The idea was straightforward—users would be entered into a contest to win prize packages in exchange for their email addresses. But to make it worthwhile, the agency had to target the right audience.
“We decided who we wanted on our list and used those demographic attributes to create our Facebook ad campaigns promoting the sweepstakes,” Kolidas says. “As people signed up, we put that demographic data into Mailchimp to create segmented lists. So these sweepstakes programs allowed us to build lists for automated email campaigns.”
“When we stopped worrying as much about making sales through social media, it allowed us to think about how we could use it for these automated campaigns,” Bennett says. “We started looking at the automated emails as one touchpoint of many that nurtured subscribers into making a purchase.”
Changing the focus from sales to email signups was also an effective way to get around the fact that so much social media activity occurs on mobile devices.
“The conversion from click to sale isn’t great, but people on mobile are a lot more willing to fill out a single field with their email address,” Kolidas says. “They’re also more motivated to act. You’re not selling something—you’re offering a chance to win.”
Using data from the sweeps to create highly targeted lists has been the first step of an effective automated email campaign, Kolidas says. As signups come in, they’re added to unique lists that can be used for all automated campaigns going forward.
At the end of the sweepstakes campaigns, winners are announced in emails that have earned open rates as high as 77%. This is also an opportunity to reach out to those who didn’t win.
“We automatically follow up with special coupons or other trackable promotions,” Kolidas says. “That way, we can see the entire journey from signing up through social media to how or when they convert.”
Through their sweepstakes programs, Kolidas and Bennett have found a powerful and effective way to create and track a list of targeted subscribers—the key ingredient in a successful automation campaign.
“If you don’t have the right list to power your automation program, it’s not going to go well,” Kolidas says. “The key takeaway with automation is that before you even start a campaign, you must strategize how you develop your list. We’ve found a way to do that.”