3 Unusual Ways to Build Your Email List With Facebook Apps

social media how toDo you want more email subscribers?

How can you find a targeted audience and encourage them to join your list?

The answer is to leverage the people who already like you: your Facebook fans.

This article shows you three ways brands are using Facebook apps to grab their fans’ attentions and encourage them to subscribe to their list.

Why Use Facebook to Find Email Subscribers?

Email converts new customers more effectively than any other digital medium. The key is having the right people on your list—the ones who want to hear what you have to say and are most likely to buy from you. That’s where Facebook comes in.

Your Facebook fans are probably fans because they already like your products or services. That’s a great start to finding a narrowly targeted audience that’s likely to buy from you.

lead funnel

Engage with Facebook fans, capture their email addresses and market to that targeted audience to make sales and partnerships.

A simple lead funnel gives context to the process. By engaging with your Facebook fans, you build trust. From there, you can ask your fans to sign up for emails that share information they’re interested in. With strong email and marketing tactics, you end up with sales and long-term customers.

Facebook apps are the easiest way to acquire email addresses for your list, but let’s be honest; cool apps won’t build your list. You need a smart plan that’s based on understanding your audience.

Keep reading to see how three brands are using Facebook’s social advantage and apps to grow their email lists.

#1: Crowdsource Product Ideas

A few months ago, Kristina Allen launched Lilypad Candles, a store that sells eco-friendly soy candles. Kristina’s email list was nonexistent. She had zero email addresses.

What she did have was a plan. She knew that giveaways are a great way to increase community and even grow her email list, and she wanted to take advantage of that power.

lilypad candles

Lilypad Candles had a goal for using Facebook.

Kristina considered her target audience, what prize would most appeal to that audience and how she could gain emails and feedback via the entry form. She knew she wanted to host the giveaway on her company’s Facebook page because she wanted to grow her number of fans in addition to her email list.

Since email lists are most successful when members are truly interested in what you have to share, Kristina opted to give away $100 worth of candles to a randomly selected Facebook fan who opted into her email list.

Offering her fans $100 worth of candles (instead of a big-ticket item like an iPad) helped weed out the people who just wanted to win something and weren’t interested in her product.

Kristina used ShortStack to create her giveaway landing page. Notice how she required users to answer a poll about their favorite candle scent.

lilypad facebook app

Make your giveaway entry painless for your fans, but valuable for you.

Kristina included the poll because it was a simple step for her fans, but gave her important information about what her customers were interested in. She can use that feedback to create the products her customers want.

On the first day of the giveaway, her business acquired 200 emails, not to mention new Facebook fans. Pretty impressive for a brand-new company with no email list!

#2: Provide Incentive to Share With Friends

Alter-Ego Comics had never really thought about using Facebook to acquire emails before, but with TabSite‘s help, they put together a giveaway to celebrate their 10th anniversary.

They offered up three pretty amazing action figures to anyone who liked their Facebook page and entered their name and email into the entry form.

To sweeten the pot (and to drive more traffic and possibly subscriptions), they offered additional entries to fans for every friend they sent over to like the Alter-Ego Comics Facebook page.

alter ego app

Make your giveaway entry painless for your fans, but valuable for you.

Alter-Ego Comics’ giveaway tactic worked because in addition to offering a giveaway relevant to their audience, they leveraged friend networks (additional entries for every friend who liked the page) to build their list.

When everything was said and done, 120 people joined their email list. Not bad for their first Facebook giveaway!

#3: Use One Click Actions

Using the ActionSprout Facebook app, UNICEF created a powerful landing page to encourage people to join the list for further information on how they can help Syrian children.

UNICEF is well aware that emotional stories drive action. They’ve made sure their fans are moved by the poignant images, text and action button.

unicef app

UNICEF uses emotion to find targeted email subscribers interested in a cause.

Anyone who clicks on the I Demand an End! button automatically joins UNICEF’s email list. In one or two mouse clicks, UNICEF captures their target audiences’ emails and grows their list.

ActionSprout has another feature that is important to marketers: the ability to create a solid call to action within the Facebook news feed by adding a feedback option.

All Facebook updates have the like, comment and share options. With ActionSprout, you can add an option that reinforces your call to action.

UNICEF used that feature to their advantage by including a Demand option.

unicef app news feed post

Giving Facebook users another feedback option reinforces your call to action.

Updates and articles that trigger intense emotion are strongly associated with how people share content online. The Demand option stirs emotions and emboldens Facebook users to demand an end to the abuse of children in Syria.

By using ActionSprout to amplify their message, the UNICEF team was able to spread the word and build the organization’s email list at the same time.

The Bottom Line

To build a strong email list that provides high conversions, you must appeal to your target audience and weed out the rest. Emotion is an important motivator whether you’re invoking empathy or inspiring fans to take the next step toward a goal. Make sure your acquisition campaign speaks to emotion first, reason and logic second.

Relevance is as important to your campaign as emotion. You don’t want just anyone on your email list—you want qualified prospects. Hosting a Facebook giveaway that offers a prize targeted specifically to your optimal subscriber gives you a better chance of finding those prospects.

While you have someone’s attention, make the most of that moment. Do some crowdsourcing to find out what products they like or want to see, or encourage them to share the campaign with their friends. Those friends of friends are likely to be quality subscribers as well.

What do you think? What tactics have you used to build your email list? Have you used Facebook apps to increase engagement or subscriptions? Share your experience and ideas in the comments.

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About the Author, John Haydon

John Haydon helps nonprofits change the world with smarter marketing. He can ride a bicycle backwards, and is the author of Facebook Marketing for Dummies. Other posts by »




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  • Vanhishikha Bhargava

    Absolutely agreed! Not a lot of brands understand the true value of Facebook apps and think of them as just another platform to drive traffic to. To add to the list – Circus Social has a self-serve tool that allows community managers to create their own contests and apps as well – don’t see it mentioned in the article. One of the most price effective providers I’ve seen.

    I often urge clients to at least put up a Feedback Form of some sort on the page if they don’t want to invest in photo contests or other activity that can be particularly “involving” for the brand. Really cool and easy way to grow a marketing list though – absolutely.

  • Mark Woods

    Does anyone know of any free apps which will perform the function of ActionSprout and others mentioned here? For small businesses and Government organisations, free or open source is a must

  • http://www.viewbix.com Benjamin Bernstein

    If you are using video an app like Viewbix allows you to embed in video forms, meaning someone who watches your video can sign up for the list without ever leaving the video

  • L McNabb

    I thought it was against FB rules to ask entrants to share your page on their personal timeline in order to enter to win something? Would love to know if that is correct or not – THANKS :-)

  • http://johnhaydon.com/ John Haydon

    Thanks for the tip about Circus Social. I’ll have to check them out. And I agree, Facebook can be quite effective for acquiring e-mails.

  • http://johnhaydon.com/ John Haydon

    Check out Static HTML – iframe tabs.

  • http://johnhaydon.com/ John Haydon

    Viewbix is pretty cool. There’s also Wistia.

  • http://johnhaydon.com/ John Haydon

    Sharing can’t be a condition of entry, correct. But sharing leads to friends participating in the contest.

  • Ryan Hayes

    Not according to the current terms: https://www.facebook.com/page_guidelines.php

    3. Promotions may be administered on Pages or within apps on Facebook. Personal Timelines must not be used to administer promotions (ex: “share on your Timeline to enter” or “share on your friend’s Timeline to get additional entries” is not permitted).

  • http://www.globaldatafind.com/ Erica Volksag

    Contests are huge and if you can make it easy or offer your people incentives to share, the results can really be awesome. Thanks for sharing guys!

  • Candy Donovan

    Great article, especially love the ‘powerful landing page’ creation – that will be put to good use with a particular client of mine. Thank you John

  • Christi

    I see Carmike Cinema doing that. They say “to enter to win like our page & share this post.” So you can’t do that? What could you do instead to reach people’s friends?

  • Christi

    I know that in tip #1 Kristina created a contest where people could win her candles. What could you do in a B2B situation? Most people won’t like your page if they are winning something for their company. They want to win something for themselves.

  • http://www.mikegingerich.com/ Mike Gingerich

    Bottom line: Quality, related incentives help drive email list growth. Email list growth is HUGELY important in the long term. Thanks John, for a great post, and for featuring one of our TabSite users!

  • http://www.antoniocalero.com/ Antonio Calero

    Great post John. I’ve been using Facebook to grow subscriber lists for quite some time and I agree it’s one of the most effective ways of doing it. I always recommend to be cautious about any sort of referral incentive though, as you may end up with lots of new followers or subscribers that are not genuinely interested in your brand, but are only trying to help a friend… it’s always good to have some solid strategy around those campaigns.

  • http://www.antoniocalero.com/ Antonio Calero

    You can ask people to Share the promotion on their walls, but you cannot use this to administer the promotion (e.g.: consider the Share as an entry), so that cinema is breaching Facebook Terms of Service. However you could use some technique as ‘For every friend you bring, you’ll get an additional entry’, which will mean people will probably Share the promotion with their friends (or call them, or tell them in person)

  • http://www.antoniocalero.com/ Antonio Calero

    Didn’t know about that one either. Will surely give it a go, so thank you!

  • http://www.zettasphere.com/ Tim Watson

    I’m totally on-board with social media being a good way to drive email list growth. In fact, any social media strategy without an email list growth element isn’t a strategy.

    That said, the second example is not a great success. Over $1000 of product given away to get 120 subscribers. Over $8 per subscriber, not even allowing for the other resource costs. That’s an expensive way to grow a list. A Facebook Ad would have produced better results.

  • Madhava Verma Dantuluri

    Totally agree and nice.

  • MichHam

    It was $100 of product, not $1000.

  • Beattie Wood

    ActionSprout is pretty cool !

  • http://johnhaydon.com/ John Haydon

    Thanks Erica!

  • http://johnhaydon.com/ John Haydon

    Christi – great question! It depends upon the situation, but Facebook is about people. So offering a business something won’t be as meaningful. I’d recommend eBooks or free training.

  • http://johnhaydon.com/ John Haydon

    Quality = relevant incentive.

  • http://johnhaydon.com/ John Haydon

    Antonio – I agree! Friend referrals can dilute the overall quality of leads.

  • http://johnhaydon.com/ John Haydon

    It was $100 of product. 83 cents per subscriber.

  • http://www.zettasphere.com/ Tim Watson

    The first example had $100 of product for 200 subscribers, so 50 cents in giveaway. Plus the costs of creative, App solution and marketing time/resource. Which I’m guess all adds up to more than $100.

    Of course for example two the retail cost of product given away (three prizes totally over $1000) is not the same as cost to brand. But still looks expensive to grow lists. I use lower cost methods whilst keeping the data quality.

  • Mizanurrahman

    A Facebook fans are probably fans because they already like your products or services. That’s a great start to finding a narrowly targeted audience that’s likely to buy from you. thanks for shearing the awesome post.

    <a href="http://www.hittheroadjack.com.au/&quot;

  • Joe Garite II

    I thought requesting shares in exchange for a prize or something else, as in example 2, is against facebook policies.







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