Friends, I'm sure you've heard us say it by now: Growing your Email List is one of the best things you can do for your business! Sarah and I have been writing to our list every Sunday night for the past 15 months, and it's been wonderful! The brilliant ladies on our list are the ones we get to know, the ones who are excited about what we're up to, and the ones who show up on launch day to purchase our brand new thing. Plus, they're the ones inside our Facebook group answering our questions and giving us loads of advice and feedback so we can make sure the things we launch are actually good… and what they want!
But figuring out how to grow that email list of yours is a whole ‘nother monster. Unless you're bringing in loads of traffic each week, it can be an uphill climb to grow your list to a level that really keeps your business going and brings you a steady stream of customers each month.
So while we're continuing to work on new ways to grow our traffic, in the meantime, we wanted to grow our list fast, and to see if we could turn that list into a brand new group of happy customers. And… we managed to do it! We gained 5,000+ targeted email subscribers in one week!
Here's what we did:
1. WE DECIDED ON A TARGETED, JUICY GIVEAWAY
Inspired by Danielle Arran's success at using giveaways to grow her list as an Etsy seller, we wanted to grow our list in a big way to attract more potential planner customers. (If you're new here, we have this product called the Brilliant Business Planner.) So, we decided to create a giveaway that was really big, really exciting, and what I like to call…really juicy! We knew that planner obsessed ladies everywhere would be drooling just a bit as they eyed up our prize, and that was exactly the point!
We gave away 9 amazing planners as our grand prize. Literally, one person (it was Abby B. in fact) took home all 9 planners. Of course, our planner was one of the 9, but we knew that some of the other planners we were offering had a lot more brand recognition at this point, and would get planner people even more excited than if we just gave away our own, new-to-market planner.
At first, I had doubts about giving 9 planners to one person. I mean, who uses 9 planners in one year?! But as the comments started rolling in, I realized just how excited the entrants were to win this prize. With 9 planners, they could peruse them all and pick the perfect one (or two!) for them. Then, they could wow their friends and family with the best gifts on the planet. Giving away a big prize that had a price tag of over $300 made the entrants to our giveaway really excited to share it.
2. WE USED A VIRAL GIVEAWAYS APP
While Danielle uses Gleam.io to run her giveaways, we had already purchased the KingSumo Giveaways App last year, so we stuck with that one.
So what do I mean by a viral giveaways app? This is a giveaway system that gives those people who enter the giveaway extra entries when they share their special link and refer more people to the giveaway.
With Kingsumo, you can decide on anywhere from 1 to 10 extra entries into the giveaway for each additional person you refer. This time, we went big and gave people 10 extra entries for every single referral. With that kind of benefit to sharing the giveaway (literally increase your chance of winning by 10 times just by getting one other person to enter!) people talk about your giveaway much more than they normally would!
After trying the 10-bonus-entry method, I don't think I'll ever go back to less than that. I mean, why wouldn't you want to be insanely generous with the people who are talking about your giveaway and sharing it with everyone they know? They're giving you free advertising, and that's amazing!
3. PEOPLE ACTUALLY SHARED OUR GIVEAWAY!
This part is key. If your giveaway isn't targeted, juicy, and generously gives more entries for those who share. Well… no one will share it!
We tried a giveaway last Christmas season, and although we had the best of intentions, it ended up just being a random assortment of mostly Etsy items from the ladies in our community. Now, each of these items would have made amazing gifts had they been paired with other products that fit a targeted ideal customer, but without that, the whole giveaway looked more like a random assortment of items…a garage sale, if you will. And no one was really that excited to share about it.
That's just one sad example of why you have to be insanely targeted with your giveaway. Do you sell baby items? Your giveaway item better target only moms with babies. Do you sell jewelry? Your giveaway item better have some jewelry in it and/or the perfect jewelry organizer for someone who loves jewelry so much they have jewelry spilling out of their dresser, closet, and ears! Get as specific as you possibly can with your giveaway targeting.
So how do I know people shared our Great Big Planner Giveaway? Easy! Let's look at the stats!
We had just 1,883 unique people view our Great Big Planner Giveaway blog post which outlined what the prize was, and had a link to enter the giveaway. This is the link we pointed people to as we shared about the giveaway on social media (more on that specific strategy in a bit!)
Take a look at our giveaway results below:
This is what the KingSumo Giveaways App looks like inside of WordPress. We had 7,944 total contestants. These are all the individual people who entered our giveaway. However, we had 62,447 Entries. This is because of all the bonus entries (10 to be exact) people were getting when they talked about the giveaway with their unique referral link and got others to enter.
On average, almost every entrant has shared the giveaway with one other person. (Not quite, but we'll just round up to make things easy.) This is how the giveaway spreads. Someone enters, they're so excited about it and desperately want to win, they share it with everyone they know, someone else then enters via their link, and the chain continues.
A few things to note: You might think the math doesn't add up. How could we only have 1883 people actually see the post about our giveaway, but still have almost 8,000 people enter that giveaway? Great question! When people share their unique referral link, which KingSumo gives them in an email once they enter, that link takes people to the KingSumo giveaway page. You can see it here. So that person just sees a quick summary of the prize, how the contest works, and decides whether or not to enter.
So only the people that we made an effort to market to and share about the giveaway – whether through paid Facebook ads or organic posts on social media – only those people saw the giveaway blog post.
I think this is an important distinction, because it's pretty obvious that a core group of just 1,883 people allowed us to gain 7,944 total contestants. And, as I'll explain below, there wasn't a whole lot of work involved on our part. It felt pretty amazing to see this kind of spread in just a week!
4. WE SHARED OUR GIVEAWAY IN STRATEGIC PLACES
I'm really excited to share this unique branch of our viral giveaway strategy. We knew that our target market was women who already love and use planners, so we wanted to make sure we found where they hang out online, and shared the giveaway with them. However… you've probably noticed in your own experiences online, that when a business owner just comes on into your Facebook group and shoves their stuff in your face, you tend to be pretty turned off by it. On the other hand, if another Facebook group member gives you a tip and shares a great giveaway with you – friend to friend – you're more likely to pay attention and take action.
So, we intentionally had our amazing VA, Ellen, do the sharing for us, since she could say something like “Hey everyone, the ladies at Brilliant Business Moms are hosting a great planner giveaway, here's the link!” versus me saying, “Hey, I'm hosting a giveaway, please go enter….pretty please….I have no idea what I'm doing with marketing and I'm just crossing my fingers that you'll all take pity on me…..” (Ok, I wouldn't exactly say that, but that's how it would generally be received, right?)
On Day 1, Ellen was able to find two planner Facebook groups that allowed link sharing, and post our giveaway there. (I'm not going to share the groups because I don't think it's fair to now inundate them with all sorts of people sharing all sorts of links! It took us time to find these groups. And getting planner women angry is not something I want to do again! (That's a whole ‘nother story for another post!))
She also shared our giveaway in a few more general places that allow anyone to share their giveaways. Now, this isn't a strategy I would necessarily use for every giveaway, but… if your giveaway is highly targeted, and you're fairly confident that only your ideal customer is really going to be excited enough to go enter and share…then I think this can be an acceptable part of your giveaway strategy.
Here are those key giveaway places. Enjoy and feel free to use them for your next giveaway!
5. WE CREATED A VIDEO FOR MAXIMUM FACEBOOK ENGAGEMENT
- Facebook loves native video. We uploaded our homespun video directly to Facebook. They'll happily spread a native video quite a bit more than they will a YouTube video.
- Our video had motion and clearly displayed what the giveaway items were. Although I can't say for sure, I highly doubt a video of me just standing there talking would have done as well. The movement catches a Facebook user's eyes as they're scrolling. They may stop for just a second longer, or maybe they'll even be interested enough to turn the sound on or read the description.
- Our core audience thought it was adorable. We immediately saw comments from our die-hard brilliant business moms community commented on how cute the video was or how much they loved it. Those comments and likes showed Facebook that the video was popular, so they kept on showing it.
- We responded back to every comment. This is another tip I learned from Danielle. Not only is it good practice to respond back to your fans on social media, but it's great for organic reach too. Again, the more interaction your post is getting, the more Facebook will keep on showing it.
- People shared the video! Once our core audience started entering the giveaway, they could share the giveaway video and just add their unique referral link. We had 17 total shares on our video.
How did our video post compare to our photo post for the same giveaway?
Two days later, we posted a pretty photo advertising our giveaway on our Facebook page. We reached 1,982 people organically, with just one share on the post. Although the organic reach was decent, the number of shares tells me that this post was far less effective. However, I'll play devil's advocate for a minute and point out that our core audience already saw the video two days before, and theoretically could have already shared it, so they may have been all “shared-out.” We'll never know for sure, but when I break down our paid advertising methods below, I hope you'll be convinced that video on Facebook is worth a try!
6. WE USED FACEBOOK ADS TO PROMOTE THE GIVEAWAY
7. WHERE ELSE DID WE SHARE ABOUT OUR GIVEAWAY?
We shared two posts about the giveaway on our main Instagram Feed and had the link to the planner giveaway (with an introduction) as the link in our profile all week long. At the time, our @brilliantbizmom Instagram account had right around 3,000 followers.
We also shared about the giveaway on our newer, @brilliantbizplanner Instagram feed just once, with the link to the giveaway in our profile all week. We only had around 500 followers on that account when the giveaway started.
We definitely saw people sharing our giveaway on Instagram (because they kindly tagged us in their shares 🙂 so that was great to see. It wasn't the huge reach that Facebook gave us, but it's also hard to know how many people actually shared on Instagram, since they could easily snag our photo, share by pointing people to the link in their own profile (with their special referral link) and never mention us at all. (No problem, they're pointing people back to our giveaway!)
8. WAS ALL THAT TIME, MONEY, AND WORK WORTH IT?
This is a great question, and one we're still figuring out! Needless to say we were thrilled to see such incredible spread from our small profiles and audience, but only time will tell how many of our brand new subscribers will stick around, and how many will turn into customers or raving fans.
Here's a summary of what went down with the giveaway:
Total Money Spent: $443
($250-ish dollars on planner purchases, $140 to our awesome VA who spread the word for us and helped us manually export emails after the fact… yep… KingSumo had a glitch! and $53 on Facebook ads.)
Total Subscribers Gained: We had 7916 total entrants into the giveaway. But I would conservatively guess that about 1,000 of those individuals were people who were already on our email list. However, I haven't merged the lists together yet, as I want to send a specific sequence to these new subscribers first.
At the time of this writing, I had just sent the first email out to the 7916 entrants, and here are the results 3 hours later: 26% Open Rate, 116 Clicks (this is quite low so far! I incentivized all the non-winners with a free video course and free printables…) 95 Unsubscribes, 91 Cleaned because the email bounced (these were invalid email addresses – I noticed one person used the same email but with different numbers about 30 times!)
Results 24 hours post first email: 37.9% Open Rate, 233 clicks, 135 Unsubscribes, 104 Bounced. I am feeling great about these numbers!
I will keep you posted in the next few days and weeks. I'm really curious to see where the quality of this list falls over time!
Cost per Subscriber: Still unknown. But if I calculate it based on cost per entrant, that would be just 6 cents per entrant. A nickel and a penny, ladies! That's pretty incredible when all the ads gurus will tell you to prepare to pay $1-$2 per subscriber for Facebook ads that point people to an opt-in page. (Ain't nobody got money for that! Ok… some people do… and if they're targeting well and launching products with insane margins, more power to them. But that's not what we're currently doing. And geezo peezo I really want the little guys to be able to find a way to make ads work for them too!)
Total Return on Investment in the Form of Sales: This one remains to be seen. And one big mistake we made was hosting our giveaway too late in planner season. We really should have hosted it in December (although we debated as there are just so many promotions going on and perhaps we would have been lost in the crowd.) Even more importantly, I got quite sick as the giveaway was wrapping up, and our Giveaway app failed us and wasn't tallying everyone's initial entries and wouldn't draw a winner for us. So our VA had to spend several more hours manually extracting everyone – and I failed to give her this job soon enough as I was out of commission.
So far, Day 2 Post Email shows two tracked planner sales via email. And, we haven't started pitching anything yet. Our first email just mentioned our free video course and free printables, but we do have a few of our favorite links at the bottom of our email, so the sale came through that click.
So… I think we really missed out on converting new subscribers into planner purchasers for this season, but we still have some valuable content to send them about Time Management, a great book on Time Management to talk about, and we hope to keep engaging with them all year and have excited planner customers ready to go for next season.
FINAL SALES RESULTS UPDATE: I tracked 4 direct planner sales through my email campaign. And an additional 12 planner sales in February (when we really haven't promoted the planner anywhere else!) I have a hunch some of those new sales came because thousands of new people who love planners now know about us. I mean, who buys a planner in February.
In addition, in the week after our big giveaway, our shop sales doubled compared to the week before. So it certainly gave end-of-January sales a lift.
Overall, I'd say we could contribute $720 worth of planner sales to this giveaway at best. It's just a drop in the bucket compared to our total planner sales during peak season. But it's not $0 either 🙂
Regardless, it feels awesome to add 5,000+ brand new targeted subscribers to our list, and to have done it at such an affordable price.
And the final update on subscribers as of February 24, 2016: 6,640 subscribers have stuck around! And these subscribers have been getting a weekly email from me, invites to webinars, and more. I'd say that's pretty good. And I might start emailing them a little less so I can “save them” for planner season next year. I may just send them a great time management tip or planner inspiration once per month.
What do you think? Are you planning to incorporate giveaways into your marketing plans or do you think they're just rubbish? I'd really love to hear your thoughts!
~ Beth Anne
P.S. Come join us below! You'll get to ask us questions, and you can feel free to grill me on this strategy 🙂