April 10, 2012
Case Study

List Growth: 11% increase from sweepstakes for current subscribers

SUMMARY: Sweepstakes are a popular way to build lists. They often rely on advertising, but if you have a good email list and a few good tactics, you can add subscribers without relying on ads.

In this article, we give a behind-the-scenes look at how Waterford Crystal uses sweepstakes to get current subscribers to grow its email list. You'll see tactics used to gain referrals, keep costs down, and get new subscribers to start shopping immediately.
by Adam T. Sutton, Senior Reporter

The marketing team at WWRD uses sweepstakes to build lists, but the global provider of luxury home products takes an unconventional approach. Instead of relying on advertising, it relies on its house email list.

"It's all about getting your database interested and referring people, turning your own list into your own little marketing team," says Joe Schmidt, Director of eCommerce in North America, WWRD. WWRD brands include Waterford, Wedgewood and Royal Doulton.

The team's email tactics include resending to current subscribers, sending automated and personalized referrals, and providing a promo code to get new subscribers shopping. The tactics have helped WWRD attract not just subscribers but high-quality subscribers.

Here are the results of a sweepstakes WWRD ran from June to August last year to grow its email list for the Waterford brand (we'll reference this campaign throughout the article):
  • 11% increase in Waterford subscribers

  • 20.3% of that increase came from resent emails

  • 8.4% increase in lists for other brands (Wedgewood, Royal Doulton)

Looking at subscribers added by that campaign who also made a purchase between June and Dec. 2011, the team noticed:
  • 21.3% made more than one purchase

  • 21.7% higher average order value than the site-wide average

All this is done on a small budget and within the context of a luxury brand, Schmidt says. WWRD uses six tactics to get these results:

Tactic #1. Pick a good prize and a good audience

Your campaign needs to attract attention from the right people and invite them onto your list. It does this by offering a good prize. The wrong prize will attract attention from the wrong people, bring them onto your list, and undermine your program.

Schmidt's team, for instance, does not offer generic prizes such as trips to the beach, which could appeal to almost anyone. Instead, it picks prizes that are directly relevant to its brands.

For a sweepstakes last year, the team gave away 155 pieces of stemware, barware and bar accessories. Since Waterford's email program promotes these types of products, the set was a perfect incentive to attract attention from relevant people and encourage them to opt-in.

Promote to the house list

Schmidt's team uses its house email list as a primary driver of its own growth. Promoting sweepstakes to current subscribers might seem counterintuitive, but Schmidt says it helps the team achieve three things:
  1. Add new subscribers who are acquainted with a current subscriber and are likely to have similar interests, tastes and demographics

  2. Grow the list on a tight budget by minimizing ad spending

  3. Maintain the image of WWRD's luxury brands by avoiding hard promotion and list rental

"We don't want to be that company where people are getting emails that say, 'Hey, because you partnered with XYZ, you are getting this email from Waterford,'" Schmidt says. "That's not the right way to portray our brand," he says.

Tactic #2. Launch to your list

The team launches sweepstakes by sending a dedicated email to its house list. The launch email for the June 2011 sweepstakes included the following:
  • Subject line: "ENTER Waterford's Summer Sweepstakes: WIN $2400+ in Stemware..."

  • Headline image: "Vintage Drinkware Summer Sweepstakes"

  • Prize image

  • One sentence of copy

  • Single call-to-action: "Enter Now" button

Clicking the button brought subscribers to a landing page with more details about the sweepstakes. To enter, visitors were asked to fill out a short form and had to agree to receive marketing emails from Waterford. Visitors could also click two check boxes to opt-in for emails from two other WWRD brands, Wedgewood and Royal Doulton.

Tactic #3. Leverage subscribers' social network with referrals

Like many sweepstakes that are focused on building a list, WWRD invited entrants to earn additional chances to win by referring their friends and contacts to the campaign. WWRD made this offer on the confirmation page shown to visitors after they entered.

The confirmation page included:
  • Prize image

  • Confirmation of first entry

  • Instructions for earning a second entry

  • Form requesting first name and email address for up to five contacts

  • Call-to-action button: "Submit my second entry"

The referral process is an important part of the campaign. Without it, the campaign would mostly reach current subscribers and would not reach new people to invite onto the list.

"For every three entries we receive one referral, and 25% of those referrals will get someone to clickthrough and enter themselves," Schmidt says.

Send personalized emails to referrals

WWRD sends an automated email to the referrals. The email is very similar to the campaign's launch email, with these three changes:
  • Subject line: "Your Friend says 'ENTER the Waterford Summer Sweepstakes!'"

  • Personalized greeting: "Dear [firstname],"

  • An additional sentence: "Please note: By receiving this email, you are not subscribed to receive Waterford.com communications, unless you have previously subscribed at our site."

The added line of copy is intended to prevent readers from thinking they have been added to Waterford's email list without opting-in, which could cause them to mark the email as "spam."

Tactic #4. Resend launch email to non-opens

WWRD uses a variety of tactics to turn its house list into the main driver of its sweepstakes. Chief among them is the resending of its launch email. Anyone who did not open the launch email will receive it again about one week later with a new subject line.

Here are the subject lines of the team's first two emails for the June 2011 sweepstakes:
  • Launch email: "ENTER Waterford's Summer Sweepstakes: WIN $2400+ in Stemware..."

  • First reminder: "WIN $2400+ of Marquis Stemware. Enter the Waterford Summer SWEEPSTAKES..."

WWRD also resends the email with a new subject line at the following points of the campaign (anyone who has opened the email is excluded from the resend):
  • Halfway point

  • One month before close

  • One week before close

  • Three days before close

  • One day before close

The team sees a boost in entrants each time it sends the email. Response is high for the first email, then drops roughly in half for subsequent messages, and ramps up again as the deadline nears, Schmidt says.

Include referrals in the re-send

Anyone who is referred to the campaign and does not open this email is included in the team's next resending (under the schedule mentioned above). They receive the same referral email with a new subject line.

"It's all subject line-based because that keeps the cost down," Schmidt says.

Tactic #5. Minimize spend on advertising

The team avoids spending the bulk of its money for these campaigns on advertising. This helps maintain the brand's credibility, and keeps costs down, Schmidt says.

However, in addition to its email marketing, the team supports its sweepstakes in the following channels:

  • Homepage -- the team includes promotional images in the rotation of "hero shots" on Waterford's homepage.

  • Social media -- the team periodically promotes its sweepstakes to Waterford's more than 2,600 followers on Twitter and nearly 7,000 fans on Facebook.

  • PPC ads -- WWRD maintains a paid search program to drive traffic to its websites. Some ads are used to promote the company's sweepstakes, but they play a minimal role in the campaigns and represent a small investment, Schmidt says.

The team does not send its sweepstakes to websites that aggregate giveaways and contests because many of the sites provide low-quality subscribers, Schmidt says.

"They are not the best avenues because they don't necessarily bring qualified leads. They bring people who spend all day signing up on sites."

Tactic #6. Give a quick incentive to purchase

The goal of the sweepstakes is to add subscribers to WWRD's email program, but the ultimate goal is to earn new customers.

The team encourages subscribers to make a purchase immediately after they enter the sweepstakes. This is done in an entry-confirmation email, which includes the following:

  • Subject line: "Entry Confirmation & Promotion Code for the Waterford Summer Sweepstakes"

  • Promo code for free ground shipping

  • Single call-to-action: "Shop now" button

This helps Schmidt's team quickly start earning a return on its investment into the campaign.

"I can track directly from the confirmation email," Schmidt says. "If I take the profit on those sales and then subtract that from the cost, then that's really the true cost of the campaign."

The team has yet to see the response from this promo code cover the entire cost of the campaign. However, that revenue, coupled with the revenue from the new subscribers' other purchases over several months, show encouraging results. A six-month analysis of subscribers added during the June 2011 sweepstakes showed that they contributed 1.6% of all U.S. sales during that period, Schmidt says.

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Useful links related to this article

  1. Launch email

  2. Landing page

  3. Confirmation page

  4. Automated referral email

  5. Entry confirmations

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Listrak - provided the team's platform and helped design strategy


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