Eight Tips for a Viral Email Acquisition Campaign

Linc Wonham
by Linc Wonham 20 Jan, 2011

Email marketers that follow the best practices for acquisition, relevancy and deliverability still lose about one-third of their subscribers annually due to bounces, unsubscribes and spam complaints, according to the Email Experience Council. The attrition rates are even higher for less vigilant Web professionals.


One strategy that can quickly acquire the most qualified subscribers and keep them longer is an email acquisition sweepstakes, contest or other viral campaign. Email marketing firm Listrak recently published a white paper on the subject, warning that there are some risks to be aware of before successfully executing a sweepstakes acquisition strategy.


Entitled Email Acquisitions via Sweepstakes: Attract the Right Subscribers Fast, the report highlights eight key tactics. The full white paper is freely available on the Listrak site, and a condensed version is provided below:


1. Keep it simple
Limited time frames give sweepstakes the appearance of exclusivity and are more likely to prompt responses than ones lasting for several weeks or longer. Maximizing acquisitions during a shorter time period, however, requires careful attention to automated emails, baner ads, social and mobile announcements, etc.


2. Make it personal
A cash prize may entice more entrants to your sweepstakes, but by awarding your own merchandise instead you will get a more qualified group that is clearly interested in your company's brand and what it has to offer.


3. Encourage social sharing
You will greatly expand the reach of your sweepstakes by offering an incentive for entrants to invite their friends from social networks. Consider offering a second entry or a free gift.


4. Promote in the right channels
Do not rely exclusively on email to promote the sweepstakes. While it will be your most effective channel for getting the word out, you should also utilize all social and mobile channels as well as including banner ads on your site and others.


5. Send entry confirmations
One of the most important steps in the process is to send an email confirmation to all entrants. Consider adding a captcha on the registration form to prevent junk email addresses from infiltrating your sweepstakes.


6. Welcome your new subscribers
An email welcome series is also especially important to conducting a successful acquisition sweepstakes campaign. Visit Listrak for more tips on crafting effective welcome messages.


7. Monitor new subscribers
Even if you follow the best practices for attracting the appropriate entrants for your brand, you'll still get a number of invalid email addresses and people who are only interested in the prize. In order to protect your company's reputation, closely monitor the results of your confirmation email and welcome series.


8. Get the legalities right
Every promotion is subject to complex federal, state, and local laws, and you must be sure to have the correct procedures in place. Before launching a sweepstakes, it is imperative that you have attorneys review the concept and structure of the contest, set the official rules, perform the federal and state requirements for bonding and registration, complete the federal tax documents, create affidavits of eligibility and publicity/liability releases, set guidelines for winner selection and validation, validate content entry management and data collection, etc.


Listrak, which provides email marketing solutions and software to clients such as Waterford, Royal Doulton and Wolfgang Puck, says a well-planned and well-executed sweepstakes can grow email lists by 20 percent or more in a matter of days. January and February are the perfect times to launch a sweepstakes to engage new subscribers gained over the holiday season and start the year off right.