4 Questions to Ask if You Don’t Want Your Giveaway to Be a Waste of Time and Money

Posted by Chelsea Hejny on 15 Jul 2015 / 0 Comment

Savvy marketing professionals and agencies representing big brands often turn to online giveaways to create hype for a new product or event, drive engagement, grow their email list, and/or boost their social media followings.

It sounds like a foolproof plan: Host a giveaway (everyone likes free stuff!) and you’ll receive more sign-ups, likes, comments, and follows than you’ve ever had. Sales will spike because awareness for your product and brand will be so broad–and you will be profitable forever after.

Time for a reality check! While giveaways can be incredibly effective for reaching business goals, they can also be a huge waste of time and money if you haven’t prepared well. Thorough preparation includes asking yourself a handful of important questions during the planning process.

How do I know?

Because having run ShortStack.com for the past five years, I’ve examined the results of thousands of giveaways and have a pretty good understanding of what it takes make a giveaway successful.

Here are four questions you need to ask and answer before you host your next giveaway so you don’t end up wasting your money or your time.

Does the prize have emotional appeal?

While expensive prizes are what some marketers might call “sexy”–an all-expenses-paid trip to an exotic location or the latest Apple must-have–they don’t guarantee success. The giveaways that do really well, i.e., get shared a lot and/or receive thousands of entries, are the ones that take their intended audience into consideration. The prizes speak directly to the needs, interests, and desires of the audience they’re trying to target.

I happen to have an excellent example of this concept. My team just wrote a case study about a contest hosted by Tootsie Roll Industries, the iconic candy company. The prize? The opportunity to be a test-taster for a new Tootsie Pops flavor.

More than 43,000 people entered the contest in just three days.

Obviously it wasn’t the value of the prize that drove this crazy level of interest and engagement, it was the unique prize.

During your planning process, spend some time thinking about the kinds of prizes that will resonate with your audience. You could save money on what might have gone to an unnecessarily extravagant prize and you’ll also help improve your giveaway’s odds of attracting more of the kind of people you want to engage with, the way Tootsie Pops did.

Am I asking people to share more information than they want to share, or want to spend time sharing?

Even as people become more comfortable with sharing information about themselves online, there’s still resistance. The two biggest reasons for this reluctance to share are lack of trust about what will happen with the information, and lack of time.

First, people don’t trust businesses to do the “right thing” with their personal information. (“Sure, asking for my email address is fine, but why do you need my phone number and zip code and marital status, too?!”) When creating your giveaway’s promotion form, avoid asking your users to share too much information in order to enter. Instead, ask for the bare minimum, like a name and email address. This is one piece of advice that has been proven to help increase conversions. By simply reducing the number of fields in your form from six to three, you can increase your giveaway’s conversion rate on average by 66 percent, according to QuickSprout.

Second, in the time it takes a person to enter a giveaway, even one with minimum form fields, a potential entrant could be doing a million other things. What’s more, they’re likely being distracted by Facebook notifications, incoming text messages, Slack pings, etc.

The less time you require entrants to spend navigating your form, the better.

Have I automated the promotion of my giveaway as much as possible?

When you’re planning your giveaway, it’s easy to think that by the time it launches, executing it will be your top priority. Think again. What often happens for businesses running giveaways in-house is that the responsibilities of day-to-day business get in the way–go figure! This often shoves promoting the giveaway to the bottom of the daily to-do list.

To avoid doing your giveaway a disservice, automate your promotional efforts as much as you can before it even starts.

This is easy.

First, set up autoresponder emails to fire off to entrants at calculated times. Second, schedule various social media posts to publish throughout the duration of your giveaway. The more you invest in marketing automation processes, the better chance your giveaway has of being successful.

Do I have a post-giveaway action plan?

If you don’t have a solid post-giveaway plan, you’re shortchanging yourself. Why? Because your giveaway’s ROI cannot be fully realized unless you make use of all the data you collected.

Think of every person who entered your giveaway as a brand new lead. And if you got your prize right, they’re not just leads, they’re highly qualified leads. To make them work for you, you must follow up. Whether it’s sending out a personalized and incentivized email, or commenting on each piece of user-generated content that was created to enter to win your giveaway, follow-up is a crucial step in the giveaway process. Without these post-giveaway efforts, you’re missing out on the real value of hosting a giveaway.

Do you have any questions about how to make the most of your online giveaway? If so, leave them for me below.

This post orginally appeared on Inc.com






Why Waste Time Blogging?


Blogging waste of timeA Blogging Perspective

Why would someone like myself, take time to write about the marketing and management experiences I face and share this information with others? Am I doing some work on the side? (The answer is No!) Well, I must be getting some type of revenue from the blog. (The answer is No!) So people look at me and say, why are you wasting your time.

My answer has always been. Blogging is who I am. It is the best way for me to introduce myself to others and keep them informed of what I stand for and where I come from with respect to my success.

In 2015, I have been able to connect with a lot of great people and I really believe having content in place that people can reference, validates the fact that I am a real person who cares about what is happening in the business world today.

Purpose For Blogging

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My main focus is developing business and servicing clients for Midwest Laboratories. This is my sole business and the company I represent. I share content and happenings on our website, home page, and company blog page. These two pages represent company information and news-related information that affect our current clientele.

I use this site, MarketingDirectorBlog.com to give you, the reader a perspective of where I see things headed and the issues I have faced in getting there. I have been blogging for the last 7 years and just like anything there are good days and challenging days. The best part about this process for me is that it serves as a platform for me for which to grow. I am a forward-thinking person who does not like to look back. I prefer to learn from my experiences and strive to reach something better.

How I See Blogging Evolving

People are going to be very skeptical of what is happening in the world. The companies that will succeed are doing things so much differently than their competitors and this is exactly where I want to be going forward. Blogging allows me to stay in touch with others who are striving to keep their businesses in the spotlight with respect to the clients they serve. The landscape is changing and companies need to have an online presence every day. This has been evident for me with respect to blogging on LinkedIn. People are hungry for great information and want to connect with the best and the brightest. If you are not using the blogging tool on Linkedin, you are really missing out. You also need your own home website to insure people know that you also have a presence outside of social media. (This is really important!)

People connect people with their respective companies and vice/versa. It is for this reason that smaller companies are starting to gain more traction in a world of big companies. Think of big companies like Oracle and Apple and the names of Larry Ellison and Tim Beck come to mind. Can you say that about companies like Proctor & Gamble or Shell? No nearly as formidable. People want to connect the Company’s ownership and leadership directly with their respective company. We are continuing to move in this direction and it is coming quicker than expected. The best way to create this connection is to keep your name active in your community and make sure people know what you stand for.

Professional Development

If you want to grow professionally, then you really need to learn from the people, who are in the trenches, who are doing the work to make companies successful. The successful people are sharing their insights if you are willing to listen. Learn from others and apply that learning to your own experiences and then share that information with others. You will quickly build influence in your community. I see my efforts paying great dividends in the near future as our company continues to hopefully grow in the future. Professional development is all about learning and getting better.

Blogging helps start discussions with others. In addition, it keeps information fresh in the minds of others.


Blogging isn’t for everyone. It is a lot of work and it really is about making an investment in yourself and your company. It can be a very scary proposition for some. However, if you stay with it long enough, I can assure you that you will see results and people will know who you are, who you work for and what you stand for. It’s hard to get that type of publicity just any place.

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