Fresh Ink

March 21, 2018
Author: Christina Hagopian

Grow Your Email List FAST With Marketing Contests

Principles for managing mega-successful email-building contests

“I have enough names on my email list” said no one ever.

A brand’s email list is like gold, and the more names on it, the better, because the sales funnel relies on people knowing about your products and keeping them front of mind. Building an email marketing list requires user permission, and getting that permission is one of the most important tasks on a brand manager’s agenda.

These days, all good websites and related outgoing campaigns offer signup forms, of course, but what to do when you’re looking to make a growth spurt happen for your brand?

Run a well designed, well marketed, awesome contest and watch the number of subscribers soar. We know what we’re talking about: our contest for Frette yielded 12,000 new email opt-ins.


Here’s how to do it: aka Hagopian Ink’s
Top principles for managing mega-successful contests.


Design your prize carefully. For luxury clients, there are two strategies. Both will yield success, but the budget is likely to be the deciding factor.

Option One: create a big, irresistible prize that everyone in the target audience wants to enter. For Frette, a 3-tiered prize package was developed, anchored by “Escape to Italy,” a fully-expense-paid trip to Ischia for 2, including first class airfare and 7 days at a luxury resort hotel. Second prize was a bedroom makeover, including all Frette linens. Third was a Frette Essentials bed linen set.

Another prize option is smaller, but still carefully curated. For evolutionary fitness company P.volve, a swag bag of exclusive P.volve equipment was packaged, including a personal training Skype session with P. himself. For fans of P.’s unique training principles, this was the enticing offering. The swag bag was worth over $500, and included items that people would still want to buy themselves if they didn’t win. The prize was a fitness jumpstarter and gained a lot of attention.

Facebook contest creative
Facebook contest created in collaboration with the P.volve social team to increase email subscribers


Make sure the creative is eye-catching and on-brand. This sounds obvious, but when you’re designing for multi-channel messaging (and you will be) you want to offer an integrated, seamless user experience no matter where or on what platform your target audience sees the contest offer. The goal is to get them to enter right away, so make it easy to opt in.

Offer as many social amplification opportunities as possible. Make sure the contest is set up so that there’s a “refer a friend” option (and associated code) so that contestants earn points for each new person who offers up their precious email. This strategy will build the clients’ email list exponentially. Offer up hashtags on social media they can be shared to bring still more attention to your contest. With Frette, the campaign code came with a bonus for the client–an 11% increase in total sales.

Frette Win A Trip Contest Email List building strategy
We created an online contest entry form that included a refer a friend component to increase chances to win. The combination of an irresistible prize combined with the referral program resulted in 12,000 opt-ins.


Leave the legal fine print to the pros. Consult a legal team or agency that specializes in contest rules to make sure all of the legal rules and regulations that cover contests are being followed. This can be quite complex–don’t think even for a minute that this is a DYI project. Your project team will have to post these small-print points visibly, and you’ll be very happy that it’s someone else’s job to cover all your legal bases.

Partner with a company that specializes in the technical back end. As with anything else in the digital world, you’ll find many contest experts with tons of experience–and they’re surprisingly affordable. Once again, don’t DIY unless your own company has its own contest template. It’s just not necessary. You can get started here with an overview of platforms.

Strategically time your contest duration. Ensure the contest timeframe is generous–but also creates a sense of urgency. Long or short duration? Choose what makes sense for the company. No matter the length, there will be a measurable uptick in subscribers. The campaign with Frette lasted 10 weeks and yielded a 58% increase in website unique visitor rates. P. Volve, a new and emerging company whose contest ran for 26 days on Facebook, with Hagopian Ink email marketing support, resulted in 433 new leads—a number they were very pleased with for their first contest.

Promote your contest across multiple channels. Unless your client is online-only, be sure to integrate contest messaging into the in-store presence. For Frette, we offered sign-up form in addition to in-store signage. P.Volve is online-only, so the campaign focused on social media, especially Facebook.

Frette Escape to Italy landing page and confirmation email on desktop and tablet devices
Three frames from an animated banner ad promoting the Escape to Italy contest.
Landing page, email and banner ad for the Escape to Italy contest. We combined Frette’s luxury image with a visual of the Amalfi coast to entice entrants.
Eye-catching in-store signage increased foot traffic on Madison Ave in New York and the Prudential Center in Boston.

Know your email goals before you start. This will help determine the budget, as well as the cost per lead once the contest is finished. (You can see some cost-per-lead averages here.) Only you and your team will know how well the contest matched up to the desired spend. Once you have those figures, do a post-mortem on lessons learned and what could be done differently next time. For P. Volve, this might include working with a contest platform partner.

Here at Hagopian Ink, we specialize in email marketing. Let us know how we can help you with your next campaign–whether or not it’s a contest. We’re happy to review your email strategy with you, as a complimentary audit to help maximize your results. So let’s get started!

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