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Jan 17, 2001
Case Study

SAM Magazine Tests Online Contest to Generate Qualified Subscribers

SUMMARY: No summary available.

The team at SAM Magazine, a controlled circulation trade publication targeting marketing professionals at medium-sized fast-growing companies, threw their 25+ years of direct mail expertise behind getting qualified subscribers for the magazine's launch. Their mail campaigns were highly successful, however, publisher John Katnic wanted to supplement direct mail with an online campaign. He explains, "There's a big, untapped, audience out there that's not necessarily responsive to direct mail. There's too much noise in their in-boxes -- other trades, direct mail, etc."


In September 2000, SAM Magazine launched an online golf game, featuring a variety of prizes ranging from a $35,000 sports car to embroidered golf shirts. The team drove traffic to the online game through space ads in the magazine, notes in the magazine's sister email newsletter, and a single broadcast text email letter to all opt-in subscribers.

In order to play the game, visitors had to answer questions that would qualify them for the magazine if they chose to receive it. Katnic says, "We said, as long as you're answering the basic questions to register for the game, would you also like to subscribe to SAM while you're here? They already had their hands on the keyboard, so it's pretty easy to get one more box checked."

Also included was a question asking if the player would like a chance to double their odds of winning at a later date. Those who checked yes received an email telling them they could increase their chances by recommending the game to a friend. Katnic says, "We gave them three slots to fill out with friends' names."


More than 5000 people clicked through to the game, and of those 3600 (70%) either subscribed or renewed their subscription online at the same time. The traffic driving device that worked best was the broadcast text email, with a whopping click through rate of almost 9%.

About 650 (18%) of the 3,600 game players checked the box asking for additional chances to win. Of these, 114 (17%) sent back their friend's names, resulting in another 250 or so qualified game players.

NOTE: The prizes for this campaign cost less than you think. Most publishers running sweepstakes either buy relatively inexpensive sweeps insurance against the chances of having to pay out an expensive prize; or they buy a share of a group sweeps which allows many publishers to use the same exact prize for different campaigns.
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