How to Engage Your Audience and Grow Your E-mail List with Facebook Contests

[The following is a guest post from Andrea Vahl of]

If you are a business owner who has a Facebook Page, you may have been considering running a Facebook contest. But the first question that needs to be answered with any marketing endeavor is WHY? Why give away your products or services (plus spending valuable time and marketing dollars) for free when you are supposed to be selling them?

Facebook contests can not only provide fun and engagement for your community but they can directly impact your bottom line!

First of all, everyone loves to win! According to many recent polls, the number one reason people will Like a Facebook Page is to be notified of special offers and promotions. As you may have seen recently, having your Page posts show up in people’s News Feeds is getting more and more challenging.

A contest gives people a reason to connect with you, makes your Page more fun, and attracts more people to your brand and your site. Not only that, you will collect e-mails of the people who enter your contest. This is my number one favorite reason to run a contest – you increase the number of e-mail subscribers to your list. If your contest is showcasing a product or service you offer, the e-mails will all be people who are interested in you!

In the contests I have helped facilitate, I usually see an opt-in rate of 50% or greater on a contest. Many contest applications have statistics that tell you how many people view the page and then enter the contest. Having a marketing vehicle that gets that opt-in rate is fantastic! Contests are an easy way to grow your e-mail list and they don’t have to be too expensive.

Let’s cover the basics on how you run an effective Facebook contest and how you collect e-mails with the contest.

#1 Design Your Facebook Contest

First decide if you are going to run a Sweepstakes or Contest. A sweepstakes usually requires that people enter their name and e-mail and the winner is chosen at random. A contest usually involves submitting a photo, video, or essay and people vote on their favorites (or maybe you chose your own favorite). Typically, contests are better for engaging your current community and sweepstakes are better for growing your community. Here are some considerations when choosing between a contest and a sweepstakes:

  • Contests: A contest will increase your community involvement by having users vote and may drive more of the entrants’ Friends to your Page as they ask them to vote for them. But if the entry requirements are too involved, you may not get the turnout you had hoped for.
  • Sweepstakes: A sweepstakes is better for growing your Facebook community or e-mail list. The requirements for entering the sweepstakes are typically entering a name and e-mail address and possibly Liking the Page, which is very easy for most people to do. You will get more entries but possibly not as many people sharing it with their Friends.

Next, decide what you are going to give away. I highly recommend you give away something directly related to your business so that you get a list of people who are interested in your product or service.

You also need to plan on how long your contest will run and how you are going to promote it.

#2 Choose an Application to Run Your Facebook Contest

The biggest rule that you must follow is to not administer any promotion through Facebook except through an Application. An Application is one of the “tabs” that appear underneath the Facebook Cover photo.

Jet Blue Airlines Facebook Contest

While you may see others violating the terms (many people don’t understand the terms), Facebook does state that it can remove materials relating to the promotion or even disable your Page or account. So it pays to follow the rules!

To comply with the rule about administering your contest through an App, you can use a third-party application designed to administer contests or you can program an application yourself to collect entries which is more involved.

Here are just some of the applications that administer Facebook contests (there are many more out there!):

Each of these has different pricing and features. Some have free trials or free options, but most are very affordable.

With most of these applications, you will set up your contest on their website and then install it on your Facebook Page. Many sites have great step-by-step instructions on how you install it on your Page. You can also reference the 2nd edition of Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies where I go through the exact steps for many different contest applications.

Make sure that in your contest rules and information, you let people know that they will get e-mail updates from you so that they know they will be added to your newsletter list.

#3 Promote Your Contest

How will you get the word out? It’s good to have a variety of options to get the ball rolling. Here are a few ways you can promote your contest:

  • Social Media: Of course you will post about it on Facebook but you will also want to cross-promote on Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest or other sites you have a following.
  • E-mail: Let your current subscribers know about your contest. They want to have fun too!
  • Website: Consider a banner on the sidebar or at the top or bottom of your Page.
  • Advertising: Advertising on Facebook is a great idea if you have some budget. Ads promoting contests get great click thru rates and the Facebook targeting is great for your promotion.
  • Blog tour: Cross promote on other blogs by doing some guest posting (this must be set up farther in advance)
  • Key Partners: Ask key people to share your contest with their networks.

#4 Add the entrants to your e-mail newsletter list

Once the contest is over and the winners have been notified (via e-mail first – see a complete list of the Facebook contest rules so you understand them) then you can download the list of e-mails and add it to your newsletter list. All of the Facebook Apps I’ve used have an easy export feature to accomplish this.

Then you may want to give away some “consolation” prize such as a small freebie to entice people to opt-in to your list if your provider requires an opt-in.

Antavo Export Email List

Make sure you deliver value through your e-mail newsletter to keep people engaged after the contest. Don’t just send out marketing messages. If you consistently deliver value, you will’ have a better open rate and you will have a better conversion when you do send out an e-mail with a sales message.

So are you ready to win with Facebook contests? I encourage you to try it out! If you want to see more examples of Facebook contests in action, be sure to take a look at my free webinar on Running a Successful Facebook contest here:

Let us know what your experience has been with Facebook Contests in the comments below.