How to Run a Contest or Giveaway That Generates Leads

how to run a contest or giveaway that generates leads
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By Jess Dixon

We’ve talked before about how strategically giving stuff away for free can boost your sales and bring in new customers. But do you know what people love almost as much as free stuff? The chance to win something!

Contests and giveaways are a tried and true technique for generating new customers and leads for your business. Read on to learn how to do it in a way that will get you the results you want. 

Make sure the prize is desirable and relevant

If you want to get people to enter your contest, you need to start with a prize that they’ll want. There are a few ways to play this:

First, you can give away a generic prize that would be useful to most people. Amazon gift cards are popular here. 

Second, you can give away a product or service that you sell. A software business might give away a year’s subscription to their platform, while a bakery might give away a box of cupcakes in the winner’s favourite flavour. 

Finally, you can give away something that isn’t a product you sell, but is directly related to your niche. For example, a company selling meal kits might give away a kitchen gadget. 

There are pros and cons to all of these options, but ultimately you must decide which one makes the most sense for you. Not sure? Ask your social media followers and email subscribers which they would prefer via a poll.

Use it as an opportunity to gather contact information

A giveaway can be an incredibly powerful way to grow your email list and follower base. But if you want it to work, you need to make providing certain contact information a condition of entry. 

If you’re doing a social media giveaway, you should require people to follow you to be eligible for entry. If you have an entry form for your contest, ensure you make the “email address” field mandatory and include consent options (such as a tick box) for customers to opt in to your mailing list. (You must give them the choice for your contest to be GDPR compliant.) 

Another option is to offer contest entry as a lead magnet specifically to get email list sign ups. For example, “everyone who joins our mailing list in the next 72 hours will be entered into a raffle to win an Amazon gift card!” 

Promote across channels

If you’re running your giveaway on social media, you can still promote it to your mailing list subscribers. If it’s happening primarily on Instagram, you can still promote it on Facebook. And so on. Use as many channels as you have at your disposal to promote your giveaway. 

People consume content in different ways and spend their time on different platforms, so by promoting your contest across all your channels you maximise the number of people who know about it. 

Offer people the chance to earn extra entries

If you use a system like Vyper or Rafflecopter to run your giveaway, you can give people the opportunity to earn extra entries by taking certain actions. Examples might include sharing a blog post, tweeting out the link to your content, or signing up for a free trial of your product. 

Whatever options you choose, make sure they’re geared towards your goal – in this case, getting the word out about your business and bringing in new leads. 

Build a contest around user-generated content

User-generated content (UGC) is powerful because it feels real and authentic as opposed to promotional. So why not hold a contest involving UGC? For example, if you have a physical business (such as a cafe or restaurant,) ask your fans to share pictures from their visits. If you sell physical products, ask people to share photos of themselves using one of your products (e.g., traveling to somewhere interesting while wearing something from your store.)

This has a couple of benefits: it provides you with loads of great content you can use, essentially making your customers and fans your spokespeople. It also makes people feel more involved, which is a surefire way to boost engagement. 

Share the winner publicly

When you draw the giveaway, share who won on social media (and, if you know the winner’s handle, tag them.) This shows that your giveaway was genuine and also boosts positive sentiment towards your business. You could even go live on Facebook or Instagram, or make a short Youtube video, and record yourself drawing the winner’s name.

As an added bonus, the winner might share the post announcing their win, or even post a photo of them with their prize when they receive it. Free advertising!

Offer something to those who didn’t win

Want to thank everyone who entered but didn’t win? You can offer them something too, such as a limited time generous discount code for your store or a free digital copy of your book. This keeps the good feeling going and helps to ensure that those contest entrants who didn’t win stay engaged with your business. 

Track, monitor, improve

How did your giveaway do? How many of those entrants have stayed engaged with your business or even turned into customers? It’s vital that, when your contest is over, you monitor your metrics and see if it had the desired effect. In other words, did it generate quality leads for your business or not? 

Only when you know how well something worked can you figure out whether to do it again or what you’d do differently next time. So don’t forget all about it once you’ve posted their prize to the winner. 

Have you run a giveaway to generate leads?

We’d love to know what you did and how it worked! Share your experiences and top tips with our readers on social media or in the comments. 

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