You will see most highly successful entrepreneurs organize periodic giveaways, and while you may have guessed that there is more to them than simply giving away free things, there aren’t many online resources that offer a behind-the-scenes point of view. This article will do just that; it will show you exactly what goes on at the other end of a giveaway, and it will also show you how you can gather more than 1500 new emails for your list, in less than 10 days.
Here is how a first viral giveaway typically starts out:
Most people have extremely large goals, basing them on various case studies and a lot of research. While everyone will agree that it is extremely important to do your homework and research this kind of thing before starting to organize it, most people forget the fact that experience also plays an important part in the success of a giveaway.
Most of the times, people fail to maximize its potential due to the fact that they cannot properly manage the unforeseen difficulties that tend to pop up.
This article will help you avoid making some of the mistakes that beginners tend to make and help you maximize the potential of your giveaway.
It must be a priority
You cannot organize a successful giveaway as long as you don’t put all your energy in it. This kind of project demands your full attention in order to ensure that all the little wheels that you put into motion will work in sync.
Start your research a few months before starting to organize your giveaway. Look at how other people do them and try to analyze the outcome. You can even ask a few of the smaller influencers in your niche for tips. Most of them will offer some valuable advice.
Also, keep in mind that a viral giveaway won’t go viral unless you put in a lot of work. In other words, it is perfectly possible that your viral giveaway won’t go viral.
Don’t start from scratch
It is usually better to start your giveaway after you have about 5000 people on your list, in order to make it easier for the news to spread. Don’t forget that these things are highly dependent on social media when it comes to popularity, and the more people you can reach, the better.
So, if you have a decent number of subscribers, your giveaway will pick up momentum much faster than it would if you where to start it with one 2000-3000 people following you.
If you have about 5000 people already following you, then you are good to go. You don’t have any guarantees that your results will be incredible, but this will be a good place to start your project.
A giveaway, like any other kind of project, requires a good plan in order for everything to go smoothly.
If you don’t plan things, you will find yourself overwhelmed in a couple of days, and this can have catastrophic consequences on your image and on how many followers you have. So, think everything through, and make sure that all of the steps that you need to make are clear.
Each giveaway is different, so each plan is different, however, there are a few things that you should keep in mind:
The plan for a viral giveaway
First of all, establish your objectives. Once these are clear, think about how you can grab everyone’s attention and make them join the giveaway.
Decide if you want to focus on a particular group of people, or if everyone is game.
So, let’s look at a typical plan:
- Organize the giveaway;
- Run it;
- Get a new list of people who are interested in your content;
- When the giveaway ends, announce the winner through a private channel;
Keep in mind: You should always keep two lists: one containing the people whose emails you already had, and one with the entries from the giveaway. Whatever you do, don’t mix them. You will need the entry list to choose a winner, but also to see how successful the giveaway was.
Also, do the math and establish how many people you want to enter, and how much money that would make you. Try to consider two scenarios. First look at how many people would enter, and how much money you would make if the giveaway went viral, and then calculate the same numbers if it wasn’t as popular.
This way, you will have best-case and worst-case scenarios, so, even if the project won’t be as successful as you hope, you will still have some sort of guide or estimate.
Most people want to create viral giveaways, and when these aren’t as successful as they want them to be, they give up. There are a lot of factors to consider when creating something that should go viral.
This having been said, if you start with 5000 subscribers and get another 1500 from a single giveaway, you can call it a success, even if it doesn’t go viral.
Now, let’s look at how a viral giveaway should work, at least as a concept.
The viral giveaway concept
So, what turns a regular giveaway into something “viral”?
In order to answer this question, we must first look at traditional contests and giveaways, and at how they actually make it more difficult for you to grow your list.
The way most contests of this sort work, is that each person who participates is given one entry. So, his chances to win go down when the number of people who enter goes up. This creates a very difficult situation where people who enter the contest won’t spread the word in order to prevent others from joining and, as a result, increasing their chances to win.
If they have no incentive to share news of the contest on social media, the success of the project will be severely diminished. This is where viral contest comes into play.
The biggest difference between viral giveaways and normal ones is the fact that the former has a social media component that is meant to work as an incentive for people to share the news with their friends and family.
The very term “viral” implies that it spreads uncontrollably through various social media channels.
If you want to have a viral giveaway, then it is up to you to find a way to motivate people so that they will share it on social media accounts.
An easy way to give people this incentive is to organize the giveaway so that, while everyone gets one entry by actually entering the contest, they will also get an additional one for every person that participates using a unique link that is automatically assigned to each participant. This way, for every person that enters your contest, your giveaway will gain more popularity.
This strategy is great because nobody will ignore the opportunity to increase their chances to win something free, especially if the only thing that they have to do is share the link that is assigned to them at registration.
As an example, let’s presume that you offer 3 entries for every person referred through the personalized link. If 10 people enter the giveaway, they will do their best to refer at least 3 other people, in order to raise their chances. This effectively triples the number of emails that you gather, for every person who participates. Also, keep in mind that each one of the 3 others who is referred, will also look for other people to bring in.
The social media segment of a giveaway is a gift that keeps on giving.
Most entrepreneurs use viral campaigns in order to create a pre-launch list that they can use when they finally release a new product, however, bloggers and other content creators can use them in order to do giveaways using either their own products or products sold by other people.
If you want to use this strategy for a pre-launch list, then you should keep in mind that it works for any kind of product, from software and online tools to courses and contests.
What kind of tools and software do you need in order to set up a viral giveaway?
You don’t need too many things in order to organize a viral giveaway, and most of the ones that you will have to use are simple and intuitive.
One of the most affordable tools to use is KingSumo. For those who are not familiar with it, KingSumo is a WordPress plug-in that was specifically designed in order to help people create and manage giveaways. The tool is known to have helped some people grow their email lists to as much as 200,000 people through just one giveaway.
The tool does not come with a monthly subscription, but it does have a hefty price tag. Luckily, once you purchase it, you will get a lifetime license and incredible customer support that will guide you through any kind of problem that you may encounter.
Being a WordPress plug-in, it is extremely easy to integrate, and provided that you already have a WordPress-based website, you shouldn’t have any issues using it.
There are several guides that will teach you how to properly use KingSumo, so ease of use shouldn’t be a problem.
Once you have set things up, organizing your giveaways will be a lot easier, and this means that you will have more time to focus on other aspects of your campaign.
Be warned, most people start making mistakes at this point, so you should think things through when organizing your giveaway:
- Your prize should be specific, but it shouldn’t be too targeted;
This is one of the most often encountered mistakes when it comes to giveaways. While you should always set the prize so that it will target the audience that you’re interested in, there is a chance that the group of people that you’re after is too small to bring in any profit. This means that you will have to either look for a larger group or think of a prize that both your target group, as well as other people may be interested in.
If your prize is too targeted, then you may find that while the audience segment that you’re interested in will be thrilled, other people won’t know what to think, so they won’t participate. Don’t forget that you need as many people as possible to participate. This is what a viral giveaway means.
Find the perfect balance and offer an attractive present. Ideally, you will want to think of something that will build hype in the group that you are targeting, but will also be attractive to other people (After all, who wouldn’t want to win something free, as long as they understand how it would be of use to them?).
- Focus on promoting your giveaway; it is essential that you don’t mess up this part;
Organizing a viral giveaway is hard work, and the tough part starts only after the contest goes live. A lot of people tend to give up halfway there or forget to share the news on social media channels.
It is not enough to share the news about your giveaway before it starts. Once it goes live, you will have to use every social media tool at your disposal to let people know that they should participate. Use tools like Periscope and Twitter, but also reach out to other influencers and ask them to spread the word.
This is an ongoing task that must be done properly if you want your content to go viral. This having been said, there is a good chance that things will work out even if you won’t be extremely active on social media, however, your results will be far from optimal.
- Don’t forget to submit to giveaway websites;
While you may have done a great job so far, don’t forget to register your contest on giveaway sites. These have a lot of potentials when it comes to bringing in new, interested people.
Doing this is entirely free, and you only have to do it once per giveaway. Once it’s there, people who see it and are interested will participate. It’s basically a form of free advertising that you should never forget to use.
How can you make money by giving away free things?
This is one of the questions that automatically pops into people’s minds when they hear about the idea of making a profit from a giveaway.
Most people who organize viral contest look at a giveaway like this:
- They offer something of value to the audience;
- They grow their email list with each new person who enters the contest;
- They make a profit;
How? Well, while a giveaway is a great strategy for growing your email list, it does cost some money to pull off. However, things start getting better after the event ends, when everyone is pumped and eager to see what other products you have to offer.
This means that there is nothing stopping you from turning your giveaway into a scaled-down product launch, in which you offer a product only to the new members of your audience (ideally only to those who haven’t won the giveaway).
You can set a deadline of 5 days, time in which your new subscribers would be able to purchase a course or a product that was part of the prize, at a discounted price, or with a few added features. People will love this because it will seem like they are still getting something for their participation (the receive a discount, for example).
You can create the private launch offer using a tool like Timerlay. You basically need a big countdown timer at the top of the page, in order to make people feel a sense feel a sense of urgency to make a purchase. Also, Timerlay actually makes the page expire after the timer reaches zero, and people who click on the link after the time is up will get a “You missed it!” page.
After you create the offer page, you should also send them periodic emails, reminding them that time is wasting and that they soon won’t be able to make a purchase.
You can use modified versions of the emails that you used during the initial launch of the product that you’re offering now, however, you will have to make a few important tweaks in order to ensure that they are well suited for a pot-giveaway launch like the one that you will be doing.
Let’s look at an example so that you can get a feel for how the email sequence should look:
First, write an “Oh my! It looks like you didn’t win!”. This can serve as the title of the first email, designed to serve as an introduction, establishing a connection between you and the recipients.
Next, you will have to write an email containing information meant to serve as an incentive for people who you want to buy your product. Explain why they need it, and how it could make their life better.
The third message will be a marketing email in which you can include your own results with the product or various case studies.
Finally, you will have to send a message that contains your pitch. Be sure to write it in a manner that inspires urgency. You can even add some testimonials to make people see the value of your product. Also, include a great call to action.
How to promote a viral giveaway
This depends on how long you plan to run the giveaway for. Promotion is an important part when it comes to giving the contest a nudge so that it will go viral. If you do this right, and the giveaway picks up momentum, then you will be able to reach a large number of people even in a 6-day time span.
The first thing that you should do is create about a dozen promo images that you will use on more visual social media networks, such as Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Once you have these, start sharing and pinning them in order to let people know that something big is coming, or already going on.
Blog posts – Write a post through which you announce the giveaway, and pin it at the top of your blog, so that everyone can see it. This element will be even more effective if your audience has already made a habit out of visiting your blog homepage before looking at anything else on your website.
Emails – Write messages and send them to your audience. The number depends on how long the giveaway lasts. For example, if you only plan to run the contest for 10 days, then you can send a message to let everyone know that the giveaway has started, and another to let them know that there are only a couple of days left, so that they will be motivated to act.
Banners – You should also place “announcement bars” on your websites so that people will see them at the top of the website. If you have multiple websites, then be sure to add these to each one of them.
A custom welcome gate – Another great way to promote through which you can promote your giveaway, setting up a custom welcome gate and link it to the giveaway.
Other than these strategies, you can also promote your contest with the help of other influencers in the same niche.
Make a list of people who have similar audiences, and who would be interested in your product, and ask each of them if they would be willing to share news of your giveaway with their subscribers. Also, think of a complementary outreach plan.
Don’t be discouraged if some of the ones you reach out to won’t agree to help you. You don’t need the help of 100 people. Just go through the list and try to convince as many as possible, explaining how both of you will profit from this. Also, try to focus on influencers who are roughly on the same level as you. Don’t expect the ones who have 60,000 followers to help you, if you only have 3,000.
Once you’ve gone through the whole list, take a note of who is onboard and remember to do the same for them if they ever request your help with a contest; these partnerships are important in the long run.
While it may seem too simple to be effective, you should also ask your friends and family to post your giveaway on Facebook. Viral campaigns need a lot of social media exposure, and every bit helps. Also, you never know which of your friends know people who know people that would be interested in your products. If the ones close to you share news about your contest, it may be a chance to reach a new audience. Don’t ask them to share every two days. If they post once, it will be enough.
Also, use Buffer or any tool that you like, in order to schedule your messages. Remind people that they are missing the chance of a lifetime and that they should participate.
Twitter is extremely dynamic, and you will have to Tweet a few times each day, including calls to action into your messages, in order to reach as many people as possible.
Other than this, you can also consider running ads. While these do cost a bit of money, they will help you gain a lot more visibility over the course of your promo period. If you want to save some money, then leave them up for only a few days, and then focus on other promotional means.
Keep in mind: Make a solid plan when it comes to your social media promo strategy. It is extremely important to be consistent if you want your content to go viral. Also, if you ever stop promoting on social media networks, then you will lose your momentum, and it may be difficult to get back on your feet.
Write everything down, so that you can estimate the success of your giveaway. Also, if you make a note of everything that you do, then you will be able to analyze what you did wrong so that your next contest will be better.
Do the things presented in this article, and avoid the mistakes above, and you should have a successful viral giveaway. However, you should keep in mind that the success is largely dependent on the prize, the target audience, and on how effective your promotional strategy is.
In other words, there is no guarantee that this will go well, but as long as you think about what your audience wants, and offer something attractive, then you should be fine.