Marketing and Sales

How to Make Your Giveaway Stand Out

Updated August 30, 2023 10 minutes

How to Make Your Giveaway Stand Out

Everyone loves winning and getting free things, and the idea that we could get lucky has a stronghold on the human psyche — just look at the lottery incentives some states are using to encourage getting the COVID vaccine and how successful they’ve been. When you host a giveaway, you don’t really need to worry too much about it not going over well.

However, there’s a difference between your average, run-of-the-mill giveaway, and one that your followers will love and spread to their friends just by word of mouth. That’s a giveaway that truly stands out in a crowd, and we have some tips for hosting your very own.

Tips for running a great giveaway

A giveaway can be a great way to boost your audience engagement, but a successful giveaway will involve more than just handing over a cool prize. There are a few steps you should follow before launching your giveaway to make the experience better for everyone involved.

Define your giveaway KPI(s)

When you decide you want to run a giveaway, you need to connect it with a measurable metric — in other words, a KPI. If you can’t measure what you’re trying to accomplish, you won’t know if you were successful or how successful you were.

Now, your goal is different from your reason for running the giveaway. Your reason for doing a giveaway can be celebrating a milestone, a holiday, a season, anything you feel is worth commemorating for your business. However, your KPI should be something specific and measurable that you can build your giveaway around.

For example, maybe you have a new product launch coming up. You might create a giveaway specifically celebrating this product launch, but you need to define your goal in terms of the product launch. Do you want to boost engagement in the week prior to the launch? Do you want to drive sales after launching? This will help you create your KPI(s).

Another goal example, imagine that you want to grow your mailing list. Your giveaway could be focused on anything — the holiday season, hitting a certain number of followers, etc. — but your measurable goal is growing your mailing list. To achieve your goal, you need to build your giveaway around the action you want your viewers, followers, or customers to complete.

Here’s an email from London Heathrow. A likely KPI for this campaign involved measuring how many new signups to Heathrow Rewards this giveaway generated.

Heathrow Rewards giveaway
London Heathrow announcing a giveaway in their email; source: Really Good Emails

Connect your goal to customers’ actions

Once you define your goal, think about how your giveaway will help you accomplish that goal. If you want to grow your mailing list, you can promote your giveaway on all your platforms and randomly choose the winner from your entire subscriber base at the end of the giveaway window. If you want to gain more Instagram followers, host a giveaway on Instagram that encourages people to tag their friends and follow you to enter. That’s exactly what QC Makeup Academy does on their social media.

Makeup giveaway
QC Makeup Academy aims at growing their Instagram follower count through an international giveaway

Make the prize relevant

If you want your giveaway to stand out, you can’t offer the same products that everyone else is offering. So many companies, brands, and influencers have given away Apple iPads and iPhones that it’s just a cliche at this point. What is your audience interested in? You don’t even need to limit it to your own products, but you do need to tell a cohesive story.

For example, part of the prize package can be some of your products — best sellers and new releases make sense, although this can also be a great time to clear out some inventory if you over-ordered. However, you can also partner with other businesses in your niche — not direct competitors, of course — to build out a great prize package. You can simply purchase the products directly from them, or work together on a joint giveaway, it’s up to you! Either way, if you have similar customer profiles, you can benefit greatly by combining your audiences.

Here’s an example of prizes an Instagram page dedicated to art offered to winners.

giveaway example
Sketches Dailydose launches a giveaway with art-related prizes

Make the prize worth it

Now that you know what behavior you want to encourage, make sure you aren’t asking for too much in return. For example, in a social media giveaway, tagging a friend in the comments is pretty easy. Sharing the post on their story is a little more work, but not much. But if you want them to take a survey, post about your product on their feed, or anything else that takes a significant amount of time or effort, you need to make sure the prize is worth it.

Of course, you love your product and believe in it, so it’s hard to imagine anyone not wanting to spend a little of their time to get some great free stuff. However, the engagement rate in giveaways might be lower than you think. Contests with a prize upwards of $1,000 only receive a 5.8% engagement rate per 100 followers. If your engagement rate is extremely low, you might be asking too much for what you’re offering — but if your rate is around the average, sit tight and trust the process.

This regional newspaper in Portland, Oregon entices readers to take their survey by dangling a $50 gift card to a local concert venue.

survey giveaway
Portland Mercury offering a generous prize for taking a survey

Now that you know how to run a great giveaway, a big question remains: what kind of giveaway should you do? Let’s get into some ideas to help you stand out in the crowd.

Unique giveaway ideas

Let’s go over some unique ideas for giveaways on various channels to make you stand out and encourage your followers to participate. You can promote these on all your platforms, and host them on whatever platform makes sense for your business. After that, we’ll get into some platform-specific ideas.

Versatile giveaways

Let’s go over some fun giveaway ideas that will work on any platform.

Survey giveaway

If you’re trying to build a more robust customer profile, a survey giveaway is a great option. Make sure the survey is fairly short and you’re not asking anything too complex — you need to prioritize the information you want to know most and cut out everything else. The ideal survey takes about 10 minutes to complete.

This type of giveaway, when done right, can be a huge win for your business. People like giving their opinions, and if the survey is short and sweet, they’ll also get the chance to win a prize. For instance, that’s how TJ Maxx encourages their customers to share their opinion for a chance to win a $500 giftcard.

TJ Maxx giveaway
TJ Maxx has a rolling $500 survey for customer feedback that they do every month; source: SweepstakesBible

You can also easily promote survey-based giveaways on your website, social media channels, and in emails.

Multi-day contest

Looking to make a big splash, or perhaps give all your channels a boost? Consider a multi-day giveaway or contest. These are done a lot around the holidays, like a 12 Days of Christmas-themed giveaway, but they can be done any time.

This will essentially be like planning many separate giveaways, so don’t waste them by having the same goal for each one. Prioritize all the goals you have, connect each one to a different day of the giveaway, and select an appropriate prize for the winner of each day. It makes sense to start with smaller ones and build up to the biggest, but run it however you see fit.

Here’s an example of a 24-day giveaway with different prizes from a YouTuber, Fleur DeForce.

24-day giveaway
A 24-day giveaway with a trip to Lapland as a main prize

A fun way to pull this off can be to direct people to a different channel each day. This way you can encourage more email subscriptions, more followers on your social media channels, more traffic to your website — whatever your heart desires. With cross-promotion on each channel each day, you’re looking at quite an event.

Limited edition product

This means taking an existing cult classic one step further — a product that only exists for a few lucky winners. This can be just a few unique products or a small batch run, the possibilities are endless.

Another way to spin a limited edition giveaway is by focusing on a less popular item that you’re phasing out of production. Giving away a low-volume product will improve your inventory capacity by freeing up valuable storage space in your warehouse while also generating organic buzz around your brand.

Here’s a great example of giving away a limited edition product.

giving away a limited edition product
Rick Shiels giving away a limited edition driver on Instagram

Charitable donation

Connecting your giveaway with a nonprofit is a great way for everyone to feel good about getting involved, and supporting charities is a great way to benefit your business. You need to make sure you choose a nonprofit that fits the ethos of your business, your customers will care about, and then, you need to put your money where your mouth is.

A foolproof way to implement this approach is by promoting the nonprofit you’re partnering with and promising to match the total amount donated — and think about setting a minimum donation amount as well, in case the engagement is lower than you were anticipating. You can offer a coupon to everyone who donates, but a better way to harness the lottery feeling of a giveaway is to have everyone who donates enter to win a big prize or prizes.

Here’s an example of a charity giveaway from CharityStars UK.

charity giveaway
All proceeds from this giveaway benefit War Child UK

Social media giveaways

These days, when people think of brand giveaways, they likely think of social media. Instagram and Facebook have become powerhouses for brands, and they make a great place for hosting giveaways given the interactive nature of the platforms. Let’s look at some unique social media giveaways you can try out.

Influencer partner

Instead of just hosting the giveaway by yourself, consider partnering with a relevant influencer. Think about your niche and the types of influencers that would make sense. For example, if you sell clothes, reach out to people who do clothing hauls. You’ll benefit from the exposure to their audience, and they’ll benefit from however you choose to compensate them. You’ll also get the added social proof of showing someone else promoting your products.

Here’s an example of such a giveaway.

influencer giveaway
Great example of a successful giveaway in partnership with a niche influencer

Product post

Remember the part earlier about matching what you ask with what you give? Asking for people to make a post about using your product is a big ask, but if you reward the winner with a big prize, it may be worth it. Not only can you grow your audience through word-of-mouth, you can also use it to establish and grow a brand-specific hashtag.

For example, Upwork encouraged their users to share their success stories as freelancers with a dedicated hashtag.

giveaway example
Upwork launched a contest with a big reward for a winner

Tagger and tagged both win

Tagging a friend in the comments to enter a giveaway is pretty commonplace, and encourages the friend tagged to check it out and enter themselves. But what if there were two winners? Try doing a double prize where both the person commenting and the person they tagged win.

There are two winners of this contest so tagger and tagged can win. What’s really great about this example is that it bundles together multiple items from multiple sellers that all have a common demographic, like in this giveaway dedicated to Mother’s Day.

giveaway with two winners
A micro-influencer launching a giveaway with two winners

Question and answer

Instead of just tagging a friend, you can encourage people to answer a fun question. This can foster a better connection and relationship, especially if it relates to your brand or the theme of the giveaway. For example, for a vacation-themed contest, you can ask participants to share their favorite vacation memory.

Website giveaways

When you host a giveaway on a website, you have the potential to capture a lot of new leads and drive new traffic to your site.

Review contest

Customers love looking at reviews, but it’s not always easy getting them to leave their own reviews. A giveaway can be a fun way to encourage people to leave their thoughts. American Eagle has implemented this extremely well, and held a sweepstakes encouraging customers to leave a review to enter a sweepstakes for a $500 gift card.

gift gor review
American Eagle giving away a gift card for a valid review

Free gift for first X purchases

This is a fun way to give some product away to customers and either clear your inventory, promote a popular product, or drive some extra traffic. The prize here is only tied to the product, so it does require purchase and isn’t the “chance to win” type of giveaway, but people still love free stuff. Credit card signup bonuses are such a great example of giveaways in exchange for buying something.

earning bonus points
Earning bonus points for signing up and using the credit card

Give it away the right way

Anyone can give away products, but it takes the right type of energy and focus to host a fun and successful giveaway that leaves everyone feeling good. By intentionally creating a cohesive event with a clear goal, you can ensure that you benefit as much as possible while also thanking and rewarding your loyal customers and followers.

Date of publication:

July 29, 2021

Jake Rheude

Jake Rheude is the Vice President of Marketing for Red Stag Fulfillment, an eCommerce fulfillment warehouse that...

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