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How to do a blog giveaway to grow your email list!
A few months ago I held a giveaway on my blog to grow my email list.
Building an email list can be super hard and coming up with great freebie opt-in ideas is even harder.
I had seen a few bloggers do really well with a giveaway, like how Beth Anne got 5,000 new subscribers in a week , so I thought I would give it a shot!
Heads up, I did nt get 5,000 new subscribers, but in fairness Beth Anne is a Facebook ads guru and runs a much bigger blog so it’s all relative.
Anyway in this post I’m going to tell you what I did and how I did it, plus what was and what wasn’t successful, so hopefully by the end you will have a good idea on how to do a blog giveaway!
The importance of an email list and why a giveaway is a great idea!
If you’ve been blogging for more than 5 seconds then you probably already know the importance of an email list, but just in case…
Why you need an email list:
– Your email list is the only traffic source you can control.
If Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google all changed their algorithm tomorrow (unlikely but possible) and you no longer received traffic from these sources, would your blogging business still function?
The idea is that if you have built a great email list, then yes your blogging business would still get traffic (from that list) and you could still make income (from that list).
– The money is in the list.
In the majority of cases you will find it easier to sell things, particularly your own products, to your email list. This is quite simply because they are a very warm audience (hopefully, as long as you have been emailing them regularly) as opposed to a random person who has read one of your posts.
I mean think about yourself, are you more likely to buy from someone who you hear from every week, or a blog you’ve been on once, three weeks ago? No brainer right? It’s going to be the person you hear from every week because you feel like you can trust them.
There are other reasons why building an email list should be one of your number one blogging priorities but they’re the main two and really the only ones you need to worry about.
Why use a giveaway to grow your email list:
As I said earlier, growing your email list can be super hard because coming up with freebie opt-ins that your readers will actually hand over their email address for is difficult.
We are all inundated with emails nowadays so you have to be providing something really valuable to be given the privilege of entering someone’s inbox.
And what’s more valuable than an item, or multiple items, that they want but would have to pay to get.
That’s why giveaways work so well. As long as you are giving away something that people seriously want they will hand over their email address. Nothing to lose, in exchange for the possibility of getting the thing they want for free!
My prize list, and how I did I get those prizes:
How to choose the prizes for your giveaway?
If you don’t get the prizes right, there is no way your giveaway will be a success!
The most important part is that your prizes must appeal to your email list target audience.
Now if you only blog about one topic and are quite niched down then this should be pretty simple. For example if you blog about cats then don’t giveaway a lawnmower.
Sure a lawnmower might be a super useful and an expensive prize but your audience just isn’t going to want it…
Plus, you will probably get loads of email sign ups from lawn mowing enthusiasts (is that a thing?) who then will immediately unsubscribe when all you talk about in your email newsletter is cats.
A better prize would be a subscription to cats weekly and three months supply of your favorite cat food. Your cat audience would love that!
But what about if you blog about more than one topic?
Ideally, however many topics you blog about, your email list should only be focused on one niche. This is advice I’ve learnt from Carly from Mommy on Purpose in her Facebook group (which is amazing and she does the most useful lives ever!)
Therefore you would choose a giveaway prize based on your target email audience, the one niche you email about.
If your email newsletter covers every topic under the sun, first ask yourself does your email newsletter actually work? (It may work incredibly, and if you always get 25%+ open rates, great, keep doing you. But if only 10% of your list opens your emails then you may need to rethink your tactics!)
If your broad email topic strategy works then choosing a giveaway prize will be a little more difficult.
If there is a particular product your affiliated for that always sells well or gets a lot of clicks, then try and make that the giveaway prize because your audience already clearly likes it. Or just send out an email blast asking your list what they would like to see you giveaway, this is probably the best option!
What I gave away:
Because the topic of my email list is making an income from blogging I obviously went for prizes that I know people in that niche would love!
Here is the exact prizes I gave away, and the blurb I included with them. Note how I made sure to include my affiliate link (many people will click on the link to see what the prize is about and so if they then brought the item after the giveaway was over you might be credited) and how I spoke about how great the prizes were to get people excited!
Get 12 months of hosting on SiteGround’s excellent StartUp plan. SiteGround are an amazing choice to host your blog with and you can read why I recommend them here.
Estimated price: $47.40
Home to the ever popular Divi theme, this particular prize will give you 12 months membership to Elegant Themes (including access to Divi theme, Extra theme, the Divi Builder plugin, Monarch social sharing, Bloom email opt-ins and over 80 other premium WordPress themes).
Estimated price: $89.00
Have a chance to try out the hugely popular, premium, email service provider ConvertKit, that all the top bloggers seem to use, for an entire month!!!
Estimated price: $29.00
BoardBooster (NOW CLOSED))
Want to get in on some of that awesome Pinterest traffic but don’t have the time to be pinning every day? Then you need BoardBooster, and if you win you will get 5,000 pins; months and months of free BoardBooster usage!
Estimated price: $50.00
The highest value prize in the giveaway, a Lifetime Pro plan to Interact!!! Interact allows you to make quizzes to increase your email list, polls to find out exactly what your readers want from you and host giveaways (just like this one). This really is an incredible prize!
Estimated price: $1,500.00 +
Suzi from Start a Mom Blog’s signature course. Suzi has help thousands of people get started on their blogging journey and Blog By Number gives you all the vital information to actually get started blogging from someone who made $53,000 in her first year!
Estimated price: $47.00
If you are looking to make money writing about your passion, and take your blog from ‘hobby’ to ‘business’ then Career In The Making is what you should be reading. Krista walks you through exactly how she earned $2,274.38 in her first six months blogging on her lifestyle blog and answers the age old question, no you do not have to blog about blogging to make money!!!
Estimated price: $25.00
Michelle from Making Sense of Cents is the undisputed Queen of affiliate marketing. She makes well over $50,000 per month just from this single blog monetization method. Making Sense of Affiliated Marketing is a life changing prize for anyone looking to monetize their blog and make a living blogging.
Estimated price: $197.00
Want incredible traffic from Pinterest, like over a hundreds thousand pageviews? Well Carly from Mommy on Purpose has done just that with her own, very original Pinteresting Strategies. These are methods you won’t find online for free and you have the chance to win this eBook!!!
Estimated price: $32.00
The guide that tells you how Lena from What Mommy Does went from 17k to 400k+ pageviews in only 10 months!!! So many bloggers attribute their traffic success to Traffic Transformation, it really is a must read eBook for anyone serious about their blogging business.
Estimated price: $79.00
Ana gives you all the details on how she finally got over 10,000 pageviews in one month. After months of hard work she finally crack the pageview code and her business just continued to grow. Because she saw how many other bloggers were struggling with their own pageviews she decided to create The She Approach to Boosting Your Blog Traffic!
Estimated price: $25.00
Whenever I am unsure about something email related I immediately head over to Meera’s blog and see what she has to say on the subject. Meera is an email marketing expert and her course Email Lists Simplified will take you through building your list, turning subscribers into raving fans and then actually monetizing your list!
Estimated price: $147.00
(Like I said, these were the exact blurbs I used on the giveaway landing page, which I have left live and you can check out here)
How did I get these prizes?
The short answer. I asked very nicely.
I got every single one of these prizes for free, but (and this is kind of a big but) I had some form of relationship with each of the bloggers before hand.
So let’s rewind a little bit shall we.
When I decided I wanted to do a giveaway I started planning about 5 months ahead. I realized I couldn’t just email a blogger asking them to donate something they had worked their ass off creating. No matter how good the publicity they might get from the giveaway, it’s still just plain rude.
I’m also very much an introvert, but because I knew I needed to actually connect with bloggers around me I started replying to their email newsletters and being a little more vocal in their Facebook groups.
Anything I said was exactly what I was thinking; as in I didn’t ‘suck up’ or anything like that. I just forced myself to actually tell the bloggers rather than keeping my thoughts to myself, as I would have done normally.
This meant that when it came time for me to ask if they would be interested in having their product in the giveaway they already knew my name in a positive way.
Of course not everyone agreed and that’s totally okay! But the majority did.
Here is a template of the email I sent to the bloggers, once I already had some sort of relationship:
I will be hosting a big giveaway in January with the idea that it will contain everything a new blogger needs to get started.
So far I have XXX as confirmed prizes, and I am contacting more people to see if they would like to be involved.
I would love to offer XXX as a prize because I really do think (here discuss why you think their product is great and why you would like to include it in the giveaway).
Do you think this might be something you would like to be involved in?
I made sure I kept these emails short, but I also tried to mention something personal, like saying how much I enjoyed their latest blog post.
In terms of contacting businesses I didn’t attempt to create a relationship with them first, mainly because they are all big businesses and it’s very difficult to talk to the same person each time!
This is the sort of email I sent the larger businesses:
Hi XXX, (try and use a name if you can find one!)
I will be running a giveaway in January 2018 and would love to include XXX as one of the prizes.
The giveaway will be aimed at the beginner blogger and should contain over 15 different tools and education, with the idea being it will have everything a beginner blogger needs to get launched and start making an income! (So discuss your own giveaway and it’s aims.)
I will be using promoted pins and Facebook ads to promote along with fully utilizing organic reach, so I really will be working hard to get as many eyes on it as possible!
Once the giveaway is over (and my email list has increased substantially, fingers crossed) I hope to ‘launch’ a few of my favorite products to my subscribers along with a very desirable bonus, so I should be able to generate a few affiliate sales! (Suggesting that the giveaway could be mutually beneficial to the companies as in the long term they could receive sales.)
Is the giveaway something you think XXX would be interested in?
I would love to get XXX on board because … (explaining why their product is so valuable).
Sorry if this wasn’t the best email address to send this to! If there is a better one please could you let me know and I will send there instead! Thank you!
Be prepared to offer something in return:
Just because money isn’t being exchanged doesn’t mean you can’t offer something in return, and this will probably be expected.
For example, one of the companies asked me to do a review post on their product, which I was more than happy to do as it’s a product I use (I wouldn’t have wanted it in my giveaway if it wasn’t).
Whilst some of the bloggers asked if I could share any emails I collected, again I was happy to do this. But if you plan on sharing emails collected make sure you disclose this very clearly on your giveaway landing page!!!
Okay now you’ve got prizes you’re going to need something to host your giveaway on.
There are three main giveaway softwares available:
Don’t worry I will go through each one!
Like I said I used Interact for my giveaway and they were fantastic!
Full disclosure I am partnered with them, which means I got to use their software for free. But would I use them again if I had to pay? Yes.
– You can also create email opt-in quizzes (like Buzzfeed quizzes) with Interact to grow your list.
– They have additional entries options (like share the giveaway on Pinterest for an extra entry etc)
– Their email support is excellent if you have any problems (and I did and they fixed it…)
– It worked (I know that sounds basic but how often does tech not work….)
– Super easy to use
– Can instal tracking codes like Facebook pixel if you’re using ads (although I didn’t realise this at the time…)
– You have to pay to collect emails
– They don’t yet have the option for you to share Pinterest optimized images (but neither does anyone else and I believe they are working on this)
– They don’t draw the prize winner for you (but there is a really easy, free way to draw a winner which I’m going to tell you about soon!)
There is a free plan, but you can’t collect emails, which kind of defeats the object.
The Lite plan is $17 per month if you pay annually. Or you can pay $29 per month for the higher plan, and they are fully okay with you using it for a month and then canceling. So you could easily use it for your giveaway and pay for just the month it’s running!
KingSumo is probably the most well known giveaway software and let’s be clear it is very good. I’ve never used it to host a giveaway, but I have entered giveaways on it and it works like a charm.
– Does everything Interact can do (aka actually host giveaways) except the create quizzes
– Has a 60 day money back guarantee
– Will draw the winner for you
– Has a few more additional entry options than Interact
– No free option to try it out
– Expensive (see below)
– Doesn’t integrate with MailerLite (a great, free email service provider for bloggers)
To use it on one site it costs $198, and to use on multiple sites its $594. But that is a lifetime cost, so you would never have to pay again.
Rafflecopter is great, mainly because you can host a successful giveaway and collect email addresses completely free.
Perfect if you are a newbie blogger!
– The free plan has everything you need
– They will draw a winner
– They also have additional entry options like Interact and KingSumo
– No email integration on the free plan (but you can download a CVS file of all the email addresses)
– No additional share options to Pinterest on the free plan
– Also doesn’t integrate with MailerLite
Like I said, you have everything you need to host a giveaway on the free plan.
But if you want email integration then you have to pay for the Grow plan, which is $43 per month.
So which one should you choose?
They are all excellent and will all do a great job but…
If you’re on a tight budget then nothing can beat Rafflecopter’s free option.
If you plan on doing regular giveaways, and know you will always use giveaway software then KingSumo may be best because it’s a one-time fee.
If you want the added option of creating Buzzfeed style viral quizzes, or you want the cheapest giveaway software that includes email integration, then opt for Interact. As for $29 per month, you can use the giveaway software for one month and then cancel!
How to draw a prizewinner:
If you use Interact, or a different software or method that does not have prize drawing ability then this is probably the fairest way to draw a random winner.
First you will need to export your entries to an excel file (very easy, Interact literally has a button that says export entries to CSV file, click that and an excel file is created).
See how many entries you have, then head over to random.org and find their ‘True Random Number Generator’ on the homepage.
In the ‘Max:’ box put in the number of entries you have, click generate and see who that number generated is on your excel spreadsheet.
Super simple and easy!
If that has confused you though, you can check out this video, which shows how I did it! (Please ignore the poor sound quality…)
To host a giveaway you will also need:
An email service provider.
I mean there isn’t much point in collecting emails if you aren’t able to actually email anyone once the giveaway is over…
I’m not going to talk masses about them here, but basically they both have everything you need including things like automation and the ability to create sign up boxes.
– More integrations with other software (although you can always use Zapier…)
Unless you can already cover the cost of ConvertKit with your blog income I would recommend MailerLite. Actually I pretty much always recommend MailerLite because that’s the email service provider I use.
Other stuff you need to know and do to host a blog giveaway:
You will need to create some sort of Terms and Conditions/Official Rules.
I created my own using the guidelines and template for this article by Rafflecopter.
Please check your own country’s regulations for hosting a giveaway and alter your Terms and Conditions/Official Rules accordingly!
Promoting a giveaway:
Now we are seriously getting somewhere. We have prizes, the giveaway is set up and legal, phew doing good.
The next step is promoting your giveaway. There are so many different ways you can promote so I’m just going to tell you the methods I used.
But in order to promote the giveaway you will need a page to promote, like a landing page on your blog. I actually just created a landing post (like a normal blog post but only about the giveaway), embedded the giveaway, listed the prizes and disclosed what I needed to disclose.
You can still see my landing post here.
How I promoted my giveaway:
1) I added a link in my blog menu straight to the giveaway, all in caps so people saw it straight away.
2) I used a bar at the top of my website telling readers about the giveaway, and linking them to it. The bar I used was direct from Interact (it was one of their share and embed options) but you could use the free WP Notification Bar (just like HelloBar but with no branding!)
3) I emailed my current list. (I know hosting a giveaway is about growing your list, but of course I wanted my current subscribers to be in with a chance of winning too. Plus who knows who they might share the giveaway with!)
4) Shared posts to my Facebook page
5) Shared posts on my Instagram
6) Made three pinterest optimized images and shared on Pinterest. I even set up a special random campaign in BoardBooster to ensure a giveaway pin would go to all my group boards every day, which really helped!!!
7) I emailed all the bloggers who donated prizes and let them know the giveaway was live in case they wanted to share.
I also made it super easy for them to share by including direct sharing links in the email, here is an example of what I sent:
Thank you so much for being part of Well and Wealthy’s first ever giveaway!!!
I just want to quickly apologize for sending the same email to all of you, I was hoping to write individual emails but time seems to have run away from me (again)…
Anyway I just wanted to let you know that the giveaway is now live, and you can see the post all about it here. (I linked to the giveaway landing post.)
(Please let me know if any of the copy about your product is incorrect and I will change it ASAP.)
The giveaway will run until Friday 19th January 2018, 4.00pm GMT (11.00am EST). I know it’s a bit of an odd finish time but I’m based in the UK and really wanted to announce the winner before I finish on Friday to make somebody’s weekend!
If you would like to share it here is a link to my Facebook post and I have three pins circulating on Pinterest that can be shared, Pin 1, Pin 2 and Pin 3. And of course feel free to share with your email list, your Facebook group and on any other platform if you wish! (Obviously there were actual links to posts and pins here when I sent the email…)
(If you do share it thank you so so so much!!!! As a tiny blogger it means the world to me!!!!)
I will probably email you a day or two before the giveaway ends, and then again once the giveaway is over letting you know the lucky winner. I hope that’s okay, but please let me know if it isn’t.
Thank you again; you guys are the greatest!
In hindsight this email was a bit long!
8) I also shared in Facebook groups, which worked brilliantly! I know I normally say not to use Facebook share threads because they create artificial pageviews etc, etc. But this time it was okay, mainly because everyone in those groups is a blogger and bloggers were my target audience for this giveaway. Plus no one is forced to actually enter the giveaway therefore it was only people who actually wanted to win who entered.
The 27 Facebook groups I shared in were (in no particular order):
Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing (You need to have brought the course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing in order to access this group)
9) I used Facebook ads (more on that below)
10) I used promoted pins (more on that below as well)
How many subscribers did I get?
So now the billion-dollar question, after all that work I put in did my email list increase at all?
I started the giveaway with 442 subscribers.
I ended the giveaway with 743 subscribers.
Considering at that time I was only getting around 3,500 pageviews per month on average I was completely over the moon with this result!
After all that’s over 300 subscribers in 14 days!!! It had taken me six months to reach 442 subscribers, but with the giveaway I got hundreds of subscribers in less than a tenth of that time!!!
That is the power of a good email opt-in!!!
One problem with using giveaways to grow your email list is that people can sometimes unsubscribe as soon as the giveaway is over.
I’ve had a few unsubscribes, but only like five per email sent (I’ve sent a couple of weekly newsletters since) which is completely normal for me so that’s brilliant!
Was the paid advertising worth it?
Now you know how many knew subscribers I got, the next question to ask is was the paid advertising worth the cost?
Please remember that when I did this giveaway, back in January, I had had no proper ads training and did make some very rookie errors! I could definitely get better results doing the ads now!
Total cost – £65.48
I set this up as a traffic campaign because I didn’t realize at the time I could add the Facebook pixel to the giveaway. Now I know a lot more about Facebook ads and I’m kicking myself for not doing this!
Cost per landing post view – £0.66
Number of landing post views – 99
I know I had a 23% entry percentage (according to Interact’s analytics). So of everyone that came to the giveaway post 23% actually entered the giveaway.
Therefore 23% of 99 is 23.
So in reality the Facebook ads got me about 23 entries, and the cost per entry (not landing page view) was £2.85. Which to me is rather expensive, but of course without the conversions being counted by the pixel, I cannot be sure that 23 entries is correct…
What’s worth mentioning is that I actually ran four different ads for that cost. One video ad and three static image ads. The video ad resulted in more clicks, but was way more expensive….
Total cost – £54.93
This was also set up as a traffic campaign without conversion tracking (again good one Sammy!)
Cost per click- £0.33 (remember per click, not per landing post view, the page may never have loaded for them…)
Number of clicks – 166
Again using the same math as above, 23% of 166 is 38. Therefore the spend per entry was £1.45.
Again quite expensive to me, but cheaper than Facebook ads…
Was the paid advertising worth it?
The annoying thing is I cannot answer that question because I did not set up conversion tracking on either Facebook or Pinterest. This was a massive mistake on my part and one I super regret.
For all I know, every single person that clicked on my ad from Pinterest converted, and no one from Facebook did, or vice versa. But all I have is an entry average from everyone who landed on that post, whether they came from Facebook, Pinterest, my emails, Google, literally anywhere!
If the entry average was correct for both Pinterest and Facebook, then I would say no the cost wasn’t worth it at this stage of the business.
But what I would like to do is work on my promoted pins because I honestly believe they have some serious potential, but I would probably want to work on them when I have a product to sell so I have a chance of recouping the costs.
Would I host a giveaway again and would I do anything differently:
So would I bother (it was a fair amount of work) hosting a giveaway again?
Yes I most definitely would. I massively grew my email list in a short amount of time, which was the main objective.
I also connected with other, bigger bloggers in my niche, which was invaluable and also nice on a personal level.
Plus my traffic went up, although realistically this likely to drop again now the giveaway and paid promotions have finished.
What would I do differently?
Giveaway or not, I will never run paid advertising without being able to track conversions. That was a massive mistake!!! Honestly it just becomes a waste of money!
I should have also done more outreach and asked other bloggers if they wouldn’t mind sharing the giveaway with their audience.
I think they are the main things I would do differently.
All in all I think it was a very successful giveaway, and I’m over the moon with the results!!!