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Email Marketing
How I would capitalize on the email lists generated by resort contests.

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Not all emails are created equal. The email provided by a random ski show attendee isn’t nearly as valuable as an email provided by a guest during booking.

But it doesn’t mean they’re worthless.

Those of you who have run contests at your resort that require an email address to enter, have likely seen my name show up on the list. I’m not concerned about winning, but I am interested to see what you do with my information.

Drop in the Bucket
Of the dozens of contests I’ve entered, it’s shocking how few emails I’ve received afterwards besides a newsletter some months later.

To me, this is a huge, missed opportunity. When someone gives you their email address, they are telling you that whatever you are offering is relevant enough to them that they’ll trade a valuable piece of contact information for it. This window of relevancy, however, doesn’t last long.

Step 1: Do Some Math
If I were you, this is what I’d do. First, I’d start with some basic brainstorming and arithmetic.

First I’d make a short list of all the key benefits of the reward. For example, if the prize was a weekend trip to Copper Mountain this winter, those bits of experience might be:

  • The accommodations
  • The food
  • The activities
  • The view

Then, I’d take the number of days the promotion will be running and spread those messages out along that timeline, favoring the end where more people will be signed up.

If I got really ambitious, I’d group people by the week they signed up and spread them out uniquely for each segment so everyone gets every message at a nice interval.

Step 2: Show Them What They’ll Win (Miss)
Speaking of those messages, this is what the headlines would look like that I’d write:

  • [Copper Weekend Giveaway] The winner will sleep here. Not bad, eh?
  • [Copper Weekend Giveaway] If you win, this is how much free food you’ll eat.
  • [Copper Weekend Giveaway] One person will ride this all day for free.
  • [Copper Weekend Giveaway] The view the winner gets will not suck.

Now, what are we doing here? Two things. First, we’re reminding of the prize in a way that gets them more and more excited about winning.

Second, we’re selling the amazing aspects of the resort. We’re showing where they get to sleep, the amazing views they enjoy, etc. Two birds. One digital stone.

Step 3: Give Them Something to Do
I really feel no contest is complete without a way to get bonus entries by spreading the word. In fact, I’m a believer that bonus entries should be more valuable than the original entry. Why? If I get a friend to enter, that technically decreases my chances. While one extra entry will double the odds, sweeten the deal (and the mental math) by making referral entries worth double or triple.

For example, “Tweet this for an extra entry (you can Tweet it up to once per day)”, “Every friend that enters puts your name into the hat 5 more times (here’s your unique tracking link to share with them”, etc.

Step 4: Make Everyone a Winner
Very few people win contests, but since you’ve done such a great job of showing how awesome the prize was, more than ever they are hoping the stars align in their favor.

When they aren’t drawn, make it SUPER clear who did so they know it’s legit, and then give them a consolation prize of a hefty, off-season discount when they come. Something like:

“CRAP, you didn’t win! Roger M., from Elko, NV did. I know, we don’t like people named Roger either.

But hey, we appreciate you giving it a try. So if you want to get in Roger’s way and shoot spitballs at him from across the restaurant, we’ve set aside a couple weeks for everyone who didn’t win to come to Copper for as low as our CFO would let us. It’s normally $950 for two nights, two meals, and two adventure passes. For our fellow non-winners (we didn’t want to say losers), it’s $400. If you come, we’ll even buy you a drink if you tell the bartender the secret code (‘Roger is a jerkface’).

Never want to hear from us again? I don’t blame you. I blame Roger. Click here to unsubscribe with no hard feelings. I promise.”

This is a story. Make Roger the villain so you can be the hero.

The Gist
Let’s sum it up in terms of what’s really supposed to happen here.

  • Instead of sticking these emails onto some random list, we’re building a small relationship with them.
  • Right away, we’re sending timely, relevant information to increase their desire of winning and, simultaneously, showcasing the resort.
  • We are giving them an outlet for that pent-up desire by incentivizing word-spreading through increased entries which builds the list-growing-plus-WOM cycle
  • Each email is treated as a lead with a call to action aligned with what they had been hoping to get for months.
  • A final filter to weed out people just wanting a free lunch with no interest in the resort.

If I were you, I’d sent a half-dozen emails to every entrant before the drawing. They’ll listen because not listening (unsubscribing) would remove their entry. Milk this captive audience and turn them into guests.

That’s what I’d do.

About Gregg & SlopeFillers
I've had more first-time visitors lately, so adding a quick "about" section. I started SlopeFillers in 2010 with the simple goal of sharing great resort marketing strategies. Today I run marketing for resort ecommerce and CRM provider Inntopia, my home mountain is the lovely Nordic Valley, and my favorite marketing campaign remains the Ski Utah TV show that sold me on skiing as a kid in the 90s.

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