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9 ideas for viral campaigns to drive leads and sales

Author's avatar By Expert commentator 29 May, 2014
Essential Essential topic

How to build your email list using viral promotions

When building your email list, or indeed any lists for direct marketing, it is best practice to grow them organically, but of course that’s easier said than done and additional incentives will help grow a list more rapidly and can encourage sale as part of sales promotion. Social media will help amplify your promotions further.

Running viral promotions via social media, such as contests and sweepstakes and the other examples I will show in this post, are the perfect example of how social media can both increase engagement with prospects and clients as well as building your email list organically.

Before I explore the various viral promotions that you could utilise, we need to acknowledge the common pitfalls with viral promotions strategy and how to avoid them.

  • Prize hunters not paying customers

Viral promotions can attract the wrong type of prospects. There are always going to be those who will jump on the chance of a freebie, discount voucher or offer and will sign up to your promotion purely to achieve this, not because they are interested in your main product. Therefore it is important to choose the correct type of prize and promotion to fit your product and audience.

  • How can you give away relevant prizes?

When deciding on a relevant prize start from the beginning; who is your audience (customer segmentation) and what is your marketing goal (recruiting new customers, engaging with current ones, encouraging current customers to upgrade)?

Once you have decided on your target audience and your marketing goal, you can start putting viral promotions into practice.

9 ideas for marketing  promotions

I have grouped the number ideas for promotions under 3 headings showing the objective of the campaign: lead generation, engagement and driving sales. Then there is a final section giving more ideas on the types of prizes.

  • 1. Lead generation

Generally sweepstakes are the most appropriate viral promotion if your main aim is to increase lead generation:

Lead generation and sweepstakes

#1 Prize draw
Subscribers enter the sweepstakes with a single click. Winners are selected randomly among all the subscribers.

#2 Quiz
Subscribers need to answer a question to enter. Winners are selected randomly among the subscribers who give the right answer. See this recent post giving a guide to online quizzes.

#3 Poll
Subscribers enter the sweepstakes after voting on a predetermined topic. Winners are selected randomly among all the subscribers.

  • 2. Engagement

Contests are a great way of increasing engagement and promoting your brand:

#4 Photo contest
Fans may submit an image to enter the contest, while visitors vote for their favourite. Select winners among entrants and voters.

Engagement and contests

#5 Video contest
Fans may submit a video to enter the contest, while visitors vote for their favourite. Select winners among entrants and voters.

#6 Essay contest
Fans may submit an essay or text to enter the contest, while visitors vote for their favourite. Select winners among entrants and voters.

  • 3. Driving sales

When it comes to driving direct sales, deals work excellently:

Driving sales and deals

#7 Group offer
Offer a percentage-off coupon, or a 'buy-one-get-one-free' deal for customers if a number of them buy it. It’s great to drive sales.

#8 Coupon
Offer a percentage-off coupon, or a 'buy-one-get-cost-free' deal. Customers can print or redeem it in your online shop.

#9 Giveaway
Give free stuff like overstocked inventory or free samples away. Everybody receives something for entering.

Types of prizes

  • Your product

Remember if you give away for free what you normally sell, then you have to be sure that the entrants are actually interested in your product or service.

The pro of this strategy is that you increase the likelihood of subscribers being interested in your offer.

The con of this strategy is that you cannot be sure if the entrants would actually pay for your product.

  • Gift cards

Consider giving away a gift card or voucher to use at your shop or on your website. This way you can ensure that the entrant is interesting in your offering and will also receive a sample of your product.

The pro of this strategy is that subscribers are likely to be interested in your product or service and are prepared to pay if the chosen product is more expensive.

The con of this strategy is that subscribers may find that the prize is not a gift, but an obligation to buy and therefore don’t enter at all.

  • Complementary goods

Another option is to attract people who know you or know your competitors already; you can then encourage them to buy again or upgrade.

The pro of this strategy is that the subscribers which you recruit will be target audience and can be targeted with a pitch.

The con of this strategy is that the promotion may be less viral.

Summary of Viral Promotions

Viral promotions are a really fun, creative and cost-effective way to build your email list. If you are thinking about utilising them be sure to keep the following points in mind:

  • Remember to choose your promotion carefully, dependent on your aim. The same promotion for lead gen purposes may not work for engagement purposes.
  • Make sure that you choose an appropriate prize. Your prize should reflect your brand, be relevant to your audience and entice them to buy in the future.
  • If viral promotions are bringing in new business, consider using them for current prospects and customers who are already signed up to your emails!

For more details on viral promotions check out our Viral promotions whitepaper and infographic.

Author's avatar

By Expert commentator

This is a post we've invited from a digital marketing specialist who has agreed to share their expertise, opinions and case studies. Their details are given at the end of the article.

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