“The money is in the list,” or so said every marketing guru ever. And in the case of this particular cliche, it’s totally true. Getting more email subscribers can have a powerful impact on your business’ growth.
But here’s the rub: While everybody talks about how important having an email list is, not too many people roll up their sleeves and show you how to actually build one.
Of course, some people offer up vague tips like, “do SEO!” “write guest posts!” or “run Facebook ads!”
But what if you don’t have a lot of time? Or you don’t have the money to invest? And what if you don’t want to take on learning entirely new skill while building your business?
The good news: If you choose the right strategy, you can build an email list of 1,000, 5,000 or even 10,000+ subscribers in a matter of days. And in this post, we’ll show you how.
It might sound like I’m overpromising, but Gleam.io co-founder and Foundr course instructor Stuart McKeown makes a powerful case for one of his favorite ways to build an email list fast: Giveaways.
Watch the video below to see how he approaches giveaways. Then, keep reading as we unpack exactly how to grow your email list in five steps by running a giveaway.
Stuart and his clients have used this very strategy to add millions of subscribers to their email lists and, to this day, he considers it to be one of the best ways to drive massive email list growth.
Now it’s your turn.
Step 1: Choose a Prize That Attracts Your Dream Customers
The difference between a giveaway that barely generates any leads and one that picks up tens of thousands of email subscribers can be summed up in four words: find the right prize.
A word of caution though: Stuart points out it’s not just about picking the biggest prize possible. It’s about choosing a prize that will attract your ideal customers—not just junk leads that want to get something, anything for free.
Because how qualified does somebody need to be to want to win a stack of hundred dollar bills?
Compare that to running a giveaway for a year’s worth of a collagen supplement.
To anyone who cares about using collagen or are in the market for collagen supplements, that’s going to instantly make their ears perk up.
But the people who don’t even know what collagen is? They will skip right over it.
That’s why Stuart advises all of his clients to spend time thinking: “What would be an irresistible thing to give away to only my dream customer?” Whatever answer you come up with is what you make your prize.
Stuart says many people make the mistake of glossing over this step. They just throw together a giveaway that offers the same thing they’ve seen 10 other people do. And as a result, they don’t get the subscriber growth that a well-executed giveaway can bring.
Here’s a great example of what choosing the right incentive can do.
Jane.com, a boutique ecommerce company that offers daily deals on products for women, knew their dream customers would be doing holiday shopping. So they put together a prize of a $3,500 holiday shopping spree for five lucky ladies.
That campaign was a huge success, generating over 5,000 subscribers and over 100,000 actions on their site.
The key to getting results like that is having the right incentive for your audience—not just giving away the biggest thing you can think of.
Stuart says some great incentives include:
- Giving away a year’s supply of your product. If you run an ecommerce store that sells physical products, this is a great option because you’ll know every signup is inherently interested in your offer.
- Giving away a package of products related to your niche. For example, Ramit Sethi has a course on starting an online business. He didn’t have anything tangible to give so he gave away a package of tools to power a digital entrepreneur’s lifestyle.
- Giving a scholarship to your program if you sell an online course.
These kinds of giveaways will ensure you attract your ideal audience—rather than just a bunch of tire kickers looking for something free.
Step 2: Remind People to Share and Unlock Rewards
A lot of people treat their giveaways as a one-off thing, mentioning them once and never bringing them back up again until they announce the winner.
Stuart says this is a HUGE mistake.
When people opt in to one of his giveaways, he likes to build an entire campaign around it.
He and the clients he advises email and post on social media throughout the entire duration of the campaign.
In these posts and emails, he tells people about:
- Who’s in the lead/has the most entries. Study after study confirms the fact that competition makes us better. For example, a 2012 study involving cyclists, found 12 of 14 were able to beat their personal best records when facing off against a digital avatar that matched their “personal best” times. In another study, recreational weightlifters could lift more weight when competing against others than when lifting by themselves.
- What kind of tactics are working best for getting additional entries. This is the 80/20 principle brought to life. It’s always helpful to share with people what strategies are working best for getting more entries so they can try to do the same and not waste their time. So if it’s really helping to post on Facebook, tell your fans that.
- How many people have signed up so far. Social proof is a powerful force you want to leverage throughout the campaign. People will go to pretty big extremes to avoid missing out and not being a part of the community.
And Stuart always gives one final push at the end of the campaign to drive even more entries.
The key is to turn the giveaway and the announcement of the winner into an event—not something that never gets talked about again.
The good thing is tools like Gleam.io make it easy to integrate your giveaway with an email service provider and even create additional rewards—like extra entries for subscribing to your YouTube channel, following on Facebook, and even uploading videos.
Step 3: Monitor Your Data
Throughout your giveaway campaign, it’s important to see how many leads you’re bringing in—not just so you can monitor for fraud (which sometimes happens with giveaways), but also so you can double down on the strategies that are working for you.
If you plug your giveaway on Instagram and see a huge uptick in entries, that’s a sign to try and post there more. And if you get a tepid response on Twitter, maybe spend less time there.
Another way data can help guide your giveaway? It can inform you if you should keep your campaign open longer (or shorter), depending on how many leads it’s bringing you. Not to mention the fact that you’re going to want accurate data on how much you’re paying for each new subscriber you get as the result of this campaign.
So if your prize costs you $500, and you bring on 5,000 new people, you’re only paying about $0.10 per person, which is great. But if you’re paying more for the leads in your giveaway than you would through other marketing channels, that may be a sign to reevaluate your offer.
The key is to make sure you know how the campaign is converting. Because depending on how it’s doing, you can actually begin to advertise it on social media. In that case, you can expose your brand to entirely new audiences and grow your list even faster.
And free giveaways can be one of the most powerful lead magnets for attracting new leads to your business. Where other people are asking their prospects to sign up for webinars, download long guides, and more, all you’re asking for is an opt in to win something.
But you have to know your data before you just go buying traffic to a page.
Step 4: Pick a Winner and Tell People About It (but Don’t Stop There)
Stuart says one of the biggest mistakes he sees people make is thinking that when the giveaway ends, it’s over. The end of the giveaway is really the beginning.
Remember, the goal wasn’t just to build a big list of people, it was to build a list of people who’d be a great fit for your business.
So at the end of your giveaways, you can announce the winner and say something like, “You didn’t win but, in response to the amazing outcry of support we got in this giveaway, everyone gets 20% off the store.”
Perfect Keto executed this technique flawlessly when they did a giveaway with a collection of Keto Desserts.
They got so many people signing up for this particular giveaway that they built a product bundle containing the items in the giveaway and gave everyone a discount.
So not only did they grow their email list as a result of this campaign, but they turned the list of prospects into customers, almost right away.
And because the offer is aligned exactly with what people signed up for, it converts really well. I worked on the campaign for Perfect Keto, and while I can’t disclose the exact numbers, I can say they were very happy with the results of the campaign—and even started running ads to it to bring in lots of new subscribers!
Step 5: Double Down on What Works to Drive Even More Results
Like most things in life, the key to success is doing more of what works and less of what doesn’t. Giveaways are no different. If you can focus on stacking your wins, the results compound over time and provide exponential results.
Remember how I told you Jane.com generated over 5,000 email subscribers and 100,000 actions on their site from just one giveaway?
Well, that wasn’t their first rodeo, or their last. That was just one campaign that turned into a smashing success. But over time they’ve stacked these results to see incredible success. In fact, they run weekly giveaways and directly attribute it to their growth and success over the past few years.
Because of giveaways, Jane.com has been able to drive over 4 million actions and heaps of subscriber growth.
That’s the power of consistently doing giveaways. If it works, don’t run from it, embrace it wholeheartedly.
Stuart says he has spent 14 years in the email marketing industry and driven over 2 billion conversions. And he still thinks that giveaways are the most powerful way to build an email list today — especially if you’re starting from scratch.
So get your first campaign live using the tips he outlined above. And then do it again and again like clockwork.
Start Growing Your List With Giveaways Today!
Whether you have a tiny list of fewer than 100 subscribers or a giant list of 100,000+ names, giveaways can be a powerful way to increase your exposure, get more subscribers and monetize your list.
The key, as Stuart says, is getting one giveaway live with a tool you can trust and then applying what you learn to the next one.
If you’ve got any questions about how this works or tips based on giveaways you’ve run, leave a comment below. We are here to help!
And on that note, if you’ve gotten any value of this post, give away some love by sharing it with someone who needs to read it.