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How to build a list of engaged subscribers using giveaways

How to build a list of engaged subscribers using giveaways Richard LeCount Partner post
· 13 min read · Email marketing · Dec 12, 2019

Time and time again, email has proven itself to be one of the most engaging channels of communication that a business can utilize. One of your jobs as a business owner is to build a list of engaged subscribers.

However, because of GDPR's implications, email addresses have been harder to get hold of these days. In order to get people’s attention, and ultimately their consent to contact them, you need something enticing to convince them to hand it over.

Undertaking contests to grow your email list is one way to achieve that goal.

We’ve put together a list of actionable tips and practical tools to give you a platform to build a successful and engaged list of email contacts.

First, let’s talk about facts. As humans, we possess a natural competitive urge, which makes us very responsive to the idea of winning something. This is why a lot of people partake in the lottery every year. So why should you use giveaways to help build your email list?

Well, according to a review article from Outgrow:

  • 33% of contestant participants are open to receiving further marketing communication

  • Contests have a 34% chance of a conversion

  • An average of over 34% of new customers can be acquired through contests

  • 62.13% of contestants will share a promotion with their friends

Numbers don’t lie. It’s been demonstrated that giveaways can be a very effective marketing strategy when it comes to improving your metrics. The trick is in knowing how to use giveaways wisely. Keep reading because we’ll show you how.

The initial steps in setting up your email contest determine whether your contest will be a success or not. Ultimately, your goal is to build a list of engaged subscribers, so consider the following before beginning your preparations:

Choose your email collection platform

You need to be able to collect email addresses. This is why you’re running a contest in the first place. Apart from managing your email list, you can also create landing pages, pop-ups and sign-up forms using MailerLite. These tools will come in handy for your contest because the more opportunities you create for people to enter their email addresses, the better.

Set up a GDPR-friendly landing page

You’ll need to set up nicely designed, GDPR friendly landing pages and contact forms that you’ll use to gather the data you need. We will cover this in more detail later.

Segment your audience

You want as many eyes as possible on your giveaway, but not segmenting your target audience at the beginning is a misstep. You want to avoid high levels of spam reports, unengaged subscribers and high unsubscribe rates.

This is why you must determine who your audience is before you begin to customize your campaign. To do this, it’s important to create a selection of in-depth customer personas. A customer persona is a fictional character, that encompasses the most prevalent traits of one of your key demographics.

By creating these characters, you can start to imagine what your key demographics might be thinking, what they want and who they are.

The next step is knowing how to make your contest a success and to get it in front of people.

We’ve identified three key elements to help you create a successful giveaway that will bring more subscribers:

  1. Deciding on your giveaway concept

  2. Picking the perfect prize

  3. Promoting your giveaway

The concept is the basis of your contest. It gives you the opportunity to clarify what it is that you’re asking your customers to do in order to enter the competition.

Some straight-forward examples are:

  •  A sweepstake where contestants only need to add their email address

  •  A photo competition

  •  A video competition

Identifying your giveaway concept is very important to avoid any confusion between your contestants. Make it as easy as possible for them to know what it is they have to do. Let’s take a look at the following two case examples.

An example for video competitions

Luxury Escapes used a video competition concept to great effect with their “Make Our Next TV Advert” campaign.

How to build a list of engaged subscribers using giveaways

In addition to a winning entry, the competition captured:

  • 40 unique video entries


  • 4000 votes

  • 2300 contacts 

  • Exposure to a whole new online audience

A case example for photo competitions

How to build a list of engaged subscribers using giveaways

Crate and Barrel ran their “Ultimate Wedding Contest” using a photo competition concept. Newly engaged couples had to validate a gift registry, answer three questions and then submit three images of themselves for the chance to win $100,000 towards a dream wedding.

Unsurprisingly the results were exceptional:

  • 35 million gift registry creations

  • 16,000 couples sharing images of themselves

  • Over 3 million views

  • Half a million votes

This just goes to show how deciding your concept is the first step in making your competition a success.

On top of that, try to come up with a contest that they can share with their friends and family. More contestants means more eyes on your brand, right? You might find the right subscribers by increasing your contest’s reach.

The simplest thing to offer is a cash prize for your giveaway. However, cash has a widespread appeal. You may be attracting people interested in the money and not what your business has to offer, leading to disengaged email contacts. For that reason, there is a certain advantage to offering prizes with a more personal appeal.

Cleaning products company O-Cedar conducted an email contest where you could win a top-of-the-line mop each day for the duration of the competition.

How to build a list of engaged subscribers using giveaways

They had 10 prizes available for under $50 each. The campaign resulted in:

  • 24400 entries

  • A conversion rate of 45.69%

  • 11200 new email addresses

Something simple and not extravagant can generate significant results. So, think carefully about the kinds of prizes you can provide that would appeal directly to your target audience. Doing so means you won’t need to offer big money prizes for an opportunity to get subscribers.

Make it unique

In a good deal of cases, a really unique prize can gain more traction than a big cash prize.

For example, Dove’s “Real Beauty Should be Shared” campaign picked up huge attention and praise. They were looking for real-world examples of beauty, rather than the glossy and over-produced images we’re so used to. So they asked their followers on social media to share why a friend of theirs represented real beauty.

How to build a list of engaged subscribers using giveaways

The prize wasn’t exorbitant. The winners got the chance to become the next faces of Dove. 

In today’s world, we’re crying out for more ideas like this. Dove has done a great job on both humanizing their brand and promoting the people who use their products on a daily basis.

So, when you decide on the prize, be sure to consider ideas beyond cash and generic gadgets.

Make it shareable

You might also consider giving away additional prizes. This is an excellent way to make entrants share the competition with their friends and loved ones. Here are some ideas:

  • Bonus draws: Apart from the prize for first, second and third places, consider offering bonus prizes throughout the duration of the competition. This helps to spread the word.

  • Prize draw: Conducting random draw using small prizes here and there, helps to encourage those with the, ‘I’ll never win’ mentality and furthers engagement.

  • Shared prizes: Consider a shared prize that can be split amongst friends. This way, entrants and their friends are more likely to enter the competition.

Once you’ve nailed down the concept and the prize, the next step is to get your giveaway in front of the people that matter.

These are some ways to get your contest out there:

Let your current email subscribers know

Your current email subscribers will be some of the easiest to reach and most engaged entrants anywhere around. Reaching out and informing them of your upcoming giveaway before anyone else is a good idea.    

If you’ve established a great concept and a good prize, the chances of them sharing it across their social platforms are much higher.

Advertise on your website

Your website is an inexpensive way to promote your giveaway to those who are visiting it. These are the people that are clearly interested in your company and what you do. Try adding a promotional pop-up or eye-catching image into a scrolling header bar to attract interest.

Make sure your form remains as simple as possible; anything too complicated will deter sign-ups. Be completely clear with how the data you’re collecting will be used if you’re adding them to your email list. Make sure you’re creating effective opt-in forms that work under GDPR and including a link to your GDPR privacy policy.

Social promotion

Use your business Facebook, Twitter and other social accounts to share your competition. Doing so will encourage your current followers to sign up and share your contest. This is an opportunity to increase your reach to another pool of interested participants.

You could boost social media posts, or create ads, which allows you to choose your demographic to ensure you’re targeting the right people at the correct times.

The way you design your landing page affects how successful your contest will be.

It doesn’t need to be extravagant, just attractive enough to make people see the value of your contest and the brand behind it. You can easily build professional landing pages using MailerLite. Make sure to write great content and include appealing visuals in it.

Include engaging content

“Content is King” is an old phrase, but there’s a reason it passed the test of time.

Create awesome content that is vibrant and energetic in a way that greets the user and tells them how excited you are to have them land on your page. It should have them thinking about what it might be like to win the competition.

Include appealing visuals

Whether it’s an image of the prize, an introductory video about your brand or some other visual, you need something that will immediately engage with the user.

Take a look at this example from Carmex:

How to build a list of engaged subscribers using giveaways

This advert is bold and eye-catching. The dark background perfectly balances the brighter foreground, making it clear what you need to do. You’ll even find out instantly if you’ve won or not.

Compare it to this photo competition from Tropicana:

How to build a list of engaged subscribers using giveaways

It’s still eye-catching and bright but in a completely different way. The beach background gives it a more chilled out vibe.

Both of these examples grab the attention of a visitor with eye-catching visuals.

If you want to reach friends-of-friends, you’ll need to create social buttons, since most people won’t copy and paste a URL.

You may also want to include a pre-written message that makes it easier for entrants to spread the word. Or even an email confirming their entry into the competition, which asks them to share the competition on their social accounts.

By following our practices around concept, prize, and promotion as outlined above, you can curate a contest that appeals to your audience and builds an engaged email list, without the need for massive jackpots and big cash giveaways.

If you’re wondering if prize giveaways work, why not follow these steps and give it a try for yourself?

Richard LeCount
Richard LeCount

Richard LeCount is the managing director of, a company specializing in top of the line promotional USBs and power banks.