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How To Quickly Build Your Email List with Social Media Contests

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Read Time: 8 mins

I used to think building an email list had to be done the “slow and steady” way, and that it had to take months or years to build up a massive list of potential customers and fans. But now I know better, and today I’m excited to be sharing with you one tip that I’ve been using to fill my email list with enthusiastic subscribers who want to help me spread the word and grow my list for me.

The special sauce? It’s holding highly targeted contests and leveraging social media to get the word out.

This is ideal for you as a freelancer, because it helps you spread your message about who you are and what you do. It generates positive buzz for your brand, too. Plus, you can then offer the people who signed up for your email list via a contest other options after the contest ends. This is perfect if you’ve been productizing your know-how into digital products that you can sell to many people without trading dollars for hours.

Let me show you how to reverse engineer a winning contest, to help you build your email list fast!

Why A Free Contest Can Help You Grow Your Email List Quickly

When you host a giveaway, with the built-in sharing capabilities of a system like Contest Domination, you can increase your list tremendously quickly. After people enter to win your prize, they’ll be prompted to share the contest with others to increase their odds of winning, and that helps you reach more of your ideal audience.

The endorsement factor kicks in when someone shares a free contest with their friends, these new fans are likely to be highly engaged, too.

Most of your existing clients and fans will have friends or social media followers who might also be interested in what you offer. The endorsement factor kicks in when someone shares a free contest with their friends, these new fans are likely to be highly engaged, too.

Let’s compare paid advertising with word of mouth advertising for a second. With paid advertising, you spend money each time someone clicks on your link and hope that they convert into a subscriber or customer over time. With word of mouth, you have someone who believes in you sharing your link with their friends, and your cost is zero or fixed based on the prizes you’re offering.

Now I’m not saying that you can’t run ads during your contest to generate more interest, because that will certainly help you reach more people. I’m also not saying that running a contest is totally free: you still need to give away prizes, and there is time involved in setting everything up. But on the whole, running a contest is absolutely a great bang for the buck list building activity.

The 3 Keys To a Winning Social Media Contest

There are three main things that you need to set up right from the start to ensure your contest builds your list, and connects with the right people. The downside of running a contest on social media is that it takes time away from your existing online business, serving your clients, and generating income. But on the other hand, if you reverse engineer your contest to lead to more of your ideal clients and customers to join your email list, you’ll be creating more opportunity for growth in your business over time.

This is definitely worth investing your precious work-hours into, especially if you want to move out of one-on-one work and into more of a product business. So here are my top three recommendations to ensure your contest is a success for your long term business growth!

1. Create a Strong Premise and Connection With Video

The premise of your contest is really important: how can you connect it to your overall business and offerings? Is there a way that you can position the contest so that it serves your ideal customers at the same time as offering fun prizes?

Take my 30 Day List Building Challenge, for example. It’s both a contest and a training series, because there are prizes to be won, along with free tutorials and checklists during the 30 days of the challenge.

Another important piece of the contest puzzle is the connection that you need to make with people who are brand new to you. Because people will be sharing your contest with their friends, who may never have heard of you before, you need to set the tone and introduce yourself as someone trustworthy and likable in a few short moments.

There’s nothing quite like video to give people a glimpse into your personality, and to explain the premise of your contest with all the passion and excitement that you feel for it.

If you’re not able to create a short video for your contest, I recommend writing a strong headline and a list of bullet points that explain the prizes and who the contest is for, so that people who fall into your ideal client category can raise their hand and join your contest.

2. Offer Targeted Prizes

One of the most common mistakes that people make when creating a contest is choosing a prize that doesn’t fit with your company’s brand. For example, a prize like an iPad or a computer is very appealing, but it’s so broad that you will end up getting many people on your email list who will unsubscribe as soon as the contest is over.

Since the point of putting together a contest is to build your email list with targeted prospects, you’ll do well to spend some time coming up with prizes that your audience wants and that aren’t so broad that everyone and their mom will be entering.

One way to do that is by giving away smaller prizes that are on topic, such as:

  • Books that relate to your field.
  • Software that appeals to your target audience.
  • High end gear that appeal to your market.

You could also make your main prize one of your services or high end products, so people who are your fans can tell their friends how much they’ll enjoy winning your product, too.

You can also hint to your existing email list that you’re putting together a fun contest, and ask them what kind of prizes they’d most like to win. People love to be involved in the decision making process, and it generally increases participation in the contest itself.

Another cool way to encourage sharing of your contest page, is to offer a prize for both the winner and the person who referred them!

3. Set a Deadline, and Plan To Promote It Yourself

As with most online marketing campaigns, it helps to set a deadline for yourself. There’s no perfect time to run a contest, and we’re all busy, but if you schedule a week where you know you’ll be promoting a free contest then you’ll make sure to do it.

The more time you give yourself to promote the contest, the better results you’ll get and the more people your participants will be able to share it with.

You can decide how much time you want to give yourself to promote the contest: whether you want a short and sweet burst of sign ups, or if you want to do it marathon-style like my 30 day challenge.

The more time you give yourself to promote the contest, the better results you’ll get and the more people your participants will be able to share it with.

If you’re using software like Contest Domination, you’ll want to give yourself time to sign up and play around with its interface before you run the contest. This will give you time to test the system and make sure everything is running smoothly before you hit publish and tell the world about your fun new contest.

What Outcomes Can You Expect From Running a Contest On Social Media

Since I’m in the middle of running my first large scale contest at the moment, I’m happy to report on some of the statistics in the hopes of encouraging you to plan your next contest.

The first thing to note is that so far the participants are split evenly: half of them came from my existing email list or social media efforts, and the other half were referred by their friends.

This tells me that my efforts are essentially multiplied by two: every post, Facebook ad, or email I send out about the contest will net me one new subscriber per initial participant. I have to admit that I really like this multiplied effort effect.

I’ve also noticed an increase in new Facebook fans and Twitter followers, as more people discover me through the contest. Plus, with the way that I’ve designed my contest, people are constantly thanking me and telling me how happy they are to be participating. I feel like the goodwill and social buzz alone is worth running a contest for!

Got Any Contest Questions?

I’d love to answer any social media contest questions you might have, so leave your comments below and I’ll see you in there!

Graphic credit: Some rights reserved by MikeKondrat.

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