This is a post by our friend Bryan Harris that originally appeared on his blog VideoFruit.
It was 8:15 a.m. on Monday, September 15th.
My day was completely planned out. I was gearing up to launch the Vault in two weeks and was on a tight deadline.
And then Twitter happened.
I came across a case study by Josh Earl where he showed how he collected over 60,000 emails by hosting a giveaway.
60,000 email subscribers? In 10 days? That completely blew me away.
So I canceled all of my plans and set up my own giveaway.
3 hours later it was life.
I gave away a 10-year subscription to LeadPages, a tool that I talk about all the time on this blog.
One week later 2,239 people had entered the giveaway and subscribed to this site.
It’s easy to read about someone getting 60,000 subscribers in such a short time frame and call it a fluke.
Will you get 60,000 subscribers by running a contest? Probably not.
But can you grow your list significantly? Absolutely.
I used 13 different strategies to promote my contest and make sure it was a hit. Today, I’m going to share with you 5 of the most effective strategies that I discovered.
I’ve compiled all 13 strategies into an easy-to-reference training guide you can download and follow when you set up your contest.
Three Steps to Create and Promote Your Giveaway
I’m going to walk you through the 3 key steps you need to follow to set up and promote your first giveaway.
Step #1: Create the Giveaway
The first thing you need to do is pick the prize you will be giving away. No amount of promotion will overcome a crappy prize.
There are three characteristics your prize needs to have:
1. Highly Desirable: Your prize needs to be something that your target audience covets.
For example, if you run a food blog whose primary focus is organic cooking, you could offer a $2,000 gift card to Whole Foods.
If you are a self-help coach, you could offer free tickets to Tony Robbins’s next event (a $750 value).
2. Shocking: To maximize your giveaway’s reach, it needs to have shock value.
In other words, when your target audience hears the headline of your giveaway, it needs to make them stop and turn their heads.
Which of these giveaway headlines are more shocking to you?
“Win a $2,000 Gift Card to Whole Foods”
“Win an Entire Year of Groceries from Whole Foods (a $2,000 value)”
In my contest I used this hook: “Win a One Decade Subscription to LeadPages.”
I could have gone with a lifetime membership, but what I found was that many other giveaways in my industry use the lifetime angle. I wanted to be different.
By using the “decade” angle, the hook was unique and thus played a big part in my contest getting as much traction as it did.
3. Authority Leaching: Pick a prize owned by a company that will be likely to help you promote the giveaway.
The entire purpose of the giveaway is to reach new people. Leaching off of the audience of the prize owner is an easy way to do that.
I did this with LeadPages and was able to reach 3,099 more people via their Twitter account:
— LeadPages™ (@LeadPages) September 25, 2014
4 Steps to Pick Your Giveaway Prize
Step 1: Recon and research.
The best way I’ve found to pick the perfect prize for your giveaway is to do a Google search for “[Keyword] + [Service]”.
For example …
When our organic food blogger types in “organic food service,” he or she would instantly find an organic food delivery service that delivers to anywhere in North America.
That would be a great prize to give away to the blogger’s audience.
For Videofruit, I searched for “landing page service” and got a list of 10 potential offerings.
Tip: Focus in on the paid ad listings marked by the yellow “AD” icon in the search results. These slots are nearly always occupied by highly relevant services and products.
Step 2: Make a list of the potential options.
Next, write down a list of all of the products that come up through your searches.
I keep a simple Google spreadsheet of the site’s name, URL and product offered.
Tip: Also include in your list any products that you regularly talk about on your blog and that you know your readers use on a regular basis.
Step 3: Write a hook for each potential option.
Now you need to write the headline (i.e., hook) for each potential giveaway.
Ask yourself this question:
“If I were tweeting this giveaway out to my audience, how would I write that tweet?”
Use that as your hook.
If you’re having a hard time coming up with your hook, go to contestlisting.com and browse through some of the most popular giveaways. Rip off their headline structure.
If you were giving away a subscription to the conversion testing service Optimizely, you could borrow this headline:
… and re-spin it to work for your giveaway like this:
“Win $2,000 in Conversion Testing with Optimizely”
Before moving to the next step, you need to write a unique hook for each potential offer.
Step 4: Run them through the filter.
Lastly, you need to grade each of your potential options against the criteria we identified previously.
Criteria #1. Is it coveted by your audience?
Criteria #2. Will the headline of your giveaway turn heads?
Criteria #3. Is the prize owner likely to share your giveaway?
Grade each of your selections in the spreadsheet on a scale of 1-5.
When you are done it should look something like this:
Now add up the totals, and the product that is graded the highest is your winner.
Bonus: Download a copy of this spreadsheet in the resource center.
Step #2: Promote the Giveaway
There are 13 different strategies you can use to promote your contest. I’m going to share with you five of my favorite.
Each of these take a lot of manual labor to implement, but they work no matter how big your list is or how much traffic you get.
Note: We won’t be going in depth about the technical part of setting up your giveaway in this post; however, the plugin that I use to run the contest as well as a 50% off coupon and a tutorial video are all included in the resource center linked at the bottom of this article.
Strategy #1: Call in favors.
Look, I hate asking for favors. I especially hate it when I’m selling something. It just feels weird.
But this is different. A giveaway is a GIVE, not an ASK. You are trying to GIVE something of extreme value away for free.
When this mentally registered with me, I unashamedly went on a campaign to ask everyone I knew to help me share this GIVEaway.
The first thing I did once launching my giveaway was to talk to every friend I have and ask them to share the giveaway with their audiences.
I started on Skype and went down the list, messaging to share the giveaway on Twitter and Facebook.
Here is the message I used:
Results: This strategy produced 349 subscribers.
Strategy #2: Manual outreach to interviewees.
The second thing you need to do is reach out to anyone who has performed an interview on your topic or related topics in the past 90 days.
This was fairly straightforward since LeadPages has a dedicated podcast called Conversion Cast.
I made a Google Doc and listed out every guest that had been on their podcast in 2014.
Then I found and listed their email address in the Google Doc.
Next, I manually sent each interviewee an email.
Here is the email I sent:
Of the 38 emails I sent, 22 people responded and shared the contest on Twitter.
This allowed my to reach nearly 200,000 more people.
But what if your product doesn’t have a dedicated podcast? What then?
Look for related podcasts.
For example …
Our food blogger who is giving away a $2,000 Whole Foods gift card doesn’t have the luxury of using a Whole Foods podcast to siphon past guests from.
However, there are 100s of podcasts in the Fitness and Nutrition category of iTunes that do interview-based podcasts.
Step 1: Make a list of interview-based podcasts in the Health & Fitness section.
Step 2: Make a list of every guest who has been on their show.
Step 3: Contact each guest with an email about your giveaway.
Step 4: Ask them to share your giveaway.
Results: This strategy produced 620 new subscribers to my giveaway.
Strategy #3: Manual outreach to roundup posts.
Another easy place to find people to share your giveaway is roundup posts. For example, LeadPages runs a monthly roundup post where they list some of their favorite implementations of their product.
Many of the people who use LeadPages have audiences that would be interested in using LeadPages. So I emailed each person listed in every one of their roundup posts with this email:
To find relevant roundup posts for your industry use the Google search query “best + [keyword] + blog”
Our organic food blogger could search for “best organic food blogs”.
This one search produces a list of 55 blogs that would potentially be interested in sharing your giveaway with their audience.
Step 1: Search your industry’s top blogs.
Step 2: Make a list of 50 of the top blogs.
Step 3: Email each site’s owner and ask them to share your giveaway.
Results: This technique produced 590 new subscribers to my giveaway.
Strategy #4: Manual outreach to backlinkers.
The fourth tactic I used was to manually reach out to any site that had linked to a LeadPages article in the past 90 days.
My thinking was this: If a website is linking to a LeadPages article, then their audience should be interested in a LeadPages giveaway.
So, If I email them and tell them about my giveaway perhaps they will share it with their audience.
Follow these 4 steps to identify and contact backlinks:
Step 1: Make a list of every article you want to track.
I use BuzzSumo for this. For my contest I entered the LeadPages domain to get a list of all of their top blog posts over the past year.
Step 2: Identify every website that has linked to each article.
To do this use Open Site Explorer (OSE). Type in the blog post’s specific URL into OSE and it will give you a list of every site that links to that article.
Step 3: Email each site owner and ask them to share your giveaway
Lastly, email each site owner who backlinked to the source article and ask them to share your giveaway.
This is the email I used:
Results: The strategy produced 325 subscribers to my giveaway.
Strategy #5: Email campaign to your list.
No matter your email list size, telling your existing audience about your giveaway is very important.
Your current subscribers are your biggest fans and are the most likely to share your giveaway with their friends.
I wrote two emails: 1) announcing the giveaway; and 2) reminding them it was about to close.
Email #1: Announcing the giveaway
I sent this email on the day that the giveaway started.
Email #2: Reminding that it was ending
I sent this email the morning of the last day of the launch.
Results: These 2 emails resulted in 725 new subscribers to the giveaway.
9 more strategies: There are 13 total strategies that I recommend you use to promote your giveaway. For sake of time and space, I included the rest of those strategies in the resource center. You can access them for free here.
Step #3: Incentivize the Laggards
There is one last thing you need to MAKE SURE you do in order to give your giveaway the best chance at working: incentivize the laggards.
Incentivize everyone who has a low chance of winning.
99% of the people that enter your giveaway won’t win and they know that. One tactic I used to help encourage them to share anyway was to offer a secondary incentive for sharing the giveaway.
Anyone who entered and was able to get 5 friends to sign up would get a free LeadPages premium template valued at $900.
Before announcing the secondary incentive, I imported all of the contestants who had entered the contest into my email system. Then, on the afternoon that the contest was ending, I sent this email:
Here are a few ideas of freebies that you could use to incentivize your laggards:
- Copy of your book
- Resource guide
- Training material
- Extended trial to a relevant software program
Results: This technique accounted for 380 new subscribers.
Giveaways are incredibly effective.
Just be sure you follow these three steps to make sure your giveaway is worth the time and effort you put into it:
Step 1: Pick a killer prize that your audience covets.
Step 2: Use all 13 promotional strategies to reach the maximum number of people possible.
Step 3: Incentivize all of your laggards to share your giveaway with their audiences.
I’ve packaged up a set of killer bonuses to help you set up your first giveaway. Inside the resource center you’ll get:
- 50% off coupon for the WordPress plugin I use to run my giveaway
- Tutorial video of how to take care of the technical part of things
- All 13 promotional strategies that I used in my giveaway
- Access to my swipe file of email templates to email key influencers
- Killer prize-picking spreadsheet. This will help you pick the perfect prize for your giveaway.
Access the bonuses here: