February 13, 2017

Show IH: My experience running a sweepstakes contest

Hey folks!

A while back my online course was featured here and I really enjoyed the support from y'all around it (https://www.indiehackers.com/businesses/webdriverio-online-course).

Having reached my first major milestone with the course, I wanted to try a sweepstakes to promote the course, and just to give something back to the community. You can see the site here: http://learn.webdriver.io/sweeps/

I figured I'd share my results with y'all in case you were interested in doing this yourself. As the week goes by I'll update this post with what I've tried and how it's worked.

Here's what I've done so far:

For the past several weeks I've been reaching out and partnering with some software testing companies to offer a free giveaway for software testers out there. Both through connections I already had, and a few cold emails.

The connections I've had all were interested, and I had a 1-in-3 success rate with the the cold emails. (I'll post a sample email below).

After getting 4 confirmed companies involved, I set up a landing page and email capture form. I'm doing my best to not be spammy, so only if people enter the sweepstakes AND sign up for the newsletter do they get added to my email list.

Anyway, I just kicked off the sweepstakes today. Have had 6 entries so far. Crossing my fingers this works :)

  1. 2

    This is great. Thanks for inviting us to see your experiment. Question, if people do not get added to your list by simply entering the sweepstakes, what do you gain from them participating? Your aim is mostly to promote your brand?

    1. 1

      Yep. It's mostly just getting eyes on the course. I know it's not as good conversion wise, but I really worried about appearing spammy.

      1. 2

        In addition to appearing spammy. Probably those folks who are added unwittingly, will probably have low open/click rates anyway.

  2. 1

    Final update:

    So my sweepstakes ended Friday night with a total of 83 entries. Not quite as many entries as I hoped for, but I did manage to double the number of daily visits to my landing page, and was able to make several sales on the course in the last two days (probably related to the countdown clock on my landing page).

    Things that didn't work well for me:

    Facebook Ads (some clicks, but the audience was just too broad)

    Submitting it to HackerNews (this is akin to winning the lottery... sure, it may work sometimes with the right content, but most of the time you should focus your efforts elsewhere)

    LinkedIn Groups (absolutely nothing from these)

    Things that worked well:

    Contacting people through my mailing list (probably over half my visits)

    Twitter followers who retweeting my stuff

    A couple visits from some Reddit posts

    Overall, I'm happy with the results and had fun with trying stuff out. I treated it as a big experiment and know more for my full launch when I finish the second half of the course.

    Hopefully you find some value out of this. If not, read this amazing, in-depth article on a giveaway gone right by Josh Earl:


  3. 1

    Day 4 EOD update:

    I was able to get a good response from one of my mailing lists, getting about 20 entries. The trend of folks signing up for the free trial after enrolling in the sweepstakes continues, which is good to see.

    I tried out Facebook ads for the contest. I really just wanted to see how it worked and if it would be a good use for future marketing. While I've have several clicks, none of them have converted (as far as I can tell). Not sure if I'm targeting the wrong audience or what, but it certainly hasn't paid off so far.

    On a side note, my best marketing came from a word of mouth recommendation on twitter. One of my students finished the course and sent out a very kind tweet, which turned in to a couple of sales. Nothing beats that :D

  4. 1

    Day 3 EOD update:

    I noticed in my tracking metrics that I am getting a fair number of "free trial" sign ups via the sweepstakes. While this doesn't immediately mean paid sign-ups, it does mean folks are moving forward in connecting with my course.

    As far as marketing goes, I sent out an email to my list from learn.visualregressiontesting.com, using some tips I learned from a great presentation by the folks at https://copyhackers.com/. My open rate is still pretty low, but I think that number will jump over the next 24 hours. From those who have opened, I've had a good CTR.

    I also posted to Hacker News and didn't get any traction there. Not surprised by that at all.

    Only two days left in the giveaway, so I'm hoping that spurs people to a little more urgency in signing up. Right now I'm at 65 folks entered, which isn't a ton considering it's a completely free giveaway. We'll see if that changes tomorrow.

  5. 1

    Day 2 EOD update:

    Up to 21 signups. No extra sales on the course.

    Tonight I worked on an email to send to my current list of folks who have signed up for a free trial or who have already bought the course.

    For those who have bought, I'm really just doing it to give them a little thanks for their support.

    For those on the free trial, I'm hoping this reminds them of my course in case they forgot :)

    A quick browsing of stats shows that most of my traffic has been from twitter, plus a few entries from a Reddit post.

    I might try posting to HackerNews tomorrow, but I've never had much luck there.

  6. 1

    Pretty slow day so far. Not too unexpected, as it's early in the sweepstakes, but hopefully not foreshadowing a quiet week :)

  7. 1

    Here's the email:


    I'm a Front-end Engineer who's interested in CICD, specifically around test automation. On that note, I've been working on an online course teaching WebdriverIO (which includes a video covering integration with CircleCI).

    I'm putting together a week of giveaways of tools and resources for tests. Since you're a top tool for helping developers integrate testing in to their coding pipeline, I wanted to see if you'd like to get involved.

    What you'll get out of it:

    • I'll be promoting the giveaway to 500 subscribers and 1000 social media followers

    • A full email dedicated to [company name] on the day of your giveaway

    • My audience is full of testers and developers - the perfect fit for your tool

    • I mention you in my course, so they'll know how to integrate with [company name]

    • I have network of influential followers who will promote the giveaway on their social channels

    What I'll get out of it:

    • Bring attention to WebdriverIO, test automation, and my online course

    How can we help each other:

    • Would it be possible for you to offer [x]?

    • Would it be possible for you to promote the giveaway to your audience?