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At one point or another, we’ve all taken an unsubscribe personally. Whether your sister-in-law finally got sick of your salon updates or your business bestie sends you an email right before they unsubscribe to tell you they’re unsubscribing but they still love you; some unsubscribes still hurt.

Thankfully, we’ve got avoiding unsubscribes when running competitions, contests and giveaways down to a fine art… so much so that we even celebrate the unsubscribes that we do get, because usually, they tell us we’ve done our job well.

Let us explain…

Why do people unsubscribe from my competition?

The first step to avoiding competition unsubscribers is to understand why people unsubscribe from a contest or giveaway in the first place.

We can guarantee it’ll most likely be one of the following:

  • You didn’t email them enough, so they forgot who you are
  • You filled their inbox with far too many emails, so they hit unsubscribe
  • Your list hygiene is poor so you hit the junk and spam filters
  • You filled your mailing list with the wrong people
  • You asked too much too soon

Yes, it kind of sounds like I’m describing a string of bad exes – too much, too little, bad hygiene, the wrong people – but a subscriber relationship is a relationship.

Let’s delve into each of these, so you can spot the signs of a bad subscriber relationship, hit the brakes and turn it around, before they ask for a break… or a break up.

Email your entrants during your competition.

If you don’t nurture your entrants as soon as they enter your competition to let them know who you are and how you can help them; they won’t remember who you are when you email them your latest offer and they’ll wonder how on earth they ended up on your mailing list.

If you’re lucky, you’ll get an unsubscribe, if you’re unlucky you’ll get a spam or abuse complaint that will hurt your standing with your email provider, so we want to avoid this at all costs.

Firstly, you need to set up an autoresponder that’s triggered as soon as someone enters your competition. This simple email will thank them for their entry, confirm they’re in the running to win and let them know what to do next.

We love to ask entrants to follow on social media or direct them to the website as next steps. Not just to pick up a few extra followers, because you know we’re not into vanity metrics, but because opens and clicks help your future emails land in the inbox, not in the spam or junk folders.

Next, you’ll want to make sure you email your entrants at least once again after they have entered your competition and before the competition closes. We like to email entrants around the halfway mark of a competition to reengage them, keep them opening and clicking, remind them of the prize that’s up for grabs and we’re even cheeky enough ask them to share with their friends and family – being mindful of social media platform rules of course.

Finally, make sure you actually email your entrants after your competition closes, to let them know who won. Combine this email with an offer for maximum conversion from competition entrant to loyal paying customer.

Ditch the welcome automation for competition entrants.

A common mistake we see is dropping competition entrants straight into a standard subscriber welcome automation or series once they enter the competition.

The process will look something like this:

  1. Person enters competition
  2. Person may receive a ‘thanks for entering email’
  3. Person receives a ‘Welcome to our mailing list’ email
  4. The next day that person receives a standard ‘here’s who we are and why you should buy from us’ email that’s part of the welcome series
  5. The person thinks ‘I didn’t subscribe, I entered a competition. What a con!’
  6. The person unsubscribes.

What went wrong in the above scenario? (Besides the unsubscribe?)

The process wasn’t tailored for competition entrants. They get thanked for entering a competition and then get sold to or receive generic welcome messaging straight away with zero mention of the competition, contest or giveaway.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel for competitions – you can simply copy your existing automation and edit the copy from ‘Thank you for subscribing to our mailing list, here’s what you can expect as a subscriber…’ to ‘Thank you for entering our competition! Here’s what you’re in the running to win…’.

After your competition is over, feel free to divert competition entrants to your welcome funnel or welcome automation, but again, make sure you tailor it to the fact they joined your list from a competition if you want to avoid the unsubscribes.

Keep your email list clean.

What do we mean by poor list hygiene or keeping your list clean?

We don’t mean washing it with soap and water. That won’t end well. We simply mean don’t hang on to crap subscribers who hurt your deliverability just to avoid hurting your ego… or worse, just for bragging rights.

If you have an open rate of less than 20%, a bounce rate higher than 0.5% or an unsubscribe rate higher than 0.25% you need to purge your list.

Image shows stats from Mailchimp’s 2019 benchmarking of average open, click, bounce and unsubscribe rates. Source: Mailchimp

There is no point having a mailing list of 20,000 people if only 20 people ever open your emails.

Keeping subscribers that bounce or haven’t opened your emails for months hurts your overall deliverability, so break out the tissues and have a farewell party and ditch the subscribers who’ve ditched you. Your email list will thank you for it.

If you find it too painful to say goodbye, let the robots do it for you. We have an automation set up in our email system, for example, that tries to reengage subscribers that haven’t interacted with us for months. If after those reengagement attempts, they still haven’t opened a single email from us, our system removes them as a subscriber. Many email systems will have these automations available for you to use.

Be careful who you wish for.

When running a competition, it’s vitally important that you attract the right entrants.

Not only will this result in more conversion to purchases, but it will mean more opens and clicks on your emails too… which, we suppose, again results in more purchases!

Tailoring your competition to attract your ideal customer starts with knowing who your ideal customer is in the first place. Once you’re clear on who you want to attract, you can be strategic about where to promote your competition so you can reach exactly that person.

Then it’s simply a case of keeping an eye on your stats, such as Google Analytics metrics for your competition, to make sure you are attracting exactly that person.

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Don’t ask too much from your entrants too soon.

Remember that your entrants have entered a competition.

They’re excited to follow the progress, they wait with anticipation as the close date draws near, then they hold their breath and cross their fingers to open your winner announcement email and hopefully see their name announced as the lucky winner.

The whole process is exciting and creates a great dynamic between you and your entrants. Don’t fudge it up by going straight for the sale before you’ve given them the chance to get to know you and decide they like you.

It’s the equivalent of proposing on a first date… too much, too soon.

Ask for micro-commitments – for example in the email sequence mentioned above we ask them to click on a link to follow us.

It’s not until we’ve announced our winner that we give them an offer and encourage them to purchase.

Let them get to know you and finish the competition before you go in for the hard sell.

When it comes to competitions, we at OrigamiGlobe actually celebrate the unsubscribes. If we’ve done our job correctly then we should see hardly any unsubscribers because we follow our own advice detailed above. We keep them engaged during the competition, we tailor our communications to mention the competition and appeal to our ideal client, we keep our email lists clean and we woo our entrants before we propose to them. If after all that, someone still chooses to unsubscribe, then good. That’s them telling us they don’t want to purchase what our clients have to offer, so why would we hold their email hostage, paying to keep it on an email list, when it’s unhealthy for both them and us?

If you need a hand sorting out your email from your elbow or can’t work out why you had a flood of unsubscribes from your last competition, get in touch with us, or book in a totally free competition strategy session – we promise we won’t judge, just help you avoid those unsubscribes.