How to Do an Online Giveaway That Doesn’t Suck

Who doesn’t want something for free?

It’s a very enticing proposition.

Some of my best business-boosting hacks have taken place when I’ve offered something free.

I’ve given away free tools, free software, free headphones, free trips, free cash, and hundreds of free resources.

Free is amazing.

And hardly anyone will turn down a free gift, discount, etc. when it’s bestowed upon them with no strings attached.

Research from Kontest proves that an online giveaway can have a profound impact on your marketing campaign.

More specifically, they found that one-third of entrants will agree to receive information from brands and partners:


On top of that, they found that new campaigns acquire a 34% audience increase on average:


That’s pretty serious.

But I’ll be honest. There’s a lot that goes into a successful online giveaway.

There’s more to it than throwing something together, slapping up a prize, and expecting people to sign up in droves.

It doesn’t work that way.

The last thing you want to do is create an online giveaway that sucks. This can end up detracting from your brand.

Online giveaways have been around as long as the Internet has existed. And, let’s be honest, people are kind of tired of cheap and scammy giveaways.

In fact, a lot of people think giveaways are dead.

But are they? I’m not convinced. Why? Because I still use giveaways to generate massive traffic and huge amounts of revenue!

What I’d like to do now is walk you through the process of setting up an online giveaway.

I’d also like to offer some tips I’ve learned along the way so you don’t make the same mistakes I did.

Determine your specific goal

Before you can figure out the logistics of your campaign, you must first decide what you’re trying to accomplish.

Here are some examples of common campaign goals:

  • Get new email subscribers
  • Increase social media engagement
  • Get more social media followers
  • Increase blog engagement
  • Get more backlinks

Knowing your specific goal will dictate the specific approach you take later on.

Choose a prize

Coming up with an idea sounds pretty straightforward.

But I feel this is an area where a lot of brands drop the ball.

One of the main mistakes I often see is giving away something irrelevant to the industry.

As I said before in another guide on Quick Sprout, not every contest should consist of an iPad giveaway.

Please. Can we stop with the iPads already?

What you want to do is offer a gift that represents you.

For instance, Airbnb might offer a free stay at an awesome location:


A clothing brand might offer a free t-shirt.

An outdoor gear company might give away a sleeping bag or tent.

You get the idea.

Why is this so important?

If you’re gathering email addresses as part of the online giveaway, you want to ensure you’re getting people who represent your demographic.

Otherwise, you’ll have a junk list of unqualified leads who will probably never convert when you attempt to move them through your sales funnel later on.

Make the prize match the entry

Here’s something else to consider.

Some entry requirements are quick and easy, e.g., liking a post on Facebook.

Others are more long-winded and laborious, e.g., filling out several forms of questions, submitting a photo, and so on.

I suggest choosing a prize that matches the level of effort it requires to enter.

After all, offering a mediocre prize for completing an arduous entry process may result in very few entrants.

In other words, as an article from Wishpond states, “The prize value should always be equal to the effort required to win it.”

Consider bundling items

Wishpond also makes another interesting point.

They say offering a bundle of items can have a bigger impact than offering only one item.

It seems that a bundle is deemed higher value (even if it’s not, necessarily) than one single item. Plus more variety appeals to a wider audience.

This logic makes sense to me.

Most people have a tendency to think more is better.

So, even if you offer three gifts that combined are worth less than a single gift, the perception would still be that the three gifts are of a higher value (even if they’re not).

This isn’t to say that you have to follow this formula, but it’s definitely food for thought and could help you increase your number of entrants.

Consider offering multiple prizes

Let’s be real.

What are the odds of winning a giveaway with only one grand prize?

Pretty microscopic.

And people know this. They won’t jump through a bunch of hoops just to enter a contest where the chances of winning are slim to none.

But when there are prizes for first place, second place, and third place, the odds of winning increase a bit.

I suggest you offer smaller prizes for runner-up entrants in addition to the grand prize.

This makes people feel like they do have a chance, and even if they don’t win the grand prize, they can still get something.

I’ve found this to serve as motivation for people to sign up.

Contest duration

Okay, so you’ve got a goal, and you know what prize you’re going to offer.

The next thing to determine is how long your giveaway will last—its duration.

Now, there can be a huge variation in terms of duration.

But according to Kontest, the best duration for your campaign is either 25 or 60 days:


Research has found that these two lengths of time are the “sweet spots,” allowing you to get the maximum number of applicants.

But if it’s your first campaign and you’re still getting your bearings, I would definitely suggest sticking with 25 days initially.

Go any longer, and you might minimize the impact because some entrants may forget about the giveaway.

There’s a fine line between too short and too long. You’ll be able to pick the right duration based on how much exposure your giveaway has.

Create an epic landing page

Design plays an integral role in just about every element of marketing and branding.

And it’s no exception when it comes to your giveaway’s landing page.

It needs to pop.

But I realize that me telling you to create an epic landing page is a loaded statement.

Here are a few specific traits of a great giveaway landing page:

  • It’s simple
  • It thoroughly explains what it takes to enter and what the prize is
  • It’s easy to understand
  • It contains high-quality images
  • People can enter quickly and easily

Now, let me provide you with a few examples.

Example #1 from Startup Pirates


Example #2 from Cadence Watch


Example #3 from Cocoon Spa


Gather the right information

Here’s a biggie: choosing which information to ask for from entrants.

You need to proceed with caution here because this can often make or break your campaign.

On the one hand, the more info you ask for, the more effort it takes for someone to enter and the fewer entrants there will be.

On the other hand, you want to ensure you’re getting adequate info so that you can effectively enter giveaway participants into your sales funnel.

How much is too much info to ask for?

Let’s take a look at what Kontest found:


As you can see, no one has an issue providing their email address.

And most are totally fine giving their first and last names.

But once you start getting to age, country, and address, the number of entrants drops off significantly.

The bottom line is that you should ask only for the most important information you’re legitimately going to use.

Otherwise, getting too personal and requiring too many steps can scare off many would-be entrants.

Make a big announcement about the winner(s)

A lot of time and energy goes into creating an online giveaway.

You want to make a big deal about the winner and put the spotlight on them.

I suggest asking them to take a photo with your product and posting it on your social media accounts.

This serves as added brand exposure and lets other entrants know that the giveaway was legit.

Both of which should help you build more buzz if you decide to create another online giveaway in the future.

Choosing a platform

There’s one last and extremely important detail.

Which platform should you use to run your online giveaway?

Although there are several different options to choose from, there are two in particular that I recommend.

The first is Gleam.


It’s fairly easy to use, and it integrates with most major social networks.

It’s also super customizable and makes it simple to incorporate great looking pictures.

I love the fact that Gleam is fully responsive, which is crucial for keeping mobile users happy.

In fact, you can increase your number of entrants 8x by running a mobile contest.


The second platform is Rafflecopter, which, according to its site, is “the world’s easiest way to run a giveaway.”


It’s also user-friendly and customizable.

Even if you have zero experience with online giveaways, you can usually get one up and running quickly.


I love online giveaways and think that when done correctly, they can rev up your marketing.

Just think about it. An online giveaway kills multiple birds with one stone.

You can:

  • Get great brand exposure
  • Increase social media and blog engagement
  • Build your audience
  • Establish brand advocates in the people who win your giveaways

And when you think about the money you would spend on other marketing techniques, such as paid advertising, you’re usually getting more bang for your buck with this strategy.

It’s usually a win-win situation.

But quite frankly, the strategy you devise is equally as important as the prize itself.

You need to cover all your bases and ensure you’re offering a prize that people actually want and that will motivate them to enter.

Once you’ve got that covered, the rest should fall into place.

Have you ever experimented with an online giveaway?


  1. As with any promotion – giveaways are complicated.

    Another key factor to consider is promoting the promotion.
    Putting it up on your site is one thing, socialising it another.
    The reality is that you are heavily reliant on your existing audience to push the promotion for you.
    (If people were smart – they’d keep it hushed up and increase their own chances … but luckily, many people aren’t as cynical or conniving as I am :D)

    Okay – so where does that leave you?
    It leaves you looking over your traffic/social interaction data.
    It’s not the highest volume of visits/views you are looking for – it’s the highest volume of social-sharers. What is the general day+time when you get the most views and the most shares?
    That’s your launch target – when you get a high number of eyeballs that socialise your content.
    Combine that with a good giveaway offer, and you can go from a stream to a surge of subscribers.

    On a different note, I’m not so sure about the Kontest information regarding information requests from subscribers.
    For starters, that looks like it’s giving us the % of content runners that used those inputs, not the % of people that signed up.
    Secondly, without information about how many inputs, what order, how presented etc., we can’t really take the figures too seriously.

    As a final thought – you really need to look at the size of your audience and how interactive they are.
    If you have a small audience that are sporadic visitors and don’t socialise that much, maybe a contest isn’t going to give you the boom you want… but, it could also be just the thing to draw in a fresher audience that is more active. So judge carefully, and gauge the value of your giveaways.

    • Thank you for the insight comment.

    • Hey J, you made a lot of really interesting points. I just thought I add one thing about traffic & your social following (Facebook & Instagram) in the way that it effects the “outcome” or “engagement” for a giveaway…

      For me I have been running contest for awhile… & I actually have never relied on my existing audience to push it or make it popular for me.

      I have always just bought FB Ads to the giveaway. This was originally because when I am running a giveaway I am looking to grow my email list (with new peeps) so that I can get to know them (& can market to them) through that medium.

      What I have found is interesting: the ads end up being really cheap because there is a high percentage of engagement (clicks, likes) & I get likes & a high conversion rate on the lander for email subscribes. Everybody wins! Lol

      Just wanted to point out… that if you don’t have an audience, running a giveaway is a great to start &/or grow that audience. If you don’t have an audience or it’s small, don’t let that stop you from doing it. Just use FB Ads to push it (your cake), & let the viral nature of it (shares & likes) take it’s course & that will be the “icing” on the cake.

      Ok, feeling talkative… also I use the “best sellers list” on Amazon (80% of the time) to pick what I want to giveaway because it has already shown to be popular… so it helps in the giveaways because it’s something that people are really wanting (higher % of engagement = cheaper FB Ads). And it doesn’t have to be expensive… One of my best giveaways was in the poker market for a cheap t-shirt that had a super funny saying.

      Anyhoo, hope this helps…


      P.S. BTW, whats upper Neil, hope you’re having a great day man.

      • Kenny, that’s a solid idea/approach.

        I admit, I’ve never done ads for a competition – but I can’t see any real flaws to the method, and indeed, it does seem a good way to generate fresh readers (and with the FB ads, you can target rather finely as well, esp. if you’ve ran other ads in the past).

        “YES” to the “best seller” research – that’s novel and I feel a little lame for not thinking of that … colour me impressed 😀

        • I love peeking at other ads with the drop arrow to see how they target you as well 😉

        • @J.Ustpassing

          Thanks. I absolutely love giveaways and the results I have been getting. I am big into email marketing so, it’s a really cool way to get them on the list & start the “relationship”. And the Amazon “best seller list” has been so helpful 😉

          @Neil – I haven’t tried that… I’m going to do that today (peek in on how they targeted me). Sneaky 🙂 Lol

  2. In order to keep the readers’ engagement, most of the people get intimated because of the complex structure of the content.

    What’s the use if you readers can’t even understand your words? You need to simplify.

    Using the metaphors can add some value. People need to correlate to the similar concepts.

    Thanks for sharing with us.


  3. Hey Neil,

    Great article. However, I am wondering, isn’t it against Facebook policy to use giveaways to boost social media engagement? In which way can it be used so we don’t violate FB policy for giveaways.Thanks!

  4. Hey Neil,

    Great article. As with any promotion – giveaways are complicated.


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