s clear to see that Forever 21’s email overlappers are Shein, Amazon, and Uber. Said differently, people receiving Forever 21 emails are consistently receiving emails from those three other brands as well. (Note: This is an excellent way to identify potential partnerships or collaboration opportunities.)

Through Overlap Analysis, you can acknowledge the broader conversation happening in your audience's inbox, and make sure your brand doesn’t feel like more noise or spam. Bird customers also use Overlap Analysis to dig into their own audience profile across their sub-brands. They can identify their subscribers’ favorite niches, activities and interests. This often surfaces opportunities for collaboration or partnerships with key overlapped brands.

Whether it's fine-tuning your messaging to differentiate your brand, adjusting your send times to avoid getting lost in the shuffle, or identifying partnership opportunities with non-competing but overlapping brands, Overlap Analysis provides the strategic insights you need to elevate your email marketing approach.

6. Scheduled Reports

It can be time-consuming to constantly stay up-to-date with the latest competitive intel. Bird’s Competitive Tracker addresses this challenge head-on with scheduled reports that deliver succinct, customized competitive data right to your inbox on a timetable that aligns perfectly with your team’s needs and workflow.

With a few clicks, you can set up automated queries that regularly gather the most relevant competitive intelligence for your brand. It doesn’t matter if you're interested in daily digests of the latest campaigns in your industry, weekly performance comparisons, or monthly deep dives into engagement trends; you can customize multiple Scheduled Reports to your exact requirements, and even set up alerts, so you’re one of the first people to know if a competitor launches a huge sale on sweaters or drops their Black Friday teaser email to VIPs.

Scheduled Reports not only save teams time, but they also keep everyone consistently equipped with the latest competitive intelligence to make timely, proactive decisions about upcoming campaigns.

How to take your email program to the next level

The key to using competitive intelligence wisely is to go beyond just gathering and sitting with  data. Competitive intel, at its best, delivers actionable insights that propel email marketing strategies forward. 

Here’s how we’ve seen customers use intel from Competitive Tracker to their brand’s advantage: 

1. Come up with non-spammy campaign ideas

Your goal should be to create campaigns that capture your audience’s attention and provide value, making your emails a welcomed sight in an overcrowded inbox.

By analyzing what's working (and what isn't) for competitors, you can identify gaps in the market and opportunities to innovate. Look for patterns in successful campaigns, such as unique subject lines that drive opens or creative content formats that enhance engagement. Avoid the pitfalls of other brands with low engagement rates—what are they doing that’s possibly unpopular with audiences? 

Then, think about how you can apply what you’ve learned to your email marketing campaigns in a way that aligns with your brand's voice and audience's preferences. 

2. Tweak and test different tactics

You can use competitive intel to continuously iterate and improve your email marketing strategy. Use analytics to benchmark your performance against industry standards and identify areas for optimization. Experiment with the quantity of emails in a campaign, timing of delivery, copy and design elements based on what you've learned from your competitors' successes and failures. 

One important note here: A/B testing is critical for email success, allowing you to systematically refine your approach. Pay attention to metrics like click-through rates, conversion rates, and unsubscribe rates to understand the impact of your experimentation. Over time, this process of testing and refinement will help you hone in on the most effective tactics for engaging your audience.

3. Secure leadership buy-in with frequent reporting

Competitive intel can play a crucial role in how you communicate the value and progress of your email marketing efforts to leadership. Use data from competitive reports to illustrate the state of the email marketing landscape, backed by concrete graphs and proof that competitive analysis has informed your campaigns. 

Don’t forget to also compare your email performance metrics to competitors’ to prove the effectiveness of your team’s work. Demonstrate the impact of your optimizations on KPIs that matter to your organization, such as ROI, customer acquisition cost (CAC), and lifetime value (LTV). 

By presenting data in a clear, concise manner, you can articulate the strategic importance of your email marketing initiatives and secure continued support from organizational leadership.

Elevate your email marketing strategy with competitive intelligence

Bird’s Competitive Tracker offers a birds-eye view of the email marketing landscape you operate in, as well as a peek behind the curtain at what your competitors are up to. With features that provide an undeniable email advantage, you’ll have everything you need to outmaneuver your competitors and win your audience’s hearts. 

With strategic insights from Competitive Tracker, your campaigns can go from blending in to standing out in the best way. If you’d like to see this technology for yourself, book an Email Marketing demo with our sales team today.

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The right message -> to the right person -> at the right time.

By clicking "See Bird" you agree to Bird's Privacy Notice.