Brad Bortone

Make Your Email Awards Entry Count: 4 tips from a 2012 Best-in-Show winner

September 25th, 2012

Each year, the tactics, strategies and best practices in email marketing continue to evolve. And, in turn, the annual MarketingSherpa Email Awards showcase campaigns that – creatively and strategically – move beyond “batch-and-blast” to utilize fresh tactics and drive great results.

With the Email Awards 2013 (sponsored by Responsys) entry period about to wrap up (you have until this Monday, October 1, to get your entries in), we think it’s a perfect time to revisit one of last year’s “Best-in-Show” winning campaigns. The campaign can provide some ideas about what makes a winner to those last-minute entrants still sitting on the fence and wondering if they should give it a go.

(Of course, if you want to just skip to the head of the line and go right to the entry form, we won’t try to stop you. Just don’t forget to read the Terms and Conditions before you go.)

Okay, good. You’ve decided to stick around. Using a winning 2012 campaign as our launching point, let’s dive into the key elements of an Email Awards submission.

Traditionally, when organizations want to grow their email lists, they develop contests to draw attention to their email programs. 2012 “B2B Best-in-Show” winner Citrix Online took a different approach, choosing to instead focus on creating and sending valuable content, which was easily shareable for existing subscribers.

Here are some of the criteria Citrix demonstrated en route to a convincing win from within a very competitive category in 2012.

1.       Have the numbers

Yeah, this may sound a bit abrupt, but let’s face it – a winning campaign needs to have results. All the creative thinking in the world won’t mean a thing unless your efforts move the needle. Citrix had these numbers in spades.

Using a marketing automation platform, Citrix created nurturing tracks to send out weekly content. The team added share links in the email footers and matched them on landing pages and “thank you” pages. In addition, copy was included to encourage recipients to forward the message to their colleagues.



The focus on building a list from existing subscribers’ referrals with valuable content resulted in an overall email list lift of 35% and several million new subscribers.

For our judges, results like this made for a clear winner, in a category already packed with candidates that demonstrated strong proof points. Citrix caught our attention with their gross totals, which intrigued us to read further.

In the end, these results, and the processes used to attain them, were hard to ignore, making Citrix Online’s campaign hard to deny.


2.       Tell a compelling story

Like in so many other facets of life, there is often more value in the journey than the destination. For the Email Awards, it’s not enough to just give us numbers and percentages. We need to know the motivations behind the campaign, the creative thinking that shaped the campaign, and the driving factors that propelled the campaign to success.

In Citrix’s case, the motivation came from the fact that people were being inundated with a tremendous influx of promotional email, making it more difficult to prevent prospects from hitting “delete,” much less take a desired course of action. It’s no wonder that when marketers are obsessively focused on content, remarkable things happen.

(You know … like a flood of new subscribers.)

Rather than resorting to typical gimmicks, giveaways or contests to boost interest, Citrix decided to leverage its existing lists to attain new subscribers. The team created and emailed content that subscribers valued so highly that it was eagerly shared with friends and colleagues.

And, Citrix made it easy for them to do so. Subscribers’ colleagues appreciated the emails so much that they decided to subscribe, as well.

As a result, Citrix saw an overall email list increase of several million contacts, which greatly increased demand without having to directly pay for traditional media channels, such as banner ads or AdWords.

If Citrix didn’t obtain such impressive results from this campaign, it may not have brought home the Best-in-Show. But, we would have still been impressed by its creative, cost-effective and downright unique campaign strategy.


3.       Let us know what steps you took

It is often said the devil lies in the details. Well, so do Email Awards victories.

To bring home a win, you need to let us know what granular processes were involved in bringing your overarching strategy to fruition. Maybe we don’t need to know when you scheduled coffee breaks, but the more details you provide, the more understanding we’ll have about your campaign execution (and the more impressed we’ll likely be, as a result).

Just check out the level of process detail in the entry form submitted by Citrix …

Citrix’s goal was to build its housefile marketing list faster, by offering valuable content that would be easily “shareable,” enhancing the reach of its offers. This content would also be available through search and other channels, but would primarily be emailed to its marketing list.



First, Citrix explained how it converted its house list to sales-qualified leads. It also wanted to enable its social business team to drive traffic to webinars using social channels, which encouraged recipient sharing, as well.

Then, Citrix described its success using a marketing automation platform. Citrix developed nurturing tracks to distribute weekly content offers, segmenting the house list by product and persona, which allowed the team to send offers relevant to customer interests.

Additionally, the team explained how it implemented share links in email footers, and matched them on the landing pages and “thank you” pages, so recipients could easily share the content with connections on social networks. This included language that encouraged recipients to forward the message to colleagues.

Finally, Citrix highlighted its webinar calendar pages to which they linked via social media and other channels, to encourage people to sign up for webinars they might not have seen via email marketing efforts.

In the end, we not only learned of Citrix’s process planning, but how integral the execution was in achieving such impressive results.


4.       Tell us what others can learn from your efforts

Any true award contender must be able to stand out amid a very crowded crop of entrants, all of which have tremendous tales of success to share with the world. And yes, if you’ve followed tips #1-3, you’ve already given a tremendous amount of information to support your campaign’s chances.

But sometimes, even experts like us [clearing throats, brushing off shoulders] need a little help connecting these granular steps and percentage boosts to the all-important “bigger picture.” Tell us how no one else ever did what your campaign did. Tell us how your effort resonated with customers and competitors. Tell us why your campaign was a game-changer.

But, most importantly, tell us what other marketers can learn from your efforts.

After all, that is the entire reason we conduct the Email Awards – to help marketers learn what really works in email marketing.

In its submission, Citrix explained the uniqueness of how it used content offers within its lead nurturing program, in combination with a social media strategy that drove demand to webinars and content pieces, without increasing spending. The approach was simple. It was inexpensive. And it was easy.

Additionally, Citrix’s efforts shed light on a positive secondary effect, when its nurturing not only worked as a demand management tool, but also for demand generation, as new leads coming from its content offers increased dramatically.

When all of the dust settled, and all the details accounted for, Citrix presented us with an entry that told us a story, leading to a satisfactory, inspirational conclusion. The numbers were impressive enough, but the level of detail and explanation in its entry form reflected the care and thought given to a true “Best-in-Show” campaign.

Interested in learning more about this campaign? Be sure to check out the complete case study, detailing Citrix’s approach. 


Related Resources:

For more information on Email Awards 2013

Enter your top email campaign – Deadline is Monday, October 1, 2012

To inspire your entry, and give you a better idea of what we’re looking for, download a PDF of last year’s Email Awards winners

Brad Bortone

About Brad Bortone

Brad Bortone is a senior editor for MarketingSherpa, and brings more than ten years of journalism experience to the table. He is experienced in both corporate and nonprofit copywriting, having published work with Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, The New York City Department of Education, The National Academy of Sciences and the Diabetes Research and Wellness Foundation. Additionally, Brad's freelance writing has been featured in a wide array of print and online outlets, including The Newark Star-Ledger, ESPN: The Magazine and

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