Ana Gotter is a regular contributor to the ShortStack blog. She also writes for sites including Social Media Examiner, Business 2 Community and Adspresso. Find her at Expert Business Writer - Ana Gotter.
Congratulations! You’ve run your contest; your winners have been awarded their prizes, and you’ve gotten useful lead information in return (thanks to contest software).So now what?While the social engagement from contests is extraordinary, the most valuable takeaway from the contests is your users’ contact information. Email addresses, especially, can be used to nurture leads and create customers as you send them down the sales funnel. This is where you’ll see the long term—and sometimes short term—monetary ROI from your contests. And the best way to guide contest participants down the digital sales funnel is with email autoresponders. Autoresponder campaigns are exceptionally valuable—that’s why Shortstack has recently released an autoresponder feature. This post is going to take a look at several autoresponders to distribute in your contest-related messaging, and how to make them stand out.Here are five ways to use autoresponders:
1. Welcome Autoresponder
Send a "thanks for entering"/welcome autoresponder immediately after a user submits their entry. A welcome autoresponder email sent to leads from social contests should always include:
- Confirmation of their entry
- Contest information recap, like when winners will be announced, prize information, or if they can enter multiple times
- Social sharing/follow buttons prominently displayed, so users can visit you and follow you on a number of social platforms
The welcome email is designed to start the relationship between you and the lead—that’s it. The goal of this email is not to sell or blatantly promote your business; pushing products or services is not something that should happen yet. Keep the subject line for those autoresponder strictly about the contest; “Thank you for entering our contest!” is all it takes, and users are likely to open this email.
2. Campaign Re-Engagement Autoresponders
Some contests allow for multiple entries, where users can earn more chances at a prize if they submit more entries or get friends to enter. Some even have a multi-stage process, where users can enter, and then engage in the contest later to vote for a winner. If you’re running a contest that encourages multiple actions from users over a period of time, re-engagement autoresponders can get you the results you want. These emails, like the welcome email, should focus solely on the contest and not worry about selling or heavy promotion. They should also:
- Remind users what the prize is and why it’s valuable
- Remind users how they can earn more entries or continue to participate in the contest
- Include a CTA to share the contest with your friends and/or to follow your social media profiles
- Have information with contest participate end dates
These emails should utilize a sense of urgency in order to boost immediate participation. Phrases like “10 days left until we choose a winner!” and “Don’t miss your last chance to win our grand prize” can go a long way to getting you the re-engagement you’re looking for.
3. Content Autoresponders
If you want your leads to convert into customers, you need to give them value. That’s why most businesses have blogs, and why many offer ebooks for free in exchange for lead information. They get user’s information, and the lead gets something valuable in return.These emails should:
- Have content that’s relevant to the contest; if contest's prize was for a free month to your kickboxing studio, for example, you could link to a blog post on the health benefits of kickboxing or tips on how to warm up before a kickboxing workout
- Describe the content only briefly before sending them to your site; you want them to get the full information there
- Choose content that’s value is obvious immediately, like how-to or educational blog posts
Sending relevant, valuable content to your users in an email autoresponder is a great “soft selling” technique that you can use to continue to build your relationship with your contest participants. Sending an email with a quick blurb and link to your blog post can send them to your site. Since plenty of blogs will eventually feature a business’s products, this can be a fantastic introduction to your products.
4. Discount Autoresponders
Ready to convert your contest entries into paying customers? Offer discounts, free trials, or purchase rewards to those who’ve entered in your contest but haven’t converted yet. Discounts are one of the most effective strategies to nudge leads towards their first purchase. It’s hard to resist the opportunity to save some money, after all! These emails should include:
- A discount or reward that is “exclusive” to contest entries or first-time purchases
- UGC images or reviews to highlight the value of your product, which increases the likelihood and value of conversions
- A limited timeframe to take advantage of your offer, which increases urgency and drives leads to use the offer immediately
5. Winner Autoresponders
At the end of the contest, you can use an autoresponder to announce your winner(s). Since a ton of contest participants want to know who won—especially in competition-styled contests—this can also get you a higher percentage of open rates from new leads.This email should:
- Include a CTA to follow you on social so that users can “watch for our next contest”
- Let users know about any upcoming contests or offers
- Thank them again for participation
- Have a subject line that mentions naming the contest winners; this can increase open rates
In this email, you can share the winning contest entries, along with other great “honorable mentions.” Sharing UGC works in your benefit for a number of reasons, and featuring it in your email can start to foster a positive relationship with your new leads.
Social engagement is great, but to get a financial return from your contests, you need to push users along your sales funnel to convert. Autoresponders—customized for users who have submitted their emails in an entry—can build awareness, familiarity, and trust with leads that come from your social contests, leading to long term client retention and sales. Want to learn more about ShortStack’s autoresponder feature? Ana Gotter is a frequent contribute to the ShortStack blog. She also writes for Social Media Examiner and many other websites.
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