Inbound Marketing: Auto enthusiast ‘Ultimate Car’ contest lifts site traffic 24% | MarketingSherpa

Inbound Marketing: Auto enthusiast ‘Ultimate Car’ contest lifts site traffic 24% | MarketingSherpa.

SUMMARY: What do you do when you have a passionate fan base, excited to share their stories? Furthermore, how can you leverage your customers’ enthusiasm as a benefit to your business?

Learn how American Car Craft launched a contest, inviting auto enthusiasts to share the story behind their custom cars for a chance to win $500 in credit to the brand’s store. Through this effort, the one-man marketing team at American Auto Craft was able to secure new additions to the email list, showcase user-generated content and achieve a 24% lift in site traffic with a 12% lift in new users.

American Car Craft serves auto enthusiasts needs for after-market car accessories.

The company manufactures stainless steel and carbon fiber handcrafted accessories “that allow people to dress up their car without necessarily making a performance enhancement,” according to Matthew Books, Marketing Director, American Car Craft.

Business goals for the company include helping the car aficionado community enhance the look of their cars through personalization and helping car flippers to achieve a better return on their investment.


The core customer demographic for American Car Craft is predominately male with two target age ranges: 25-35 and 45-54.

These customers are enthusiasts looking for enhancements to turn their car into a unique statement as well as customers looking to take a car to the next level aesthetically and achieve a higher resell value.

As Books explained, this is a community that loves to show off their cars, and the brand leverages that competitive spirit in its marketing campaigns.


A common goal for many marketers, Books wanted to increase the size of his email list and increase exposure for the brand.

Knowing that car enthusiasts love showing off their custom cars, Books sought to launch a campaign that would allow his audience to tell their story and share images of their cars.

Infusing that competitive spirit, this campaign was a contest with an incentive to win a prize for the best entry.

“An inbound campaign was chosen because it’s a great way to grow with the community. To get them to share their cars is something a large majority of them do on a weekly basis already during car show season. I wanted to have a campaign that empowered us with photos and testimonials as well as empowered our customers, or potential customers, by letting them show off,” Books said.


In October 2014, the campaign launched. American Car Craft invited car lovers to share the story behind their cars and enter in images of their work for a chance to win $500 to spend on American Car Craft products.

Winners would also be featured on the website with their own dedicated image gallery.

“We really were taking advantage of that competitive spirit that all of the car people really have innately. They like to modify their car, and they also like to be recognized for it,” Books explained.

The contest would live on the website, where visitors could enter in via a landing page, and it was promoted via email and social media.

Step #1. Gain buy-in to launch contest

In an effort to host a contest and give something away for free, Books needed to pitch this idea and sell leadership at American Car Craft on this inbound campaign’s value.

In the beginning, Books was originally going to reward $100 to the winner of this campaign to the car enthusiast with the best car story. However, when thinking about the costs of modifying and enhancing a car’s look, $100 is not a lot of money.

He needed to up the ante and offer an amount that would be enough to entice consumers and cover the price range of the parts and accessories the brand provides.

The average order value for American Car Craft customers is between $230 and $260, so the prize for this contest needed to be an amount that held enough value to those entrants who took the time to send in their unique car story as well as images.

To sell this campaign and the $500 prize to leadership, Books looked at how much an American Car Craft contact was worth by looking at the average order value. If the brand could increase the number of contacts by 100, this would hold huge potential for the company.

Step #2. Build contest landing page

Once he received the greenlight to award $500 to the winner of the best car story contest, Books crafted the landing page for the “Ultimate Car” contest.

View the Creative Sample

Click here to see the full version of this creative sample

Contest applicants could enter the story of how the car or truck was modified and were asked to specify details about the vehicle, including year, make and model. Additionally, applicants were required to upload three images of the vehicle and had the option to upload as many as six.

The page also included a humorous animated GIF of a man struggling to wash his car, which added an element of fun to the contest.

Books was careful to keep the language of the contest very open. Entrants didn’t have to spend thousands of dollars to have a chance to win, and any car enthusiast who was proud of their work could enter.

All of the contacts gathered through this page were exported into a contest-related email list, which allowed Books to easily go through the entries and eventually choose a winner.

Step #3. Promote the contest

Books began to promote this contest on Facebook, where the brand’s social presence was the strongest. With close to 7,000 followers, it was looked at as an opportunity to procure entries from those fans.

Early in the contest, Books leveraged “wow” shots of various custom cars to entice followers to enter to win for the grand prize.

As the contest deadline drew closer, Books began to incorporate more urgency in Facebook messaging to push car enthusiasts to enter before it was too late.

View the Creative Sample

Click here to see the full version of this creative sample

“I like to be tongue-in-cheek in my copy that I send to my customers, like product headline descriptions. The most recent one it was a stick-on application, so the headline for that product was, ‘Stuck On You’ because it was around Valentine’s Day,” Books explained.

The contest was also promoted on the brand’s website and blog to entice American Car Craft customers and fans to enter.

Books also didn’t want to leave out the brand’s current email subscribers, so he sent emails inviting them to participate as well.

View the Creative Sample

Click here to see the full version of this creative sample

Step #4. Choose contest winners

The “Ultimate Car” contest deadline was the second week of December 2014. The most important element Books was looking for when choosing a winner for this contest was someone taking the time to tell a story about their unique car.

“So as an example, one person was like, ‘You know, this is my dream car. I’ve wanted it since I was 16 years old. I never was able to do it until now, and so now I find myself in a position in life where I can finally afford this car. So I got it, I’ve got my dream car, and now I’m going to shows,'” he explained.

Books picked his favorites and created a spreadsheet of those stories and images to pass along to the other team members at American Car Craft to get their feedback on their favorites as well.

The team found it difficult to choose just one winner, as they received many great stories and pictures of builds, so they decided to have one grand prize winner plus two runner-ups that would also be featured on the website.

Once the winners were chosen, they were featured on the blog and through an email.

On the blog, visitors could view the winners’ image galleries with their submitted photos as well as their story.

Books has the rest of the entries on file to eventually create galleries from those or use them for product shots where available.


“Don’t be afraid to offer something for free. It goes against everything you’re in business to do — make more money — but the rewards far outweigh whatever potential loss you’ll incur by giving something away,” Books said.

This contest increased year-over-year site traffic for American Car Craft by 23.66% with an 11.5% increase in new visitors. There was also a 20.57% increase in page views while the contest was running.

In addition, the team saw a $10,297 year-over-year revenue increase for December, and 96 new contacts were added to the American Car Craft list, with 120 entries total.

The contest also opened a new sponsorship opportunity for the brand. One entrant, a female DIY’er, caught the brand’s eye as an opportunity to leverage for sponsorship deal, which as Books said, probably would not have presented itself otherwise.

Creative Samples

    1. Landing page
    1. “Wow” shot Facebook post
    1. Urgency Facebook post
    1. Blog post
    1. Email
  1. Winners post


American Car Craft

Related Resources

Social Media Marketing: 7 steps for using contests and sweepstakes to promote your brand

Social Email Marketing: Contest adds 200% more Pinterest followers and engagement

User-Generated Content: Video email contest increases site traffic by 13%

Community Marketing: 1 million Instagram impressions via creative design contest


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s