How To Use Competitions To Grow Your Store’s Email List

How To Use Competitions To Grow Your Store's Email List

Email is one of the most effective communication channels for businesses, despite some circles believing it has lost its potency.

This couldn’t be further from the truth since most marketers would tell you the importance of maintaining and growing an email list.

Yes that’s right, the money is in the list.

With an engaged group of subscribers, companies can more easily cultivate leads and convert them into paying customers.

People can sign up to relevant email lists, those which will provide them with actionable insight, and companies can use the attention they’ve garnered to promote a product or service.

It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement, however, most consumers are guarding their email addresses tighter than ever before.

This can be a stumbling block in growing your email list quickly and efficiently, so how exactly should you go about doing so?

One simple solution is to use competitions to your advantage.

Why Should You Use Contests to Build Your Email List?

It’s an easy and effective method for generating relevant leads.

What’s great about competitions is they capitalize on innate human nature, where everyone wants to be a winner.

The idea of winning something, especially for nothing, will encourage prospective customers to subscribe to your store’s email list.

Even when the odds of winning are low, people are still willing to participate, especially when the barrier to entry is low too.

Another thing that’s great about contests is their tendency to create word-of-mouth marketing, one of the most powerful tools in today’s social media-driven age.

It really requires minimal effort, enabling you to set up a contest and watch it gather momentum from afar.

Exciting people into action is a great approach, and you can implement a double opt-in to ensure subscribers know what they’re signing up for.

The people attracted to your contest will largely comprise your target demographic, meaning they’ll show a genuine interest in what you’re offering.

This is encouraging because it suggests they won’t go anywhere once the competition has finished.

The sense of urgency contests create can prove to be irresistible, especially when the contest is easy to enter.

To consolidate these points, let’s look at a study conducted by Unbounce.

Analyzing the results from more than 3 million visitors, they looked at the effect of a contest on 100 of their customers’ landing pages.

Phenomenally, landing pages that included a contest gathered a whopping 700% more email subscribers than those without.

What Type of Competition Will Work Best?

With so much to choose from it can be difficult knowing where to begin.

There are two main types of competition to consider:


Here winners are chosen at random, which creates a fair and even playing field for all participants.


Contests involve winners being chosen based on skill, either by a judge or panel of judges.

Here are some examples of contests which work well:

Photo Contest – Submit a photo to enter

Essay Contest – Submit an essay to enter

Video Contest – Submit a video to enter

Caption Contest – Write a caption on a post, the most creative (voted for) caption wins.

Contests are a great opportunity to showcase skill, meaning those who fancy their chances will be encouraged to enter, especially if they’re confident in their skills.

But sweepstakes are great too because everyone has an equal chance of winning, even if the odds are relatively low.

You can tailor your competitions based on what will work best for your audience. This is very much a trial and error process, where with time you’ll discover the right method for you.

3 Steps to An Effective Contest

There are three main elements to consider if you’re to create a contest that resonates with your audience, thus helping you grow your email list.

1.The Premise

This is the foundation for your contest, where you’ll establish what you’re asking users to submit.

Your premise will essentially be the type of competition you decide to initiate, which can be one of the different types outlined in the previous section.

Obviously you should determine your premise prior to engaging, where it’s important to understand practices which will optimize success.

There are two main components to this:

Low Barrier to Entry

When asking participants to submit content, whether it’s a photo, story, or video, the easier it is for people to enter your competition the more people will participate.

Content creation is a big consideration, a critical success factor which determines the likelihood people will partake.

In today’s smartphone-driven society, people can easily create content to submit to your competition, boosting engagement.

A great approach to lower the barrier of entry further is tapping into areas where people have already created lots of content.

For example, if you devise a ‘Cutest Baby’ campaign, most Mothers will already have lots of content within this niche.

It is thereby a great opportunity to tap into an already largely accessible database of videos and photos, where proud parents can quickly and easier enter the competition with their best content.

Shareable Content

A recent study conducted by the New York Times suggests 94% of people consider how the content they share will impact others.

Additionally, 68% of people evaluate what the content they share says about them.

People clearly put a lot of thought into what they share on social media, so it’s important your competition is compatible with what your target audience shares.

Is the content you’re asking people to submit in line with what you’d be happy to share with friends and family?

Your premise must consider this if you’re to capitalize on social media channels, a great promotional approach to building your email list for free.

2. The Prize

It is of utmost importance you offer a prize that resonates with your niche.

By appealing to your target demographic you’ll attract the attention of people who will actually engage with your business, instead of those who are simply out for a quick cash prize.

A targeted prize is more appealing.

Take Glee Gum for example, who devised a contest to raise awareness for a new flavor.

The prize they offered was a free sample of the new flavor, targeting those who follow them on social media.

For a chance to get a free sample of the new flavor interested participants were highly intrigued, noted by the 5,000 new email addresses Glee Gum received within the first hour!

To avoid attracting the wrong kind of attention, think of a prize that will appeal to your target audience and your target audience only.

Be Unique

Unique prizes will attract the attention of your target demographic, and possibly even the media too!

Take Queensland Tourism as an example. Their ‘Best Job in the World’ competition actually offered winners a job as ‘Caretaker’ of the Barrier Reef!

This unique offer secured millions of dollars worth of media coverage while attracting an astonishing 34,000 entrants.

Consider what you can offer beyond cash, whether it’s a celebrity meeting or a backstage pass.

There are some things money can’t buy!

Shared Prizes

Encourage entrants to spread the word further by not only awarding one winner. Coupons make great supplementary prizes, especially when you consider their ease of creation.

  • Bonus Prizes – Offer various bonus prizes to incentivize people to share the competition among friends and family.
  • Random Prize Draw – Reward random entrants to break the ‘I’ll never win’ barrier.
  • Shared Prizes – Offer prizes that can be shared among friends, like backstage passes or group holidays. This will increase the number of entrants through word of mouth.

3. Promotion

Once you’ve devised a fitting contest you must promote it on route to obtaining as many email addresses as possible.

Here are some fantastic promotional methods:

  • Social media – convert fans and followers into subscribers!
  • Coupon Promotion – Promote your competition alongside coupons that draw prospective customers to your business. If you think creating a coupon is difficult, think again with one of the many great tools that make the process easier.
  • Notifying current email subscribers – These are some of the most engaged and easy to reach people you can get to join your competition. Though you already have their email address, if they hear about the competition there’s a greater chance they’ll share it on social networks and help you get more submissions.
  • Put the competition on your website – Promote your contest to your target market, perhaps in a popup or scrolling header.
  • Collaborate with influencers – Contact relevant voices in your industry and see whether they’re interested in partnering with you.
  • Directory sites – There are various sites you can use to gain exposure, a great way to garner attention in different communities.
  • Contact traditional media outlets – Reach out to newspapers, radio stations, television stations etc.
  • Put it on Packaging materials – Add a sticker or note with the physical products your company delivers.

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