How To Grow Your Ecommerce Business With Viral Giveaways

Bonus Material: Viral Giveaways Swipe File

Looking for a way to grow your email list and increase your revenue?

A giveaway could be just the tactic you’ve been looking for.

Giveaways are amazing strategies for growing eCommerce businesses because:

  1. You don’t need a huge budget to run a successful giveaway. 💰

  2. There’s no steep learning curve (like there is with mastering Facebook Ads, SEO, and other marketing channels). 📚

  3. Setting up a giveaway takes no time at all! ⚡

The examples we’ll share in this post will show you how businesses have generated tens of thousands of subscribers, driven sales and grown their social following just from giveaways.

Want to know how to generate results like this for your business?

Read on…

1. What Are Viral Giveaways (And How Do They Work)?

2. How To Run A Successful Giveaway For Your Ecommerce Company

3. Make Sales From Your Giveaway

4. Three Examples Of Successful Giveaways

What Are Viral Giveaways (And How Do They Work)?

A viral giveaway is essentially a competition that encourages people to enter for a chance to win a prize, or selection of prizes, with the winner chosen at random from the pool of contestants.

Now you might be wondering, “How exactly does that help my business?”

Often, businesses that run giveaways will ask entrants to share their details with the business or take an action to enter. This helps the business to grow its mailing lists or social following. For example:

“Enter with your email address” or “Follow us on Instagram to win.”

Here’s an example of a giveaway created using KingSumo:

Screenshot showing information about a sweepstakes

Now this is where the “viral” element comes in.

Once someone has entered a giveaway, they’re encouraged to share the giveaway with their friends for more chances to win. All of a sudden, one person can become 10 people through social sharing and invites. Essentially your giveaway contestants do a ton of the marketing for you.

Screenshot showing a confirmation page for a sweepstakes

The above giveaway generated 3,223 contestants in just 28 days!

And this isn’t a “one-hit wonder”; viral giveaways are proven to drive huge results for all kinds of businesses.

  1. Ryan Holiday ran a 59 Book giveaway and got 6,144 email subscribers in two weeks.

  2. Sumo ran an Ecommerce For Life giveaway with a lifetime subscription to an ecommerce platform + Sumo, and got 10,705 email subscribers in two weeks.

  3. Giveaways have helped grow Noah Kagan’s email list by 52,213 email subscribers over the past couple of years.

Screenshot showing stats for Kingsumo

Sounds incredible, right? Want to replicate this success for your business?

Let’s dive into how to run a viral giveaway of your own.

How To Run A Successful Giveaway For Your Ecommerce Company

Getting started with a giveaway of your own might seem pretty daunting. Thankfully, though, it only takes a few steps to run a successful giveaway:

Step 1: Decide On Your Goals

Any piece of marketing should have goals attached to it.

For example, you probably wouldn’t dive into Facebook Ads without having an end goal in mind. A viral giveaway should be no different.

If you’re investing time (and potentially a bit of money) into your giveaway, think about how you will measure success.

Maybe you’re looking to:

  1. Boost your social proof by growing your following on social media.

  2. Build awareness of a new product launch.

  3. Generate a TON of new email subscribers to expand your sales funnel.

Whatever success is for your business, define it before you get started.

Step 2: Find AWESOME Prizes

Without prizes, you don’t have a giveaway. But if you want to run a successful viral giveaway, you can’t just give away generic prizes.

  • “Win an iPhone X”

  • “Win $100 in Amazon vouchers”

These are seemingly great prizes. I mean, who wouldn’t want a brand-new iPhone or $100 to spend on Amazon?

But here lies the exact problem many people run into with giveaways:

Generic prizes don’t generate real business results.

Let me explain.

If you give away generic prizes, you’re getting people who aren’t in your niche or even interested in your product.

These are the kind of people who will unsubscribe from your list, or just ignore your messages, once the giveaway is over.

With a giveaway, you don’t want to excite everyone with your prizes; you want stuff that appeals precisely to your niche.

For example:

  • Mickey Visit, a site to help plan Disneyland vacations, offered a Sully popcorn bucket and 1,509 people entered.

  • Eli Constant Books offered a Walking Dead Super Fan Giveaway and more than 1,000 people entered.

    Screenshot showing a walking dead giveaway

  • Weathered Signs offered three handmade wooden signs and generated 194 signups.

Screenshot showing header for a sweepstakes

Three Ways To Find Prizes For Your Giveaway:

1. Buy something

This one is obvious, but it’s also one of the easiest, least time-consuming ways to get a prize for your giveaway. And, truth be told, you don’t have to part with much cash to find a prize that will excite your niche.

For example, Noah once generated 6,411 contestants from a Seth Godin book giveaway that cost under $100!

Screenshot showing the title for a sweepstakes

This prize worked so well for a few simple reasons:

  1. Noah’s audience is interested in business and marketing.

  2. Seth Godin is a big name, and his work is incredibly respected in this niche.

  3. Marketers are extremely driven by self-improvement and know these books will help them to get better at their craft.

Frequently with prizes, it’s more about finding a perfect fit with what your audience wants and needs, rather than creating a giveaway with an eye-popping value like “$10,000 worth of books for FREE.”

If you’re short on time and have a few spare dollars sitting around in your marketing budget, buying your own prize is a great way to go.

2. Reach out to partners

Partners are an amazing fit for giveaways for a couple of reasons:

  1. They can supply the prizes (saving you money).

  2. They can help you to promote the giveaway and bring in more people.

  3. The partners benefit from your promotion of the giveaway.

For example, Sam Jefferies, founder of the UK-based finance blog Money Nest, emailed an author who had written a few books aimed at the UK finance niche and suggested they partner up for a giveaway.

The author obliged and provided Sam with five copies of his new book as well as five copies of another book he’d recently been featured in:

Screenshot showing books

This giveaway enabled Money Nest to:

  1. Triple their email list (from 360 to 1,005 subscribers — in just 7 days).

  2. Pick up hundreds of new social media followers.

  3. Generate new backlinks to their site, helping to boost their SEO.

To find partners, try to think of businesses that are complementary to yours — businesses that share the same audience as you but aren’t a direct competitor.

For example:

  • A sports clothing store could partner with local sports venues or gyms to offer free sessions or lessons.

  • A backpack company, like Minaal, could partner with a travel apparel company.

  • A store selling spices and hot sauce might partner with a cooking equipment supplier or a business offering cooking lessons.

Once you have a list of potential partners to reach out to — try to come up with 15-20 partners as not everyone will say “yes” right away, it’s time to make your pitch.

First, you’ll need to find their contact details, which used to be a real pain. But now, you can use a tool like Hunter.io to find almost anyone’s email address.

With contact details in hand, it’s time to write that all-important pitch email.

For a great example of how to pitch potential partners, check out this example from Julien Marion in his 0 to 10k traffic case study:

Screenshot showing an email

Sam Jefferies also shared his email outreach template in his giveaway case study:

Hi NAME,

I LOVED your book. Read it a few times, and my favorite part was where you shared advice on negotiating a raise.

Quick question…

I’m running a giveaway for my readers. Gonna promote to 1,000+ on my social and email channels.

Would you be excited for me to give away your book + a link to your site?

Interested?

-YOUR NAME

With these two templates at hand, you’re ready to roll. Now it’s over to you. Get your list of partners together and find some epic prizes for your giveaway.

3. Give away some of your own products (or time)

As an ecommerce business, you probably have some awesome prizes sitting in your inventory.

  • Maybe you could bundle together some stock and make an “Ultimate Giveaway.”

  • Do you have any limited edition or rare products? Giving these away will create a ton of excitement amongst your customers.

  • If you have a new product coming out, run a giveaway for people to receive it before it’s open for everyone to buy — people love exclusivity!

As an alternative to giving away stock, you could experiment with some money-can’t-buy, behind-the-scenes prizes:

  1. A visit to your office or manufacturing facility to see how the products are made.

  2. Lunch with your CEO.

  3. The chance to learn some top industry tips with your team.

Step 3: Set Up Your Giveaway

Once your prizes are in the bag, you need to get your giveaway set up.

This might feel like the hardest step of the process. In reality though, it’s pretty simple (and much less time-consuming than you may expect).

To get started, head over to KingSumo — our viral giveaways platform — and enter your email address to begin building your giveaway (your first giveaway is 100% free.)

GIF showing the Kingsumo landing page

After you’ve entered your email, you’ll be right in the heart of KingSumo and ready to build your own giveaway. We’ll walk through the three simple steps to create your giveaway shortly.

But first, let’s have a look at what you’re actually creating. Here’s a completed giveaway landing page:

Screenshot showing info about a sweepstakes

Now here’s how to create your own landing page just like this…

Three Steps To Creating Your KingSumo Giveaway

1. Giveaway Information

The first section you’ll see is your “Giveaway Information.” Here you can add all the key details about your giveaway:

Screenshot showing the Kingsumo page for creating giveaways

First, you’ll need to add your giveaway title and description. Our top tip here is to keep your title short and to the point. Here’s a short, clear title from one of Noah’s recent giveaways:

Screenshot showing title for a giveaway article

When it comes to your description, think about it as a product description and ask yourself how you can use this space to sell your giveaway to your audience.

Key things to include in your description include:

  • More details about the prizes.

  • A breakdown of exactly what they’ll win.

  • Why they should care about these prizes and how winning will help them get one step closer to their goal.

Here’s a great example from Degree 33 Surfboards:

Screenshot showing copy for a sweepstakes

Note: You might also want to add some details about where people can enter from (e.g., continental U.S., certain states or countries).

Once you’ve written your title and description, you’ll need to add the following details:

  • Start and end times: When your contest starts and ends (in your timezone).

  • Awarded at: When the contest winner will be announced.

  • Number of winners: How many people will be getting a prize.

  • Who’s running the giveaway: Your company name and website link.

  • Prize images: Minimum of 680px wide and a 2:1 ratio. These images will display at the top of your giveaway landing page:

Screenshot showing the header for a sweepstakes

2. Sharing

Once someone has entered your giveaway, they’ll go to a screen encouraging them to take actions for more chances to win.

The first option people are presented with is sharing the giveaway with friends:

Screenshot showing a confirmation page for a sweepstakes

You can see in the above giveaway that people are encouraged to share via Twitter, Facebook, and email.

When you’re creating your giveaway, you can choose which platforms people can use to share your giveaway:

Screenshot showing the sharing page for a viral giveaway

When choosing, think about the platforms most suited to your business, and where you might already have some traction. For example, a B2B giveaway might work better being shared on LinkedIn than on Pinterest.

3. Bonus Entries

We’re now at the business end of giveaway creation — this is where you create your giveaway’s virality.

For example, in the Bo Jackson giveaway users could receive extra entries for:

  • Watching a YouTube video.

  • Listening to a podcast episode.

  • Subscribing to a YouTube channel.

  • Checking out a website.

Each action taken resulted in five more entries for that user.

Screenshot showing how someone can get more entries

When you’re putting together your giveaway, you can choose exactly which actions will result in bonus entries and how many entries a user will receive for taking each action within KingSumo.

There is a range of bonus options available within KingSumo:

Screenshot showing options page on the Kingsumo dashboard

Try to choose the options you feel will be most rewarding for your business. For example, if YouTube is a key channel for your business, you could use your giveaway as an opportunity to further grow your presence there.

When choosing how many bonus entries to give people for each action, think about the amount of work that goes into each action.

For example, an Instagram follow might take considerably less time than watching a full YouTube video, so you might want to award more entries for watching the video.

Once you’ve set up your bonuses, select “Save” and your giveaway is set up and ready to go!

Screenshot showing the settings page for viral giveaways

Step 4: Promote Your Giveaway

Once your giveaway is set up, it’s time to get people entering. Here are five ways to promote your viral giveaway:

1. Your Email List (Or Contacts)

Your email list is a great starting point for promoting your giveaway. Check out how Noah messages his list when he’s announcing a new giveaway:

Screenshot showing an email promoting a giveaway

Now the main goal of your giveaway is likely to be reaching new people and generating new leads for your business, but your existing mailing list is a perfect starting point for promotion because:

  1. You can deliver value to your current subscribers and give them the chance to win some awesome prizes.

  2. Once some of your existing subscribers have entered, they’ll start to invite their friends and kickstart the virality.

If you don’t have a mailing list currently (side note: here’s how to get 1,000 email subscriber in 30 days) or you only have a small list, you can also start off by emailing your contacts manually.

Here’s a template from KingSumo that you can use to invite people:

Hey NAME,

I’m running a free giveaway, and you're invited to participate! It takes 5 seconds to enter for a chance to win at the link below:

[LINK]

Your odds of winning increase with every person you refer.

Spread the word!

Good luck.

2. Add A Smart Bar To Your Website

Maximize the value of every website visit by setting up a Smart Bar to let your visitors know about your giveaway.

A Smart Bar sits at the top or bottom of your page and you can set it to show up at all times or set it to appear at your chosen intervals.

You can also customize the text, colors, and CTA of your Smart Bar. Here’s an example:

Screenshot showing a top bar powered by Sumo

3. Create Content Around Your Giveaway

Content marketing is a great channel to promote your giveaway. If you create content that connects with your target audience, there’s a very good chance those people will go on to enter the competition.

For example, to promote his recent Bo Jackson giveaway, Noah created a:

All focused on his experience meeting Bo Jackson. By checking some of the feedback, you can see this content really resonated with his audience:

Screenshot showing a comment by Brian Dean

Think about which channels perform best for your business and create content for them. For example:

  • If Instagram is a killer for your business, create a few Instagram posts and stories about your giveaway. You could even do an Instagram Live session to announce the winner.

  • If LinkedIn is where you get a lot of love, try out LinkedIn video or write a few long-form articles.

  • For Twitter, you could host a Twitter chat focused on the topic of your giveaway.

4. Facebook Ads

When Sam Jefferies was looking for ways to promote his giveaway.

Here’s one of his ads:

Screenshot showing a facebook post sharing a sweepstakes

There are a few approaches you could use to target potential entrants using Facebook Ads:

  1. Target people who already Like your Page (if you already have a Page.)

  2. Use data from your Facebook Insights and Google Analytics to build up a profile of who you’d like to target, and advertise to people who match those demographics.

  3. Add the Facebook Pixel to your website and use retargeting ads to connect with people who have already visited your website.[*]

Tip: If you invest in Facebook Ads, create a couple of variations of your ads to see which performs best before putting in your full budget.

5. Partner Promotion

We touched on finding partners for your giveaway earlier. But now, it’s time to get your partners (or find partners) to help you with promotion and generating contestants for your giveaway.

If you’re already working with partners who have supplied prizes for your giveaway, you want to make it as simple as possible for them to share your giveaway with their audience.

When Noah launched his podcast, he used a giveaway to entice people to subscribe, and when he asked partners to share the giveaway (and news of his podcast launch), he created an email and social media post swipe file.

Here’s the email template:

Screenshot showing an email

And the social media posts:

Screenshot showing copy for sweepstakes

This made it super simple for partners to copy and paste the text and links, rather than having to manually write something themselves — making them more likely to share as they don’t have to do any work.

Before emailing any of your partners about promoting the giveaway, create a swipe file that contains everything they need:

  • Social media and email copy.

  • Images, videos, and relevant content.

  • Contest details (such as prizes and closing date.)

If you don’t have any partners on board with your giveaway already, take a leaf from Sam Jeffries’ book and start reaching out to big names in your industry.

When promoting his giveaway, Sam emailed 37 bloggers and ended up grabbing a feature on three blogs.

These blogs also shared the giveaway on social media and one even featured Sam’s giveaway in their newsletter.

Here’s a copy of the email Sam sent so you can use it for your own giveaways:

Hi NAME,

LOVE your site.

Recently read your post about side hustling and it really made me think. Found it especially interesting how many millennials are freelancing nowadays.

Quick question…

I’m giving away 10 personal finance books. Would love to explore putting this in a small place on your site. 🙂

Happy to promote your content on my social channels in return.

Interested?

-Sam

To find the best people to reach out to, head to Google and search for “Best [Your Niche] blogs”: For example:

Screenshot showing google search results for "best knitting blogs"

Next, compile a list of all the blogs you find and check for their contact details as most bloggers will have a “Contact” page on their website.

Then, take your email template (like Sam’s above) and send it out.

Remember, Sam had around 10% success rate (three partners from 37 emails), so aim to message at least 30 bloggers.

Step 5: Make Sales From Your Giveaway

Giveaways will only ever have a handful of winners, but you can make everyone feel like a winner. If someone has taken the time to enter your giveaway, think about how you can deliver value to them.

For example, everyone who entered Sumo’s Ultimate Shopify Giveaway still received a few complimentary products and discounts even if they didn’t win:

Screenshot showing an email

Three Examples Of Successful Giveaways

Degree 33 Surfboards

Screenshot showing a sweepstakes

Degree 33 Surfboards gave away one awesome surf package worth over $1,000.

They had over 2,300 people enter through sending one simple email to their list of 36,784 subscribers, and saw an open rate of 14% and clickthrough rate of 5.8%. They also included a promo code in the giveaway description and this resulted in one direct sale of more than $400.

Screenshot showing copy about a sweepstakes

The ONE Thing

Screenshot showing prizes for a sweepstakes

The ONE Thing ran a huge giveaway with 66 winners! They promoted their giveaway across their social media channels and email with 1,672 people entering the giveaway.

Aside from generating contestants, this giveaway also helped The ONE Thing to drive membership revenue and deliver value to their current email subscribers.

Bo Jackson

Screenshot showing copy about a sweepstakes

357 people entered the giveaway from some light promotion Noah did across his personal email, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles.

46% of the people who entered were new subscribers. Making this even more impressive is that Noah didn’t partner with any other brands for this giveaway, highlighting how even promoting a giveaway to your preexisting audience can generate new subscribers.

Three Key Takeaways To Help You Create An Incredible Viral Giveaway

Here are three key takeaways to help you succeed with giveaways:

  1. Find AMAZING prizes: Don’t settle for generic, dull prizes (no iPads here!); find prizes that will really connect with your audience. The more targeted the better.

  2. Set up your giveaway with KingSumo: KingSumo will help you get your giveaway up and running in minutes.

  3. Promote your giveaway: Find every opportunity you can to get more entries: message your email list, create blog posts and videos, experiment with ads, create partnerships, and do everything you can to make your giveaway a huge success. 

Want to see some more incredible giveaways? Click the button below to download our viral giveaways swipe file.

Viral Giveaways Swipe File

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