The Ultimate Guide To Running Competitions & Giveaways with Bloggers

Design of Ninjas running competitions

Build backlinks, boost your social media followings, and reach new customers with giveaways.

Take your digital PR work with blogger one step further by running competitions and giveaways to really capitalise on blogger influence.

In this blog:

  • The Power of “Free” Stuff (and Why You Should Be Running Giveaways)
  • The 3 Ingredients of a Giveaway that’s Irresistible to Readers
  • Getting Your Hands Dirty (How to Run Your First Competition)
  • How to Set Up Rafflecopter: in Just 10 Steps!
  • Going Big Time! Running Multiple Giveaways All in One Go

Imagine that you’re a small business selling glass jars. You can store herbs and spices in them, put candles inside to make pretty tea lights, or use them as funky cocktail vessels. E-commerce sites selling home and kitchenwares are overflowing with similar products because they appeal to a wide market. How do you get your little glass jars noticed in such a crowded marketplace?

  • Run an ad campaign – but is £1 per click really worth the spend?
  • Try and get your website to the top of Google for the phrase “glass jars” — that’s not going to happen overnight.
  • Send out a product for review? I think we can do one better!
  • Collaborate with a blogger to run a giveaway — bingo!

And that’s just what we did. We researched a shortlist of amazing lifestyle bloggers that fitted in really well with the brand of the business selling the glass jars, and we checked out their social media numbers too. We sent out a few emails asking if the bloggers would like to use a set of glass jars as a prize for a giveaway to readers of their blog. We heard back from one of the best bloggers on our shortlist. She excitedly agreed and set about writing a blog post on creative ways that these glass jars would be used around the home to feature alongside the giveaway, including a little backlink as thanks to the company for providing the glass jars.

The competition required people to like, follow, and Retweet the glass jar company’s Facebook and Twitter pages to gain entries. Within just 10 days, the competition received an incredible 3,000+ entries. It also gained the company 300 new Twitter followers and 150 Facebook likes. The total cost of the contest was the £12.50 retail price of the product. That’s a lot of bang for your buck, right?

The power of this contest was not only in finding the right product to offer, but positioning it in a way that made people really want it. That fab blog post showcasing how these jars could be transformed into amazing interior pieces, gorgeous gifts, and handy storage solutions meant readers were much more inclined to enter the contest. Much more so than if it was simply promoted from the business’ own page or on a blog that didn’t have the audience engagement of the one we worked with.

screenshot of our experiment for running competitions on social mediaExposure to this sort of audience is exactly what the company needed from social media. Working with a blogger in a relevant niche meant that this business was able to tap into and appeal to an audience that hadn’t heard of them before. It’s just like being the new kid on the playground: on the first day no one even knows your name, but once you’ve made friends with the cool kid and handed out a couple of sweets, others start talking about you and soon it turns out that you’re pretty popular too.

The Power of “Free” Stuff (and Why You Should Be Running Giveaways)

People like free stuff. It’s true, and we all know it. It may be embarrassing to admit it, but when when we hear the word “free” roll off of someone’s tongue, suddenly our ears prick up. There’s an almost irrational pull from knowing that something is free. As long as we perceive the value of the free thing to be high enough, we’ll bend over backwards to get it. Successful businesses have long known this, and they have long used it to their advantage.

Take the famous Hershey’s experiment. They started of selling chocolate at a discounted price. Hershey’s Kisses costed something around the 5p mark and Lindt truffles were priced at 20p. The higher quality Lindt chocolate was more popular, not only because it tasted better but because it was a better deal (at full price the Hershey’s was worth 20p but the Lindt truffle was worth £1). Next, the experimenters dropped the price of both chocolates drops by 5p. The Hershey’s Kiss was now free, while the Lindt truffle costed 15p. What happened? Almost everyone chose to have the free chocolate! Logically, this doesn’t make sense because the premium Lindt truffle was still worth more and therefore a better deal.

The power of free was too strong though — despite having proven that people prefer the Lindt chocolate and despite it offering better savings, people assign an additional value to stuff that is free. There are many ways that you can put this knowledge to good use and running a giveaway is one of them. Household names like Yankee Candle, Amazon, Huggies, Forever21, Aeropress and Canon are just a few of the big brands who run giveaways with bloggers and influencers. All of these products are very different and therefore naturally have a different target audience, but each of them are able to tap into a particular blogger niche to reach new consumers to gain traction on social media.

The glass jar example has shown us that you don’t need to be a big brand to make a big impact with your products through blogger giveaways. We’ve successfully run giveaways featuring a whole array of products from various small businesses and startups, including mixing bowls with foodie bloggers, LED keyrings for kids with mummy bloggers, and unique art prints with home design bloggers. As long as you’re able to find and collaborate with relevant bloggers, be they lifestyle, design, beauty, fashion, travel, mummy, tech or any other niche of blogger, then you can reap the benefits of running a product giveaway.

Like product reviews, giveaways have the benefits of gaining exposure for your business, strengthening brand trust and recognition, building relationships with relevant influencers, securing backlinks quicker, and being cheaper than running ads. However, the benefits don’t end there! Unlike sending products for review, running giveaways also allows you to do these three awesome things:

1. Build an Email Database

Not everyone who lands on your website will convert straight away. People need time to think about purchases. Growing an email database of newsletter subscribers is a good strategy to remind customers about your products and increase conversions. When running a giveaway, an input email function allows you to collect email addresses and entrants can opt in to be subscribers. Newsletters can be sent out with product info and special offers on a regular basis. This constantly reminds potential customers about your brand and your awesome products, while boosting their trust in your brand and eventually leading to a sale.

 

2. Create a SUPER Buzz on Social Media

While product reviews will gain you will get a few people sharing and Retweeting, product giveaways will get A LOT of people doing so. Giveaways are a dead cert to increase your own social media followers, get shares and Retweets, and get some website hits. By collaborating with a blogger, you get to tap into their social media following too and get them engaged with your product. Hashtags can be effectively used to gain exposure for the competition and your products in turn.

 

3. Promote Your Website

It’s common courtesy for a blogger to link back to your website on the competition page where the giveaway is being hosted to let readers know the source of the product (just like a product review would). Still, what’s even better is that by giving away a product, you’re showing that you really have faith in how good your stuff is. And so is the blogger! Having someone promote your product like this is awesome for business.

 

Note: If you decide to a host a competition on your own website, you can link through to the relevant product page in order to drive traffic in that direction. Holding a competition on your own business website is only recommended for businesses who already have strong social media followings and online clout.

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The 3 Ingredients of a Giveaway that’s Irresistible to Readers

There are only three ingredients to creating a spot on giveaway that gets killer results for your business:

1. A Tasty Product

Without something sufficiently tasty, even making it free won’t be enough to elicit a response. This type of contest needs a good level of response to take off, so if in doubt offer more. Don’t attach strict conditions, postage, or anything that removes the “free” perception. The product doesn’t have to be particularly expensive, but the audience does have to want it with sufficient desire.

If you sell products, we’ve found that inexpensive but versatile items tend to do best. Think of something with mass appeal and various uses. If you’re a service business, again it’s important to offer something that a large percentage of your audience is likely to value. Also consider giving away a voucher with a monetary value in a giveaway. This will encourage entrants to start browsing around your website to see what kind of products or services they would be able to get in exchange for that amount. If you have a lot of appealing products, this can be a very tempting offer!

2. A Hungry Audience

You’ll see a marked improvement in your contest’s response if you partner with a blogger or publication that already has a hungry crowd. Look for bloggers whose audience engages with them on social media and on blog post comments.

Don’t be afraid to ask the blogger’s opinion on what sort of prize will be likely to draw a response either. They should know their audience well and have a good feeling for how to get them to respond. If they have feedback or suggest a different angle, we’d suggest considering it seriously. The more appealing the prize, the more they are likely to share and promote it. Remember that, by giving away a decent prize, they raise their own value in their audience’s eyes so they’ll be more willing to share across different channels and run follow up posts.

3. Easy Entry Method

The most successful contests are those that are simple to enter. Asking someone to like a page, share something, Retweet something, or comment on a post will more likely generate entries than asking people to submit the email addresses of 5 friends or asking them to send in pictures. The latter strategies can be useful for higher-value contests. Though, to generate maximum engagement, keep it simple. I’d recommend using a giveaway widget which lets people enter the competition really easily. Among the most popular and easy-to-use giveaway widgets are Gleam, Wildfire, and Rafflecopter.

 

One final tip! Remember that if you’re asking people to like a Facebook page or follow a Twitter account, they’ll be visiting that page during the contest. It needs to look buzzing, so don’t send them through to a tumbleweed profile with no cover photo or you’ll be shooting yourself in the foot. Once they’re a follower, make sure that they’re seeing valuable and relevant content from you or they’ll unfollow and the long-term benefits of the contest will be lost.

Getting Your Hands Dirty (How to Run Your First Competition)

So, you’ve successfully reached out to some cool bloggers who are on board and ready to run a product giveaway with you? Awesome. Now, you need to organise the competition, and you’ll be pleased to hear that it’s as easy as pie once you know how.

Once the blog post is taken care of — either by you or by the blogger, depending on your agreement — you’ll need to embed a giveaway widget which lets people enter the competition. We mentioned before that popular giveaway widgets include Gleam, Wildfire, and Rafflecopter.

The easiest and cheapest to use is Rafflecopter, and it’s used by a whole heap of digital PR companies who set up competitions for their clients (including us). We always recommend Rafflecopter for clients who are keen to use a giveaway to a) get more subscribers to their mailing list, b) make a big impact on social media, or c) both of those things.

By using social contest software such as Rafflecopter, it’s possible to measure engagement statistics and manage large contests with the bare minimum of admin hassle. It tracks entries and allows people to enter multiple times by completing social “tasks” such as liking, following, and Retweeting.

screenshot of social media competitionsHow to set up Rafflecopter in just 10 steps!

  1. First of all, head over to rafflecopter.com and sign up for a basic account.

 

  1. Click on “add a new giveaway” and follow the instructions to set it up. These are quite straightforward but if you’re unsure there are some useful resources on Rafflecopter’s website.

 

  1. Use the product name in the prize field, such as: “Win this awesome [product] from [company]!”

 

  1. Upload a high-res, cool-looking photo of your product for the widget image.

 

  1. Decide how you want people to enter the competition. Readers can enter in different ways, such as following you on Twitter, sending out a Retweet about the competition, signing up to your newsletter, and so on. They can earn extra points by entering in multiple ways. Decide what would work out best for you based on your business goals and select accordingly. Don’t forget to include options to enable entrants to follow the blogger on Twitter and to view their Facebook page as well as your own.

 

  1. When selecting “Tweet about Giveaway”, be sure to include your business’ and the blogger’s Twitter handles. The widget will automatically pick up the URL of the page that the widget is embedded in, so don’t worry about that. Add in the #win hashtag and any other relevant hashtags.

 

  1. Select how long you want the competition to run for. This is really entirely up to you. Many businesses choose to run short and sweet competitions of around 10 days to create an immediate hype and get the ball rolling right away. If you’re running a competition leading up to a launch date or an event like Christmas or Valentine’s, then you might want to extend the run time to get more entrees the closer it gets to the big event.

 

  1. Add in the Terms & Conditions. Rafflecopter has a template for this to make life easier. Be sure to specify which countries the giveaway applies to and if there are any age restrictions with who can enter.

 

  1. Preview the widget. Check that the design will fit in okay with the design/colours of the blog where it will be embedded. The last thing that the blogger will want is clashing colours!

 

  1. You’re all done! Copy the embed code of the widget and send to the blogger via email so that they can add it into their blog post.

What to Do When the Giveaway Starts: Make a Note & Promote

Just before the giveaway is about to go live, make a note of the number of Twitter followers, Facebook likes, and other relevant stats for your business’ social media pages. This way, when the giveaway finishes you’ll be able to see the increase. The number of giveaway entries will be displayed on the Rafflecopter widget.

 

PROMOTE! This one’s a biggie. You want to get as much traction for your competition as possible and that means you need to get your hands dirty with some social media promoting. Ideally, you want to be Tweeting about the giveaway every day and sharing an update on Facebook every couple of days. Don’t forget to add in the URL of the competition, tag the blogger so that they can Retweet, and add an image to get people clicking. Experiment with a couple of different hashtags, including the obvious ones like #win, #giveaway, and #FreebieFriday to reach more people.

You may also want people to Retweet and share with a specific competition hashtag so that you can keep track of social media entrants. This could simply be something along the lines of #[brandname]giveaway. You’ll want to include an eye catching image with some easy to read text about your giveaway when posting to social media. You can use Canva to add text and create more attractive images.

snippets of various giveaways and competitions from companiesIf you’re social media savvy, then you can schedule all your posts in one go by using a tool like Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule Tweets.

What to Do When the Giveaway Ends

Fortunately, Rafflecopter has made this part a breeze too. When your giveaway ends, you’ll get an email through from Rafflecopter. Simply follow the link and click to randomly select a winner. Rafflecopter will give you the winner’s name, email address, and Twitter handle if they have one.

Email them with a Congrats! and ask for their address so that you can send the product right on over to the lucky reader. If you have their Twitter handle, then send out a final tweet about the competition congratulating them as well.

Send a follow up email to check that they’ve received and are happy with their product. You can also ask them to share a photo of them putting their new product to work with you on social media as this is another great way to signal to your followers that people love your products.

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Going Big Time! Running Multiple Giveaways All in One Go

If you’re feeling confident about running giveaways with bloggers, or have enlisted some Digital PR and social media help and have a higher budget available, you can consider running giveaways with multiple bloggers all at once.

Houseology, an online interior design store selling designer furniture and lamps, teamed up with a group of influential home interiors bloggers to run multiple giveaways where all of the bloggers  linked up their blog posts to one another. Each blogger was given a £500 voucher to give away, but each voucher was for a slightly different set of products, therefore encouraging readers to click through and enter each of the competitions.

Competition competition by Houseology screenshot

products from Houseology used to run competitons

snippet of prizes from Houseology running competitionsThe benefit of running a beast of a giveaway like this is that the company will get a massive boost on social media as a circle of top bloggers are constantly Tweeting updates and sharing the competition, and Houseology’s product images, on social media. Those price tags make it too good of an offer not to enter. Not to mention that by running a giveaway with four different bloggers, Houseology are effectively getting four bloggers to vouch for their brand. This builds their brand profile and helps to massively increase brand trust.

Houseology smartly timed this competition to run during the two weeks leading up to Christmas, a time of year when people are much more likely to buy. Giving away a voucher was a great way to get readers onto Houseology’s website and browsing their products. You can bet Houseology had a very merry Christmas that year!

Running a mega-giveaway like this is a big task and should only be done if you or someone on your team has experience setting up giveaways and working with bloggers. Many bloggers prefer to work in circles with their own blogger friends and networks, so it’s important to bare that in mind if approaching bloggers about a multi-faceted giveaway.

 

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