Blog giveaways are a great way for companies to create online “buzz” about their business or product. To run a successful giveaway for your blog and for your sponsor, here is a step-by-step guide on how to set-up and run a blog giveaway.
Determine Your Prize – Make it Good
A big factor that determines the success of your giveaway is the quality of your giveaway prize. Electronics, cash or gift cards, and food have historically been very good for us. We also recommend setting a minimum prize value for your giveaway – such as a $25. Giveaways that are valued under $5 typically receive fewer entries. Many sponsors will happily accommodate minimum values by bundling items.
When hashing out the details with the giveaway sponsor, make sure you get these key items:
- Prize Value
- Do they want to drive traffic to any specific social media accounts or websites?
- Are there any restrictions for entrants (ex. US only, cannot have won in previous x months, etc.)
- Request that they ship prizes directly to the winners so you don’t incur the cost of shipping.
Post Your Giveaway – Make it Clear
When you write your giveaway post, you want to make sure that the following information is clear and easy for readers to find:
- Prize – Tell the entrants what they can win.
- Number of winners – Specify how many winners will be selected.
- Giveaway end date – Make this clearly visible. It can be disappointing to enter a giveaway only two discover it ended two weeks ago.
- Entry restrictions – If your giveaway is open to US only, state it clearly.
- How to enter – Typically the first entry is “mandatory” and is something along the lines of “fill in your info” or “leave a comment about xyz.” Bonus entries are usually rewarded for following on Twitter, Facebook, RSS, etc. Make sure you’re clear what the bonus entry methods are and how many entries they are worth. Collect username and handles for bonus entries for entry verification.
- How they will be notified – Will they need to check back? Will you email them? (This can be lumped in with the giveaway rules.)
- Giveaway rules – Create a separate post or page that lists all of your standard giveaway rules, such as “Must be 18 or older to win. No purchase necessary to enter. Void where prohibited.” etc. then include that link at the bottom of your giveaway posts.
Collecting Entries – Make it Easy
There are a few different ways to collect your giveaway entries. We’ll cover three different methods in this post.
- Sweeps Keep: I’m a big fan of having as much control over what’s on the blog as possible. That’s one of the reasons that I use and recommend Sweeps Keep for hosting blog giveaways. It’s a paid WordPress plugin that you install on your own blog that allows you to create a giveaway, host a giveaway, and select winners all on your own site. If I want to see the entries? I can. If I want to change the colors? I can. If I want to edit or moderate a giveaway, I just log into my WordPress dashboard. If I don’t want the giveaway to go down because a 3rd party site is down, it won’t.
PROS: Sweeps Keep manages the entire giveaway. Use the built-in entry options or create your own entries. You can easily customize the colors and look of the widget to match your site. BONUS – it comes with it’s own giveaway countdown widget for your sidebar.
CONS: It’s a premium plugin. Not really a con since you’re getting a plugin that provides additional value and features.
- Rafflecopter: Rafflecopter is an online giveaway platform that allows you to create and administer your giveaways. You will need to create a Rafflecopter account. Once you have the account, you can easily create a giveaway, note the prize, and set which forms of entry you allow – such as leave blog comment, follow on Twitter, Like the post, etc.
PROS: Rafflecopter manages all of the entries. You can moderate comments, select the winner randomly, and customize the entries.
- Leave a comment: This leverages built in blog commenting as a form of entry. In your giveaway, you would tell people to leave a comment for each entry method. These comments would then appear on the post as entries.
PROS: All of the comments are on your site and are fully controlled by you. Since all entries are visible, there’s an unspoken “policing” policy where other entrants can see if someone is bending the rules, encouraging entrants to play by the rules.
CONS: You end up with a lot of comments on posts that say “Follow on Twitter”. Entrant information (such as email address and user names) are public. Your site needs to reload each time someone needs to post a new comment, which significantly slows down the entry process. You need to manually moderate and select the winner.
NOTE: If you’re on WordPress, we recommend using the And the Winner is… plugin to help with random winner selection.
- Fill out a form: By embedding a Google Doc form into your giveaway post, you allow users to securely post their entries into the form. You can great a form with all entry options on one page or you can great a form that will be refreshed for each entry. You can view all entries in the Google Doc spreadsheet and user random.org to select your winner.
PROS: It allows entrants to enter without showing their information. It also helps keep comments clean.
CONS: You will need to moderate all the entries yourself and may need to manually tally the correct number of entries.
Promote Your Giveaway – Make it Known
Giveaways are not a set-it and forget-it event. To increase maximum visibility and entries for your giveaway, submit your giveaway to online giveaway sites, blog linkys, and promote your giveaway on all your social media channels.
- Cuckoo for Coupon Deals has a great collection of sites where you can submit your giveaway. If you have limited time, make sure you hit at least 3 or 4 of the “big” sites. I always submit to Online Sweepstakes, Sweeps Advantage, CashNet, and Contest Girl.
- Create a section on your website that lists your blog giveaways and make it visible to your readers.
- Post your giveaway on Twitter, Facebook and your other networks to announce your giveaway to your followers. On Twitter, try using the hashtags #win or #giveaway to grab new entrants who search those targeted terms.
Choosing Your Winner – Make it Fair
Most blog giveaways have random winners. If you are using Rafflecopter or the And the Winner is… plugin, they will randomly select a winner for you. Otherwise, you can visit Random.org to randomly generate a number based on the number of entries in your giveaway. Many people take screen shots or save local copies of these number selections “just in case.”
If you’ve offered bonus entries, make sure to confirm that the selected winner has completed the mandatory entry and that the winning entry is complete. For example – if they say they’re following you on Twitter, confirm that they are.
Once your winner has been selected, contact them to have them claim their prize. Whenever collecting mailing information, we use a Google Doc form to gather everything in one form, reducing chances of email loss. In your notification email, specify how long they have to respond before the next winner is drawn.
Close The Loop – Make ’em Happy
After you have confirmed your winner, make sure you loop back around with you sponsor for prize fulfillment. If you used Rafflecopter, you can also share your entry breakdown with the sponsor, such as “We show that 200 people have followed you on Facebook and 100 people are following on Twitter.”
On occasion, things fall through the cracks on our end or a sponsor’s end. If a winner has not received their prize yet, ping the sponsor to get a status update. Do your best to ensure that all prizes get fulfilled.
Giveaways are a great way to boost your visitors, your numbers, and is a nice reward for your readers. Please let us know if you have any other tips for helping to run a successful giveaway!