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Competition Case Study Update

Posted By Darren Rowse 27th of January 2008 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

Just a quick update to my Competition Case Study post from a couple of days ago.

One of the best things that I did to promote this competition was to email inactive members of my forum. VBulletin (the forum software that I use) allows me to send emails to members based upon different criteria. I sent a short email out yesterday to anyone who hadn’t posted to the forum for 2 months. It was titled:

We’ve missed You. Come Back to DPS and Win a Digital Camera”

The email was written in personal tones, included their user name (as in ‘Dear username’) and mentioned that I noticed they hadn’t posted for a while and that we were running a competition that they might be interested in. I also reminded them of sign up details etc and told them to drop me a note if they had any problems logging in.

The email went out yesterday to many thousands of members and almost immediately I knew I was onto a winner because I started getting emails from readers thanking me for the email.

I’d been hesitant about sending it out and feared a backlash from those who had forgotten that they had joined but since it went out I’ve had hundreds of emails from readers thanking me for the ‘reminder’ to come to DPS. I’ve never had anyone email me to say thanks for an email that was basically saying ‘check out my site’.

I’m not sure what triggered it but I’ve had emails telling me why they’d been absent lately (everything from people saying they’ve been lazy, to people telling me that they’d been sick, to people sharing about the loss of loved ones). Something in the email really hit the spot and has driven hundreds of older members from the early days of the forum back to it.

As I’ve said above – I’m not completely sure why the email was so effective – but to me it illustrates the power of personal contact with your readers (even though it was a mass email it was written as though I was speaking to an individual).

It also highlighted to me that people want to be noticed (and want their absence to be noticed too).

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  • Thats excellent, Darren. I will have to keep this in mind when I start my forums. I run a contest every month (still going for this month… end plug), so promotion on the forums will be a big thing I suppose.

    all about creating community.

    Justin Dupre

  • Smart idea to email ahead. Even with delivery problems you probably got some visitors and it didn’t cost you anything.


  • BW

    I think it’s as staightforward as ‘the personal touch’.

    in most day to day situations, ‘the personal touch’ gets overlooked – you said it yourself the other day when you were on your quest for a coffee shop.

    I am sure your members responded because they liked the fact that you ha personalized the email.

    nice one…

  • Making my readers feel welcome is something I’ve not been very successful at. I get great comments that make me smile, but it doesn’t occur to me that I need to acknowledge those comments (or emails.)

  • Not only have you got a few thousand users back, but a thousand new and yet LOYAL users.


  • It could be that the type of people that hang on digitalcamera are more pleased to receive similar emails, they maybe really like your forum…or simply they have never been really fedup with “Check my site” or other spam type of emails. But whats important is that it worked out ;) (sometimes not sending out emails often and saving it for a special moment, like this one, turns very useful).

  • IMHO, that works only with n00bs. If I got such email it would have only irritated me as useless spam. I prefer to decide where and when to go all by myself.

  • Yes, people do respond to proactive, personal reintroductions.

    It appears that the popularity of blogs have cut into the popularity of forums and message boards. Perhaps it is just the layout or organized thoughts or constant association with a few people.

  • Writing it as if you were speaking to *one* user is precisely why it was so effective. :)

  • Wow. That is actually quite incredible. Any chance of posting what you **exactly** wrote? I know it sounds silly, but I’ve written similar e-mails before, and got e-mails back telling me to take a long walk off a short pier, and I’d love to know your secret :)

  • Excellent results Darren. Sometimes you’ve just got to remind people you’re there.

    A friend of mine mailed all her customers and she got little response. She then did a follow up to each one and many of them said they’d been meaning to make an appointment with her, but they’d just not got round to it.

  • IMHO, you’ll never please everyone with these types of e-mails, but giving them that personal one-on-one feeling does indeed make them feel more welcome, especially if they’ve been away for a while.

    I’m with Rhys, any chance of you doing a post with more details as to what to include in these types of e-mails? With all the positive responses you received, it must have been well written.


  • Personal touch, simple as that.

  • I think that’s not “power of personal contact with your readers” but “the power of Camera Digital with your readers” :-)
    almost for Indonesian Blogger they are so lovely with A gift

  • Crikey Moses I think you could risk saying next time that you are granting absolution to those who ‘fess up’. Oh and they won’t get penance but the opportunity for a lovely prize.

  • I don’t think it was the “personal touch” that created the success, Darren. In my upcoming system of successful e-mail marketing I’m building (have a talk scheduled in the Bay Area I’m writing a manual on e-mail marketing for marketing professionals) I recommend three of the techniques you used in your headline. See, to me, your success was based upon the creativity of your headline.

    1. You offered a personal touch – yes, that was part of it…but it was more than that. You mentioned that you MISSED them. That means you showed you cared before trying to sell them anything. This is a general rule of selling/marketing and you demonstrated this with three powerful words: we’ve missed you.

    2. You offered an invitation. How many emails do this? Moreover, how many emails do this in the subject line or headline? Very few. You invited them back to DPS. It’s always nice to know we’re welcome – even if we were remiss in visiting (hey, we’re all busy, right?)…

    Think about personal mail. Which are you most likely to open first: (1) a letter that doesn’t say what it is, (2) a sales letter, (3) a bill, or (4) an invitation. I know which one I’m opening first – the invitation – because it’s more fun and also has more curiosity attached to it.

    You invited people to visit and they did. How cool is that?

    3. You offered a gift. Even a chance to win a digital camera is still a form of a gift. Frank Sinatra said it best “you gotta gift ’em” and he would know. Always offer some sort of gifts and you’ll increase your e-marketing success. You did this in the subject line, which made your email immediately more powerful.

    Now, I’m compelled to open the email not just because you were nice and showed you cared, invited me, but not I’m curious about the gift, too.

    By combining three of the most powerful marketing techniques in one headline or subject line, you created a very powerful e-mail message.

    Great copy – I’m adding it to my swipe file, if you don’t mind! :)

    Scott Andrews, CEO
    ARRiiVE Business Solutions

  • Nicely put Scott.

  • abby Ives

    As a therapist, I’d like to think your success with this email was the result of people’s sense of connection and the feeling of community, or that they responded to your personal touch, but I think it probably had more to do with the way you use words, Darren – you have that touch – and with the thing people always forget; we need to remind people we are out there.

    I’m with Rhys and SimplyWebtastic – I’d love to see how you did it, or at least to learn more about it. People want to be invited, and a personal invitation with the chance of a goodie is lovely, but I still think it had to do with the words you used and how you used them. That and the reminder. Life is full of a lot of competing things. We’ve got to put the post it notes on their screens.

  • I’ll tell you exactly why it is: it’s because you told them flat out, in no uncertain terms that you care about them. You want to see them on your site, because you enjoy having them around and the conversations they have.

    Great marketing happens when someone goes from something thinking “This guy wants to sell me something” to “This guy’s pretty cool. He has my best interests at heart, and he’s thinking what’s best for me”.

    If you can convince someone of that (and the best way is to actually really have their best interests at heart all the time), you’ll be on to a winner.