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10 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Running a Giveaway

by Laura Moisei

free giveaway mistakes

“Love grows by giving. The love we give away is the only love we keep.” (Elbert Hubbard)

Of course, we’re talking about customer love now. But it’s true. A marketer’s relation to his or her public is pretty much like a sentimental affair: you seek connection and invest in all kind of goodies just to make the partner feel special.

People are keen on free stuff, that’s a well-known asset. The value of freebies is huge: they can increase sales as well as website traffic, boost the number of fans and subscribers plus they generate hype for future campaigns. Take the NameCheap Twitter giveaway as an example: they gave a coupon for 1 year domain registration and gained in exchange a growth in followers from 200 to 4000, just the first month.

Now that we are past the idyllic part, let’s face a harsh truth: “With anything you do in life, expect to have a 25% success rate”, said Auren Hoffman, CEO of RapLeaf. It’s not uncommon to have very little ROI from a giveaway you invested time and money in, and this is just plain bad. Eliminate the following ten saboteurs and you will be able to breathe easy about your giveaways.

  1. Cookie cutter giveaway items. One general drawback of giveaways is they undermine targeted marketing actions. Honey attracts many ants, and most people are inclined to “take it because it’s free”. It’s difficult then to filter across results and delimitate the ideal prospects from this mass of people. To minimize this risk, use custom items that are relevant only to a specific niche. For example, instead of giving an iPhone, give coupons for a targeted iPhone app.
  2. Wrong product to be given away. There’s a very thin line between right and wrong here. Typically, you give away one item in order to highlight the entire product line or to increase visibility and need for complimentary goods (things that work together with the item to be given away). In the case of online services, which are not so chained to each other, there’s a good chance that people won’t go for your other products, but they resume to the one given away. It’s best to choose an item that’s top notch but not the most expensive in your offer.
  3. Unawareness of the cost and time spend on your side. Watch out for additional fees for you that can offset the giving away of a free item. It often happens that you have to spend time installing the item for your clients or if it generates costs with consumables. Determine as precisely as you can just how long and how much it would take for the loss to be balanced out and start to generate profit on your side.
  4. Lack of a clear strategy. This is a capital sin for any marketing activity. When initiating a giveaway, start off with research to find the best possible channels to publish and disseminate it. Set up a clear timeline for your giveaway and specify the duration of the contest, for people to be aware they have limited time to enter. Do follow up after the giveaway has ended and make sure everyone has gained use of their prize.
  5. Vague calls-to-action. The core point of marketing your giveaway is a CTA that stands out. Make it clear which are the conditions to enter and use text and buttons to create the urge to join.
  6. Bad appearance of your landing page. If you promote an online service or e-commerce platform, not customizing your page’s appearance can be a costly mistake. Think the winners are already excited with their prize and won’t pay too much attention to the setting? Actually they pretty much do. If you want to win them over as loyal customers better put a nice interface that’s UX optimized and avoid using lame template homepages.
  7. Losing sight of your long-term goals. Apart from gaining additional customers, your aim should definitely be to add marketing value to your products and overall brand. Increase awareness with post-contest calls-to-action and feedback surveys. Also, it’s no sin to ask for insights on your product in exchange for the prize. For example, don’t choose winners randomly, but call participants to leave an useful comment on how they would use your product, which will help your further market research.
  8. Not reading the rules and legal notices of the platforms you are running the giveaway on. Facebook has restrictions over the actions you may request from users, as you can see here. You cannot have people like a Wall post, comment upon a post or upload things on a Wall. The worst thing that can happen if you violate these rules is suspension of your account.
  9. Relying solely on the publisher of your giveaway to promote it (if you carry it on third party sites). Build a contact list and drop them a note about your giveaway. Be careful not to upset existing users when they would see you offer your product at a lower price they bought it with – you can offer them a free upgrade instead. Send e-mails and follow-ups announcing the course of your giveaway to give it the aura of a real life event, which it is.
  10. A giveaway that never ends. Making the giveaway too long in time span or giving too many items is a huge turnoff. People are attracted to what’s rare and limited edition, so make sure you don’t devalue your own special offer by making it ordinary.

And one more advice before you go: test, test and test again. Just like any other marketing action, experience is the key to success. You can always tweak some more, so good luck!

image credit: freedigitalphotos.net

Article by

Laura Moisei writes for 123ContactForm, a free form builder that helps users create beautiful forms & surveys for any webpage. Laura’s world revolves around web design, blogging and good food.

Laura has written 1 articles at iBlogzone.com


Gera (sweetsfoods) (@sweetsfoods)

March 27, 2012 at 1:47 pm

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Mavis Nong (@BloggingMadeEzy)

March 27, 2012 at 2:03 pm

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3 Shubham@Android Firmware Updates March 27, 2012 at 2:50 pm

I will keep all the points in mind. Especially one should be aware of the money spend during the giveaway. I have seen many users falling short of money and they ultimately cancels the giveaway.


Elena Anne

March 27, 2012 at 3:35 pm

I really like this article because of the fear people have when doing a giveaway. This gives them more or less of a rough outline of what they are trying to accomplish by doing this. Also there are people that just go into a giveaway thinking it is a fix all and have no plan, but just figure people love giveaways.

5 Laura March 28, 2012 at 9:23 am

Thank you, Elena, for reading my article! Your comment really hit the nail on the head. It’s thinking big that drives us to success, in my opinion. Hesitation disappears once we have done our research and analysis over what we would like to accomplish. Any risks are also minimized by doing this.


Amrik @ Monetize Blogging

March 27, 2012 at 4:43 pm

This is really a step-by-step way that everybody can get..or I should say very much basic. I am starting a iPad3 contest this week. This article will help me lot. Thanks


Rizwan Sultan

March 27, 2012 at 6:02 pm

I really like the article specially you mention test test test it’s really fit too my criteria because I m not testing too much product before giveaway.



March 27, 2012 at 6:33 pm

Just wanted to tell you I really found this post interesting and I’ll be pinning this on my pinterest account!


Alltop SEO (@Alltop_SEO)

March 28, 2012 at 12:33 am

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March 28, 2012 at 6:41 am

A very interesting and informative post. I hope that people who get to read this will never commit those pitfalls of running a giveaway.

11 Laura March 28, 2012 at 9:25 am

Great to hear this was inspiring for you. Thank you all for reading and reacting! Laura


Kenda Morrison (@KendaMorrison)

March 28, 2012 at 3:25 pm

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daniel kelley (@daniel_kelley)

March 28, 2012 at 8:42 pm

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Shaquille Ray

March 29, 2012 at 6:41 am

I think the big issues with some giveaways is that the runners of the giveaway don’t make the rules clear or don’t mention them at all.


rakesh kumar

March 31, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Right now i was writing an article to promote some giveaway software on my blog. Your article has given me a beautiful insight. Thanks a lot for this wonderful share.


WebCreationUK (@WebCreationUK)

April 4, 2012 at 8:41 am

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Facebook Apps

April 6, 2012 at 8:35 am

“Bad appearance of your landing page” its main factor to avoid our mistakes on websites, if you are done Good Appearance on your websites so its look great, so good or Bad appearance is important for our domain! people cant attract to your websites when your land page is not enough good.

Facebook Apps.


Joe Boyle

April 8, 2012 at 6:31 pm

I think people need to keep in mind the power of just asking people to allow them to give-away their product. At the peak of my website’s success in 2010, I decided to ask my hosting company if they’d allow me to give away a hosting account – a $120 value that they didn’t charge me a penny for. They agreed and the recipient was thrilled. Steve Jobs once rambled about failure and said something among the lines of “I’ve never met anyone not help me when I asked.”


(@KeepUpWeb) (@KeepUpWeb)

April 10, 2012 at 2:40 pm

10 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Running a Giveaway http://t.co/UlVFuDct via @DiTesco



April 20, 2012 at 11:32 pm

Hi Laura,

Great post on running a giveaway. I think another thing to keep in mind is to find a way to establish trust and let people know what they will do with the emails. Many people are afraid of getting spammed to death whenever they give away their contact information.

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