Email Marketing and Social Media Contests: 3 Reasons Why You Need a Retention Plan

Posted by Scott Cohen On July 15, 2011 in story time I 0 Comments

How many times have you been in this situation?

  • Boss: “We need to be on Facebook. Let’s have a contest and get people to like us and subscribe them to our email.”
  • You: “Okay, great. What do we plan to do with them after they’ve signed up?”
  • Boss: “I don’t know. But you need to get X-number of Likes and X-number of subscribers.”

I get it. The numbers chase is where the fun is, where bonuses are made, and high-fives (or fist bumps) are exchanged. It’s especially fun when the numbers you’re chasing are part of the new “shiny object.”

But just having an acquisition strategy and nothing else is amazingly short-sighted. After all, you can acquire millions of “Likes” and subscribers if you give something away to everyone who signs up, right? But how do you keep them around post-conversion?

That, my friends, is retention. And if you’re about to pull the trigger on a serious acquisition campaign, you need to have a plan in place for retention now (yesterday, really). Here are three reasons why you need an email marketing retention plan:

1. You can more effectively gauge real interest in your product or service.

  • Cartman: “More people will come if they think we have punch and pie.”
  • Kyle: “[typing] Punch and pie.”

If you’ve seen the South Park movie from about 12 years ago, you’ll remember this little snippet where the boys are trying to put together “La Resistance.” They get a decent turnout, and without fail, two kids came solely for the “punch and pie.”

Point: Once the incentive is over, you’re going to lose some people. But there are people who are genuinely interested in your product.

Conservative estimates I’ve seen are in the range of a 20-30% attrition rate almost immediately after a contest ends. That means for every 10 people who sign up, you’re guaranteed to essentially “lose” three of them. Obviously, they only showed up for your version of “punch and pie.”

But what about the other 70%? How will you know whether they showed up for the “punch and pie” or whether they’re actually interested if you don’t communicate further with them after the contest?

Treat your contest entrants like you would “normal” subscribers. Have a communications plan for them that gives them relevant, valuable information that could convert them to purchasers.

2. You can turn your winners and entrants into brand advocates.

In some of the contests I’ve seen on Facebook, there are entrants who will comment on every post, post to your wall, and try to engage with you (skeptic: likely thinking they can skew the results of the contest that way).

Why not use that enthusiasm to your advantage during and after the contest to not only retain these individuals on your list, but potentially empower them to become champions of your brand?

Email makes it easy to even go truly one-to-one with these active entrants. You can stay in touch and figure out ways to make them feel special (even those who didn’t win but want to be involved… perhaps for some free stuff). If they feel special and like what you offer, they’re more likely to continue to be active and talk about you.

And we all know word-of-mouth is the best form of advertising.

3. You can actually make money off of your contest in the long run.

Wait, what was that? Making money off of a contest? Yep, I said it.

If you don’t communicate to your entrants-turned-subscribers after the contest ends, you know what you’ve done? You’ve turned that entire list into “Punch-and-pie” people. Your entire list is now comprised of freebie seekers and nothing else.

And you know what doesn’t happen? You don’t make money.

And that’s why you’re ultimately doing the contest, right? To make money?

Going back to my first point, you can’t know what you have until you ask. And by continuing the communication cycle post-contest, you have a better chance of converting some of these entrants into customers than you would if you simply went dark.

So, keep communicating. Keep the enthusiasm alive. And make your contests worthwhile for everyone.

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