What’s Next With Sweepstakes and Freebie Names?

Last week, Lynne wrote about a client who is using affiliate programs to successfully gather names and sell subscriptions. Through these affiliates and through sweepstakes offers, the client has gathered quite a few names for his database.

As was noted last week, these programs have been successful in generating initial interest, so the next logical step is to convert these freebie responders to paid subscribers.

As a follow-up, this week I want to tell you about the offers we are beginning to make to these lists. Let me first give you some background so you’ll have a good understanding of the list of names:

  • These names had to be kept separate from the e-commerce databases and therefore had never been merged into a single list.
  • There were many duplicate names in these files.

    Note: This is not surprising as these are names that were collected through affiliate programs in which a given list may have received the same offer several times. Since sweepstakes responders tend to exhibit the same behavior over time, they may have responded more than once, or to more than one offer. They love the words “free” and “win.”

  • The original total of records in the file was near 300,000. Those names netted down to fewer than 45,000 when we uploaded and deduped based on email address.
  • The names were collected over several months, so the majority of them had “aged” a bit since respondents first signed up for the sweepstakes.

The client’s first offer was an opportunity to give the gift of a subscription. The response rate was less than 1 percent. The remove and bounce rates were significant, which was to be expected. In many cases, it had been weeks and even months since these people responded to a “freebie” offer. And since this was a paid-subscription offer, it’s no surprise that this happened the first time out. What was especially disappointing was that the click-through rate (CTR) was only 0.41 percent. The subject line had the word “free” in it, which pumped up the open rate, but apparently 6 percent of the list only opened it so that they could find the unsubscribe link.

We went back to these same names three weeks later with a sister publication offer and saw approximately the same result. We lost another 6 percent of the names to removes, the bounce rates were better, but the CTR was only 0.44 percent.

Those CTRs would have been acceptable if they had generated solid sales from the smaller interested audience. Unfortunately, the sales never topped the $3,000 mark on either event. We’re still working on pulling together all the information we need to do a thorough report.

The last deployment we did was to a newly gathered set of names containing more buyers. The names were less than three weeks old. If we had a bit more time to segment the list differently and had been provided specifics about the recency of the names, we may have tried to track more specifics. As it was, we just knew that these were newer and more receptive to the paid offers — many were paid subscribers.

Although the response was still low, the performance of this group was more encouraging than those of the two previous messages. We did not use the word “free” in the subject line so it was clear that this was an offer, not a sweepstakes. We thought that the remove rates on previous messages may have been increased because recipients may have felt they were duped into opening them.

This campaign went to a much smaller list of about 4,000 names and yielded a 1.16 percent CTR and again approximately $3,000 in sales.

What we’d like to do next is set up a program for the client in which we’d go back to his leads with paid offers with more recency. We’d like to see him provide that list at least monthly.

He manages several publications, so we can put together a variety of offers and begin to drill down to find those more targeted and, hopefully, more responsive names. He paid for database setup for the initial names, so the costs will be significantly lower as we move forward. We are hoping that with a bit more coordination, more strategic analysis, and additional segmentation we can make this a viable channel for those subscription sales. It’s a challenge, but one we look forward to tackling head on. I’ll try to keep you posted about additional campaigns and how they perform.

Happy holidays to all! Please be safe and remember to smile at that cranky cashier — if nothing else, it may make you feel better. See you in 2002!

— Jackie G.

P.S. Anyone have lead-generation conversion stories they’d be willing to share? Drop me a line at feedback@clickz.com.

Email Marketing will return on Tuesday, January 8th. Happy holidays from ClickZ!

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