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Using Contests to Grow Your Email Subscriber List & Promote Your Brand

By Wired Messenger Email Marketing


How to grow email lists with contests

Running a viral contest offers several benefits that ensure you get a great ROI on any competition that you run. They can quickly build your email list with real email addresses as well as brand awareness at a very low cost. They’re effective because they leverage word of mouth marketing, are hyper-targeted to your target market, build brand awareness and they are inexpensive to run.

The Benefits of Running Online Contests

Here are the top 5 reasons why you should be using contests to help grow your email list and building your brand.

Collect Real Email Addresses

If you’ve set up your contest correctly and are offering a prize that people really want, the quality of the email addresses that you collect will be very good. The reasoning behind this is simple, if your prize is something that people are interested in, they want to be contactable if they win. This means that they’ll give you their best email address, one that they check regularly, when they enter.

Word of Mouth Marketing

Referrals from people you know are powerful. Because we tend to trust recommendations from friends and family, if they recommend your competition there is a good chance that you will get additional entries from their acquaintances. Social media makes sharing information about a competition with your ‘friends’ or ‘followers’ a simple 1-click process which your customers can use to get extra entries for a competition.

This form of referral marketing is so useful because an entrant serves as a ‘reference’. They’re promoting your brand to people that they know at no cost to you. And, as they do so, the referral is automatically more trustworthy and influential because there is a personal relationship.

It’s Laser Targeted

People will share your competition with others who are likely to be interested in the same things. The reason for this is two-fold, firstly people who are friends often have overlapping interests and secondly, depending on how the competition is run, the entrant will only share the contest with those that are likely to be interested.

Build Brand Awareness Through Social Sharing

As entrants share the details on their social media channels, you get access to new audiences at no cost. Essentially, entrants are promoting your brand by promoting your competition which in turns drives brand awareness.

Low Cost

Running a contest is typically low cost as it relies on the power of sharing to spread information about the competition rather than paid advertising. It allows you to leverage your existing assets such as your email list (by sending out a mail about the competition to all your subscribers) and your social pages (with a post about the competition.) However, to get the best ROI, it may be worth boosting or promoting your competition on your social channels (such as Facebook and Instagram).

The costs that you can expect for running a contest are:

    • the prize itself, which doesn’t have to be high if you have a product or service that you are able to offer as a prize
    • any promotion costs, such as retargeting for people who visit the competition page but don’t enter, and Facebook or Instagram ads to boost the competition post
  • setup costs, if your contest requires technical expertise or outside input such as would be the case if you wanted to gameify the contest

It’s easy to see why a contest is a great option, but it needs to be done right. With an understanding of how powerful a viral contest can be, let’s look at some of the popular ways to run a contest.

The Different Types of Contests

There are many different types of contests to choose from and, with different apps and plugins readily available, there is space to get quite creative. Choosing the format for the contest is important as it needs to resonate with your target market. For example, if you are a tech service, a simple signup form might be the best approach, but for a women’s clothing shop harnessing the power of Instagram and Facebook is likely to be more effective.

Simple Signup Form

This is possibly the easiest option and most budget-friendly option as you just need a landing page to get started. Use social sharing to get extra entries (and grow your social following) and collect emails for marketing later.

Social Contest

This is the best way to drive brand awareness and grow your following on social media. It is effective in boosting your engagement by requiring entrants to like and follow your channels in order to enter the competition. Users can also be incentivized to enter across multiple channels and to share with their followers to unlock additional entries.

One popular way to do this is a ‘share your story’ viral contest where an entrant shares a personal story that is in some way related to the brand. An example would be for an outdoor clothing company to encourage followers to upload a story about their experience using the clothing for an outdoor adventure that they went on with a prize for the most adventurous.

Photo Contest

This is a fun, interactive way to collect assets that brands can use for marketing at a later stage. It is a good way to get image assets that can be used for future campaigns. The competition can either be run via social channels such as Instagram and Facebook which is easier to set up, but more challenging to manage and collect email addresses. Or it can be done by setting up a competition on your company website. This will require a plugin or programming to process entries, but will make the process of collecting information such as email addresses easier. For some examples of photo contests we’ve run in the past please get in touch with our experts.

Game-Style Contests

This is an opportunity to get really creative as the potential rewards for this type of contest are massive. If done correctly, a game-style contest effectively drives engagement, users typically engage with the contest (and therefore your brand) multiple times, and it works really well for social sharing with features like a game leaderboard and incentives to share.

Some examples of game ideas that we have built to successfully drive user engagement include Folger’s “Simon Says” game where players were tested on their ability to remember the company’s iconic jingle. The reward for getting it right was an entry to win a great vacation getaway. With almost a million entries we exceeded expectations on growing their email database and the campaign was a complete success.

Another example of an interactive promotion is Bick’s “hide and seek” game where players had to search for Bick’s burgers in a sea of images and were rewarded for their successes with entries into the contest. The results of the contest speak for themselves with almost half a million impressions and thousands of contest entrants (and incentivized social sharing boosted the number of entries by over 20%).

An Instant-Win Contest

This is where people enter a contest and find out instantly if they have won. There are usually a variety of prizes that can be unlocked. An example of this would be a ‘spin to win wheel’ and depending on where the needle lands different prizes and discounts are immediately available for the entrant. The range of instant prizes can vary from large giveaways such as free products or services to smaller coupons or discounts that can be applied to purchases. The key here is to use instant gratification to entice people to enter the competition.

The benefits of using contests mean that you are able to quickly collect real email addresses because the contests spreads organically through word of mouth marketing to your specific target market. It also allows you to build awareness for your brand at a low cost. There are a number of different ways to run the contests from simple with a single sign-up form to more creative solutions such as social and photo contests or game-style and instant-win contests.

Now that you’ve seen how a viral contest can benefit your business, get in touch with our team. We’ll help you craft the perfect competition for your audience.

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