How to get 1,000 emails for your Shopify store with less than $250

Published on Jul 15, 2018


I've been toying with the idea of opening a dropshipping store for over a year but never got to do it. So 4 weeks ago my girlfriend and I decided to try our luck with Shopify and open a store. Since we are both avid travellers (together we have travelled in all 6 continents) and know a thing or two about packing, we decided to sell travel accessories with a focus on small, light gear for people who like to travel light.

Having launched many products in the past, I knew that a launch is only effective if a lot of people know about it. (If you open a Shopify store and no one visits it, did you really open it?)

So we brainstormed a few ideas and decided to do a giveaway. This post is all about how we created and ran a giveaway that netted us 900 verified emails in less than 10 days and cost less than $250; it includes all the tools we used, how much money we spent, where we promoted it, and more.

Setting up a killer giveaway

In the last 3 years at Maître, I've seen thousands of giveaways and I've identified what makes or breaks them. There are obviously many factors that contribute to the success (or failure) of a giveaway, but 4 are absolutely essential:

  • enticing and exclusive rewards
  • a clear deadline and rules
  • a beautiful landing page
  • a referral tool to track referrals

Rewards

What you are going to offer in your giveaway is ultimately what will make people excited (and willing to refer their friends) or not. A common rookie mistake is to think that by simply offering something really expensive or exclusive such as an iPhone, you will get hundreds or even thousands of referrals.

And more often than not, you do get high numbers of referrals from such exuberant offers. However, by doing so you will get a LOT of spam; people who have no interest whatsoever in your brand or product and are only there for the reward.

Remember: the goal of a giveaway is to get emails of people truly interested in your product so that you can re-target (or upsell) them later. The first rule of great rewards is that they attract the perfect audience for your business.

We decided to create a bundle of products whose retail value is roughly $160 (the cost for us was $80). We figured such reward would feel exclusive enough to excite people but at the same time, it would only attract travellers.

Deadline and rules

It’s very important that people know how your giveaway works, when the deadline is and how they can win. We decided to coincide the deadline of our giveaway with the end of the month (30th of June) and made clear that there would be only one winner. However, we also explained that everyone would get a 20% coupon code simply by signing up, which increased our conversion rate considerably.

Finally, we introduced the “viral” element: for each friend they referred to the giveaway, they would get 10 extra entries in the competition. The message we communicated was “Sign up and you can win $150 of travel accessories. Worst case you get a coupon code. By the way, every time you refer a friend you increase your chances of winning by 10X.

A referral tool

How are you going to track who has referred who? How will you keep people engaged, for example letting them know when they have successfully referred a friend? You need a referral tool for that.

I might be “slightly” biased but I think the best referral tool in circulation is Maître* :)

But seriously, Maître has got everything you need to run a successful giveaway:

  • Automatic referral tracking
  • Advanced analytics
  • Engagement emails
  • Built-in Anti-fraud detection
  • Tons of integrations 

It took 5 minutes to setup the campaign and install the sign up form on the website.

Best of all, it’s free for up to 250 subscribers and you can use this coupon code for a 20% discount on your first month: ga-shop-20 (offer is limited to the first 25 people). 

* I’m Maître’s founder.

Landing page

Of all the giveaways I’ve seen over the years, the most successful ones have one thing in common: a clear, concise, beautiful landing page.

Our page had all the essential elements for a giveaway:

  • Simple, above the fold, sign up form
  • List of rewards
  • Instructions on how to win
  • Rules and deadline

You can read more about the elements of a great contest page here.

There are tons of services that you can use to create a landing page, but we used the amazing Carrd to put together a stunning page in minutes. (PS: I’m not paid by Carrd, I genuinely love their service :) )

If you need great photos, use Unsplash: it’s got hundreds of thousands of free photos from professional photographers, of pretty much everything.

Driving traffic

After I finished the page, I spent some time making sure everything worked as expected: I signed up on the page, invited a couple of friends, checked the emails, etc. But I knew that was the quiet before the storm.  Now it was time to focus on the really difficult part: driving traffic to my contest page.

Referral marketing is a numbers game. The more people you drive to your page, the more people will sign up, the more people will refer their friends. And then the cycle goes on.

In 10 days, 2,761 unique people visited the page. We used Facebook ads, giveaway directories and friends.

This is a breakdown for each channel.

Facebook Ads

We created a custom audience of people who are interested in travelling, backpacking, and similar in US, UK and Canada. Our custom audience was 2.2 million people, which, I’m told, is too big. Also, we didn’t do any A/B testing whatsoever.

We just invested $81 on 2 simple, image ads, which returned 346 visits and 44 subscribers.

There are definitely some pros and cons of running FB ads that you should consider.
The pros are that is very easy to get started and is relatively cheap. The cons are that you might get stuck trying to find the perfect audience or over-optimising your ads. In our experiment, we ended up with an average CPA (cost per acquisition) of $1.84, which is a bit high in my opinion, especially compared to the other channels we tested.

However, I’m not a Facebook ads expert at all, so my ads were probably wrong in many ways. I didn’t spend too much time trying to over optimise everything. I’m sure somebody with more experience would have had much better results.

If you are interested in upping your game with FB ads, I definitely recommend these great articles from Oberlo (this one and this one) and AdEspresso Blog. If you have a bigger budget, I definitely recommend the London based agency NewtonBell.

Giveaway websites

Giveaway websites is where, to our surprise, we saw the highest ROI. We tried a bunch of them, some paid, some free. Here’s the breakdown:

Website

Subscribers

Cost

CPA

http://www.giveawaymonkey.com/

40

$11.99

$0.3

https://giveawaybase.com/

86

$10

$0.12

http://winasweepstakes.com/

12

$29.95

$2.5

https://www.giveawaypromote.com/

83

$15

$0.18

http://www.online-sweepstakes.com/

134

$0

$0

https://contestchest.com/

19

$0

$0

As you can see, with the only exception of Winasweepstakes.com, all other websites had a very low CPA. Interestingly, the website that drove the most subscribers was FREE!

In hindsight, I would have definitely invested more in these websites. For example, Giveawaypromote offers a $50 alert email, which is a blast to their entire mailing list (9,000+ subscribers).

That said, I think it’ still worth it investing in Facebook ads. Why? Because with FB ads you can create a custom audience and re-target people who have not converted immediately.

Friends

This is an easy one. Simply ask friends, colleagues, family members to support you and share it on their social profiles. From our experience, Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger have exceptionally high conversion rates and I think the reason is that with these two apps, people receive a personal message instead of reading it in their social feed.

Protip: if you can, ask your friends to invite their friends via Whatsapp of FB Messenger.

Reddit

We tried but it didn’t work. If you have ever engaged with Reddit you know why: people on Reddit don’t like being promoted to, full stop. They actually get pretty aggressive when you do it. My advice: avoid it completely.

Keeping your subscribers engaged

If I had to choose one word to describe a successful giveaway, that would be “engagement”.


The problem is: it doesn’t matter how sophisticated and exciting your giveaway is. The majority of people will sign up and forget about it. Their attention will be hijacked by the next cat-meme, Youtube video or Whatsapp text.

Luckily, Maître comes with Automation emails, which are triggered by user behaviour (eg: Welcome email when they sign up, Referral email when their friends sign up, etc). It’s marketing automation on steroids.

The Follow-up email alone (which was sent 4 days after they signed up to the giveaway), generated 63 extra referrals.

But we didn’t just use Automation emails. We also sent 2 blast email to keep people excited. On Maître these are called “Broadcasts” and allow you to send an email to your entire mailing list.

When we sent these emails we always tried to add value and not just remind them of the giveaway.
For example, in our first broadcast, we announced that we would give a 40% coupon code to everybody who referred 4 or more people (we called it the 4x40 promotion).

4 days before the end of the contest, to squeeze the extra juice, we sent an email saying that we added a new prize to the bundle: a reusable straw for environmental-conscious travellers, courtesy of LastStraw.

That email alone generated over 100 extra referrals.

Our secret was to keep it simple. To keep it real. We genuinely like travelling and therefore we think like travellers. We knew that these emails would have triggered a reaction.

Wrapping up and announcing the winner

In the end, our giveaway was a great success with over 900 verified and qualified emails collected and some people referring over 20 friends. Drawing a winner and getting in touch with her was super easy with Maître; we then also sent an email to everybody with their 20% or 40% coupon code (again, super easy with Maître’s Coupons feature).

The next step is obviously to turn these people into buyers. Now that we have their email address, there are many things we can do. For example, send them special promotions via email for Christmas or Black Friday or create a lookalike audience on Facebook and re-target them.

Creating a successful giveaway is not hard but requires preparation and a clear strategy. When you can get almost 1,000 qualified emails in less than 10 days with a tiny budget, imagine what you can do with more time or more money ;)

I will keep documenting my experiments with dropshipping, Shopify and FB ads. Subscribe below to be notified when a new post is published!


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