Today, I’m going to show you how one blog nearly doubled their email list in just one week.
You will learn:
- The dead simple list building technique that made this campaign go viral.
- How to optimize your website to capture email addresses.
- The 9 promotion strategies that lead to its success.
It’s a list building case study of epic proportions.
(And almost anyone can follow the exact same steps I’m about to show you to get more email subscribers.)
Let’s jump right in!
Before we get into how this feat was accomplished, let’s break down the results.
Check out this growth:
The blog managed to convert 3,200 subscribers in just 7 days (457 emails/day).
That’s a 73% increase in subscribers overall.
(The huge spike is from those emails being uploaded to HubSpot.)
But here’s the kicker:
Just one of these tactics contributed to a whopping 2,661 subscribers.
The List Building Strategy That Took This Campaign Viral
I had been working with this blog for a while, and we were able to gradually grow our email list through social media, referral, and search engine traffic.
(Learn how to drive 34,000 search engine visits in 60 days (for free) in my 5,000-word SEO case study.)
We started off collecting a couple emails per day and eventually got up to a daily rate of 50+.
But that’s nothing compared to the 457 emails/day we got from this strategy.
This campaign went viral for one reason:
We set up and promoted a product giveaway. People could enter the raffle by submitting their email address, and they could get more entries by referring people using their unique URL.
(Almost like an affiliate link.)
Contestants could share it on social media, email it to friends, promote it in online communities — anywhere on the Internet.
And that they did!
The more people they referred, the higher their chances were to win.
That’s what made this campaign go viral.
We then optimized the rest of the site to capture any runoff traffic that didn’t enter.
It became an extremely high-converting loop.
Who Is This Blogger?
The blog is called UAV Coach, a fast-growing site in the recreational and commercial drone space.
(Which is taking off right now.)
Alan Perlman is the head honcho. He’s a drone enthusiast with a background in digital marketing.
Combining his passion with his marketing skills, Alan is gradually building UAV Coach into one of the top sites in the space.
How We Set Up the Campaign
Normally, setting up a giveaway like this would take complex coding that’s above both of our heads.
Thankfully, there’s a plugin that makes it really easy:
KingSumo allows you to set up a page on your own domain to host the giveaway, including all of its viral components.
(Note: Keep reading to learn the 9 promotion tactics that helped us propel this campaign’s success.)
Here’s how you can set up a campaign like this:
First, download and install the KingSumo Giveaways plugin.
Then decide what to give away. Here are a few ideas:
- A free subscription to your product or service (you could offer a month, a year, lifetime access, etc).
- An item from your product inventory.
- Work with a company in your space to offer a version of their product or service for free.
Whatever prize you choose, make sure it’s something your audience would crave.
Luckily, because UAV Coach had gotten a lot of exposure in recent months, Alan got some drones sent to him for free.
So we offered one of those.
Here’s why it’s important to pick the right prize:
When we did our first contest, we gave away a free ticket to a drone convention in Las Vegas.
It was extremely valuable (which is important), but there were barriers to taking advantage of this prize:
- People might not have enough time to go to Vegas.
- They may not be able to afford the hotel and travel costs.
- They may not like crowds, which come with Las Vegas’ atmosphere.
That campaign converted a little over 400 subscribers.
One of the main reasons our latest one did so well is because literally anyone in our audience could take advantage of the prize.
(I mean, who doesn’t want a free drone? :D)
So consider your prize carefully.
After you’ve chosen a prize, it’s time to set up your campaign, which will be hosted on page like this…
Head into the plugin and create a new giveaway. Then start filling out the description.
Your description should explain the contest completely.
- What prize could they win?
- How do they enter?
- How will the winner be chosen?
- How will they receive their prize if they win?
- How do they get more chances to win? (<– very important)
Thanks for sharing!
Here’s a description you can use as a template:
Been looking to pick up one of the UAV industry’s hottest new drone models?
You’re in the right place!
In this limited-time raffle, we’re bringing you a ready-to-fly GHOST Aerial Drone from Ehang, valued at $799.
(Note: Big discount over at Value Basket for $469.99)
Ehang just raised $42M in funding and is making waves in the UAV industry. We’re beyond excited that they’re letting us raffle off their GHOST Aerial Drone.
GHOST Aerial Drone (Android Version):
Equipped with a detachable 2D Brushless Camera Mount Gimbal, fit for all GoPro editions and similarly sized cameras.
Easy to fly: one-click commands via your Android smartphone or tablet.
Control height and orientation through the app by sliding bars, and the rest is taken care of.
Wind/Water resistant: moderately windy and rainy weather can’t stop you from flying!
Night mode: LED lights to track drone in the sky
Flight time: an impressive 30 minutes (20 minutes with a gimbal and GoPro attached)
…more specs here.
Is this a brand-spanking new drone?
No, not quite. I may have brought it into the air a couple of times. You know, for testing purposes.
Seriously though, it’s an impressive set of autonomous features, and if you’ve got a GoPro or similarly-sized camera laying around, a fun tool for aerial photography / videography capture. Make sure you have an Android device to fly.
The raffle winner will receive two boxes, one with the quadcopter and its components, the other with the gimbal.
Both boxes are padded and come with clear instructions about how everything fits together. This model is well-structured and ready-to-fly!
Enter the raffle below (and share this offer to increase your chance at winning–details on next page).
Enjoy the rest of the article!
(Hint: KingSumo chooses a winner randomly.)
Then scroll down and choose a start date, end date, and when the prize will be awarded.
I suggest making your giveaway run 7—9 days.
Any less, and you don’t have as much time to promote it. Any more, and you start to lose your scarcity factor.
Next is the rules section (or disclaimer).
It should be pre-populated with default rules. Go through and customize it with your site’s name and anything else you’d like to include.
Then choose how many entries each contestant gets for a referral:
Fill out your prize details in the next section:
Then scroll down and create a question with different answers. This is to minimize spam entries:
(Make the correct answer really obvious.)
Finally, scroll down to the last section and choose an attractive template for your page and any images you’d like to include.
That’s it! Your giveaway is fully set up, and it will start on the date you selected.
KingSumo will store the emails you collect. After the contest, simply download the file and upload it to your email marketing service of choice.
Now, let’s make your giveaway go viral 🙂
Step 1. Build Up Pre-Giveaway Anticipation
There’s nothing like a little pre-promotion to get people excited for your raffle.
First, send a teaser to your current email list, like this:
This will make sure it’s not a surprise when you send the official launch email. People will start telling their friends/acquaintances about your contest as well.
You can also push out social media teasers at the same time.
Step 2. Optimize Your Website to Capture Emails
Here’s the thing:
Even if people don’t enter your raffle, many of them will still check out your website to see what you’re all about.
This is a prime opportunity to capture some of the runoff traffic from your campaign.
So, just like any traffic generation campaign, make sure your website is optimized to capture emails before driving traffic.
Here’s how to optimize your website:
We used two main methods to capture emails:
- Pop-up forms
- Content upgrades
These are tried and true techniques to grow your email list.
First, we have a site-wide pop-up form set up:
Which converts at a solid 5.12%. It’s our biggest source of email conversions:
Campaign Conversions: 394 emails (in 7 days)
Next, we have content upgrades set up on our most visited pages.
Content upgrades are simply post-specific lead magnets that you deliver through a pop-up lightbox.
Here’s an example:
This lead magnet is just a pdf version of the article. When people click that box, an opt-in form pops up, like so:
When clicked on, this baby converts at 20% to 50%+:
Campaign Conversions: 145 emails (in 7 days)
Finally, we have opt-in forms in both the sidebar and at the end of our posts. These attempt to capture traffic that doesn’t convert through those two forms.
Now that everything is set up, it’s time for the fun part:
Promote your giveaway and build your email list.
(Want to learn even more ways to capture emails?
Read my 12,000-word tutorial, 13 Free Online Lead Generation Tactics, which breaks down how to optimize your site, drive traffic, and capture leads.)
Step 3. Announce The Giveaway
This is the official announcement. It’s your job to get people excited about the possibility of winning.
And, most importantly, they need to understand how to get more entries (which helps your giveaway go viral).
The key is to get your audience to help you get other people, who aren’t following you, to enter the raffle and join your list.
So send an email to your list that gets them excited and tells them how to get more entries.
After the initial email, we also published a blog post announcing the giveaway. Our posts automatically get syndicated to other websites and shared on social media, so this helped us attract the initial wave of entries.
And the entries and shares started rolling in…
Step 4. Promote Your Giveaway on Social Media
As we all know:
When things go viral, they go viral on social media.
After your immediate subscribers and followers, this is the natural next place to promote your contest.
First, promote your giveaway on any social media accounts you own.
These could be:
- Your Facebook fan page
- Your own LinkedIn group
- Pinterest Account
- Twitter account
- Google+ page
- Any other accounts you own
After promoting it on your social media accounts, move on to these three communities:
- LinkedIn Groups
- Google+ Communities
- Facebook Groups
These groups are chock full of people who would love a piece of the action.
The best part? It only takes minutes to promote your contest to literally thousands of potential subscribers.
I do this type of promotion for anything and everything related to my blog.
Learn more ways to drive traffic from online communities in my 8,000-word guide to free traffic generation.
Here’s how to expose your contest to thousands of people in minutes:
First, head over to LinkedIn and use the search bar to find groups related to your niche:
Join them and promote your contest.
Next, head over to Google+. Use the left navigation menu to find “Communities.”
Then enter a keyword related to your niche and join as many as you like.
Before promoting your contest, go to your account settings and scroll to the bottom. Make sure “Show your Google+ communities posts on the Posts tab of your Google+ profile” is unchecked.
This will make sure your posts don’t get shared repeatedly on your profile as well.
(Hat tip to Logan for that trick.)
Then go into each community and announce your giveaway:
Finally, head over to Facebook and search for groups related to your niche:
Join as many as you like and promote your giveaway:
Don’t worry about being considered a spammer or overly-promotional. You’re giving away something of massive value for little in return (on their end).
And they have the freedom to unsubscribe any time if they don’t want to be a part of your list long term.
(Don’t worry, a high percentage will subscribe.)
So be shameless in your promotion.
Then move on to Step 5:
Step 5. Funnel Your Current Traffic to the Giveaway
So far, you’ve promoted the contest to your current subscribers and followers and to thousands of people through social media communities.
But what about the traffic you’re already getting? How will they know about your giveaway?
Well, you can promote it in your sidebar or on your home page. Those are useful tactics.
But I’ve got a better one:
Funnel people to your giveaway using a header-bar.
What’s a header-bar?
It looks like this:
It’s simply a bar that pops up (like a pop-up form) at the top of your visitors’ screens. You can use them to capture emails, grow your social media following, and much more.
But you’re going to use it to send people to your giveaway.
Go into the app, create a smart bar, and change the “Bar Mode” to “Call to Action.”
Then set the “Call to Action URL” to the URL of your giveaway:
Save it and let it rip!
The bar will start funneling your regular traffic over to the contest.
Our bar sent 304 people to the giveaway who otherwise wouldn’t have known about it.
Step 6. Use Reddit to Your Advantage
This was the #1 biggest factor that lead to our giveaway going viral.
Reddit is a massive online community made up of different subreddits. Each one is filled with hundreds or thousands of people enthusiastic about one topic.
We searched Reddit for as many drone and UAV-related subreddits as we could. Then we posted either a text post or a direct link promoting the giveaway.
(Text posts performed WAY better.)
Here’s an example:
That post stayed near the top of this subreddit for the duration of the giveaway. It got exposed to almost 6,000 people for multiple days.
The same thing happened in a few other subreddits:
Here’s how to take advantage of subreddits to promote your giveaway:
First, do a search in Reddit for subreddits related to your niche.
Go into each one and submit either a link or text post. (I suggest text posts, because Redditors trust them more.)
Which will come out like this:
Then wait for people to check out your post, upvote it, and comment on it.
Make sure to respond to any questions they might have, and you’re all set to drive a ton of potential subscribers for very little work.
Step 7. Forum Promotion
Just like social media communities and subreddits, forums are packed with potential subscribers for you to tap into.
Do a Google search for forums in your niche, join any that are active, and start a thread to promote your raffle.
Remember, you’re giving away something of extreme value. Don’t be ashamed to promote it.
Step 8. Run Facebook Ads
Facebook advertising is one of the best ways to reach a lot of people in a short amount of time.
(Which is exactly what you need to do to maximize subscribers from your giveaway.)
Our Facebook campaign got some FANTASTIC results:
- 2,327 visitors
- 931 conversions
- A cost-per-click of $0.13
- A cost-per-lead of $0.32
Each subscriber only cost us 32 cents!
To put this into perspective, if we had an average subscriber value of just $7, that’s an ROI of over 2,087%
I strongly suggest setting up a Facebook campaign for your giveaway and running it for the duration of the contest.
Create multiple ads with different images, copy, and calls to action. Then pause the poorly performing ads midway through and keep the high performing ads running:
Step 9. A Final Email List Promotion
As your contest starts winding down, you want to pick up any stragglers on your list who might’ve missed your first emails or forgot about the giveaway.
Simply send them an email 48 hours and 10-15 hours before the raffle ends to remind them.
Why Giveaways Are So Powerful
In just 7 days, we were able to increase our entire email list by 73%.
3,200 subscribers is no joke. People wait months to build that kind of an email list.
And we were able to do it in one week by strategically creating and promoting a free giveaway.
So why are they so powerful?
Because you’re giving away something for free that offers a ton of value. And you’re packaging it in a way that takes advantage of the scarcity factor.
This gets people to take action fast.
They don’t have time to wait around, because the clock’s ticking.
Thanks to KingSumo, you also get to add an inherent viral component to the giveaway.
It’s one of the best list building strategies I’ve ever come across.
How You Can Do The Same Thing
To help you take full advantage of this strategy, I’ve put together a step-by-step “Viral Giveaway Master Checklist.”
This checklist will keep you on track and organized to take full advantage of this strategy’s immense list building power.
Download your “Viral Giveaway Master Checklist” below:
What do you think are the top list building strategies out there? What do you think of this one?
Share your knowledge in the comments below.