KickoffLabs Blog:

The Ultimate Guide To Using Autoresponders For Contests & Sales

By Josh Ledgard

May 20th, 2014


In our previous post, we provided you with research-based advice on how to create contests that will produce enviable results and boost revenues for your business.

Still one of the difficulties in raising awareness for your contests is following up with new entries.

In this ultimate how-to use autoresponders guide, we’re continuing our online contests education series with the 17 key traits you should take into account for optimizing your contest with autoresponders!

By answering the question:

How To Use Autoresponders For A Lift In Contest Lead Generation?

You’ll learn more useful tactics about what to include in your autoresponder & influencer emails to gain maximum exposure and drive more people to your contest campaigns.

What are autoresponders?
Autoresponders are 1-to-1 emails sent after a new signup, action or event has taken place … they give your business another opportunity to build upon and improve the experience for your customers.

The tips and resources we’ve gathered originate from analyzing our own customer’s successful contest data. By studying their results and extracting the best performing elements, we aspire to help improve your contest and campaign results using autoresponders… And the best part is ALL of your future campaigns can benefit from this advice!

Use the following as your checklist for creating awesome auto-responder emails:

#1 Write a Good Subject Line

Reality is, an autoresponse message is still an email and even if it’s from a contest a person actively signed up to, it’s essential to come up with a headline that will compel them to open. Try changing our standard “Thank you!” subject line for a more meaningful message.


PRO-TIP: Experiment with a couple different subject lines to see which drives the most engagement!

#2 Be Appreciative and Say Thank You

A real person just gave you their contact information, granting them a “thank you” can have more impact than you think. Although KickoffLabs provides you with a pre-filled “thanks for your interest” autoresponse, we encourage you to customize your email text to mirror your brand and personality.


PRO-TIP: You can’t deny the power of a thank you, make it sincere!

#3 Use Their Name

Use their first name to personalize the email. Aside from getting past spam filters, using their name (and any other custom data you may have collected) will help with a more personable approach.


PRO-TIP: Use KickoffLabs email tokens to easily include your customers information into your emails.

#4 Remind Them

This may seem somewhat obvious, but it’s sometimes complicated for people to keep track of what and where they signed up. Reference your contest to remind them who you are and what the contest is about.

PRO-TIP: It’s also another opportunity to become more familiar with your brand and company name.

#5 Include an Incentive

Ideally your contest prize should be enough to capture people’s email address, however in the real world (and not that people are selfish); most people are interested in what they can get out of it now… Mention the extra incentive on your contest page to increase contest signup rates and follow-up with a coupon code or discount. Your new customers will love you for the instant gratification.


PRO-TIP: Whatever the incentive, assure that it is relevant and of value to contest entries.

#6 Use an Email People Can Respond To

Have you ever received an email from a “no-reply” email address? Doesn’t that business care about what their customers think? Show customers you care and avoid sending from “no-reply” or “do-not-reply” emails. You’re guaranteed to get some great feedback by including an email address that someone in your company actually checks…


PRO-TIP: Include the email of the founder (josh @ kickofflabs) and grant your customers direct access to a company head. Works wonders for building customer trust!

#7 Ask People to Share for a Viral Boost

If people haven’t already shared directly from the contest page, this is quite possibly your last chance for them to help distribute your campaign to their social networks. This can potentially mean thousands in lost signups and sales. Explicitly ask people to share and get a 33% lift in conversion from KickoffLabs Viral Boost referral links.


PRO-TIP:Viral Boost is an exclusive feature of KickoffLabs. No other marketing platform that we know of has such a strong focus on social. Give us a try and find out!

Incorporating social media buttons, a free ebook download or other relevant links can help extend your reach beyond your current contest entries. FYI: KickoffLabs already has an integrated Viral Boost feature that promotes social sharing, still you can include some links to your social accounts to grow your fan and follower count. Every email you send is a chance to connect with that person through your social network and increase your social reach!


PRO-TIP: Don’t cram your email signature with too many urls. Maintain a professional look by limiting the amount of links.

#9 Reward People Who Share

A great way to boost contest entries is by offering rewards to those with the most social shares and referrals. If the prize is a great one, you’ll have people competing to send you contest traffic! With KickoffLabs you can automatically track, identify and reward influencers who are sending new leads.

Prize Your Most Valuable Customers

PRO-TIP: While there are a variety of ways to choose your 1st place winner (at random, internal judging, number of likes an image or post receives, etc). You can improve the virality of your contest by offering a 2nd place prize to the person with the most social shares. KickoffLabs can easily help you establish a winner by using our internal analytics to identify the top influencers.

#10 Properly Layout Your Text

Newsflash: people on the web do not read. They scan. Design matters and even having brilliant copy isn’t enough to keep people engaged. If your email looks like what is commonly referred to as a “wall of text”, it’s going to be difficult and unenjoyable for people to read.

Just ask yourself: Which looks better?




PRO-TIP: Achieving a nice layout isn’t too difficult… My simple suggestion is to keep things left-aligned, add proper paragraph breaks, underline urls and bold important statements.

# 11 Include Images

Make your email more visually stunning by including an image or photograph. Though it’s a long debated subject; the general consensus is to use images in email sparingly. We recommend including an image only if it helps convey your message. If you do include one, make sure the image itself is a url that links back to your site or promotion page.


PRO-TIP: Especially if there is text in your image; be sure to add “alt” and “title” tags for compatibility with email clients that don’t pre-render images. More excellent insights on what type of images increase attention in a previous post here.

#12 Upsell

It’s okay to include some pertinent information regarding your products or offerings to people who sign up. Go for the sale and send price lists or other marketing material. Although my advice is not to be too pushy or salesy in this first email interaction.

The point is that all entries may or may not be your ideal customers. Some people are only on the lookout for free stuff so sending contest entries information on your products or services may help filter real potential customers from freeloaders.

PRO-TIP: Instantly increase revenues by including an exclusive, time-based offer to contest entries.

#13 Send Your New Signups Through Sales Funnels

You’ve collected the email address, GREAT! Continue the sales process by pushing signups to your Mailchimp, Aweber or other email marketing service and send people through additional autoresponse funnels. With KickoffLabs you can put the process of following up with different customer types on autopilot.


PRO-TIP: Make it extremely clear that by signing up to your contest they will also be automatically subscribed to your email course, sales list, etc… The last thing you want is subscribers claiming you’re sending out spam.

#14 Use Natural Language

Use vocabulary that a 5th grader can understand, obviously without patronizing or being condescending (unless that’s your brands’ thang). Simple and precise copy works best.

Be straightforward with your audience and leave out the technical jargons. We don’t intend to dumb things down, but rather to convey the message effectively. Talk like a friend, not a like machine.

PRO-TIP: Writing in a more natural way leaves little room for misinterpretation and extends reach to non-native English speakers.

#15 Be Memorable

In an attempt to go after maximum engagement, you may want to pack as much information as possible into your autoresponses. The harsh reality is that people probably don’t care about your brand, JUST YET!

Our experience shows that your brand needs to be unique in order to become truly memorable. Don’t push your brand image too hard, instead allow customers to discover your brand value themselves.

PRO-TIP: Making it known that you embrace a cause or a selfless mission can help foster a positive image for your brand (TOMS shoes is a great example).

#16 Be Yourself

Consumers can now distinguish between brands utilizing typical marketing tactics (which they tend to ignore) and those that express a genuine interest in bettering their customers lives.

The best piece of advice on this list is not to worry about what other people think. The only way you’re going to make a connection (and rewarding sales) with people is by being sincere. Write/speak as if you were standing directly in front of them and encourage conversation from your audience.

PRO-TIP: Once you have your autoresponse message written, read it aloud to make sure your message is crystal clear.

#17 Keep It Short

Even though the above may seem like a laundry list of items to include with your autoresponse… The idea is to keep your emails short, sweet and to the point. Avoid long-winded copy that only works to crowd the page, instead focus on writing for one established goal.

PRO-TIP: Be sure the autoresponder email comprises of only essential and relevant information to your contest.

Now that you’ve collected email addresses and have piqued people’s interest with a great autoresponse message: What else can you do with the contest entries information?

The KickoffLabs approach is to give you an infinite amount of options for further processing and analysing your customers information. Even if you’re not a full-fledged geek, we make it painless for you to:

  • Use our built-in newsletter feature and send out updates to keep your new audience engaged. No need to export your data or sign up for another service.
  • Send lead information and custom form data to external email marketing services like Mailchimp, Aweber and others. Continue the sales and onboarding process with their action-based autoresponders.
  • Connect your data to Google Analytics, Google Adwords, Facebook Ad Tracking, Segment.io & more for further analysis.
  • Push subscriber data to 250+ external services using Zapier and do literally whatever you want with it.
  • If you’re tech savvy or work with a developer; use our webhooks to POST a message to another site or service in real-time.

We don’t limit, but rather empower you with an impressive suite of marketing tools that’ll let you do just about anything with your data. If you ever have any questions or concerns, we’re just an email away at support@kickofflabs.com :)

Why Should You Use Autoresponders?

Companies large and small have a lot to gain by optimizing their contest autoresponder emails, besides generating numerous benefits for your customers as well.

WINS for your customers: The opportunity to win prizes. Access to campaign exclusive offers. Join a tribe with common interests.

WINS for your business: Exponentially grow your subscriber list. An increase in revenues and exposure. Boost your community engagement.

Autoresponders are super effective in granting you that ever important second chance to make a good impression, it might even be your LAST CHANCE… so make sure it’s a GREAT IMPRESSION.

Are you ready to START MAKING BIG WINS?

KickoffLabs Roadmap for Contest Success

  • Launch a beautiful contest page in minutes with our pre-built optimized themes.
  • Analytics and metrics to see how your contest is performing in real-time.
  • Publish to Facebook, WordPress & anywhere else on the web with a single click.
  • Identify and reward influencers that drive the most entries…

These are only a fraction of the powerful features included with your KickoffLabs account.

Ready to start growing your audience?

Signup for a free trial and launch your contest today!

What did you think about this ultimate guide? Do you have any additional tips you’d like to share? Send us a message on our social channels to let us know your thoughts!

Thanks in advance for sharing!

– Josh, Co-founder KickoffLabs

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