Objective: Get as many new enthusiastic emails as possible for as little as possible.

Results first:

1,378 contest entries, with 1,260 new emails collected, for a cost of $147.19 in ads.

When we ran follow-up emails for future events and segmented the list with these new addresses, they had a 45% open rate and 20% click rate, a significant improvement over average opens.

How did we get there?

We started with a contest. Contests or sweepstakes are easy to get excited about and there is an intrinsic incentive to share them with your immediate social group; if your friend wins, they will take you and if you win you can take them. Further, depending on the prize you choose, people may enter for others – if they believe that their husband would really enjoy the prize, a wife may enter with the idea that if she won, she would share it with or give it to him as a present.

In this particular case, the contest was a sponsored whisky event with no other way to get tickets. Winners would taste a variety of whiskys paired with appetizers and learn about the specific whisky brand represented. Since this was a sponsored event, costs for the prize were fixed – the whisky and food would be prepared regardless, and the contest was simply a way to engage with people that decided to engage with the brand.

Our philosophy with designing user flows where we want to encourage sharing is to make sharing as easy as possible and ask people to do it. We don’t go so far as to make sharing a requirement or easier to do than not share through pop-ups or barriers, because we believe that this results in lower brand engagement in the future and potentially negative connotations. We have found that it’s enough if you make the content engaging, sharing easy and then ask people to share it.


We built a landing page to funnel potential sign-ups to, with information about the event and an easy sign-up process that, when completed, thanked the user and focused on asking people to share the event.

We can turn a landing page around in a day or two, which enabled us to move quickly on the contest as the winner needed to be chosen only 9 days after we were asked to begin the task.

To get users to the page, we advertised through facebook and did a variety of social posts. We also leveraged our existing email list with the idea that it was important to reward existing customers as well as new ones and that they would be incentivized to share with people not on our list. It also helped build activity on our social posts and we find those things tend to snowball.