How I Got 938 New Email Opt-ins With A Giveaway

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I recently ran a two-week long giveaway that increased my list by 6.9%, or 938 new opt-ins. Here’s how I did it…

The number one thing a writer/speaker/consultant needs to do is to be constantly building her email list. Publishers want to know how big your “platform” is. Seth Godin calls it your “tribe”. And while these terms encompass all your fans—on social media as well as email—nothing is as important as your email list.

In February I experimented with using an online giveaway. I used the KingSumo giveaway plug-in for WordPress to manage it. The way it works is that people sign-up for the giveaway, but they earn extra tickets by sharing the link and offer on social media. Thus the built-in viral nature.

Now, the wrong way to do a giveaway is to offer some kind of expensive prize that anybody would want. You don’t want to offer an iPad or a Kindle or an Amazon gift certificate. Why not? Because while this will increase the overall number of people opting in to your list, they aren’t necessarily prospects for your books or services. You’ll just inflate your list with bad prospects, thus spending more on your list sends and dramatically hurting your open and click-through rates.

So the best thing to do is carefully come up with a prize that only your target market would be interested in. For example, I write in the area of business leadership. So when I first ran a giveaway a couple months back, the prize was the “John Maxwell Leadership Library”. Basically, a bunch of books from leadership guru John Maxwell. By definition, people who respond to that prize are going to be people who are interested in leadership, and who are readers.

While it wasn’t expensive, I did have to buy those Maxwell books, so this time I tried something different. I approached the organizers of a popular leadership conference down in Atlanta. I explained to them what I was doing, and how if they gave me two free tickets to their event, they’d get thousands of eyeballs (awareness) on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. They loved the idea and gave me two tickets.

To launch the contest, I sent an email to my existing house list with the subject line, “Giveaway: 2 Tickets to Leadercast

The open rate on this email was 14%, which was less than my normal 19-20% open rate.

The body of the email read:

Giveaway email

The click through rate on this copy was 14%, significantly less than the 20% I’m used to. I think even though my tribe is into leadership, obviously not all of them are interested in going to a live conference in Atlanta—especially since they’d have to pay for their own travel.

But the overall number of new opt-ins to my list was 938, which increased my total list size by 6.9%. In addition to opt-ins there was significant exposure on Twitter and other social media platforms, and while I didn’t track it, I’m sure I increased followers along the way.

Overall I’m happy with the result and will plan to do a giveaway probably once a quarter. Now to think of a new prize to offer…

Questions? Hit me on Twitter @Kruse or Facebook or email me: info at kevinkruse dot com.