What I Learned Running a Giveaway

I've had a lot of unique marketing experiences since starting my professional career. From managing $120,000 Adwords Budget to publishing and marketing a book to starting an annual conference I've covered a lot of ground. Surprisingly, I've never done a giveaway of any kind.

My current company specializes in serving businesses and schools that use Apple products, which is admittedly a niche market. With any niche market comes a set of unique challenges and obstacles. I decided to try something a little out of the box by doing Foojee's first every giveaway.

Originally, we discussed leveraging the giveaway in order to source leads via referrals. I found a platform that manages giveaways that allows users to create a custom submission form. The first was to create a form that would ONLY allow people to enter the giveaway by submitting our custom form that had fields for their name and contact information along with the name and contact information of a legitimate referral. A referral being someone who might have a use or need for our company's services. 

After some debate we decided against using this particular method. As promising as it seemed for generating leads and potential revenue, we ultimately felt that it might be a bit too invasive to force people to make referrals to our company. We want people to refer others to our company because they loved their experience with us so much that it is a natural evolution.

We landed on a simple email capture form instead. As a way to grow our audience and general awareness for our company, everyone who entered our giveaway simply entered an email address. After clicking submit, they were taken to a page where they could earn additional entries a few specific ways. Each person could follow us on Twitter or Instagram, like us on Facebook, Tweet about us (a previously composed tweet by me), subscribe to our YouTube channel, or take a few other actions to earn entries. Each entry slightly increases the person's chances of winning and some actions, such as tweeting, they could do multiple times to earn more entries for the duration of the contest.

When it came to deciding on a prize, we knew exactly what to do. We knew we had to pick something valuable that people would love. While we briefly considered giving away an iPhone, we realized that most people would already be pre-ordering or buying their own iPhones. What they would be less likely to buy on their own was a novelty item, an Apple Watch. An Apple Watch has become something that tons of people want, but many cannot or will not justify the cost and buy one for themselves. So why not gift one in exchange for helping us grow?

Being an Apple IT company, we always do a video recap when Apple holds a keynote to announce software or hardware updates. We love this stuff so it made perfect sense for us to capitalize on the momentum of the iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2 announcements and releases. 

We announced the contest less than 48 hours after the Apple Keynote event and set an end date for two weeks later. I'm not sure any of us were prepared for the reaction we got. With a smaller social media presence, we weren't sure how much traction we would receive.

Before the giveaway began here's where our platforms stood:

  • Twitter Followers: 411

  • Instagram Followers: 227

  • Facebook Likes: 340

  • YouTube Subscribers: 317

When the giveaway ended 14 days later, we'd made a nice little jump:

  • Twitter Followers: 1,484

  • Instagram Followers: 988

  • Facebook Likes: 1,023

  • YouTube Subscribers: 1,353

  • Emails Collected: 3,621

In two weeks, we more than tripled the number of followers on our social media platforms and our email list more than doubled in size. I expected good results, but I was not prepared for the skyrocketing of followers on every platform. 

Once the giveaway was closed, I used our sweepstakes platform (ViralSweep, they are AWESOME and I highly recommend using them for your giveaways) and clicked one button to generate a winner. It gave me the winner's contact info so I could inform them personally that they'd won an Apple Watch. This part was fun because he didn't believe me at first!

One of the final pieces of this puzzle was exporting 3,621 email addresses from Viral Sweep and importing them to MailChimp. I then created a customized email to announce the winner to all of the people who entered the contest. We thanked them for entering, shared a little about our company, and then shared one of our videos with them that seemed relevant and helpful. People thanked us for the way we handled the giveaway in a personal and relational way.

Since the giveaway ended, we've put a heavy emphasis on sharing and creating content worthy of anyone's time. We want all of our new followers and friends to know that the company's goal is to provide them with as much value as possible. We everyone who follows us and knows us to love us and talk about us to others. We know how powerful word-of-mouth can be alongside awareness and we believe it leads to long-term success.

I took away a few key pieces of information from this experience:

  • Make your giveaway relevant and valuable (even if it's something worth less than $100, make sure the perceived value is high)

  • Use the momentum of current and popular events happening in the world

  • Don't be afraid to ask people to share about your giveaway and company

  • Thank the people who enter your contest and talk about it on social media

  • Send an announcement email that not only names the winner, but introduces the company to those who may be unfamiliar and share a piece of useful content

  • During the giveaway, begin collecting, curating, and creating great content that these new followers will find useful. After they follow you want to give them a reason to stick around.

  • Don't be afraid to ask them for something once in a blue moon (once a quarter or less). They joined the email list and followed on social media. They always have the option to leave and not listen anymore so do your best to give them a reason to stay and when the time comes ask them to help you grow your business through referrals or sales.