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7 Tips for Growing Your Email List With Sweepstakes

emailThis is a guest post written by Ross Kramer, co-founder and CEO of Lititz, PA-based email marketing firm, Listrak.

After working in the industry for more than 15 years, you learn countless tips and tricks to boost customer engagement and company revenue. But there’s one key lesson that all inbound marketers need to learn – how to multiply their email list. I know what you’re thinking. Could we get any more low level? But successful email list development and strategy can make the difference between campaign successes or failures.

Even seasoned email marketers who follow best practices for email list development, relevancy, and deliverability still lose about one-third of their subscribers annually due to bounces, unsubscribes, and spam complaints, according to the Email Experience Council. And the attrition rates are even higher for less vigilant marketers.

Luckily, there are strategies proven to quickly acquire qualified subscribers and keep them longer. Among these include sweepstakes, contests, or other viral campaigns. But before you decide to run a sweepstakes strategy of your own, consider these 7 tips to make sure you know how to run a successful one that will help you grow your email list with qualified subscribers.

1. Keep it Simple

While it might be tempting to create a contest that runs for several weeks, sweepstakes that are strategic, targeted, and time-sensitive give the appearance of exclusivity and prompt people to respond quickly. In order to maximize list development during a short time period, you must have a plan in place prior to launch that includes automated emails, banner ads, social and mobile announcements, etc.

2. Make it Personal

A cash prize may entice more entrants to your sweepstakes, but by awarding your own merchandise instead, you will get a more qualified group that is clearly interested in your company’s brand and what it has to offer.

3. Encourage Social Sharing

Email and social media can really complement each other. Offer your members some incentive such as a second entry or a free gift if they invite friends and other connections in their social networks to participate. This tactic will greatly expand the reach of your campaign. However, be sure to maintain control of the contest. Provide a form to capture the additional email addresses and immediately send those subscribers a message with the details of the contest and an easy way to enter.

4. Promote in the Right Channels

While email is the most effective communication channel to promote the sweepstakes to your subscribers and members, it shouldn’t be your only channel.  Announce your contest on your blog and in your social media and mobile networks, and include banner ads on your website and other relevant sites.

5. Send Entry Confirmations

One of the most important steps in this whole process is sending email confirmations to all entrants. The last thing you want to do is add invalid email addresses to your list because the increase in bounces will negatively affect your deliverability. An automated confirmation email will safeguard your reputation and ensure that only legitimate email addresses are added to your list and only real people are entered into your sweepstakes. Also, if you’re worried about bots inundating your sweepstakes with junk email addresses, a simple CAPTCHA on the registration form will prevent that.

6. Welcome Your New Subscribers

Subscribers are most engaged within the first few weeks of opting in, so you should use this time to start building the relationship right away. An email welcome series designed to engage and interact with subscribers should be part of your usual email development process, but it is especially important when running a sweepstakes. A welcome email will help you weed out the entrants who were only interested in the contest since it gives uninterested subscribers an opportunity to opt-out and provides valuable open and click-through data so you can measure engagement. That way, you’ll be able to focus your attention on the subscribers who are most likely to purchase from you.

7. Monitor New Subscribers

We’ve seen a well planned sweepstakes grow lists by 30% or more in a matter of days. That said, even if you follow best practices for attracting the appropriate entrants for your brand, you’ll still get a number of invalid email addresses and people who are only interested in the prize. In order to protect your reputation, closely monitor the results of your confirmation email and welcome series (not only open and click-through rates, but also bounces, complaints, and unsubscribes), and watch the inactivity levels for the new subscribers. If they don’t show interest in your messages, try a re-engagement campaign or remove them from your list.

Have you found success through sweepstakes? How many qualified email addresses did you gain?

Photo Credit: Ian Lamont

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