11 Tips for Running a Better Giveaway

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"Enter To Win"

If you host giveaways on your blog or your website, you (and your sponsor) want them to do well. Doing well means generating a lot of traffic and driving up the entries. Of course, if you’re giving away a trip or a computer or a mattress, you’re probably not going to have a whole lot of trouble doing that. But if you’re not — and, face it, most of us are not — there are steps you can take to maximize your giveaway’s potential. Here are some of them.

1. Stop using the comment entry method.

With the user-friendly (and blogger-friendly) Rafflecopter and Giveaway Tools software, running a giveaway couldn’t be simpler these days. And, the software’s popularity and ease of use is making some people (me included, I admit) spoiled when it comes to entering giveaways. If people come across a giveaway and have to leave a comment for every entry, chances are they will not complete too many entries. And, in many cases, they won’t enter at all. It’s unnecessarily time-consuming to make people write 5 comments for one entry, 3 comments for another, and so on. And, scrolling up and down the page to read the entry methods and then back down to the comment form? No thanks. And I beg you, turn off captcha. Your readers will thank you.


2. Post clear, specific directions.

For example, if an entry is “Link to the sponsor’s website and leave the url,” people don’t really know what you’re expecting of them. Some giveaways have a rambling paragraph that is supposed to explain how to enter. Let’s be honest: If you can’t clearly explain how to enter in a sentence, there’s a problem. If people aren’t not sure what they have to do to enter your giveaway, they’re probably going to move on. How about this:

  • Mandatory entry: You must follow me on GFC (+3)
  • Mandatory entry: You must visit the sponsor’s site and comment with an item you like (+3)
  • You must complete the mandatory entry before completing any bonus entries.

Can you decipher that? Must people complete BOTH mandatory entries? It says “entry” so does that mean they only have to do one? Are they each worth three entries? Sweet fancy Moses, what are you asking people to do?

3. Provide the links people need.

There is nothing more frustrating than seeing this: “Visit the sponsor’s site and tell me your favorite item/something you learned/whatever.” Then people have to scan your post in the hopes of finding the link — and it’s not always there (or it’s broken). True story: I tried to enter a giveaway the other day and one of the entries was to “like” the sponsor on Facebook. No link was provided. So I went to the sponsor’s website and searched for their Facebook link. Couldn’t find it. I suppose I could have gone to Facebook and searched for their page there but is that really my responsibility? That’s more work than a lot of people would put in for an entry. Another giveaway offered an entry for following the host on Pinterest. Sure, no problem. Oh, wait. You didn’t link to your profile…and you don’t have the link anywhere on your blog. There goes that entry.

4. Don’t make it such an effort to enter.

No, of course you shouldn’t be “giving it away.” I host giveaways and I don’t give anything away. But if people have to “like” 12 pages on Facebook, follow 8 people on Twitter, “like” the post, leave a blog comment, then sign up for 6 RSS feeds, you can bet some are skipping your giveaway. Of course, that’s the extreme. Some people are probably going to skip the giveaway that has three mandatory entries as well.

5. Don’t overwhelm people with too many entry methods.

27 entry methods (or, heaven forbid, more)? Seriously? How much time do you think people have? Sure, you want to maximize your following/affiliate network, but listing every single possible referral/voting site/social media in every giveaway is a tad much. Pick and choose, change things up on different giveaways. Be creative. More important, be reasonable. Some bloggers try to get the most bang for their buck when they run a giveaway but when you list dozens of entries (including sign-ups for every site they can think of), people run out of steam before they complete them all. (Please note: I am not referring to giveaway events sponsored by 25+ bloggers…different rules apply there.)

6. Abide by the rules — Facebook or otherwise.

It boggles my mind that the Facebook rules are SO confusing. Here is really what you need to know: a) You CAN ask people to “Like” a page on Facebook as an entry (per Section 4); b) The act of “Liking” cannot be their entry method (per Section 3; they have to enter via another method, such as leaving a comment on your blog or entering on a Rafflecopter form, etc.); c) You cannot ask anyone to “create content” on Facebook as an entry into your giveaway (per Section 4). Creating content would be leaving a comment on someone’s wall or updating their status or posting your giveaway on Facebook. If you don’t believe me, you can read the Facebook Promotion Guidelines.

In addition, you cannot give someone an entry (or entries) into a giveaway for making a purchase. It effectively makes your giveaway a “lottery.” Steer clear. Personally, I tend to frown upon giveaways that have entries that are unethical or illegal…but that’s just me.

7. Make sure your Rafflecopter entries are correct.

It drives me nuts when I enter a giveaway and the urls are not entered correctly. If each entry just provides the url (meaning it’s not hyperlinked) that has to be copied and pasted in another tab, how many people will be doing that, over and over? I mean, if you can’t make the effort to do it right, why should they? It’s also frustrating to see error messages when trying to complete an entry. Lastly, make sure your tweet is correct — that means no more than 140 characters and it’s for the correct giveaway.

8. Promote it!

Sure, if I’m an e-mail subscriber, I’ll find out about your giveaway but I can only subscribe to so many blogs! Cheese and crackers, folks. You’re doing yourself, your sponsor, and your potential followers a great disservice by not promoting your giveaway. The first thing you should do after hitting “Publish” (OK, maybe the second thing, after you tweet it) is go to online-sweepstakes.com and list your giveaway. There are other directories of course, like Contest Girl, but online-sweepstakes.com will likely be your #1 source of traffic. It’s also a good idea to list it on some giveaway linkies (you’ll find a fabulous list of them at Cuckoo for Coupon Deals) to get more exposure. And don’t forget to tweet it regularly (that doesn’t mean hourly for the duration, of course) and promote it on Facebook.


9. Don’t ask people to “Stumble” your giveaway. 

I can’t believe this has to be said but, given the fact I see it repeatedly as an entry, I guess it must. Yes, StumbleUpon can be a valuable source of traffic. However — and this is a loud and adamant however — you should be stumbling things that are worthy of being stumbled. If you use StumbleUpon regularly (and correctly), you’ve noticed that the content on SU tends to be “timeless.” Stumbling content such as deals, coupons, and, yes, giveaways is not a good idea…and it can (and likely will) backfire for both the site whose content is being stumbled and the person stumbling (“discovering”) it.

10. Don’t drop the ball.

For crying out loud, don’t make simple mistakes that will cost you a lot of entries. Saying that your giveaway ends April 20 isn’t really the most exact information. Does it end at noon? At 5 p.m.? Don’t forget to include the time zone! If you use Rafflecopter, your giveaway is set to end at 12:01 a.m. EST. That’s one minute after midnight. If your giveaway ends on June 11 at 12:01 a.m., don’t advertise your giveaway (or list it in directories) as ending on June 11. For all intents and purposes, it ends at midnight on June 10. Advertise it as such. If you don’t, you’ll have a lot of (disappointed) people headed to your giveaway after it has ended. Also, if you run Rafflecopter giveaways, and you want your giveaway to end on June 10, you have to set your giveaway to end on June 11. Those aren’t the only mistakes, mind you. People also need to know who can enter — is it open worldwide, or what?

11. Make the effort proportionate to the prize.

People are willing to jump through hoops to win the big prize, like $500 or an iPad or a mattress. But to go through hoops to win, say, a coupon for laundry detergent or a tube of toothpaste? You get the idea. Just be realistic. And fair.

Do you have any suggestions for making the giveaway process a better experience, from the perspective of a blogger or an entrant?

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    • says

      Thanks, Ronalee!! I agonized over this post, actually…because I didn’t want to come off as being “bossy” or a “know-it-all” (because I certainly don’t!). It’s not easy to run a great giveaway — but there are definitely things we can do to get there!!
      Kristin recently posted..Ah-choo PandaMy Profile

  1. Doris Calvert says

    I am so happy someone finally said it!! I think this has gone to far, people are trying to promote their blog so to me if your the #1 blog but only get there by people being made to vote, share on 10 sites and ask 100 entries for a $10 item is ridiculous, I cannot believe people would waste their time, Dairy Queen pays better! But the blogs are really not #1 of they get there by having people do 100 things for a giveaway, the most annoying is when the blog asks you to join a suppliers email list and it’s a mandatory entry, now they are asking us to join sites and clubs also a mandatory entry, I refuse to enter those, and the ones that make you join and follow 100 people on FB, twitter, email, google+, stumble, linkedin and the new pin this and pin that. When I first started you just left a comment!!! Plus your chances of winning were better, I have entered at a few blogs for 3 years and entered a lot and never won a thing, what are the chances of that? All the rest of the stuff you mentioned I give it a 10+ thumbs up!! Oh and something I will do if I know the person is vote for their child but now that’s an entry as well or for their school, I think to do that is very unfair to other kids in the contest and dosn’t make their child a true winner and I do not think this should be a practice kept by bloggers:)

    • says

      Doris…ALL good points! This post could have been MUCH longer, but I wanted to spare my readers all my pontificating. LOL. But, you’re so right…entering giveaways can become pretty time-consuming. Luckily, software like Rafflecopter or Giveaway Tools helps with that — but, then you have to keep it balanced. Don’t put 30 entries on the Rafflecopter form!
      Kristin recently posted..Philly fans show their love — with a tattoo (or 3)My Profile

  2. Gretchen Gerth says

    Great post! I do not have a blog, but I do enter tons of giveaways, and I’m hoping a lot of people read this. I do have a question though: If one of the entries is a daily vote, and another to enter another giveaway on their site, with the second giveaway also having an entry for the same daily vote – can one take the entry on both giveaways?

  3. says

    Kristin I am guilty of so many of these!! I’ve only been doing giveaways for a short time (I know.. that’s a bad excuse!) I’ll be changing a LOT on my giveaways! Thank you so much for all this information!

    • says

      Connie…we were ALL there! Trust me!! I did all of these when I started out. Unfortunately, so many of us start out behind a huge learning curve…and we improve as we gain experience. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought, “if only I’d known…” You’re already cutting down on the learning curve, something I can’t say I was lucky enough to have done!
      Kristin recently posted..Do you want this Kindle?My Profile

  4. Jackie Griebel says

    You have some great tips here, thanks! I have won some giveaways and have spent the last two days trying to track down the prizes I won. One out of the three I contacted got back to me. One won’t answer and the other sent me an email saying she lost all her email contacts and doesn’t know how to get in touch with the company’s PR for my prize (three of us were supposedly winners on this blog). I am in no way referring to your blog here but it really isn’t right when you do a giveaway, promise a prize and then don’t come through or make the winner track you down after three months!

    PS Love your blog and thanks for letting me vent!

    • says

      Oh, good gravy. You are so correct. That’s a whole other issue…but a very important one, I agree!! I’ve never had an issue like this when dealing with a blogger — thankfully — but, unfortunately it happens every now and then. Bummer. :(

      I hope everything works out!
      Thanks, Jackie!! :)
      Kristin recently posted..Do you want this Kindle?My Profile

  5. Nikki says

    Thanks for this post! As someone who enters (quite a few) giveaways, I can relate to much of what you have said here! I’ve even thought of typing out some ‘tips’ for bloggers from someone who enters a lot of giveaways!

  6. says

    Thanks for your comment on my post about organizing giveaways. I came by to read yours…great minds do think alike! I hope these tips sink in :-)

  7. says

    Great list :). There are so many i’m sure you could go on for days, but the one that really bugs me is when it doesn’t even list what the prize is! In those situations, I assume it’s exactly what the person reviewed, but i’d feel better entering if I was certain what I was entering for.

  8. says

    Thanks for the tips! I’m planning to have one giveaway event with my friend; this will be our reference for better outcome. I will definitely recommend this one!

  9. says

    Here’s a question. If I run a rafflecopter giveaway can I have the mandatory entry be to like a page and then have other entry methods available? Or do all FB like entries HAVE to be optional?

    • says

      You are correct. FB like entries do NOT have to be optional. However, I like to make them optional because not everyone uses Facebook (and sometimes it’s just a turn-off to “force” someone to like a page to enter a giveaway). That’s just me, of course.


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