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How To Use a Giveaway To Grow Your Email List

September 28, 2023
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An email giveaway is a marketing strategy wherein a business offers a valuable item or service for free to attract potential customers. The main requirement for entering the giveaway typically involves subscribing to the company’s email list. This strategy helps businesses grow their email lists.

Email giveaways are effective because they offer something of value (a giveaway prize) in exchange for potential customers’ contact information. It helps build trust and create a sense of reciprocity. Among the benefits are the following:

  • Generate leads. Capture the contact information of potential customers interested in your product or service. 
  • Increase brand awareness. Participants may share it with their friends and family, thus widening your reach. 2
  • Drive engagement. Build an engaged audience who will likely stay updated and become loyal customers.
  • Increase website traffic by directing potential customers to it. 

In this post, we’ll cover what you need to know to grow your email list using giveaway emails. We’ll discuss planning your giveaway, crafting the emails you’ll use during the giveaway campaign, promoting the giveaway, following up after it ends, and analyzing the results to ensure successful giveaways in the future.

Planning Your Email Giveaway

A well-planned giveaway is typically a successful one. Keep in mind throughout the planning stage that social media will play a key role in both your email giveaway specifically and in your brand’s marketing planning more generally.

Here’s how we suggest you plan your email giveaway campaign.

Setting a Goal for Your Email Giveaway

What do you want to achieve with this giveaway? Set a goal immediately and evaluate the performance afterward for a more measurable outcome. Some common goal ideas include the following:

  • Increase the number of email subscribers.
  • Increase engagement with existing subscribers.
  • Increase brand awareness.
  • Drive website traffic.

Identifying Your Target Audience

Identifying the target audience for your giveaway will help you craft more effective emails. You wouldn’t want to send an email about your popular adult toys, for example, to a list of subscribers who are mostly parents.

Higher engagement, open rates, entries, etc., will result from emails that are better suited to their readers. Here are some questions you should ask to home in on the characteristics of your target audience:

  • Who are the people you’re trying to reach?
  • What problem is your giveaway solving for them?
  • What kind of language do they use (online and in communications)?
  • Which social media platforms are they using?
  • How likely are they to enter a prize draw or competition?
  • What would incentivize them to enter your giveaway?

Choosing a Prize for Your Email Giveaway

Selecting an appropriate prize is a major part of the incentive you’ll be giving your potential entrants. You might have identified your target audience correctly, but if the prize you offer them is of no interest, your email campaign will fall flat.

We’ve discussed this in detail before. Read here about all sorts of prize ideas for your giveaway or contest.

Deciding on the Entry Requirements

The entry requirements should be clear, simple, and straightforward. It’s a good idea to limit the number of required steps to encourage more entries. The easier it is for users to enter the giveaway, the better your results will be.

Some common entry requirements include the following:

  • Subscribing to your email list.
  • Following your social media accounts.
  • Sharing the giveaway post on various platforms.
  • Asking people to tag friends in comments on posts related to the giveaway.
  • Posting a comment, photo, or video related to the giveaway.

Bear in mind that some platforms, for example, Meta’s Facebook, forbid you from requiring a like or follow as part of a giveaway entry. You’ll need to be creative here, perhaps requiring that a new customer visits your Facebook page but not that they like or follow it.

Crafting Your Giveaway Email Messages

The internet is a competitive place – you must grab your viewer’s attention in less than five seconds or lose them forever. Craft your emails to, as quickly as possible, grab the viewer’s attention and incentivize them to engage in the giveaway.

Here are four steps to follow when you’re crafting and building the emails your potential entrants will receive.

Writing an Attention-Grabbing Subject Line

The subject line is the first thing potential entrants will see in their inboxes. Good open rates partially depend on the quality of the subject line – create a sense of urgency with it!

Keep these steps in mind to crank out solid subject lines for your email subscribers repeatedly.

  • Keep them short and sweet (30 characters or less).
  • Stick with one message and ensure it is relevant to the giveaway content.
  • Experiment with dynamically injecting the recipient’s name into the subject line.
  • Use keywords like “free,” “giveaway,” and others.
  • Include the value of the prize in your subject line to incentivize people.

Creating an Email that Entices People to Enter

Right, they’ve opened the email. Now you need to keep them reading! Consider the following methods to retain the reader’s limited attention:

  • Keep your copy concise and clear.
  • Include visuals or multimedia (such as video).
  • Use a simple conversion funnel. In other words, ensure your email is organized so that users can follow from one step to the next.
  • Create a sense of urgency (see below).
  • Provide value beyond the giveaway – for example, by sharing useful content or thought leadership material.

Highlighting the Prize and its Value

A sweepstake will always have a prize, and with email marketing being the competitive landscape it is already, your reader will scan the text for a description of the prize as soon as they open it.

You want potential entrants to know they can win something valuable and exciting. You can even do this in the subject line. Consider these subject line examples which mention the prize:

  • “Win a New iPhone 11 – Enter Now!”
  • “Take Home an Apple Watch Series 5 – No Purchase Necessary!”

But those feel a little spammy, don’t they? De-spam them by personalizing them a little:

  • “Carter, Enter to Win a New iPhone 11”
  • “Hey Sarah, Here’s Your Chance to Take Home an Apple Watch Series 5”

Adding Urgency to Encourage Prompt Action

There are a few reliable ways to create a sense of urgency in digital marketing material. The intention is to have the viewer think they’ll be missing out by not taking action. Try these:

  • Create a countdown timer counting down to the end of the giveaway.
  • Use urgent call-to-action (CTA) terms like “limited time only,” “last chance,” and “hurry up.”
  • Offer additional bonuses or prizes for early entrants.
  • Highlight the number of remaining entries so people know it’s limited.

Promoting Your Email Giveaway

Let’s assume you’ve planned adequately thus far: you know your target audience and can write good emails. Well, unless you have hundreds of thousands of social media followers to benefit from organic sharing, you’ll need to do some promoting to get your giveaway in front of people and generate maximum participation.

Here are five ways you could go about promoting your giveaway. If budget allows, try all five, but focussing on just one or two is just fine.

Sharing Your Email Giveaway on Social Media

This should be your first port of call. Social media is the ideal platform for disseminating information about your giveaway, especially if you’ve done a good job crafting the prize and creating an incentive-rich email campaign.

Be sure to optimize each post with relevant hashtags. Use an app like PickFu or Tailwind to help you decide which posts will generate

Reaching Out to Your Email Subscribers Directly

Your most engaged customers are usually those on your email list. Reach out to them with a special email highlighting the prize and explaining how they can enter. For example, you could include a CTA button that links to the giveaway page.

Leveraging Paid Advertising to Increase Visibility

Paid ads on social media are a surefire way to drive entry numbers and expand your reach. You just need to remember to focus on targeting the right audience with each platform.

Paid media, as this area is called, is an increasingly complex area. Unless you’re interested in becoming an expert on it yourself, you may be better off hiring a paid media contractor or consultant. They’ll be experienced, have the relevant platform experience and certifications, and get the most bang for each of your advertising campaign bucks.

Partnering with Influencers or Other Brands

Partnering with a relevant influencer or other brand can help you gain greater brand awareness and increased entry numbers. Influencer marketing, relatively new even in the new world of digital marketing, is effective because influencers have engaged niche audiences who are likely to trust their every word.

Partnering with another brand is also an interesting option, and you’ll do this primarily to benefit from their following. Of course, it shouldn’t be a competitor because you may end up losing new subscribers to them. But it can be a complementary brand – for example, if you sell running shoes, it would make sense to partner with a brand that sells running socks or hydration packs.

Using Referral Marketing to Incentivize Sharing

Referral marketing tends to be the most effective for sharing something among friends and family. You can do this by providing an incentive – such as a bonus entry for each successful referral – to encourage sharing.

When an entrant is incentivized to share by the prospect of winning, their first thought of new customers will be family and friends. This means high engagement because the referrals come from reliable, trusted sources.

Following Up After Your Email Giveaway

It’s well documented that following up after the event is a step that helps to lock in future business you may otherwise have lost. See, for example, this post on using post-purchase emails to increase sales.

Similarly, following up with the people interacting with your giveaway will improve their chances of becoming future customers. It works because it keeps your brand in the mind of the entrant, encouraging engagement and participation.

Let’s discuss four standard methods of following up after the giveaway ends.

Announcing the Winner of Your Email Giveaway

Announcing the winner of your giveaway adds legitimacy to your brand and increases trust among entrants.

You can show transparency by showcasing the process of selecting winners through social media posts and emails – like including a video of the random selection process in action, for example.

Drip Email Series for New Subscribers

One of the main goals of using email giveaways should be attracting new subscribers to your list. Now that you have a list of potential customers, it’s time to nurture those relationships with a welcome series of emails.

Welcome series are usually sent over several days and introduce new subscribers to your brand. They consist of email templates personalized dynamically with recipients’ names and other details.

Remember to include the option to unsubscribe!

Thanking Everyone Who Entered

Even if someone wasn’t a lucky winner, they still took the time to enter the giveaway and show interest in your brand. Giving them something small for their efforts is not a bad idea – like an exclusive discount coupon or gift card, for example.

Do this in a simple thank you email to show your appreciation, which will also go a long way in making sure that people remember your brand.

Encouraging Participants to Continue Engaging with Your Brand

You’ve got to nurture the relationships you develop during the giveaway and encourage people to participate in future activities – like leaving product reviews, joining promotions, or participating in future giveaways.

Emails and social media posts are reliable ways to do this, in which you’ll include calls to action (CTAs) that direct readers to your giveaway landing page or other deliberate landing pages.

Analyzing the Results of Your Email Giveaway

Keeping your brand on the entrants’ radar is one thing, but back at the ranch, you’ll need to do a post-mortem on the giveaway campaign to see how you performed.

Let’s look at three key metrics and/or strategies for doing so.

Measuring Participation

This is as simple as counting the number of entrants. There are various thresholds you may wish to exceed. Was it:

  • More than your last giveaway?
  • More than your number of email subscribers?
  • More than your number of social media followers?
  • More than you anticipated?

Evaluating Engagement Rates

Engagement rates tell us how many people visited your giveaway page and actually took some action or another – including entering.

It’s not prudent to mention good engagement rate numbers here as they vary wildly across industries, so do some research of your own and aim to match or exceed them. Some specific engagement rates to look at include the following:

  • Open rates.
  • Click-through rates.
  • Giveaway entries.
  • Social media shares.
  • Social media follows.

Comparing Results to Previous Campaigns

You may have run a similar giveaway in the past, so use this benchmark for comparison. It’s also useful to apply your findings from other marketing campaigns and channels you’ve used in the past.

Gathering Feedback from Participants

Gathering feedback from giveaway participants is key to helping you understand what went well (and what didn’t). Do this using surveys or by collecting comments from participants on social media posts.

The aim here is to get an understanding of why they did – or didn’t – engage with the giveaway contest and how easy it was (or wasn’t) for them to do so.

Run a Successful Email Giveaway With ViralSweep

By now, the recipe for running a good digital marketing campaign on any channel should be pretty clear. Here’s what we’ve learned about email giveaways specifically:

  • Plan well – in this case, set goals and ID your target audience.
  • Write good emails – Grab attention and mention the prize.
  • Promote widely – Use email, social media, and paid media if budget allows.
  • Follow up – help entrants remember you.
  • Analyze – otherwise, you’ll never know if you succeeded or not.

Also – and like so many digital marketing channels – software is your friend. Use purpose-built giveaway apps to reduce the burden of administrative work and the learning curve you face.

One such app is ViralSweep – super useful for running an Instagram giveaway and reducing the cognitive burden (and associated stress). It integrates with social platforms, analytics tools, and email clients (e.g. Mailchimp) to make your email giveaway a breeze.

Check out ViralSweep here and get started with your free trial.