Competitive Analysis of E-commerce Email

In the run-up to Black Friday, PSL head of marketing Peter Denton suggested an idea about capturing a pile of e-commerce email. He created an email account and started signing up for every email newsletter he could think of. Imagine someone crazy enough to actually opt-in for email from Pottery Barn, Banana Republic, The Gap, etc.. Crazy right? His hypothesis was that there would be significant insights to gain from looking for patterns across the emails.

Vikram Oberoi pointed us to MailCharts – a service that does something similar. Let me know if you use it.

I imported the emails into a Postgres database, wired up Google Data Studio, and started looking for insights. We haven’t dived into the contents of the emails yet, but a very cursory examination of the 20K+ email subject lines we collected over the last couple months revealed some interesting insights.

  1. Large brands aren’t afraid to send email DAILY.
Count of marketing emails by sender (to 1 inbox over the course of a year)

2. There’s a lot of emojis in the subject lines

3. The subject lines address “You” and “Your” a lot. As in, “$10 off your first purchase!” Or…

4. When discounts are mentioned the tend to be 40% and up. Clearly retailers know you’re not excited about 10% off.

“50%” was the most mentioned discount in the subject line

If you had access to all the marketing emails your competitors were sending, what would you like to know? Leave a comment below and let us know.