Lead generation is a tough nut to crack.
But, like the Beatles, we get by with a little help from our friends.
Besides extensively using content upgrades to generate more leads (like I wrote about here), the growth team here at Wishpond has looked towards partnerships and outreach time and time again to really drive large increases in the number of leads we generate.
A significant part of the success we’ve generated from our partnership marketing efforts has come from running contests, a strategy we tend to preach a lot about on the Wishpond blog.
However, it’s not just because we have an awesome contest builder. We’ve seen first-hand that running an engaging and well-targeted contest is an incredible way to generate a massive number of leads for our business.
It made sense, then, that in our growth team’s monthly planning meeting back in December, we decided to look towards running partnered contests with other like-minded companies to increase our reach and generate new, engaged leads.
In this breakdown, I’ll dive into two contests we ran with partners, including a behind-the-scenes look at our outreach strategy, as well as the planning, design and promotion that helped us generate 1,263 leads in two contests.
Table of Contents (Click to Jump)
An In-Depth Breakdown of Our Outreach Strategy
When our growth team’s KPIs switched from traffic to lead generation, we identified partnered promotions as a huge area of opportunity for us to massively increase our reach and, as a result, drastically boost the number of leads we generated. These partnered promotions included contests, but also covered other efforts like guest posts, co-webinars, and more.
Because of this, our outreach strategy was both extensive and intensive.
Over Wishpond’s 7 years in the digital marketing space, we’ve been fortunate enough to make quite a few friends from dozens of companies we adore. Whether they’re company founders, fellow marketers or customer success specialists, we try our best to keep these connections close at hand.
Let me show you how close…
We came together and created a list of every single company or marketer anyone on Wishpond’s growth team ever had contact with. This list included information like contact emails, past collaborations, new potential collaboration ideas, and (most importantly) the status of our current relationship.
We then shortlisted the companies we really wanted to partner with – the ones we have huge marketing crushes on – and determined the likelihood and impact of each potential partnership. We reached out to each of them with a specific marketing proposal (based on the nature of the relationship and any previous collaborations) and kept a close eye on the status of each potential partnership.
Finally, we created a funnel with each of the companies we reached out to, showing which companies were prospective partners, which companies we had already contacted, which companies we were in the process of working with, and which collaborations had concluded.
As you can see, our outreach strategy was about as measured as it gets.
Hopefully you’ve seen in this section how important being organized in your outreach efforts can be. One of my biggest pet peeves is receiving the same outreach email from two different people in the same company (and trust me, we’ve done our fair share of duplicate emailing).
Having some sort of spreadsheet or tracking app for outreach allows you to keep track of each contact, their status, and which member of your marketing team is responsible for connecting with them. Trello or Asana work great for this, though Google Sheets is always a Wishpond favorite.
How We Structured Our Contest Outreach
Once we had identified potential partners for our contest, we were tasked with reaching out to them directly to see if they’d be interested in working together.
The marketer on our team in charge of partnerships, Kevin, reached out to a couple of our potential partners with the promise of making marketing magic.
Let’s dive into what our outreach and partnership efforts looked like with these two companies.
We first reached out to Snappa to promote our microsite, Learn Lead Generation. After being gracious enough to check it out, they suggested a co-promotion between Snappa and Wishpond. Kevin hopped on a call with Snappa’s co-founder Chris to plan the promotion, and they agreed to put together a simple sweepstakes where the winner would receive a year’s subscription to both our platforms.
The journey of a thousand partnered promotions begins with a single email (or something like that). In your outreach and partnered marketing efforts, you’ll find that developing and growing relationships with other companies and marketers is the key to creating the most impactful partnered marketing campaigns.
In Snappa’s case, our only previous correspondences revolved around sharing content – in this case, our new lead gen microsite. Our partnership grew from content sharing to co-promotions, and this is a pattern I see time and time again. We often suggest content sharing or guest posting to newer partners, saving things like co-webinars or partnered contests for companies we’ve already built a rapport with.
This is a strategy you can take on in your own partnered marketing efforts. Cultivate relationships with other companies over time, and the size and impact of the campaigns you run will steadily grow.
Again, our first correspondence with OnePageCRM involved content promotion. OnePageCRM sent us a piece of content they wanted us to promote on our social channels, and mentioned they’d be interested in running a co-promotion.
Based on the tried-and-true success we achieved with our Snappa co-promotion, we decided a second sweepstakes was the way to go. Check out the email Kevin sent them:
Sounds good Carmel! Great working with your team as well.
I was talking to my team earlier this week and we were wondering if you guys would be interested in running a co-promotion.
Basically it’d be a give away that we’d promote to both of our audiences via a dedicated email and on social. At the end of the campaign we’d share the total number of leads and give away the grand prize to one winner.
Here’s an example of one we just ran with the graphic design software company Snappa:
But since we just finished this campaign last month, we’d probably want to hold off until February or possibly even March.
Let me know your thoughts!
Carmel from OnePageCRM was as excited as we were, and agreed to contribute a year’s subscription to OnePageCRM as well as a bunch of awesome ebooks they knew our audiences would love.
Resume-building is important. Consistently track each of your campaigns, paying specific attention to your planning, design and results. A big part of the reason OnePageCRM was excited to partner with us was because we showed them the success we achieved in our contest with Snappa. Check out this email correspondence between Kevin and Carmel from OnePageCRM:
Sure Kevin, sounds like a great idea! Can I ask what how the promotion with Snappa went – approx number of entries? How long did you run the competition for?
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Awesome! We ran the contest for 3 weeks and generated around 600 unique entries. The majority of the leads came from the dedicated email about the contest.
Just so we’re on the same page, what’s the approximate size of your email list and what form fields do you typically require leads fill out in your lead gen campaigns?
It’s okay to brag a little bit when you’re looking to secure a partnership – other companies want to know that the time (and the monetary value of the prize) that they’re investing into a potential co-promotion will be worth their while. We’ve found this is especially true when it comes to bigger companies who can afford to be much more discriminating in the co-promotions they take on.
Highlight your company’s partnership achievements and successes (and size) of the outreach emails you send – they’re attention-grabbing and can make the difference between getting (or not getting) the sweet partnership you’re looking for.
Designing and Building Our Contest Pages
As I mentioned, we run contests primarily to generate leads for our sales team. We know people who enter to win our platform (and our partners’ platforms) are interested in our product, and that makes them hot leads.
Because our goal is lead generation, we always run our contests on a landing page (instead of simply on social media). This allows us to add forms where we can collect the leads we generate in Wishpond’s database and then export them to send to our partners.
Like any landing page, our goal is to optimize our contest landing pages for conversions. Let’s take a look at the contest pages we built (shoutout to our wonderful designer, Jerry) and go through what made them awesome (with a pretty nifty conversion rate, I might add).
An Awesome Headline
Our headline, “Win the Ultimate Design & Conversion Package for Marketers!” is targeted perfectly towards our intended audiences and clearly communicates the value that a visitor could get from entering our contest.
Kevin and I went back and forth a few times on the headline. Ultimately (ha), we decided to leave our brands’ names out of the headline. Why? Anyone who sees the contest shared on social media or on other platforms may have no idea what Wishpond or Snappa are, and having these names in the contest’s headline could hurt click-through rates. Instead, we opted to talk about our products in a more general sense, referring to them as design and conversion tools.
Your headline is an extremely important element of your contest page because it’s almost always the first element that a page visitor sees. You can’t expect everyone to read all of the copy on your page, but you can expect most of them to read your headline. Creating a benefit-oriented and attention-grabbing headline is one of the most important keys to contest success.
I’ll make this one quick (we talk about it all the time). Adding a countdown timer to your contest page can drastically improve conversion rates, as it invokes a sense of urgency in page visitors. This alerts them to the limited-time nature of your offer, increasing the chance that they’ll act immediately instead of leaving the page with the (often-forgotten) intention to return sometime in the future.
Besides keeping the number of fields to the bare minimum, we kept our form above the fold so people visiting the page could enter immediately, maximizing our conversions.
For more scrutinizing potential entrants, we wanted to communicate Wishpond and Snappa’s benefits – our unique selling propositions. As you can see from the screenshot above, we listed the benefits of each platform, highlighting the benefits they would provide to our contest winners. We utilized bullet points to make it easy for even the “skimmiest” of readers to understand each benefit.
Just as in sales or on your website, stating your company’s USP on your contest page can instantly convey your product’s benefit to entrants who want to learn more about what they’re entering to win.
The bottom of the page is home to two testimonials (one each for Wishpond and Snappa) from credible sources, discussing the highlights of both apps. We added these testimonials because they help massively to establish credibility, especially when we consider this page will likely be seen by people who aren’t yet aware of both Wishpond and Snappa.
Adding a testimonial is a common tactic that creates social proof. Though people rely on their own judgment to make decisions, they also rely on the decisions of people like them. You can help maximize your conversion rates by adding an element of social proof, whether that’s a testimonial or some sort of statistic (“Join 123,456 marketers like you who use Wishpond!”).
Promoting Our Contest
Because these were the first co-promotions we had run in some time, we didn’t employ an extensive promotion strategy for either contest. In addition to generating leads and mutually benefiting from the exposure presented by sharing in promotional efforts, these contests were a way for us to test the water in terms of the quality of these leads.
Our main promotional medium for the contests we ran with Snappa and OnePageCRM was email. We emailed the contest to our entire list, and asked our partners to do the same.
Though this might seem like marketing to people who are already leads, it’s definitely a strategy that helped us renew interest in inactive leads and gather more information from people we may not have had much information for previously.
We also pushed these contests to our social platforms, including Twitter and Facebook. We added a social sharing incentive popup to our contest page, allowing participants to get more entries by sharing the contest on their own social media profiles.
Results & Wrapping It Up
The contests we ran with our fantastic partners performed exceptionally well. Our contest pages converted at about 48%, and combined, they generated 1,263 leads for Wishpond and its partners.
And the ROI? Well, really, we didn’t spend anything besides a few hours on outreach and contest design, an email to our subscriber list, and a few Tweets and Facebook posts to our followers. Because we’re a SaaS company, even our prize cost us (and our partners) a grand total of $0.
Once the leads had been generated, we passed these leads onto our sales team – a team with the experience and savvy to turn them into paying customers. What does this mean for us? A fantastic return and an increased bottom line from an awesome lead-generating strategy.
What did we learn from these contests? There’s strength in numbers. Working with other awesome companies like Snappa and OnePageCRM allowed us to create fantastic contests and massively increase their reach, netting us a lot of leads.
Outreach and partnership are a common part of content marketing, but these things move far beyond content sharing and guest posting. Building, forging and maintaining strong relationships with your partners can be huge for your business.
Until next time! Any outreach strategies or hacks you’d like to share with us? Let’s chat in the comments below!