Summary – This post is going to give you all the information/tasks you need to run a successful viral leaderboard contest to collect a ton of high-quality email leads and grow your social following faster than any other marketing strategy.
We were told time and time again that SaaS and B2B are two things that don’t mix when it comes to running contests and giveaways, heck those two things don’t work using most marketing strategies.
Contests and giveaway campaigns have been super successful for our eCommerce clients and users but using them for B2B and SaaS companies was like pulling teeth. The excitement, engagement and viral lift were just not present for these types of businesses.
So we looked back on all our B2B marketing efforts and made a list of strategies for growing email lists. We highlighted a few of them and the issues we ran into.
These were a few strategies we tried.
- Content marketing / blogging (too slow)
- Guest blogging and podcasts (way too time intensive)
- Webinars (too much time investment and setup cost, people wanted fast results)
- Direct response lead-gen ads on Adwords, Facebook, Twitter etc. (too expensive)
- Cold emailing (super boring and time-consuming)
We tried all of the above methods at some point in our B2B digital marketing journey but never really found the sweet spot in quality, cost and quantity.
So we thought, F**K it, let’s build our own badass contest that works better than any other acquisition strategy, does what we want and makes the customer as happy as the brand/business owner.
Here is the link to the viral leaderboard contest we created – visit contest (btw it is closed so you can’t enter but you can see the landing page and how it worked and generated over 7k emails for us).
The birth of the Contest Leaderboard Campaign
We took everything we knew about viral + contests + acquisition and growth and put it all into 1 viral leaderboard contest tool! This took a fricken’ long time but we got there and once we build the beta version it was time to test!
Below are all the details from our test contest that generated these listed results within 20 days! Not bad 😉
Results from our first B2B leaderboard contest:
- Emails Collected: 7,000+
- Instagram Followers gained: 850+
- Facebook Group Growth: 350+ (we started at ground 0 pretty much)
- New Twitter Followers: 3,000+
- New Pinterest followers: 2,500+
- New YouTube Subscribers: 550 (we were not expecting this!)
- YouTube is a channel that we’re really trying to focus on in 2017, so the fact that we added 550 new YouTube subs is amazing after starting out at less than 100 before the contest.
To be honest we were a little disappointed as we had set a goal of acquiring 10k emails from this contest, this was factoring in 20-30% of those emails being spam or unusable.
But hey, an extra 7k emails never hurt anyone!
Once the contest ended, we ran the exported list though www.edq.com and discovered that only 12% of the emails were rubbish. SUCCESS! Not as bad as we had thought.
We have seen some B2C niches collect a ton more emails but had 20-30% of them be spam so we were pretty happy with this.
Not only did the leaderboard contest limit spam but it had a super high email engagement rate when we sent out contest updates like “half way” and “ending soon” notifications!
Reflecting on the above we learned that our leaderboard was able to collect quality emails due to the high engagement, advanced cheater detection and nature of the contest prizes! Consider this when choosing a service to use for your contests (quality over quantity if possible)!
A few things we learned from our test contest
- 80/20 rules applies, we collected 80% of our emails in the last week.
- Engagement and competitiveness is awesome. By adding the entrant’s avatar, number of points and leaderboard rank we were able to get people visiting their thank you/share/dashboard page multiple times throughout the contest.
- Offer something epic but not too epic. We had a lot of people question if our contest was real due to the size of the prize. It is super important to make your prizes relevant to the crowd you want to attract.
- Support, support, support. Make sure you take the time to answer questions from entrants and the better the relationship the more they will share your contest.
- Our Facebook group was the most active it had ever been during the contest. Use these group settings to create a community and build relationships!
- By using a number of prize redemption options we were able to involve everyone who entered our contest. We offered prizes for top 5 leaderboard rankings, number of points collected (prize received after collecting 150 entry points) and random winner draw (anyone could win, even last place has a chance!).
- We wish we had launched the contest with the random winner reward. We only introduced it half way through the contest and I think we lost a lot of early entrants who did not want to compete for top spot!
How To Build A Contest Leaderboard Campaign
The easiest way to explain this is to break it down into steps. This was for our SaaS company so is probably a little more complicated/harder that your usual eCommerce or content website.
- Prize/Reward (partners)
- Building the contest
You can jump to any section that you may be at but I suggest you read through all the steps to make the most of your contest marketing campaign. Learn from our mistakes, it will save you a ton of time and money 😉
Step ONE – Ideation
This is pretty much what we discussed above, most companies go through a stage of considering/arguing what the best marketing tactic for them is. This can be in any of the forms listed at the start of this post, I ‘m sure there are also more options!
We obviously went with viral contests as our marketing strategy to grow our email list and social accounts.
Next, we had to think:
- Who do we want to attract?
- What do those people like?
- Where do they hangout?
We identified our target marketing and then came up with a number of prizes to get people interested in entering our contest. Our magic offer was lifetime subscriptions to other complimentary SaaS products, what business owner doesn’t love FREE lifetime subscriptions?
We then broke down the prizes into:
- Rank 1st, 2nd and top 5 (highest value, hard to achieve)
- Number of entry points collected (lowest value, easy to achieve)
- Random Draw (medium value, requires luck to achieve)
Once we had the reward tiers planned out we focused on finding products to offer for these tiers.
Step TWO – Prize/Reward (partners)
There are a few options when it comes to what to offer. The main prize is usually the product of the company or something complimentary that they purchase as an investment to the contest.
A gym might offer a membership or a year’s worth of protein powder.
Or an online shoe retailer might offer 1 pair of shoes or a running magazine subscription.
We decided to go the other way and find the top companies our target market wanted to use. For example, we wanted to get the interest of people who used Clickfunnels, MeetEdgar, MixMax, PipeDrive and a few other SaaS subscriptions.
People will have a ton of articles and BS published on automating the outreach but if you just spend the time building the relationship and genuinely offering value, you don’t need the automation for what we were doing.
Take the time in selection and crafting your emails and your close rate will be 100x higher than any automation you can do.
Out of all the people we contacted to partner with for this contest about 80% of them said yes.
Here is the email we used to propose the leaderboard contest partnership.
Once you have a relationship with the people you want to partner with it becomes a lot easier to promote and get feedback on your contest. Plus the benefit to this was also the follow-up partnerships in the form of joint deals, case studies and cross promotions.
Of course we used a few tools in this process to remind us to follow up and keep organized. We aren’t super hero’s!
Tools – MixMax, Google Sheets, Rapportive Chrome extension
Step THREE – Building the giveaway
Now that we had a number of partners to help buff up our prize pool, our contest was looking pretty good. We had enough partners on board to fill out all our reward tiers and make them pretty impressive.
The next step was the setup of the actual contest. Since we used our own tool VYPER the actual build out of the contest was super quick.
A few things to note when creating your contest:
- Always create separate sharing images for each social channel, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest all need their own sizing.
- Set an appropriate time frame and make sure you include some solid T&C’s. Between 2-6 weeks are good contest lengths. Evergreen contests are also amazing but we will go into that another day!
- Make the prizes super obvious so people know what they can win and remind people how to win. E.g. On the contest page include a subtitle like “Fill in your name, email and start sharing to collect points to win!”
- Use images and video when possible. Most people hate reading or do not have time to do it. Use images, dot points, video and anything else you can to make the message faster and easier to understand! (I know, you are probably thinking what a hypocrite. He is making me read a 2,000+ word case study but telling me not use a lot of text!)
- Add your GA, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and any other code or tracking tags to your contest. You want that data! It is just as important as the email address!
Here is a quick video tutorial on how to build a leaderboard contest:
As I mentioned before, this part of your contest is actually one of the easiest. Just make sure to cross off the basics.
We also designed and built VYPER with conversion optimization in mind so the templates have been built to get you the best conversion rates!
Step FOUR – Promotion
This is a make or break step! Promoting your contest is just as important as creating it. A good prize and traffic source is key for generating tons of emails and new followers.
Let’s break it down by days so you can see exactly what we did:
- Promoted the shit out of it to personal networks (friends, colleges & family) first.
- Publish a blog post announcing the launch of the contest.
- Post to all of your own social channels every 2-3 days. Tag your partners if possible to spread some love.
- Posted in Facebook groups (ask the admins first, here is a post on that).
- Post in other communities like Slack, inbound.org, growthhackers.com etc.
- Post within niche specific forums (Warrior Forum, Sitepoint and Blackhat World are a few for B2B).
- Submit your contest to appropriate giveaway sites, popular one is the sub-reddit /giveaways
- Run ads to get the ball rolling, remember that the leaderboard is viral so it has a snowball effect so you need to start strong. A few common networks are Facebook (easiest), LinkedIn (most expensive), Reddit (hardest), Twitter (most effective for B2B).
- Work with you partners, get them to share the contest on social and to their newsletter/email list if possible. We tried to get all partners to do this so there would be a benefit for everyone, the cross exposure was fantastic and all partners were exposed to new potential customers.
- Try and get featured on other people’s blogs and industry leading websites (PR).
- Reach out to content curators that may be interested in sharing the contest with their audience.
- Send out reminder emails for entrants to keep sharing (we did halfway point and a few days before contest ended but you could send more).
- Repost to some of those communities if possible to give an update on the contest. For example, we introduced some new partner’s half way through. Which allowed us to resubmit and update a lot of our original promotion channels.
- Stay engaged with support and updates on the contest to people who have entered. (Make sure to add your contact details (support email) somewhere on your thank you page)
- Follow up with partners to see if they have posted to social or send out an email to their audience.
- You are nearly there, keep going.
- Support and questions (a lot of this came through our website live chat as mentioned before).
- Keep posting to your own social channels.
- Send out an email to everyone who has entered. Announce that they have 1 more week to collect points to win the grand prize.
- By this stage, the viral leaderboard contest should be doing most of the work for you. You should now have enough entrants referring others to keep those new emails and social follows rolling in!
Step FIVE – Follow Up
This step is one of the most important, you need to do a few things here to finish strong.
- Thank everyone for entering.
- Provide one final piece of value (we offered exclusive offers to our partner tools).
- Thank your partners.
- Send your winners their prizes and connect them to the contest partners if needed. Try and do this as soon as possible!
- Use all your leads by entering them into a value add email drip or send them further follow up offers.
We found that our list was extremely engaged as we had some huge open and click through rates on our contest updates and follow up series around 40-50% as you saw above on the contest update emails.
We also tied this into the launch of our viral leaderboard contest tool which everyone had seen a live demo of now. This really helped spread the awareness of our product launch!
We learnt a ton about SaaS and B2B acquisition from this test. We did see a lower volume of entrants compared to other B2C contests that we had run in the past but our final B2B list was much more engaged and of higher quality. Hard to say if this was due to the niche or if it was to do with the higher engaged leaderboard contest type – I’m going with the latter ;).
If you are to only remember one thing from this case study it should be:
Plan out your marketing campaign and identify what your goal is, if it is email leads and brand exposure consider viral leaderboard contests as they worked a lot better for us in terms of cost and scalability compared to other strategies.
Here is also a link to all our YouTube videos which show you how to setup contests in under 10min!
Also published on Medium.