Case Study: How to use Viral Giveaways to Grow Your Email List (1500 new subscribers and $5k in 10 days)

I'm excited to be taking you behind the scenes today for this case study about how to run a giveaway that gets 1500 new email subscribers and makes you $5k in profit (yep - I actually MADE money by giving away $1500 worth of stuff!).

 

A few weeks ago, I did my first “viral” giveaway.

I had some HUGE goals for this giveaway - based on my research and other case studies I had read (with wide eyes and probably some drool too) I could potentially expect tens of thousands of new email subscribers and fans in a matter of days!

And although viral giveaways DO have that potential, I myself had different results.

And so today I’m sharing every single detail of my viral giveaway experiment - what I did wrong, what I did right, and how I actually MADE A PROFIT by giving away $1500 worth of prizes.


Confession: doing a viral giveaway has been at the TOP of my priority list for at least 7 months.


(Now you know how long it takes me to get around to certain things - ha!)

I had read so many gasp-worthy case studies and examples of crazy successful giveaways - I think in my mind I just ASSUMED that viral giveaways would go viral no matter what.

I had also read about a lot of people who had said that having “5000” people on your email list as your initial giveaway entrants would really help get the ball rolling so that the viral social sharing would get a bit of momentum.

Since I had 5k people on my list when I launched my giveaway, I kinda thought I would hit “send” and then just sit back while my list exploded.

Well, my results were not astronomical (being real here!) BUT I also did some things that really made this giveaway successful and worthwhile.


Since I had 5k people on my list when I launched my giveaway, I kinda thought I would hit “send” and then just sit back while my list exploded.

I was determined to hack the shit out of my giveaway.

See, most people give something away and write it off as a monetary loss, but a worthwhile one for the new email subscribers and brand awareness that a viral giveaway can bring.

Then they stop there.

I of course wanted to hack the shit out of this giveaway :)

So before I even announced the actual giveaway - I came up with a plan (of course).

Oh yes, Pin this for future reference!

 

The Plan and Strategy:

My strategy to make this giveaway awesome was to a) get a bunch of new email subscribers who were interested in doing webinars (because that’s what my giveaway was about) and then do a “private” launch ONLY to those new people who had entered the giveaway.

I would segment out everyone who had already seen my last launch, so it was only brand new people getting my launch sequence.

Essentially I would “press play” and deploy a launch sequence to the new group.

The idea behind the strategy was that the people who hadn’t won the giveaway would still be interested in the product it related to, and might want to purchase if the offer was compelling enough.

The other half of the strategy was that I assumed the giveaway would have attracted a lot of people who just wanted a freebie (which is fine, that’s what happens!) and I really wanted to filter those people out (they’re not my core audience) by deploying a full-on launch sequence on them and making sure people who weren’t interested would unsubscribe.

(I was actually surprised that not many people unsubscribed during the post-giveaway launch emails - I guess most people were genuinely interested in joining my audience!).


My strategy to make this giveaway awesome was to a) get a bunch of new email subscribers who were interested in doing webinars (because that’s what my giveaway was about) and then do a “private” launch ONLY to those new people who had entered the giveaway.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Get the EXACT email scripts I sent out that turned a giveaway into a profitable launch!


So my profitable giveaway strategy looks like this:

  1. Run the Giveaway
  2. Get a new list of potentially interested customers
  3. End the giveaway and announce winner privately
  4. DO NOT ADD THE LIST TO YOUR MAIN LIST YET!
  5. Keep the giveaway entries list separate, segment out everyone who was already on your list
  6. Deploy a special launch sequence that includes a unique introductory email that converts like crazy without turning people off (who just found out they didn’t win).

 

My giveaway goals:

Okay - so here’s where my goals didn’t match my reality.

My goal was to get 10,000 people to enter the giveaway. Based on that number, my private launch to giveaway entrants would bring in $79k in revenue (this number is based on my conversion rates this sequence had for my previous launch).

So…how did I do?

Well, my giveaway did NOT go viral as planned.

Instead, I ended up with about 1500 new email subscribers and $5k in revenue from the post-giveaway launch.

I was definitely looking at my stats like “Okay! I’ll refresh it one more time and it will have gone crazy!”

But that just didn’t happen. I have a few ideas about WHY my viral giveaway didn’t exactly go viral, and I talk about those later in this case study.

That being said - 1500 new email subscribers and $5k in revenue is awesome! I was super excited to be testing out this strategy (both in terms of giveaways as list-building vehicles and also the segmented private launch idea).

 

How does the viral giveaway concept work?

What makes a giveaway or pre-launch campaign “viral”?

First let’s talk about why traditional contests, giveaways, and other campaigns actually make it HARDER for you to grow your audience.

Typically, when someone enters a giveaway or contest, they are given one entry. The more people that sign up, the LESS of a chance that person has to win.

Thus, people who enter the giveaway do not want to tell other people about it. They want as FEW people as possible to sign up. They have no incentive to share it with their social networks, friends, or followers.

With viral giveaways and campaigns, social sharing - very intentional social sharing - is built in to the system. They are designed to give people a strong INCENTIVE to convince all of their friends and followers to sign up for the giveaway.


With viral giveaways and campaigns, social sharing - very intentional social sharing - is built in to the system.

When someone enters the giveaway, they have one entry. But if they refer their friends to enter the giveaway with their unique link, they receive 3 more entries, thus INCREASING their chances at winning.

And for every new email sign up that they refer, they get 3 (you choose this number) additional entries into the contest. They increase their chances of winning by sharing it with their friends and telling them to sign up.

Pretty powerful, right?

Imagine that one person refers 3 new people, who each refer 3 more people, each referring 3 more people.

All of the sudden, that one single email subscriber just turned into 48 email subscribers.

Many people use these types of viral campaigns to create a pre-launch list: a list of people interested in a new product (physical, software, service, website) based on a landing page and an idea.

Bloggers and other publishers can use them to do giveaways and contests with other people’s products, their own products, or bundles.

This works for pre-launches of products, of software, of eBooks and courses, giveaways, contests etc. You can apply these systems, tech tools, and principles to just about any product or launch situation.

It is however especially effective for digital products, since there is no overhead cost to giving one away!

(For my giveaway, I actually gave away hardware, software, and courses - so there was some overhead! All in all I spent $1500 on the giveaway prizes).

 

What technology do you need to set this up?

In order to set up this viral giveaway, you need to use KingSumo. There are a few other similar software platforms out there, but KingSumo is the most affordable and the easiest to use.

KingSumo is a WordPress plug-in - but I’m actually on Squarespace. We made this work by creating a fresh domain, installing hosting on that domain, and then doing clean WordPress install and just using the plugin.

We’ve created a step-by-step video tutorial about how we set up our giveaway in KingSumo.

BONUS VIDEO DOWNLOAD: Watch as we create this exact giveaway in a step by step video walkthrough.


I am really glad we got KingSumo all set up - now doing giveaways is a breeze and takes only a few minutes to get it all up and running.

 

Things I did “wrong":

After my giveaway didn’t go viral I evaluated why I didn’t see the crazy results I was expecting.

There are a few things I didn’t do and could have really done better.

Essentially, I made some dumb mistakes the first time around.

#1: My prize was really specific - maybe too specific

So when you do a giveaway like this, you need your prize to be really, really targeted. The idea is that your perfect audience would be super excited, but anyone else wouldn’t even think twice about what your prize was.

Essentially, giving away an iPad is the worst idea (too broad - not targeted enough).

I went really specific with mine. I targeted people who were interested in doing webinars with a webinar course, webinar software, and webinar gear.

I know this was a good strategy, but the bottom line is that the audience for webinars is smaller than the general “online business” audience, and a lot of people still feel like webinars don’t apply to them or they aren’t ready yet (both are crazy myths, but this is part of my theory about why we had a hard time with getting traction).


So when you do a giveaway like this, you need your prize to be really, really targeted. The idea is that your perfect audience would be super excited, but anyone else wouldn’t even think twice about what your prize was.

 

#2: I dropped the ball on promoting the giveaway

To be honest, I pretty much dropped the ball on big promo. If you know me, you know I like to plan out my launches and promotions in a really big way. I was going to treat the giveaway like any other launch, and go all out.

Well, I ended up in the hospital the day after my giveaway launched, and spent the next two weeks in a hospital bed not able to even open my computer much less promote something.

So the entire time my giveaway was live, I was totally out of commission. I couldn’t Periscope, Tweet, email influencers, or plan anything.

My giveaway results are a good example of what might happen if you just “set it and forget it” with your giveaway.

Considering I was totally out for the whole thing, the results were pretty good!

 

#3: I forgot to submit to giveaway sites

Again, all of my awesome plans for going big with the giveaway promo totally fell apart when I got sick.

One thing I really should have done that I didn’t was submit my giveaway to a few giveaway sites. I’m not sure how much of a difference it would have made, but next time this is a priority for me!

 

How to actually MAKE money by giving away $1500 worth of stuff

Here’s where I think my strategy was different than other viral giveaway case studies I had seen.

From the start, I knew the purpose of the giveaway on my end was to:

  • Create amazing value for my readers and who my appreciation for them, and giving is fun

  • Grow my email list (in order to enter the giveaway you use an email address)

  • And make a profit

Most people talk about the giveaway as a list-building strategy that costs money (similar to doing ads or something), and that’s just the trade off.

I hadn’t seen people really talking about what to do AFTER the giveaway ends to leverage the momentum and brand new potential customers all excited and familiar with your product.

In order to turn the giveaway into a private “mini-launch” to the new members of my audience, I created a special limited time offer that was only available to those who didn’t win the giveaway for 5 days (Tuesday to Sunday).


I hadn’t seen people really talking about what to do AFTER the giveaway ends to leverage the momentum and brand new potential customers all excited and familiar with your product.

I put together a special course bundle with the course that was included in my giveaway, which everyone had entered to win (Webinar Rockstar™), and a few other smaller products as well.

I also included some deluxe package features (like the live group chat feature) as part of the deal.

I used Timerlay to create the private launch limited time offer page.

It had a big countdown on the top and actually creates real urgency because Timerlay makes it so the sales page does actually expire and if they click the link after the offer ends, they’ll get an “oops! you missed it!” page.

(We go through how to set this up in F*ck Yeah Funnels, as it’s part of my funnel strategy as well).


I sent out a series of four emails to the giveaway entrants list during those 5 days.

Those four emails were repurposed from my original launch sequence from the course, but with a few REALLY IMPORTANT tweaks that made it extra effective for a post-giveaway launch like this.


You need to see the exact post-giveaway email sequence that resulted in $5k in sales. It’s a very specific and “delicate” email sequence.

Enter your information below to download the email sequence scripts for FREE. (The subject lines alone are super important!) 


So the sequence looked like this:

  1. Oh no! You didn’t win. Introduction in case people weren’t familiar with me and my brand. And then the offer is made.
  2. Then an educational email that educates people on why they need to be doing what I teach in Webinar Rockstar.
  3. A marketing message email that included case studies and my own results.
  4. And a final “last chance” email that included an FAQ, some killer testimonials, and a hard urgency pitch.

 

Download the exact sequence that turned this giveaway into a profitable launch:

 

How I promoted the giveaway:

I ran my giveaway for ten days. I explained above how bad I was about promoting my giveaway. I would say I did the “bare minimum” to get these specific results. I basically had one day to do some promo stuff, then everything fell to the wayside when I was in the hospital.

Promo images for Twitter, Insta, and Pinterest:

I created some shareable images that I posted to my Instagram, used on Twitter, and pinned on Pinterest.

 

Blog post:

I wrote a blog post that announced the giveaway at the top of my blog. Since the blog home page is the most visited page on my site, I figured people would find it that way too.

Email:

I emailed my audience about the giveaway twice - once when I announced it, and once when there were two days left to enter.

Announcement bars on both of my sites:

I added “announcement bars” with a link to the giveaway page on both Femtrepreneur AND Webinar Rockstar™ so that people would see it right at the top of the site

Custom Welcome Gate:

I also created a custom temporary welcome gate (using Squarespace cover pages) that links to the giveaway during the ten days of promo.

Usually my welcome gate is set up to capture emails by promoting my free course, but I decided it would be a good idea to promote the giveaway here as it was also an email capture but potentially had an even more attractive offer than my free course.

giveaway-welcome-gate.jpg

 

Invited influencers and friends to share it with their own audiences:

I had a whole list of people I wanted to get in touch with about sharing my giveaway with their audiences, and a big outreach plan to go along with it.

Well, I ended up sending about 5 of those 50 emails. Everyone who I approached was happy to mention the giveaway, but I should have put more preparation into this part of my promo plan. I also should have given them more notice before the giveaway was happening.

Asked friends with Facebook to post it on Facebook:

I don’t use Facebook but I knew that if the giveaway got shared in a few Facebook groups it could be really great for momentum and exposure to a new audience. So I asked some of my friends who do use facebook groups to help me spread the word!

And a little bit of buffer and twitter promo, but not much:

I added giveaway-related tweets to Buffer that went out a few times per day, but I wasn’t keeping up with this as much.

 

What I need to do next time:

Obviously I could have done a better job promoting this giveaway! And next time I will definitely have a giveaway promo plan all set and ready to go before we announce the actual giveaway.

Consider running ads

Next time I’d like to experiment with running ads to my giveaway to get an initial boost of momentum and “seed” entries.

Submit to giveaway sites

I definitely need to submit my giveaway to these sites that will promote your giveaway to their audience.

Have a clear and consistent social media strategy

I need to coordinate my social media strategy, and make sure to pre-schedule the entire ten days worth of posts on Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram. And of course, I need to plan to Periscope every day to mention the giveaway.

 

The results:

10 days

1500 new email subscribers

$5k in revenue

All things said and done - I am really happy with how this turned out. My first giveaway was definitely an experiment. It had been on my marketing to-do list for MONTHS!

I really needed to know what the results would be - and just try it for myself.

And I learned a ton about what to do next time to have a bigger impact, and that you really do need to put a lot into promoting a giveaway - it isn’t guaranteed to just “take off”.


You really do need to put a lot into promoting a giveaway - it isn’t guaranteed to just “take off”.

Free Download: Get access to the exact email sequence that turns a giveaway into a mini-launch!

Want the exact email scripts I used to turn a “you lost!” email into a profitable sales email?

Okay so one thing I was legitimately nervous about was sending out this first email to my new “giveaway entrants” list after the winner had been announced, and essentially saying “you lost! Sorry! Now here’s something you can buy!”.

As I explained above, my strategy for the giveaway was to get a new email list of people interested in my product but who hadn’t been through my launch yet.

Then, I was going to do a segmented “private” launch only to those people who had expressed interest in my product by entering the giveaway.

The other part of this strategy was doing a “hard” launch to people who had entered the giveaway in order to kind of “filter out” people who had only entered for the “free stuff”.

My first email to the new giveaway list segment had a strong call to action to unsubscribe from the list if they weren’t interested in joining my email gang and hearing more from me about webinars.


Want my exact email scripts that led to $5k in sales from a list of people who entered a giveaway?

This is how you turn a giveaway into a profitable mini-launch!


The Tech Stuff: Learn how to set up your viral giveaway on the backend with our step-by-step video walkthrough!

If we're being honest - I am sooo not a tech person. I get by, but it is not my strong suit.

So if you're like me - you'll love this easy to follow video walk-through of how we set up our viral giveaway.

 

Did my results surprise you? Do you think you'll host your own viral giveaway after seeing this case study? Let me know in the comments!