This is a non-sponsored case study written for Vyper Leaderboard software. They sent out an e-mail requesting case studies, and since I have positive things to say about their software, their developers, and my experience with hosting giveaways through them so far, I thought I'd add my two cents below. Many travel bloggers, especially in my Travel Tribe, do giveaways as well and may benefit from this info.

Update 10-26-2017: Although this case study was non-sponsored, it now includes my affiliate link to Vyper because they've since started an affiliate program. I tend to write about software I use whether they have an affiliate program or not, but I went back and updated my links on this page after I joined their program to include my affiliate ID. So please and thank you for using my links to join Vyper if you get value from this post! It doesn't cost you anything more and helps me continue to grow the resources on this site.

Do giveaways work for e-mail list building?

Well, there was only one way to find out. So I set out to find the best giveaway software for my needs, and along the way was recommended Vyper by my friend Mike Hulleman from Hobo With A Laptop. My criteria for giveaway software was that: 1) It worked as promised. 2) It was social-centric, meaning that it encouraged people to share the giveaway after they entered on Facebook, Twitter, and for me, Pinterest was a must-have because that's the network that I'm most actively growing. And 3) It was cost effective. I wasn't ready to spend $199/month on software without properly understanding the ROI.

Vyper seemed to do the trick, their Leaderboard feature was unlike anything I had seen in competing softwares, and the price was right for a newbie like me, so I gave it a shot. Plus it worked. I know that seems like an obvious thing that a software should do, but it's not to be taken for granted. Other softwares I compared boasted certain features, but when it came down to it, the execution wasn't that great or the feature didn't work at all. In particular I'm referring to converting a social follow or share into additional entries. Many softwares advertise that feature, but be sure to test their demos first because they aren't all created equal. Vyper's execution of this feature was seamless, and their streamlined Leaderboard design was enticing for visitors to use and earn multiple entries. I received several compliments about the software itself.

I'd read other case studies on Vyper's blog but I felt that many of them were examples of people or companies going from several thousand e-mails on their list to several thousand more. I was starting my e-mail list basically from scratch, minus the 26 subscribers that consisted of my friends and family, and so my situation wasn't entirely comparable to other case studies. Up until recently when I started doing the giveaways, I hadn't done much list building at all. Yes, not building my e-mail list from day one was a mistake – one that I get on clients about all the time – but who actually practices what they preach? I hope to get better at taking my own advice, but wasn't it Abraham Lincoln who said, “The best time to start building an e-mail list was 20 years ago. The second best time is right now.”

So since the only way to find out if giveaways worked for list building was to test the waters with one, I started with a very short giveaway for two of my World Travel Tees in order to test the software in action. I did minimal advertising for this first giveaway aside from sharing it on my social channels and posting a link on my website, and I grew my list from 26 to 254 subscribers. Everything worked as it should have during the giveaway so I was ready for the big leagues.

My First “Real” Giveaway

My first giveaway parter was Dr. Annie, creator of The Travel Bra, a bra with hidden pockets for storing your cash and valuables, who generously donated two Travel Bras or the winner's choice of Men's Travel Trunks. For this giveaway, I wanted to go all out in terms of promotion.

Here's what I did to promote this giveaway:

  • I created a blog post announcing the giveaway. This way I had a permanent URL on my own website to share instead of just the giveaway URL on Vyper's website so that I could do internal linking. And also so that the giveaway would appear within my blog post feeds.
  • I created a Facebook featured image with all the pertinent information about the giveaway so that people could get the gist solely from the image without having to click through unless they wanted to enter.
  • I created a Pinterest Pin with the same info as the Facebook image, but vertical for their platform.
  • I wrote a welcome e-mail that was sent immediately after the person entered the giveaway, confirming their entry. The e-mail also encouraged them to share the giveaway, visit the sponsor's website and follow along on their social channels, and stay subscribed to hear who won. I also wanted to send an e-mail right away so that readers would get accustomed to seeing my name in their Inbox.
  • I shared the giveaway blog post on my Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Ello, Google+, Tumblr, and StumbleUpon accounts. That's the lowest hanging fruit. I also pre-scheduled some Tweets like “1 week left to enter the giveaway” and “5 days left to enter” etc so that I wouldn't forget to remind people socially.
  • I shared the giveaway to my Travel Tribe since they have audiences that would appreciate the prize.
  • I e-mail blasted the giveaway to my now 254 subscribers from my first giveaway. I also added plugs for the giveaway in my weekly newsletters that went out during the 21 days that the giveaway was live.
  • I posted the giveaway on 19 giveaway directory websites.
  • I shared the giveaway in 24 Facebook groups specifically for giveaways (not all on the same day though since I figured members were probably part of multiple groups).
  • I submitted the giveaway to Reddit's r/giveaways.
  • I replaced my normal sign-up form pop-up overlay with one specific to the giveaway.
  • I added a link to the giveaway in my website footer in my primary call to action area.
  • I added a section specifically about the giveaway to my homepage.
  • The Travel Bra shared the giveaway on their social media channels.
  • And of course, I shared the giveaway on my own personal social media – which isn't too far reaching.

What were the results of my efforts?

The Travel Bra Giveaway ran from 8/18/2017 to 9/08/2017 and below are the start and end counts of my e-mail list and social profiles.

PLATFORM START END +/-
MailChimp 254 1455 +1201
Facebook 548 752 +204
Twitter 229 422 +193
Pinterest 1706 1923 +207
YouTube 58 187 +129

So as you can see the important numbers there are that I grew my e-mail list by +1201 subscribers and grew my combined social follower counts by +733. I can't say for certain that every new social follower was a result of the giveaway, but based on my previous growth rate, I can confidently say that the bulk of these new subscribers were from this giveaway.

What'd you learn?

After each giveaway I've done so far, which is two, I've learned something new about how I'm going to handle future giveaways. In the first giveaway, I learned that I should have a permanent post on my website about the giveaway, instead of just linking to the Vyper URL, so that I can update it with the winners, get SEO benefit from people linking to it, and be able to on-site reference my past giveaways which can then link to my current giveaways. I also learned about the existence of giveaway directory websites and Facebook groups during that time.

During my second giveaway, I became concerned with the demographic of the list I was building. Was I building an audience of travelers and travel shoppers or freebie-seekers? Obviously I prefer the former over the latter so I have to be careful of where my entrants are originating from. I actually learned a trick from Carlos Courtney, the co-Creator of Pourfection in a case study he wrote for Vyper, about leveraging influencer traffic. In a nutshell, he reached out to a ton of influencers in his space, and offered them something small (like a $10 Starbucks card) in exchange for them sharing his giveaway. And that is what produced the most results for him. For my next giveaway, I'm going to set aside a small budget between $50-100 to do the same thing. I feel that spending a little money to reach travelers via other well-known travel bloggers, combined with their endorsement of the giveaway, will reach the type of audience I'm looking for as opposed to an audience of strictly freebie seekers.

What's next?

More giveaways of course. I've already got multiple future giveaways lined up in my queue with another one launching right around the corner. You can sign up to be notified of our future giveaways here. And if you've got any advice for me or suggestions on what's worked well for you on giveaways you've hosted in the past, drop me a comment below or e-mail [email protected]

Vyper Case Study