Unless you’re a large brand that everyone has heard of, chances are you’re using social media to engage with and learn about your fans and potential customers.

Contests and promotions remain a fun way for followers to interact with their favorite brands. After all, who doesn’t love winning a contest? I can go buy myself a new t-shirt but if I win one (even if it has a brand’s logo on it) that makes it that much cooler!

However, contests and promotions are only powerful if you do something with the data you collect.

I also understand that sometimes it can be hard to see the bigger picture and know exactly what your next move is going to be.

That’s why today I want to provide you with 9 ways that you can leverage the data you collect from your fans.

#1. Run an Email Marketing Campaign

This is by far the most common and successful strategy I see. First off, our research has shown that 94.7% of brands use their promotion forms to collect an email address.

 Another study done by McKinsey & Company found that email is nearly 40 times better than Facebook and Twitter at acquiring customers.

People are on social media to be social (duh!), and most people don’t want to be sold. However, most people are more than willing to provide their email address for a chance to win something.

It’s best to do a little research before diving into your marketing campaign. What marketers are sending, versus what consumers are consuming is a little off.  For example, according to Business2Community these are the top three uses of emails:

• Newsletters (66%)
• Promotional content (54%)
• Welcome series emails (42%)

However, these are the most effective emails:

• Mobile opt-ins (76%)
• Birthday emails (75%)
• Transactional emails (74%)

The takeaway — don’t rush the sale on social or via email. Use your promotion or contest to collect an email address (and maybe even some additional information, like a birth date) and craft a strategic email marketing campaign that will keep you in communication with your fans even when you’re not on social media.

#2: Keep the Conversation Going

One of the best examples I’ve seen of a company that kept the conversation going through the data they collected from a promotion was when loan servicer, Great Lakes, used a Facebook giveaway to help their customers learn more about student loan borrowing.

Great Lakes promotion featured a quiz with five questions relating to student loans. Fans were not required to take the quiz in order to enter the promotion, but the educational questions combined with the fact that everyone loves a quiz, attracted their entrants to participate. While Great Lakes grand prize was a $6,000 payment towards a student loan, they closely monitored their quiz answers and used that to craft their social media and email marketing messages to their followers. They were even able to provide resources to help address the questions they were seeing from their followers.

Hundreds of fans Liked, Commented and Shared the sweepstakes and were exposed to the additional resources and tips that Great Lakes was posting on their Timeline. Compared to a year before, the percentage of fans that had a direct conversation with Great Lakes on Facebook tripled.

Sometimes the most powerful data you can collect is knowledge. Getting creative with your promotions and contests can lead to invaluable conversations with your audience.

#3: Ask for Reviews/Feedback

Reviews and feedback can help draw more customers to your business, more eyes to your website and more money in your pocket.  With the number of review sites out there, most people understand the importance of a review and are more than willing to share their opinion.

If you’re one of the 94.7% of people who are collecting an email address from your followers, use one of your emails to ask your customers for some feedback or to review your brand/product. If you know you plan on eventually asking for reviews/feedback from your entrants, it may be worth it to add some additional form fields such as whether they’re an existing or new customer, how long they’ve been a customer, etc. This will help better analyze the feedback you receive.

If you’re asking for testimonials, make sure you ask for permission to feature the testimonial on your website/blog/social networks.

#4: Offer Something Exclusive

Even though email marketing is still a majorly successful communication tactic, people are still inundated with emails every day, and marketers still need to find a way to stand out in the crowd.

Exclusivity is a great way to not only incentivize your entrants but to also get a little more out of your fans than you previously would have.

Let’s say you’re a beauty salon and you run a promotion where you ask fans to provide their email address for a chance to win a beauty package, then you include a link that suggests they subscribe to your email list, which one sounds better?

• Subscribe to our email list!
• Subscribe to our email list and receive a free gift!

Obviously a free gift is much more enticing than simply subscribing. Exclusivity instills excitement for your product, and excitement for your product builds brand loyalty. Loyal fans means loyal customers!

#5: Offer a Discount

More than 93% of Americans use couponsThis means that those price-conscious shoppers are more likely to hit up your business if they’re offered a little discount of some sort.

Offering a coupon is pretty simple, it can be done directly on your campaign or it can be another email marketing strategy (are you seeing a trend here?!)

If you’re wondering what types of coupons swoon online shoppers, research has shown that deals that offer a specific dollar amount off of a purchase rank most favorably. On the other hand, free shipping is not appealing to consumers so try and come up with something a little more valuable.

#6: Educate

As marketers it’s hard to not think about the sale. Ultimately, every business’s goal is to get a sale! However, the path taken to get to a sale has vastly changed.

As I’ve previously mentioned, people on social don’t want to be sold and marketers are fighting to stand out in the social, email, and online crowds.

Sometimes, well most of the time, the most successful path you can take to the sale is an educational one.

Whichever data you collect from your fans; email address, location, favorite activities, life stories, etc., use that information to simply educate your fans further about your brand and industry.

Depending on your business, there’s a chance that your customers don’t need your product on a daily basis. This means that when it is time for them to need you, you want to be top of mind. This is where educational marketing really steps in. Positioning yourself as an expert in your field and continuing to educate your fans and followers without selling them will mean that once it’s time for them to need your product, they’ll think of you first.

Some of the most valuable ways to educate consumers is through infographics, eBooks, free resources and content marketing.

You can use any additional data that you collect from your fans to target your educational materials.

#7: Start a New Project

Crowdsourcing is another top method I see businesses using. That’s because social media provides you with access to a larger audience than anywhere else in the world, so why not take advantage of that?

If you’ve been wanting to add some new products, a social marketing campaign can be the perfect place to start. Ask your fans what they’d like to see you start next, or if you’ve narrowed down a few ideas, have them vote on their favorite.

Don’t have plans or hopes of adding a new project? That’s okay, you should still be closely listening to your fans when you run promotions.  Their answers could spark an idea for a new product.

#8: Run Advertising

Data-driven advertising is perhaps the most personal and successful form of advertising available to marketers. Your customers expect a tailored message delivered to them that peaks their interest and doesn’t waste their time.

As a matter of fact, there’s a lot of pressure on marketers to deliver a seamless and relevant experience to their customers.

Fortunately, social networks and online advertising outlets have made it convenient to target advertising as long as businesses are collecting the right data.

Our favorite way to target people is using Facebook ads. Facebook ads are cost effective and we believe the targeting options are the most accurate of any advertising option.  Using a marketing campaign and Facebook ads you can target via email address, interests, hobbies, job function, actions taken, website retargeting, and pretty much anything else you can think of.  So the next time you build your marketing campaign, consider which data you can collect to help you run some valuable ads.

#9: Analyze and Learn

Perhaps one of the most underrated ways to use your data is for analyzing and learning purposes. Look at your lead data through an analytical lens. These are the direct results of your Campaign. The amount and the quality of the responses is a good indicator of success. This information can also help drive the decisions and goals for your next Campaign. Didn’t get the responses you wanted? Try changing the language on your form, or asking questions in a different way (such as using checkboxes instead of a dropdown menu).