The Power of Giveaways for eCommerce

One powerful tool for eCommerce marketing is the free product. Contests, giveaways, sweepstakes and time-limited coupons are all great ways to give a taste of your product or service to interested customers. It entices them to engage with your brand on social media and your website. It's an opportunity for you to harvest data about your interested demographics. It's also fairly cheap, depending on what you're giving away as a prize. What do you have to consider when you're setting up a contest?

Plan Ahead

The best, most effective contest is one with plenty of thought put into it; so much thought, in fact, that from a customer perspective it looks effortless. Customers don't want to hear how much trouble you might have acquiring a prize, or judging entries, or coming up with a contest. They want a simple flow from point A: what they have to do, to point B: what they get.

First, you need to decide what you're giving away. What is your target audience interested in? If they like music and eclectic styles, concert tickets might be a great prize. If they prefer tangible items, new computer hardware is always in demand. If you don't have much to offer, you can always offer coupons for free goods or services through your business.

Second, you need to decide what you want to get out of your contest. It's not enough to say you want more attention, more followers and more subscribers in general. Specify what you want, so you can make it a required part of submitting an entry to your contest. Do they need to follow you on Twitter? Should they register for your mailing list? Do they need to refer a friend? The point is to require something from entrants that benefits you in terms of marketing and SEO.

Third, you need to decide how you're judging entries. On the simplest level, with nothing more than a registration for a drawing, you don't need to judge. For creative entries, from photographs to multimedia, you'll need to judge them in a timely manner. No one likes the delay caused by a flood of unexpected entries. Prepare for more than you expect to receive.

Build the Contest Framework

Once you've decided on your contest, it's time to build the framework. There are several existing software applications, including some that work through Facebook, designed for you to build a contest from a basic framework. These are generally preferred over an in-house solution, because you can assure your customers of the security and reliability of the platform.

Promote your Contest

Most contests run for around 30 days. The larger the prize, the longer you want it to run, within limits. If the deadline is too far away, customers will decide it isn't worth it to enter due to the high probability of a large number of entries killing their chances. If you're requiring complex media submissions, give it more time. You can also run short weeklong contests for simple prizes.

Promote your contest just as you would promote a blog post. Share it on social media regularly. If your contest is for a big-ticket item, consider paid advertising on other sites. Create media advertising with flashy images and videos. All of these ideas, and more, are perfectly valid for promoting a contest.

You can also pay for a place on some of the popular contest aggregate sites. These sites are dedicated to informing people of various free contests and sweepstakes, their entry requirements and their prizes. This is one avenue you can use to bring in customers who are otherwise completely unrelated to your marketing or your brand. If you have the funds, you can even pay for guest blogs to help promote your cause.

A successful contest is a brilliant marketing opportunity and a chance to create a lifelong customer out of your winners. Plan, design, build and promote your contest properly and your eCommerce site will soar.

Image credit: Rexhep-bunjaku (Wikimedia)

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About AndreSmith

Small business and marketing specialist with years of experience in the industry. He has watched as the world of online business has grown and adapted to new technologies.