If you own a business, it’s worth considering a promotional giveaway or contest in addition to your existing marketing strategy. Promotional giveaways have proven to be an effective marketing strategy that can help businesses grow by increasing brand awareness, generating more leads, and potentially increasing sales.
The challenge around running a successful giveaway is making sure that you reach enough entrants to make it worth giving away a prize. Without a solid plan for promoting your giveaway, it likely won’t reap the business rewards that make them such a popular marketing tactic.
With this in mind, here are some ideas to set you up for success when creating a giveaway promotion plan:
Start with a Contest Roadmap
Companies with large online followings can get away with spontaneous “flash giveaways”. But if you’re using contests to build a following, you can’t just make a giveaway announcement and hope for the best.
Simply giving away free stuff doesn’t bring businesses instant results. If there’s a specific goal you have in mind, you must structure your contest accordingly and build a giveaway promotion plan around this goal.
In order to achieve a good final result with your contest, you have to spend time planning out all of the essential elements prior to sharing your contest with the world. It’s definitely not as easy as it might seem!
Your giveaway promotion plan will serve as your guide throughout the duration of the giveaway. This roadmap should detail:
- The specific prize you’ll be giving away, associated costs, and why it suits your target audience.
- How long to run the contest.
- Which platforms you’ll use to promote your contest, alongside copy, graphics, and a promotional posting schedule.
Let’s take a look into how to strategize around each of these important aspects:
Choosing The Contest Prize
As a general rule, your giveaway should be able to appeal to your existing audience while also attracting newcomers. After all, your existing audience can help you spread the word and expand your reach.
It would be a mistake to designate a generic prize with wide appeal, such as an iPad or a $500 Visa gift card. These typical contest prizes encourage a large number of entrants, but they won’t help you to reach the more narrowly defined segment of people that represent your target audience.
Thus, choosing a prize must align with your knowledge of what your target audience is specifically interested in. Make sure to also pick something that complements your business and brand image.
Your prize might even involve free access to services offered by your company. In a situation such as this, entrants who don’t win have designated themselves as highly qualified leads to follow up with after the giveaway.
If you’re still looking for inspiration, according to statistics from Hubspot, here are some of the most popular prize categories:
The average prize has a value of $369. Use this approximation to help you to decide on a prize that people consider worth spending the time it takes to enter (and that’s worth exchanging their personal information for to have a chance at winning). If the prize value seems too low, people may not bother entering your contest.
When to Promote the Giveaway
Once you have a solid idea regarding what you to offer your audience, it’s time to decide when to run your giveaway and when to start promotional efforts.
One of the most common mistakes that some businesses make when running a giveaway is only promoting during the duration of a giveaway. In fact, there are several different promotional periods to consider and take advantage of:
- Contest ending
The idea of recognizing different promotional periods is to create promotional content that changes in mood depending on the period.
Specifically, here’s what to do during each time frame:
- Pre-launch: Your contest promotions should start at least 48 hours before the giveaway itself — to help create buzz and hype. This will help you to reach an initial batch of entrants who can then help you spread the word instead of just publishing contest details and hoping for the best. During this timeframe, try posting sneak peeks of the prizes, as well as “coming soon”/“get ready” posts.
- Launch period: Plan your biggest promotional push for the first 48 hours after the giveaway starts. During this time, make sure to detail the exact nature of your prizes and the complete mechanics regarding how to enter. Don’t forget to let your audience know that you’re now accepting entries!
- Post-launch: This involves the time period in between the launch and ending period of your contest. Don’t forget to keep reminding your audience that you have an ongoing giveaway, with details about the impending deadline. Continue posting teasers and prizes to keep excitement high.
- Ending: This involves the timeframe that’s ~48 hours before the giveaway ends. Create urgency around your promotional content to encourage last minute entries.
Giveaway Promotion Timing Considerations
Once you’ve determined the specifics around your contest promotional period, it’s time to decide on the right timing and duration of the giveaway.
Consider planning your giveaway in tandem with:
- Major holidays
- Seasonal (Spring/Summer/Winter/Fall) themes
- The company’s anniversary/birthday
- Another major milestone
The duration of your giveaway depends on many factors including the type of giveaway you’re organizing, your target audience, and the platform or method that you’re using.
Some of the most common giveaway time frames to consider include:
- Up to 1 week: This tends not to be ideal for new businesses because the promotion would need to quickly spread like wildfire in order to reach a wide audience (especially if you don’t have one to start with). That said, a shorter time frame helps create more urgency to enter for businesses with an engaged audience.
- Within 2 weeks: Perhaps the most popular giveaway duration: not too short and not too long. That said, two weeks may not be enough time for a giveaway with complicated mechanics that require participants to submit something for consideration as part of their entry (like an essay contest or photo contest).
- 30 days: This time frame is popular for holiday and seasonal giveaways. It allows businesses to have enough time to plan and promote but you have to be prepared to keep the energy high with your giveaway promotions so that you don’t lose engagement during idle periods.
- Several months long: This time frame is most ideal when the contest mechanics require participants to submit something for consideration in order to win. Similar to a 30-day contest, a long contest time period must be consistently promoted so as not to become forgettable.
- Flash-giveaways: These giveaways usually only last for a couple of days. Many companies use them as a teaser to a bigger giveaway to get followers excited.
Where to Promote Your Giveaway
As a general rule, cross-promoting your giveaway wherever you have an audience (or where your target audience hangs out) is ideal. More specifically, here’s how to handle giveaway promotions across popular online mediums:
Social Media Contest Promotion
Your existing social channels are a great place to start when it comes to promoting your giveaway. Besides organic posts, consider spending some ad dollars to reach a larger audience — especially if you haven’t established your own, yet.
Just as important as the message (with easy instructions for entering) are the graphics that accompany your social shares. Stock photos are probably not sufficient to get attention — you’ll want to create custom graphics that stand out and represent your brand and contest offering.
Do not forget to add a direct link to the giveaway if you’re hosting it on another platform. If your giveaway is the company’s most important initiative while it’s open to entries, pin posts about it to the top of your various social networks so that visitors can’t miss it. And don’t just post about your contest once — continuously remind people about your giveaway until it’s over.
Besides sharing on your own profiles, reach out to business colleagues with a complementary audience to inquire about cross-posting. Consider also posting about your giveaway on relevant Facebook Groups (as long as you make sure to follow any posted group rules).
Promoting Your Contest on Your Website
Your website should act as the home base for any and all information about your contest. It might also act as the mechanism for receiving entries.
Try the Simple Giveaways WordPress plugin, which helps you grow your email list while rewarding your audience. It empowers you to inform your audience about when the giveaway starts, ends, and when the winner is selected. It also allows you to display a countdown timer for the giveaway.
Another great feature of this plugin is the ability to add additional entry points which are designed to help you grow your email subscribers list, social followers, and add seek new contest entry referrals. On a related note, WordPress giveaway plugins such as Simple Giveaways make it easy for people to share your giveaway with their audience while incentivizing the action.
In tandem with a giveaway promotion plugin like Simple Giveaways, create a dedicated landing page focused on your contest with a clear call-to-action (CTA) for entering.
Email Newsletter Contest Promotion
Email marketing is the most direct organic connection available for reaching your existing audience.
At minimum, plan to promote your giveaway to your email subscribers at launch, then 24-36 hours after the launch, in the middle of the contest, and 24-36 hours before the end of the giveaway. Include images of the prizes within your email sends and don’t forget the direct link and the CTA.
Finally, once a winner is announced, take the opportunity to incentivize the non-winners on your email list to become customers with a special offer or discount.
Final Thoughts: How to Design a Successful Business Giveaway Promotion Plan
Creating a giveaway that accomplishes specific business goals doesn’t happen without strategy and planning. Once you have a blueprint for action, it’s time to share your contest with the world. A tool like Simple Giveaways can help you get up and running quickly, with many useful features for achieving a successful end result.
What questions do you have about contest promotional strategy? Tweet your thoughts at @IgorBenić and I’d love to help you out!