If you want to drive traffic, boost engagement, create a buzz around your brand, find new online visitors and real-life customers, let us see your hand.

If you also don’t mind spending a bit of money in order to achieve what we listed above, hands again.

Let’s introduce you to the art of the Giveaway.

Right away, let’s clarify a few things.

  • Contests do not equal giveaways.
  • Sweepstakes do not equal free offers.
  • Free offers do not equal contests.

However, “giveaways” can be recognized as sweepstakes or free offers. In this particular case, we’ll be focusing our attention on giveaways where there is generally one winner, drawn by luck with no requirement of purchase or skill.

Giveaways are a cost-effective way to boost engagement, drive traffic and find new visitors and customers.
In the age of the internet, online giveaways have rapidly increased in popularity due to several reasons – increase in mobile traffic, better technology, lots of businesses providing software solutions for executing online giveaway campaigns and so on.

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The success of online giveaways lies in the fact that everyone loves getting something for free. In fact, one of the main reasons that people “Like” brands on Facebook is so that they can either obtain a discount or win something. Most of the brands with huge followership on social media usually hold giveaways.
So, mystery solved.
The rise of social media allows businesses to easily create their own contests and giveaways which can then can lead to increased brand awareness and the sharing of your contest on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.  So giving away something for free can result in free marketing.
In this post, we go through how to execute an effective online giveaway and improve traffic and social engagement.


1. Determine the goal of the giveaway

Identifying your goals or key performance indicators (KPIs) upfront is imperative to outline the best possible and most effective giveaway. These KPIs can be any number of items.
A few KPIs you may want to consider:

  • Email addresses or phone numbers captured
  • More views of a YouTube video
  • More social engagements and followership
  • Number of downloads

kpi - How to do an effective online giveaway
Before you begin promoting or designing graphics, know what you want to accomplish from the giveaway.

Are you trying to generate traffic for your website? Are you trying to get more people signed up for your newsletter? Perhaps you just want to boost the number of followers on your social networks.

Have a goal in mind because it will help influence the other aspects of your giveaway. It’s also not a bad idea to attach some hard numbers to your goals. For example, you might want to set a goal of boosting newsletter subscribers by 13% or adding 1000 new followers on Twitter.
Identify which of the goals are your primary KPI. Every decision you make from here on out should help you better achieve your primary KPI. It’s also good to select one or two secondary KPIs.

For example, you could identify “Email addresses or phone numbers captured” as your primary. You may then identify as a secondary KPI, “More views of a Youtube video”. This will set you up for success as you move forward.

Your secondary KPI(s) should see success without competing or deviating action away from successfully achieving your primary KPI(s).

2. What to Give Away

Based on the goal of the contest, your margins, and your audience, select a giveaway product that people will love. The general idea here is to give away something that is valuable enough for most people in your market to stand up and take notice.
If possible, use the giveaway to talk about what the prize and your product or service have to do with each other. For example,

  • Clothing brand – give away a watch that fits well with your tees
  • Conference – give away a pile of books from featured speakers
  • Ecommerce store – give away one of your featured sale items

If you have an obscure product, giving it away may not be a sufficient incentive for people to enter your giveaway.  In that case you may choose to give away a gift card, a high end phone or something that everyone will want (like Apple products).

3. Make the prize match the entry

Here’s something else to consider.

Some entry requirements are quick and easy, e.g., liking a post on Facebook. Others are more long-winded and laborious, e.g., filling out several forms of questions, submitting a photo, and so on. It’s advisable you choose a prize that matches the level of effort it requires to enter.

After all, offering a mediocre prize for completing an arduous entry process may result in very few entrants. In other words, “the prize value should always be equal to the effort required to win it.”

4. Consider bundling items

Here’s something else not often considered. Offering a bundle of items can have a bigger impact than offering only one item.

It seems that a bundle is deemed higher value (even if it’s not, necessarily) than one single item. Plus more variety appeals to a wider audience.

Pinterest Fall Fashion Giveaway - How to do an effective online giveaway
Credit: ChannelTwo

This logic makes sense.

Most people have a tendency to think more is better.

So, even if you offer three gifts that combined are worth less than a single gift, the perception would still be that the three gifts are of a higher value (even if they’re not).

This isn’t to say that you have to follow this formula, but it’s definitely food for thought and could help you increase your number of entrants.


5. Consider offering multiple prizes

Let’s be real.

What are the odds of winning a giveaway with only one grand prize?

Pretty microscopic.

And people know this. They won’t jump through a bunch of hoops just to enter a contest where the chances of winning are slim to none.

But when there are prizes for first place, second place, and third place, the odds of winning increase a bit.

So, offer smaller prizes for runner-up entrants in addition to the grand prize. This makes people feel like they do have a chance, and even if they don’t win the grand prize, they can still get something.

You’ll find that this will generate more motivation for people to sign up.

6. Find an awesome promotional partner

This is the true hack to quickly expanding your reach.

As much as possible, always find a bigger player to work with. Do the heavy lifting in setting up your flight plans, creating graphics, and landing pages. Setup up the technical aspects on your end and hand deliver all necessary items to your promotional partner. Your promotional partner will be blown away by how awesome this is because they didn’t have to think about it, do the work, or run the show.

Ideal promotional partners can be:

  • Non-competitors with similar customer
  • Similar style companies that complement your product or service
  • Celebrities or influencers (bloggers, speakers, authors, athletes, musicians)


When your promotional partner sees how they can add hundreds or even thousands of new fans to their social media channels, it will open up new opportunities for future partnerships and giveaways. This creates a multiplying effect of how well each future giveaway can perform.

#ProTip: show your promotional partners you can deliver stellar results and they’ll often jump at the chance to join your campaign. Sometimes, they’ll even front the cost of all the prizes!


7. Contest Length

This is challenging. Your giveaway campaign should run as long as you can continue sending out messages or advertising it without beating up your readers and customers. That may be a day, a week, or several months.
Consider the buying cycle of your customer. If you know the length of time and the number of messages required to reach conversion, then you can apply that knowledge to flight planning your giveaway. And if you don’t, you need to get on that!
If your prize isn’t motivating, however, no amount of time or messaging will matter.
On the average, one month is optimal as it gives you enough time to get the most out of the giveaway, without being much too long thus causing people to forget all about it.

Two weeks is the bare minimum amount of time to run a contest. If you want maximum exposure, going for a week will drastically lower the amount of entries that you get. The trajectory of entries you’ll get during your campaign should resemble a U-curve, where the first 10 days and the last 10 days will have the maximum amount of engagements/entries, if you play your cards right.
Anything more than a month is too long a time frame in your audience’s minds, making them less incentivized to sign up in the first place.


8. Make it simple

You want as many people to participate as possible and the only way that’s going to happen is if you make it extremely simple.

If you ask people to fill out long forms or require them to click through multiple pages, participation may likely be low unless you have a compelling gift (i.e. a gift that is worth the hassle as mentioned above). In the absence of a must-have prize, the best strategy is to ask people to carry out simple actions like subscribe to a newsletter or to follow/like one of your social networks.

These things literally take just a few seconds to complete and simple to track.
For simplicity, there are a few apps that help achieve this, most popular among them are Gleam and Rafflecopter. Gleam.io in particular is the frontrunner in the “online contest promotion app” marketplace.

It was built by a guy from Reddit named Stuart McKeown. Over the years he’s built Gleam.io into a powerhouse of an app for running giveaways. It does more than just giveaways, but we’ll be concerning ourselves with just that function in this ebook.

9. Extra Entries

Some marketers take the smart route and encourage multiple entries by their audience in order to increase their chances of winning. Extra entries are a great way to get people to really engage with your brand and give you some valuable feedback or social momentum.

When you’re adding ways to earn extra entries, it’s important to do it right. Fortunately, Gleam and Rafflecopter are adept at managing such campaigns as well.
Some extra entry actions that you could incorporate into the giveaway conditions include

  • Tweet about the Giveaway
  • Leave a Blog Post Comment
  • Follow @ [yourname] on Twitter
  • Like this post on Facebook
  • Google +1
  • Follow us on Pinterest
  • Follow us on Instagram
  • Subscribe to us on YouTube
  • Link to us from your Blog
  • Join Our Newsletter

Below the signup, they’re prompted to earn extra entries by taking different social or goal-oriented actions (as listed above). Put actions in order of their importance to you.


10. Establish benchmarks

Before you launch your Giveaway, create a document for yourself with your benchmarks. This helps you track how successful your campaign is in real time. Here are a few that you can consider:

  • Number of likes on Facebook
  • Number of Google +1’s to the page
  • Number of Retweets to the page
  • Number of inbound links
  • Average monthly visitors
  • Conversion Rate


11. Spread the word

Many businesses make the mistake that people will miraculously hear about their giveaway and immediately rush to enter—because who doesn’t want to win free stuff, right?

Unfortunately it’s not that simple.

You must promote your giveaway often and on all available platforms if you want it to really have an impact. Carve out a spot on your website, post giveaway details in your newsletter, and regularly spread the word on your social networks. Be sure to change your phrasing and timing on the social networks and track the response rate when you make those changes. You might find that more people are willing to participate in the evening when “distraction time” is available and they’re winding down for the day. The point is to know your audience and use that knowledge profitably.

12. Post on Your Website

Write a blog post detailing the giveaway and conditions to be met. Embed the Gleam contest on the page. Have some pre-sell copy on the post, but it doesn’t really need much more than that. The Gleam/Rafflecopter contest embed will do the rest of the work here. This is “home base” for your contest.
Note: You can also use Gleam’s hosted giveaway pages that are perfectly responsive for mobile. These are highly recommended especially if a large chunk of your traffic is coming from mobile.

13. Determine promotions budget & track your outreach

It’s important to stay organized while you go through this process!  There will be so many emails back and forth, each at different stages of the promotions process, that things can easily slip through the cracks.
Document everything!  If you do not use a project management tool, it is very easy for the project to become overwhelming!


14. Promote your giveaway often

There’s usually a big splash when a giveaway launches but fizzles the longer it goes. Make sure you set a reasonable timeline for your giveaway (try to keep giveaways to one month or shorter). Second, keep reminding people throughout the giveaway time period. A lot of people want to enter, but think, “I’ll do that later when I have more time.” It’s important to remind them often so you catch them at that right time. Moreover, as people enter and join your social networks or newsletters, encourage them to share the contest with others. Acknowledge their participation and then give them reason to stick around once the giveaway is over.
Be sure to have graphics made just for social media. Reach out to large Facebook pages and groups that may have something to gain from sharing your giveaway. Mention influencers and ask them to share on Twitter or Google Plus.
These strategies don’t have to take a lot of time and are easy to implement when given some thought.
Here are some more ideas:

  • Add a link to your giveaway to all your social profiles about or bio section
  • Change out your timeline covers or avatars to promote the campaign
  • Reach out to influential social media accounts that have something to do with your prize

Additionally, you may choose to boost your Giveaway posts on the social platforms. Especially if you don’t have a huge following on those places.

15. Email the giveaway entrants to encourage them to come back

Halfway through the contest, send out an email to all of the entrants to encourage them to return to your site for more entries.
You may choose to add a new “Mega Entry” to encourage people to participate by sharing on their social media handles which will in turn generate more exposure to your online Giveaway.

16. Be sure to post unique posts for last chance offer

This is as simple and straightforward as it gets. If you don’t send the most urgent and high-priority messaging to all the channels you have access to telling people it’s their last chance to enter, you will always miss your maximum exposure and engagement.
You need to tell your people several times to enter for a chance to win some awesome prize. Remember to:

  • Use bold text.
  • Make it exciting!
  • Always give a clear CTA

After the Contest Ends

17. Select your winner!

If you’ve continued advertising your giveaway and do some/all the pointers in this post, you should have several hundred entries by the end of the 15-30 day period.  Depending on how many entries you made available will determine the total number of entries.
Give your lucky winner instructions on how to redeem their prize and asked them for their address so their prize could shipped out to them as soon as possible. Also, make sure to have them send in photographs of them with their prize so it could be used for future contests.

18. Put the winner on a pedestal

You put a lot of time and energy into getting people to participate in your giveaway and you now have a winner. Let the world know that a real person has actually won! Depending on what it is, you can even have the winner(s) participate by sharing a picture of them with the prize, which may encourage more participation from others in the future. These can become testimonials that entering your giveaways is worth the time and effort.

19. Upload emails to your email list

If you included an email collector as an entry, or included in the Disclosure that entrants would be added to your mailing list, export the email list from your giveaway widget and add the emails to your email list.
Be sure to, if nothing else, email those who entered your giveaway. Your email should communicate some or all of the following:

  • Who the winner is
  • Extend special deals relevant to the giveaway (probably has something to do with your primary KPIs we identified earlier)
  • Offer other ways to stay connected for future freebies or giveaways
  • Announce your next giveaway
  • Thank them for participating

This is a great opportunity to convert them into customers. Give them an amazing incentive to purchase from your site, for example by giving them a very large coupon code or something for free. Your goal at this stage is to make your email so appealing that people won’t immediately unsubscribe.
Start a rapport with the contestants and start warming them up to your brand!

20. Mail out the prize

Don’t just send out the product in a boring box. Make it beautiful!  Add a personalized letter or something that will make the winner feel special.  Encourage the winner to share about winning the price, and to review your product on their site.


Contests and giveaways are a fun way to reward and engage with your customers/audience, as well as grow your business.
If you follow these steps, you will be able to create a successful contest with thousands of entries. You will also generate social engagement and buzz by having people view and follow you on your social media channels. Gaining this exposure will give you an opportunity to find new Brand Ambassadors, Customers and to increase your organic traffic from the search engines.
Followers on social media websites are awesome, but there’s more to inbound marketing. You should be able to use the contest to get a better understanding of your market, or help you develop new products, or even sell more products.
With a little bit of creativity, the possibilities are endless!

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