social media how toAre you looking for ways to grow your email list?

Can email list-building and Facebook promotions work well together?

In this article I’ll outline the potential synergies of email marketing and Facebook promotions.

Included will be a dive into example Facebook Page promotions and how companies can use them to build their email lists.

Why Email?

Email marketing continues to be a strong method digital marketers use to inform, educate and push information to opt-in recipients. It is a universally used tool that everyone sits down to check at work or home.

As outlined in a past interview with Mike Stelzner, Christopher Penn notes that email is an important “push medium.”


Reach people where they must take action ---> their inbox. Image source: iStockPhoto.

Email serves as one leg of a three-legged marketing tool along with a blog and social media. Within this three-pronged strategy, email is the distribution mechanism, while a blog is the content center and social media is the conversation mechanism.

When new content is posted on a blog, email can be a method of distributing notice of the new article, while social media offers a conversation mechanism for users to talk about the content.

For many companies, their email list is really the foundational marketing piece. It’s a jewel of great value containing the names and direct contact method of customers and would-be customers that enables them to “get in front of” these people regularly.

The Facebook Advantage

Facebook, with over 1 billion users, including over 680 million daily active users, has the broadest age-range diversity of any social platform.

Because of the active user base and penetration across key purchasing power demographics, it’s a very important place for companies to have an active presence.


Reach people where they spend time ---> Facebook. Image source: iStockPhoto.

When Facebook Pages use app promotions on tabs, the tandem of Facebook and email can help marketers reach people where they are (Facebook) and engage with them.

This adds value to their social media efforts, while—when done with intent—also builds their email list.


Engage, Capture, Grow, Distribute = Facebook Promos + List-Building. Image source: iStockPhoto.

List-Building Facebook Promotion Examples

Facebook promotions offer marketers a powerful way to boost engagement and extend the reach of their Facebook Page. There are numerous types of Facebook promotions that can be run on Pages. Below we’ll outline a number of examples of ways a Facebook promotion can be used to grow your email list.

All of the types of promotions mentioned below must use third-party apps displayed on a Facebook Page tab. This is necessary to comply with Facebook’s promotion policy.

#1: Sweepstakes Promotion

A sweepstakes is a chance-based promotion that can be hosted on a Facebook Page tab and typically has users complete a simple form to enter. After a set date, winners are then drawn randomly from all entries.

With the form for entering the sweepstakes, those setting up the promotion can outline in the terms that submitting their email address also is their agreement to opt-in to the associated email list. Users must click the box to accept the terms to enter.

Below are two examples of sweepstakes apps that could be used as part of a Facebook engagement strategy and email list-builder.

facebook page sweepstakes

Facebook Page sweepstakes example as potential email list-builder.

viral friend sharing

Viral friend sharing component plus simple form entry opt-in.

#2: Trivia Promotion

Another chance-based Facebook promotion that can be used to engage Facebook fans and their friends as part of an email list-building strategy is a trivia promotion. With a trivia tab, users typically must complete basic entry information, including their email address, and submit their answers to the trivia questions.

Users are intrigued by the trivia itself or the prize offered and are willing to complete to enter.

The opt-in would either need to be outlined with a checkbox to agree in the terms or upon submission an opt-in email could be sent for the user to agree to. Best practice is always to make this clear up front to ensure the greatest opt-in percentage.

Below is an example of a trivia app by the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves that is being used as part of a Facebook engagement strategy.

trivia tab promotion

Trivia tab promotions can help grow an email list.

#3: Facebook Contests

Contests come in all variations from photo, caption, essay or video submission contests. Each offers a great opportunity to draw entrants and voters to a Facebook Page.

A contest can also be a great way to build your email list! The key is to make sure you know and focus on your primary goal. Since the primary goal of a Facebook contest typically will be engagement and expanding Page reach, the email opt-in should simply be a natural part of the entry process and not something that draws undue attention to itself.

A helpful way to incorporate email opt-in as part of a Facebook contest is to include information about the email list in the terms of the contest. Facebook fans then enter the contest and receive a follow-up opt-in email from your business inviting them to confirm being added to the email list.

Facebook photo contest entries can be part of an email opt-in strategy.

So there you have it!

Yes, you can run a great Facebook promotion that boosts your social engagement and builds your email list at the same time.

By thinking through the possibilities of your promotion, you can make the email list-building flow seamlessly with it.

Make sure you don’t overlook the opportunities with Facebook promotions to build your list!

What do you think? Are you making the most of your Facebook promotions to grow your email list? Leave your questions and comments in the box below.

Images from iStockPhoto.
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  • Great Post Mike! Looking forward to seeing the SME family in San Diego starting Sunday!

    Let’s all have an AWESOME Wednesday everyone!

    ~John Lee Dumas

  • Dara Khajavi

    I love this post. Internet is a great way to communicate with your followers. I really enjoyed this post. I will definitely use the things that I learned.

  • Glad it was helpful @google-386442252cb2e87d914f3b0f5cb967cb:disqus !

  • Thanks John! I too am looking forward to #SMMW13!

  • Jill Celeste

    Love this approach – “email is the distribution mechanism, while a blog is the content center and social media is the conversation mechanism.”

  • I would like to run a photo contest where people vote for their favorite photo by a dollar amount donation to a charity. I envision it as a “Vote/Donate” button that links to PayPal. I imagine it would be a lot of work having to set-up a PayPal button for each and every entrant.

    Anyone know of an app or software that does something like this already?

  • Megan Bennett

    Good stuff! Email isn’t going to go away and I work with nonprofits that are always wanting to raise money. It’s a fact that email remains THE way to get supporters to give and a strong email list makes a strong fundraising campaign. Thanks for your post!

  • Elad Manishviz

    Nicely written , I like the 3 legs analogy .all the best

  • Willy

    i am literally addicted to ! luv u guys and thx..and 1 question can you use email adresses frm blog commenting to build an email list ??

  • Thanks Elad! I have to give Christopher Penn the credit for the 3 Leg Analogy. I think it is right on and is crucial to understand.

  • Sure thing Megan. Email is definitely not going away anytime soon and for non-profits the email list is critical!

  • I’ll keep thinking on that Mark and I agree to get a donation the PayPal button would need to tie to that specific entry that was voted on.

  • Yes, Jill, that is KEY! I’m thinking I need a graphic of that to post on Pinterest!

  • Thanks Mike. Maybe one of the other readers, here, might have some ideas.

  • Bette A. Stevens

    Thanks. I think I’ll give the book promotion a try.

  • Excellent Bette! Keep me posted on how it goes!

  • I would also be interested in using this method to raise money for a charity. I hope someone knows of an app.

  • It is nice to see the ways of promotions but actually how can we create the page for the promotions/contests from scratch?

  • Great to hear of your love for the great content from SME!

    Regarding building a email list from blog comments, I guess that would depend on if your comment system for your blog requires/allows e-mail addresses (many do not) and if you get access to those addresses submitted. An important item would be an opt-in to ensure they confirm that they want to be added.

  • Hello @facebook-100001850118365:disqus ! To create from scratch you would need to create a Facebook App in the Developer area and then program in all your functionality for that tab. That’s why companies like ours,, exist as we try to make that simple and remove the need to learn the intricacies of Facebook Development and programming all the functionality!

  • I think I answered this one above but to emphasize once again that you can go to the Facebook Developer area and create a app and then tie that to a programmed web page you have created from scratch with all the functionality based on your programming, or you can use a ready-made tool from a firm that specializes in these type of things!

  • Is there a way to run a contest that not only collects email addresses to build your list but also collect images of your branding that can be used in future marketing efforts?

  • If you run a user submitted photo contest you could outline how the collected info will be used, namely that the form for those entering adds them to your email list and that the photo entry they submit will be available to you as host to use. This would need to be outlined in the terms. I know many contest apps like ours at TabSite allow for export of the entry information including the photos submitted.

  • Liudas

    Could you name a few? Possibly free ones or cheap ones, because coding isn’t my strongest side 😀

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  • Sure @twitter-150635704:disqus ! I am with TabSite and you can find a list of others in a past blog post on SME here:

  • Looks like I can’t post a link to the SME post that outlined some but options include the company I represent, TabSite and others include Wildfire, North Social, Shortstack, Woobox, Heyo, Pagemodo, and Offerpop to name a few.

  • Guest

    Mike, this is a very helpful article. I agree that email marketing is an important push medium and that Facebook promotions are a great way to engage and grow one’s email list. Again, great job. Thank you.

  • Thanks! Yes, there is just great value in email marketing and in Facebook promotions and together they can be a great combo for marketing success!

  • I’d like to test this approach for B2B marketing, using email as the distribution mechanism, a press release on a website / blog as the content and LinkedIn/Google+ circles instead of facebook the conversation mechanism.

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  • Wendy Gleeson

    Hi Mike, are all your suggestions compliant with Facebook’s T&Cs with respect to running competitions? Would hate to try something only for FB to pull down my page *gulp*

  • Hi. Right before #1 I link to Facebook Promotion policy. All my ideas are absolutely compliant as they (1) are on tab apps which are 3rd party (not created by Facebook), (2) have the entry being a form on the tab (not using Facebook native functions as entry), and (3) all would state in the terms/rules that the promotion is not associated with Facebook, etc. That the nutshell version, the link has complete details but the summary is that, yes, all suggestions are compliant when implemented fully.

  • OK! Definitely LinkedIn and G+ can be conversation mechanisms. Only item to be aware of is that what I outline as Facebook being the conversation mechanism also has Facebook being important in the email capture to build the list where list building in LinkedIn and G+ would not be as straightforward as a tab on the fan page.

  • Jill Celeste

    If you make one, please let me know! @jill_celeste on Twitter

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  • Building my email is one of the things that I struggle with a lot. I am definitely going to implement some of these tips. Thanks.

  • Sounds good Herby! Glad it was helpful.

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  • has the graphic been made yet?

  • Adam

    The problem we ran into with the email side of this is that many people sign up for giveaways and such on Facebook opt in so they can enter, but then file spam reports once you send them emails. We actually lost our account with constant contact because of this. We had what they consider to many spam reports. I explained and they saw that these people opt in, but as we were told this means nothing and the complaints is all they look at.

    Do you have any suggestions for this as we now have 10000’s of emails we can no longer market to. The likes on Facebook are great but the lack of being able to email them makes it a bit frustrating.

  • Ohh, sorry, no graphic at this point yet!

  • The main suggestion is always to be clear in the promotion about the email opt-in and ensure your contest offer is really geared towards your audience and not so general that uninterested parties are prone to enter.

    Typically email services offer double opt-in so if they will work with you to enable and deploy the second verification then you can narrow the list down.

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  • Davide Consonni

    Yes. Correct approach. Some of our eCommerce clients do the same and the results are there!

  • Ophir Nachum

    thanks mike . your articale is more important considering the late fb policy towards promoted stories. this days its really important to control your list end enlarge it rather give to much control to fb…….

  • Sounds good Davide! Glad to hear the confirmation.

  • Hi Adam, Mike is right that clarity about opt-in and aligning the contest to identify your target audience should help with future promotions. Double opt-in is the ultimate in terms of quality, though it will mean 10% to 30% reduction in list growth as customers don’t verify. List building is always a quality vs quantity trade-off.

    Are you looking to see what you can do with the 10,000s of addresses you have? To try and recover the situation? I’ve sorted out list problems for clients and helped others with growth, recently growing a list 207,000.

    I’d be happy to have a chat as to what you might be able to do with your 10000’s of emails you can’t use.

  • Adam

    We used the double opt in Actually the content giveaway was run via Votigo on Facebook where you have to opt in, and then we sent email via Constant Contact after verifying with constant contact how we are getting these emails. They added the second layer of opt in however that didn’t work either as many people signed up for the free stuff then just complained about the targeted email thanking them for signing up and providing the products information.

    The rep at constant contact explained this is typical and that because of the spam risk we were just to much of a risk. Sad to say but people sign up for free stuff and have no interest in the product. They just see FREE. and rather complain about the emails instead of ignoring them.

  • Adam

    Sure Tim I would be interested in seeing what you can do. As I said to Mike

    We used the double opt in Actually the content giveaway was run via Votigo on Facebook where you have to opt in, and then we sent email via Constant Contact after verifying with constant contact how we are getting these emails. They added the second layer of opt in however that didn’t work either as many people signed up for the free stuff then just complained about the targeted email thanking them for signing up and providing the products information.

    The rep at constant contact explained this is typical and that because of the spam risk we were just to much of a risk. Sad to say but people sign up for free stuff and have no interest in the product. They just see FREE. and rather complain about the emails instead of ignoring them.

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  • I do have a graphic up now on blog!

  • I am interested in learning more about how the trivia promotion works. Which Tabsite features are necessary to run a contest like this?

  • Alicia K

    I’m a little late to the party but I have a follow-up comment/question: We a non-profit that provides housing and work assistance for the homeless in Central Florida. Currently we are looking for a way to build our email list … What are some ideas to grow our list without using giveaways or prizes as incentive? Thank you!

  • Hi Alicia! Never too late as we monitor this regularly to respond! Here’s another Social Media Examiner post that might be of value to you related to your question:

  • Hello @Eileen The Timberwolves used the TabSIte Sweepstakes widget on a Drag-N-Build style tab that allowed them to created the exact form fields they wanted users to submit. This is available at Gold Plan and has export options of all entries at Platinum plan level.

  • Thanks @facebook-100000860050344:disqus

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  • David J Caron

    some good ideas here.. but what are these apps called and where does one find them in order to use them? ! It’s all not much use otherwise…

  • @davidjcaron:disqus all shown are by TabSite dot com and include the Sweepstakes App, Photo Contest, and Friend Share Deal Reveal. The goal is not to focus in these posts too much on any one product.

  • Any new thoughts on this in light of the recent Facebook changes regarding contests?

  • Mark, I’ve just published a post on the advantages and disadvantages of timeline contests versus tab contests. One key advantage of the tab is ability to capture email addresses. You can read it on mikegingerich dot com

  • Great post Mike! Good info and excellent suggestion for an affordable contest app for Facebook.

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