Picture the scene: you’ve stumbled upon an unfamiliar ecommerce site.
First impressions seem positive; you like their brand and products. Their prices and shipping costs seem reasonable. Still, you’re not 100 percent sold. With literally millions of other brands out there, why not shop around?
Then you spot a message like this:
All you need to do is enter your email address for a chance to win a totally free product. What have you got to lose?
Of course, product giveaways aren’t just a win for consumers. They help brands grow their marketing lists, giving them the opportunity to transform one-off website visitors into engaged ecommerce leads and, eventually, paying customers.
To help you take advantage of this highly effective—yet underutilized—marketing tactic, I’ve gathered together some of my favorite tips and best practices for running effective giveaways.
And I’ve even included 11 high-converting promotional giveaway ideas from real-world brands that you can steal for your next campaign.
What is the Goal of Your Giveaway?
As with any campaign, the first step to planning a promotional giveaway is to define the objective(s) you hope to achieve. Common goals include:
It’s fair to say we’re big fans of email marketing at Drip; hardly surprising given that email generates a return of $36 for every $1 spent.
Using giveaways for email capture is generally about targeting website visitors who’ve never bought from you before. You shouldn’t need to rely on free gifts to persuade existing customers to sign up for your email list.
Once you’ve got your hands on their email address, you can reach them with personalized campaigns based on their preferences and onsite behaviors. If they love browsing necklaces or buy a new bed cover every six months, you can hit their inbox with a targeted promotion at exactly the right time.
Boosting Your Social Following & Audience Engagement
Many brands use promotional giveaways to increase engagement on social media and grow their follower counts, just like in this example from our pals at Haute Hijab:
Most of these contests follow a similar format, offering followers the chance to win a prize in exchange for:
- Liking, commenting on, and/or sharing a specific social media post
- Tagging friends in the comments
This is an easy way to reach new audiences on social media—although, clearly, there are no guarantees that those people will follow you or engage with your content (let alone buy from you).
Capturing User-Generated Content
With four-fifths of consumers saying user-generated content (UGC) highly influences their purchasing decisions, it’s easy to see why many brands are eager to capture as much of it as possible.
But UGC doesn’t just happen by chance. Most shoppers aren’t going to essentially do your marketing for you without a little incentive.
That’s where promotional giveaways come in. Rather than asking customers to comment on your social posts or give you their email address, task them with sharing photos and videos of them using and enjoying your product.
Run these giveaways regularly and you’ll soon build a library of valuable user-generated product pictures, reviews, and testimonials to use in future campaigns.
Generating Customer Referrals
Referred customers are valuable customers.
But, just like with UGC, you can’t afford to simply sit back and hope customer referrals will magically appear—you need to incentivize the process.
Referral campaigns are typically about generating sales instead of leads. So they tend to offer more attractive, guaranteed rewards. Rather than giving participants the chance to win a prize, you might offer a free product (or even a cash incentive) to both the referrer and the referred customer.
When Should You Launch a Giveaway?
Like any type of promotion, it makes most sense to launch your giveaway campaign during slower sales periods for your brand. Because there’s little point in offering additional incentives at times when shoppers are already looking to buy (plus no one needs the hassle of running a competition in the buildup to BFCM).
Beyond that, build your launch around times when engagement is highest across your chosen promotional channels.
For instance, the best time to send emails is generally on Tuesdays and Thursdays…
…with emails sent at 8 AM, 1 PM, and 5 PM performing best in terms of open and click-through rates.
How to Run a Successful Business Giveaway
Done well, promotional giveaways can grow your marketing list, generate customer referrals, and drive sales and revenue. But those results aren’t guaranteed. Get it wrong and you risk devaluing your brand and turning off loyal customers.
Here are five best practices to boost your chances of running a successful giveaway…
Choose the Right Platform for Your Giveaway
Whether you’re giving away a pair of socks or the winner’s body weight in gold bullion, no one’s going to engage with your promotion if they don’t know it exists. For that reason, it’s vital you choose the best platform for your giveaway; one that helps you reach the right audience.
The “best” platform for your campaign will naturally depend on the objectives you're looking to achieve.
For instance, if you’re looking to reach and engage new audiences, it makes sense to use a platform with built-in shareability, such as Facebook or Instagram. Or if you want to capture more email addresses, try targeting new customers visiting your website via onsite popups.
Collect Emails & Nurture Giveaway Participants
Remember: you’re not running a giveaway because you just love handing out your products free of charge; you’re doing it to achieve some sort of broader marketing goal.
Most likely, that goal will involve growing and/or engaging your audience, with the ultimate aim of generating more sales and revenue.
That means building some sort of audience nurturing process into your campaign.
Gather participants’ email addresses when they enter your giveaway contest. And if your giveaway is running for an extended period (say, any longer than 48 hours), be sure to share regular competition updates via email and/or social media.
Your giveaway email sequence could look this:
|Email number||Days after launch||Purpose|
|1||0||Confirm giveaway entry|
|2||1||Remind entrants of the competition prize and any key terms and conditions|
|3||3||Tell people how many entrants have signed up; share UGC examples if relevant|
|4||5||Announce the giveaway winner(s)|
|5||6||Share a discount code with non-winning participants|
Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach here. You’ll need to tailor your communications based on a whole range of factors, from the length of your competition to the entry requirements and the prize you’re offering.
Link the Prize Back to Your Business
Obvious as it might sound, it’s best if the product or experience you’re giving away has a logical tie-in with your brand.
The easiest solution is to give away your own products. But that’s not the only viable approach to running a giveaway. With a little creativity, you might be able to identify a theme and prize that makes for a more engaging contest.
For a brand like The White Company, which sells luxury homeware and clothing, the most obvious strategy is to offer up a fancy duvet set or a botanical candle as a prize. Instead, it gave customers the chance to win a mini-break at a luxury cottage on the English coast:
Why? Because The White Company helped style the property, effectively creating a physical case study for its whole aesthetic; something aspirational to inspire its audience.
By offering up the mini-break as a competition prize, the brand was able to showcase its work in a more engaging way than simply saying: “Come take a look at this cottage we decorated.”
Get Engagement on Social Media
Whether or not you’re running your giveaway through social media, you should absolutely use your social channels to drum up more interest.
As with the Haute Hijab example I shared earlier in this article, the most obvious approach is to make social engagement a key element of your campaign—prompting followers to comment on a post or tag a friend in order to enter.
But you can also leverage platforms like Instagram and TikTok to raise awareness of your giveaway and direct followers to register on a dedicated competition landing page.
Be Clear About Your Rules
In the marketing world, simple is always best, and giveaways are no different.
Sure, your legal team will likely want to cover your back with a bunch of terms and conditions. That’s fine. But the overarching rules of the competition—how to enter, what the prize is, and when the winner will be announced—should be easily digestible.
National lotteries are a good example. They give away millions of dollars, yet all you have to do to enter is buy a ticket and match some numbers. Anyone can understand it.
If your contest can’t be explained in 2 – 3 bullet points, it’s almost certainly too complex.
11 of The Best Giveaway Ideas That Work (and How to Execute Them)
1. Collect Emails with Relevant Prizes
If you’re planning a giveaway, your prize should be the first thing you decide on.
After all, prizes are the main reason why people participate in giveaways.
Choose a prize too common, and you won’t grab much attention. But choose a prize too big, and chances are you’ll attract freebie-seekers.
As tempting as it sounds, offering a new iPhone in your giveaway will do little good for you. Why? Because attractive but irrelevant prizes are spam magnets.
You’ll most likely end up with an email list full of uninterested leads who are only in for the prize.
Instead, keep your prize relevant to your products and your value proposition.
Before planning your next giveaway, make sure that it serves your conversion goals. If your purpose is to grow your email list, an Instagram contest where users tag their friends won’t help you.
Remember, a good giveaway doesn’t speak to everyone. Rather, it speaks to your buyer persona.
With a relevant prize that resonates with your buyer persona, you can actually promote your online store, on top of collecting email addresses.
Take this example by J.Crew Factory:
The company hosts a spring giveaway on their site and creates a dedicated landing page for it.
The big prize is a package that includes a gift card winners can spend on J.Crew Factory’s online store.
A sample product or a gift card is a relevant and effective prize, but for some visitors, it’s not enough of an incentive. If you want to make the prize more desirable, you can combine a gift card with other things, as J.Crew Factory does.
This way, visitors will get the chance to try your products. And it increases their likelihood of becoming return customers.
Notice how J.Crew Factory writes the value of both the gift card (worth $100) and the package (over $300) to make the prizes more attractive.
J.Crew Factory asks if you want to sign up for their email list as the last step and leaves it optional. This way, they capture the visitors’ excitement of entering a competition, and they grow their email list with interested leads.
If you’re collecting emails that you’ll use for marketing purposes, clearly write what users are giving consent to. Give participants the space to decide for themselves, instead of preselecting the newsletter checkbox.
2. Improve Your Giveaway Copy
One major advantage of hosting an onsite giveaway is the ability to customize every part of your contest.
This means that you have the flexibility to make your giveaway as attractive as possible.
With an onsite giveaway campaign, you can decide what actions visitors should take, which information they should submit, and where they should go next.
Take a look at this example by Jysk Vin:
Unlike J.Crew Factory, Jysk Vin uses an onsite campaign to host their giveaway. This way, they can inform all their site visitors about the giveaway without making them go to a new page.
This campaign works great for a few reasons:
- Their prize (24 bottles of wine) is highly relevant and attractive to their site visitors.
- The headline “Win $770 worth of wine” is attention-grabbing and value-driven.
- They give clear information about the draw date.
- They openly state what you are subscribing to (an exclusive newsletter for wine enthusiasts).
- The campaign has only one input field, which makes it ridiculously easy for their visitors to complete.
- They use a benefit-driven CTA, instead of simply writing “Sign Up” or “Enter Now.”
With a well-written onsite campaign like the one above, you can easily nudge your visitors to join your giveaway and give them a strong reason to sign up for your newsletter.
What’s better is, you can exclude your existing subscribers from these campaigns so that you don’t ask them to join your newsletter again.
3. Leverage the Holiday Season
If you’re not already leveraging holidays with special campaigns, you’re missing out on a lot of revenue.
Adding a little twist to your holiday campaigns can help you stand out among hundreds of other festive giveaways.
Many online stores host giveaways, especially during the holiday season, and they usually offer winners a few big prizes.
But you can make your contests even more attractive by letting your site visitors choose the prize they want themselves.
Here’s a great example that you can replicate on your site.
At first sight, you don’t know if it’s a giveaway or not. But it certainly evokes curiosity.
And this is what you see when you open the email:
They ask you to make a wishlist with their products, write why you should win, and send the company an email.
And if you’re the lucky winner, you get everything on your wishlist.
Chubbies successfully leverage the holiday season with this humorous giveaway email.
But if you want to execute this brilliant idea in a more effective way, try making things easier for your visitors.
Asking for too much effort for a small payoff will reduce your number of entries.
Instead, you can create a simple form with a few input fields and show it only on relevant product pages.
If you want to run the giveaway on a special category, say, “shoes”, you can set a condition to show your campaign on specific product pages.
And you can exclude certain pages, such as your about or contact pages if you want to hide the campaign.
You can also use advanced scheduling to set up and deactivate your giveaway campaigns ahead of time.
When the giveaway ends, you can give all participants special discounts for their wishlist items and convert them into customers even if they didn’t win.
4. Promote Your Products
With e-commerce giveaways, you can do much more than collect emails and raise brand awareness.
If someone wants to join your contest and win one of your products or a gift related to them, it means that they’re interested in your online store.
Once they enter your sales funnel, you have a chance to promote your products and convert them into customers—whether they join your giveaway or not.
But here’s the caveat: You should do it subtly.
Check out this example by Oru Kayak:
Following common practice, the company partners up with other e-commerce brands, such as Sunski, to offer bigger prizes in their giveaway.
They bring all the prizes you can win together and use the picture on their giveaway landing page. They also include the dollar value of the prizes to increase their perceived value.
But the company doesn’t stop there. They list all the products you can win with their individual prices and links to product detail pages:
In addition to giving you information about the giveaway, they also introduce you to their products and promote them in a subtle way.
This is a more effective way of introducing your products and creating excitement for them, compared to simply listing the items participants can win.
5. Use Giveaways to Sell More
E-commerce giveaways not only help you gain more prospects but also engage with those prospects in a more persuasive way.
With onsite giveaways, you can directly increase your sales by targeting both your existing and potential customers, who are at a further stage in their buyer’s journey.
A timely giveaway can create a gentle nudge that your visitors need in order to become customers. Plus, it can help increase their average order value (AOV).
Take a look at this giveaway idea by Vinomofo:
The company celebrates its birthday with a “treasure hunt” type of giveaway.
Milestones like this are a clever excuse to appreciate your customers and host a giveaway to increase your sales.
Vinomofo’s rules are simple: “Buy anything today to win.”
Even though this is a smart giveaway idea, hosting it on a landing page makes it difficult for site visitors to see it.
If you want to apply Vinomofo’s idea to your online store, you can improve it by using an onsite campaign and relevant triggers.
This way, more site visitors will be aware of your giveaway and you’ll increase your sales.
If you want to create a sense of urgency without being annoying, try adding a countdown timer to your campaign.
If your giveaway requires a minimum shopping limit to enter, you can nudge visitors who are close to the limit based on their basket value.
Here’s an example of how such a campaign might look:
6.Combine Surveys with Giveaways
No matter what business you’re in, you’re probably trying hard to get some insights from your customers.
You want to find out why your visitors abandon their carts or how you can improve your online store.
You send out survey invitation emails over and over again, but nobody is interested in responding.
Chances are, you’re missing an incentive.
Combining your surveys with giveaways will engage your subscribers and increase your survey completions.
Here’s a typical survey/giveaway example by Brooklinen:
At first, it looks like a customer appreciation email, where you can click through to enter a giveaway and win one of their products.
Because Brooklinen frames the invitation email around the giveaway, instead of the survey. Completing the survey is only a simple condition to join and it takes two minutes.
When you click “Enter Now,” you see that it’s a Typeform survey:
Positioning your surveys around a giveaway can help increase your completions and make your products desirable.
In the end, you’ll get valuable feedback and engaged customers.
Following this approach, Brooklinen only reaches out to their email subscribers and asks for their opinion.
If you want to reach a bigger audience and collect more insights, you can create an onsite survey campaign, instead.
You can add a condition to hide your campaign from your first-time visitors and get more accurate feedback. Or you can only show it to visitors who spend an X amount of time on your site.
Livingshop uses a campaign to survey their customers at checkout:
It’s easy to recreate this simple campaign and target the right people on the right pages. Plus, you can turn it into a giveaway with a little twist.
7. Collect Emails on Closed Giveaways
Here’s a little secret many marketers don’t know about: even if your giveaway ends, it still has potential to bring you warm leads.
With a minor addition, you can turn your giveaway page into an automated lead generation machine.
While doing research for this article, I clicked dozens of dead giveaway links that lead to a 404 page.
And in many other cases, companies let me know that their giveaway ended, but they failed to point me to a new direction.
There’s a great chance that your prospects will land on an old giveaway page that you shared on social media or they’ll find an email in their inboxes a little too late.
Instead of shutting down your giveaway pages, you can turn them into a lead generator until your next campaign.
Here’s how Bellroy does that successfully:
When you visit one of their old giveaway pages, first, they inform you that this campaign is closed.
Then, the company triggers your fear-of-missing-out (FOMO) by saying “Don’t miss out again!”
Finally, they invite you to join their newsletter by explaining its benefit for you: “Be the first to know about product releases and giveaways in the future.”
Bellroy successfully eases your frustration and gives you a strong reason to sign up for their email list. Because they know that if you’re interested in this giveaway, you’re a valuable lead for the company.
8. Gather UGC From Existing Customers
I’ve already mentioned how effective UGC can be for showcasing your products and influencing purchase decisions. So the more of it you can gather, the better.
Admittedly, GoPro has a distinct advantage: it sells action cameras, which are pretty closely related to the action of taking photos and videos.
Also, the whole reason people buy GoPros is to capture themselves doing cool stuff like climbing mountains or jumping out of airplanes, so it’s only natural they’d be happy to share the results with the widest-possible audience.
Still, those factors alone are no guarantee of success.
Customers still need a compelling reason to send in their snaps and vids, so GoPro incentivizes them with regular gear giveaways and cash prizes:
The result? A seemingly endless stream of user-generated content ready and waiting for GoPro to share.
Pro tip: Notice how GoPro uses dedicated UGC hashtags. Without them, it’d be near-impossible to keep track of all those contest entries.
9. Offer Limited-Edition Products
By their very nature, giveaways rely on urgency and/or scarcity to drive action. Generally speaking, you’re either:
- Offering a set number of prizes; or
- Only making those prizes available for a short period
So why not raise the stakes by adding more scarcity in the form of a limited-edition product giveaway?
That way, customers know if they don’t take part in the competition, they’ll never get their hands on the product in question.
Cotton Bureau used this strategy as part of its 10th birthday celebration, giving customers the chance to win various limited-edition goodies by entering a specific code during the checkout process:
I like this approach because it’s all about sales and revenue: you can only be part of the contest if you actually buy something.
If you were already planning to shop for a new T-shirt and you received this email, it’d give you all the incentive you need to click through and make a purchase.
10. Run a Branded Merch Giveaway
From T-shirts to pens to coffee mugs, it turns out branded merchandise is a big hit with consumers.
Indeed, 53 percent of Americans love receiving these sorts of products from brands. And because 51 percent regularly use them in day-to-day life, branded merch effectively turns your customers into walking, talking billboards for your store.
There’s one major caveat to this promotional giveaway strategy: it only works if your brand is strong.
If you’re a new entrant to your market, or have limited brand awareness, people might not be too excited at the prospect of wearing your logo on their chest.
Death Wish Coffee Company is an excellent case in point. Sure, it might not be the world’s biggest coffee brand, but it’s definitely well-known—and it has strong appeal among its target audience.
So when the company offered the chance to win a branded coffee mug, customers jumped at the opportunity:
In part, the campaign’s success hinged on its timing.
Death Wish Coffee launched the promotion to coincide with the Labor Day weekend, one of America’s (many) big patriotic holidays—an occasion that definitely fits with the brand’s proudly American image.
11. Partner With Other Brands
If the purpose of your giveaway is to get in front of new audiences, one effective approach is to team up with a complementary brand. That way, you get instant access to their customers (plus you get to share the promotional costs).
For this strategy to pay off, your collaboration needs to make sense.
At first glance, a cosmetics company and a manufacturer of toasted pastries aren’t natural bedfellows. Yet this campaign worked by leveraging nostalgia.
The collaboration was a “win” for both parties: Too Faced customers got to reminisce about the delicious breakfast snacks they ate as kids, while Pop-Tarts was able to reach people younger than its traditional customer base.
Drive Real Results From Promotional Giveaways With Drip
Giveaways are one of our favorite strategies for generating ecommerce leads. But they only work if you get your targeting and placement right.
Like, you don’t want customers who are already signed up to your mailing list to see your email capture campaigns, or to ask new website visitors who’ve never bought from you before to refer their friends.
That’s why you need a smart marketing automation platform capable of delivering super-personalized messaging to customers’ inboxes (and beyond).
Drip is that platform.
Our powerful segmentation tools bring together all your store, visitor, and marketing data—helping you build behavior and engagement-based segments that get you in front of exactly the right people, every time.
Find out for yourself by signing up for your 14-day free trial today.