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How To Grow An Email Database By 10,000+ Contacts In Eight Weeks

By Liane GrimshawComments

How to grow an email database by 10,000+ contacts in eight weeks

Late last year, we set about on a noble mission to bring life to a social media competition. Our goal? To grow the subscriber database for the Michelin Sole Power blog.

Competitions are one of the oldest tricks in the marketer’s handbook. Tried ‘n’ tested tactic by all manner of brands, they’re used to drive engagement, mobilise consumers and gather data.

From sweepstakes to caption contests they come in various formats... you can even jazz things up a little with gamification.

However, there’s also a certain power and beauty in keeping things simple.

So, with one prize and a single goal in mind, we got to work...


Most of us have seen those ‘like and share for a chance to win’ dealios. They’re good little engagement magnets, sure, but where would the subscribes come from? It was obvious that we’d need to steer people towards a landing page where they could then enter their email.

Now, we certainly know our way around a landing page — we know how to drive content downloads too. This is our bread and butter. It’s something we’ve done for every one of our clients at some time or another.

And here, the key content marketing practices and principles remained:

Create. Promote. Convert.

So with the Sole Power brand and the competition prize in mind, we created this: 

competition landing page design


Initially we included ‘share this page to Facebook’ as an entry condition, but soon decided against it. There was no need to overcomplicate things. As I say, the aim was to keep things simple. We wanted to bring down as many roadblocks and barriers to subscription as possible.

(For good measure we also included a link to the landing page in the home page carousel and implemented an OptinMonster competition entry pop-up which appeared on the site).


We had a prize. We had a landing page. We had the Ts and ‘effin Cs.

Appealing, persuasive and watertight. Cool, now what?

If we didn’t see any traffic, no-one would know the competition existed, let alone subscribe.

We’d factored paid promotion into the budget, and started experimenting with both Facebook and Twitter — injecting small spends on A/B tests and optimising as we progressed.

Ads varied copy and images.

We trialled long copy, short copy, emojis, still images, animations, you name it...

social media competition ads

 We also tweaked the audience sets to make sure we weren’t spamming people with multiple ads, narrowing it down to uber specific trail running demographics, and widening it to target larger audiences with a more general interest in sport and running.  

It soon became apparent that Twitter wasn’t cutting the mustard.

Now, we’ve had some real successes promoting content through Twitter in the past, so we’re not writing it off as an effective advertising platform. This time round, however, it just wasn’t giving us results anywhere close to the joy we were getting from Facebook.

So as we moved forward with the campaign we made the call to concentrate the remainder of the budget into Facebook, continuing to test and optimise all the way.


Having given the competition one final promotional boost in the week leading up to the closing date, we then exported the email list into a spreadsheet - before allocating a number to each contact. From there we used a random number generator to pick a winner.

Once we had a name, we put together an email to get the winner’s details, ensuring all the while we kept the process clear and transparent…

competition winner announcement email

After the information had been passed over to the client, and the running shoes packed up and shipped out, we announced the winner through an email to the database and Facebook too.


Moment of truth; the results... *cue drum roll and overdramatic long pause*

Overall the competition brought 10,767 new subscribers into the Sole Power database over an 8-week(ish) period.

We saw 18,316 unique landing page views and a conversion rate of 59%.

From Facebook alone, the competition had 13,904 competition landing page visits and 9,145 competition entries (almost 85% of total entries).

The conversion rate from Facebook was higher than the overall rate, standing at 62%.

While adverts averaged a click-through rate of 3% - which is considerably higher than the 0.9% average CTR across all industries reported by Word Stream in 2017).


Here’s a quick list of our key findings to help inform your next social media competition:

  • Facebook was more effective than Twitter when promoting a competition landing page
  • Images using up close up products shots increased CTR
  • Shorter copy drives a higher CTR
  • Use of emotive language also increased CTR
  • There’s a huge market for competitions on Facebook, people are keen!
  • Including a direct and clear CTA is important to drive a specific behaviour
  • By optimising and A/B testing you’re able to maximise your ROI
  • Start off with small bids - you can always increase this at a later date - this allows you to find your margins and maximise the bang for your buck
  • Optimising and analysing results takes time, so make sure you plan that in to your schedule (it totally pays off in the end!)
  • You should run an A/B test for minimum of a week to make sure the weekend or specific date isn’t influencing your results.

Competitions are one of the most powerful methods for marketers looking to build a BIG buzz around a brand, in a short space of time. By no means a new-age strategy, they continue to endure in popularity and consistently deliver fantastic results for businesses.

We’ve shown they don’t need to be complex either. By pulling down barriers to entry and creating clear, simple and compelling calls to action, you can create a campaign that drives enviable engagement and escalates the growth of your database.  

If you’re hungry for more content like this, drop your email address in the box below and we’ll fire our latest blog posts straight into your inbox...


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