[Update from 2021]: Several years ago, I wrote a short eBook compiling all of the strategies I used to grow my email list from 200 to over 2,000 subscribers in just one year. I recently expanded and updated that book with strategies for 2021 and turned it into an online course.
In this blog post, I share a sneak peek from one of the lessons. It’s about a very cool email list building strategy: giveaways! 🙂
Running a giveaway is one of my favorite email list building strategies. It’s a fun way for you to show your current subscribers how much you appreciate their support. And, at the same time, it’s an effective way to attract new subscribers to your list. (Don’t have an email list yet? Check out my blog post here for how you can get started.)
Here’s how a giveaway works.
You choose a prize that you’re going to give away (for example, a signed book). In order to enter to win the prize, a person must be subscribed to your email list. Then, you randomly choose a winner out of everyone who enters the giveaway.
I’ve found this strategy works best if you already have a core group of subscribers who can help you spread the word about your giveaway. Alternatively, you can also use it to jumpstart your email list if you’re able to reach out to fellow bloggers and writers who are willing to share the giveaway with their audiences.
The very first giveaway I ever ran was on my Instagram account. At the time, I didn’t know the importance of building an email list and was dedicating my attention to building my social media following.
I gave away a hardcover collector’s edition of one of my favorite books. To enter the giveaway, people had to follow my Instagram account and tag their friends in the comments. The giveaway was very successful and helped me grow my Instagram account by several hundred new followers.
Once I shifted my focus to building my email list, I was eager to try out giveaways again. But this time I hosted the giveaway on my website and people had to subscribe to my email list in order to enter. These giveaways were equally successful.
Let’s look at how you can run a giveaway on your own website and use it to build your email list.
1. What should I give away?
The prize is one of the most important parts of your giveaway. It will determine both the quantity and the quality of the subscribers you end up attracting.
For example, a high-ticket item like an iPad might attract a lot of new subscribers. However, many of them probably won’t be the kind of subscribers you want on your email list. They’ll probably only be interested in winning the iPad and will unsubscribe as soon as they find out they didn’t win.
On the other hand, if you give away a prize like a $15 book that a person can easily buy on their own, you probably won’t attract a large number of entrants. (I say this from experience. 😉 However, you could give away a bundle of books.)
Thus, when choosing a prize, make sure it’s something that appeals specifically to your target audience and something that they wouldn’t be able to buy easily elsewhere (either because it’s pricey or because it’s special, like a signed book).
Pro Tip: Is a high priced item outside of your budget? Try reaching out to the company to see if they will provide you with the product to give away. Companies are often more than happy to do this as it is free advertising for them, especially if you’re already an affiliate. Sometimes they might even help you promote the giveaway.
I contacted a company that develops pricey, professional WordPress themes and asked if I could use one of their themes in a giveaway. They quickly agreed and let my giveaway winner select a theme for free.
2. How to Set Up Your Giveaway
There are plugins you can use on your self-hosted WordPress website that will take care of gathering entries and randomly selecting a winner. (Read my guide here on how to set up a self-hosted WordPress site if you don’t have one yet.)
King Sumo (affiliate link) is my favorite WordPress plugin for running a giveaway. Usually, giveaway entrants hesitate to share the giveaway because the more people that enter, the lower their chance of winning. However, King Sumo gives entrants additional entries for every friend they refer through their unique link.
This incentivizes entrants to share the giveaway far and wide and will result in more subscribers for you. It’s the key to your giveaway going viral.
In fact, with KingSumo you can see who shares your giveaway the most. In order to make people even more eager to share, you could offer a second prize to the person who shares the giveaway the most.
Additionally, KingSumo requires that people provide an email address before they can enter the giveaway.
KingSumo has generously agreed to give readers of this blog a 20% discount. Use the following coupon code: NICOLEBIANCHI
You can also run a giveaway for free using Rafflecopter, but the free account does not have the option to allow people to get additional entries through sharing. Thus, it will be less effective unless you have a very enticing giveaway item and are able to promote it widely and share it with a big audience.
I have used both KingSumo and Rafflecopter to run giveaways.
3. Provide Clear Instructions
In the blog post or email where you tell your readers about your giveaway, make sure you explain what you’re giving away (along with the price value of the item), how they can enter, and how long the giveaway will last.
I recommend running a giveaway for at least a week to give people time to enter.
Include any eligibility requirements (for example, a minimum age or a country of residence). When I ran a giveaway for a hardcover book, I made it clear that the giveaway was only open to entrants in the United States, and I wouldn’t be shipping internationally.
Also, explain how you’ll be selecting a winner. And make sure that entrants understand that they’ll be subscribing to your email list.
Here’s an example template you can use (you can spice it up to make it sound more compelling):
To celebrate the Christmas season, I’m giving away [blank].
Describe the giveaway item, how it will help readers, and the value of the item.
Even if you don’t win, everyone who enters will receive [consolation prize] after the winner is picked.
In addition, you’ll receive free email updates about [blank] from my website [url] (I send about 1 email a week, and you can unsubscribe at any time.)
Here’s how to enter: [explain how they can enter, how they can get additional entries by sharing, and any eligibility requirements]
The giveaway ends [enter date and time]. One winner will be selected randomly on [date] and contacted by email. After that, the winner will have 48 hours to respond with their mailing address. If I don’t receive anything in that time, another winner will be selected.
Additionally, KingSumo provides a prewritten template for creating even more detailed terms and conditions.
4. Offer a Consolation Prize
Usually, people feel a little sad and disappointed when they don’t win a contest. That’s why you should create a consolation prize to give to the entrants who don’t win the main giveaway item. This will prevent them from unsubscribing because they’re disappointed that they didn’t win.
You might be able to get a special coupon code for the store where the main giveaway item came from. Or you could just put together a simple PDF resource.
Additionally, you can use the consolation prize as a way to get people to enter. Tell them about this cool prize that everyone will receive just for entering and sharing the giveaway.
5. Promote Your Giveaway
Your giveaway will be the most effective if you share it with a wide audience.
Make sure to inform your current email subscribers about the giveaway and encourage them to share. Follow up with them twice to remind them to enter (especially on the day before the giveaway ends).
Also, share a link to the giveaway across your social media accounts.
Finally, reach out to other bloggers and writers who have the same target audience as you. Maybe you’ve guest posted on their website before or you’ve met them through social media. Explain how your giveaway will benefit their audience and ask if they will share it with their community.
Grab Your Freebies
I wish you much success with your first giveaway. If you have any questions, be sure to let me know in the comments. Meanwhile, I’m going to get back to working on my book. ????
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