Shop Talk: Best Practices for Using Contests for Email Acquisition
Q: "We're interested in acquiring new, qualified names for our email list by running a contest. Any best practices around this idea? Thanks for your help!" — Jennifer S. Lin, Email Marketing Manager, WeWork
A: Hi Jennifer, great question! Contests can be a very effective email acquisition tactic, however, as your questions states, you need to put some thought into it to be sure you get high-quality email addresses, not just a high quantity of addresses. The key to success here is what the contest offers.
You want to make sure that the contest prize has a broad appeal to your target audience, but isn't interesting to those outside it.
Years ago I ran a successful contest acquisition campaign for Hasbro, the toy company. Each day, five people won gift baskets of toys. Not only was it very successful at getting a large quantity of new email subscribers, but it also proved effective at getting high-quality subscribers. (Hasbro's target audience was people with children.)
The Hasbro case study is a "do" — here's a "don't." I also worked with a company targeting real estate agents. The company planned a contest, but instead of giving people the chance to win an item of interest to its target audience (which Hasbro did so successfully), it decided to give the winners iPads. (This was back when the first iPad was released, so it was a much sought-after item.) My concern went to quality. A giveaway like this would appeal to anyone, and so it was very likely that the email addresses would be, for them, low quality — i.e., not targeted.
Basically, there would be a lot of people signing up for the list who weren't real estate agents, and those names wouldn't help the company move towards its business goals. In my opinion, a better prize would have been free registration to a real estate industry conference or a real estate business book.
End game: Contests can be fantastic tactics for acquiring new opt-in email subscribers. However, be sure that the prize is in line with your business goals and that anyone interested in winning the contest would also be part of your target audience.
Jeanne Jennings is a senior consultant with dprism, a consulting firm that helps enterprise-sized organizations leverage digital strategy and technology to become more profitable. Jeanne can be reached at email@example.com.