10 Reasons Why Free Giveaways Flop (And How to Nail a Successful One)

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Every small business owner who dreams of growing a big email list of quality subscribers thinks of running a giveaway.

Super thrilled about the campaign, he picks a prize, sets up a landing page, and tells his audience, “Hey, get a chance to win this camera if you get 5 of your friends to sign up!”

Unfortunately, his giveaway becomes an epic failure.

Speaking of epic failure: I remember when I was little, I asked my mom what soda was made of. She told me, “Sugar and water, son.” So I rushed to make myself a glass of soda with those two ingredients and… NOTHING HAPPENED. 😂😂😂

You get the point.

Don’t be so eager to start a giveaway without careful research, planning, and the right strategies. You might just spend money on prizes that end up in the wrong hands or invest massive time in creating a giveaway landing page that gets zero visits!

Here are ten common reasons why free giveaways fail miserably and what you must do to boost your chances of success.

Why Do Free Giveaways Fail? Here Are the 10 Biggest Reasons

1. Choosing the wrong prize

A giveaway prize fails by being irrelevant. For example, if you’re in the fitness for working moms niche, you gave out free pizza. Do you think your audience would be craving to have pizza when they’re trying to lose weight?

Irrelevant pizes don’t only repel your true audience, they also attract prize hunters who enter giveaways for the pure sake of winning free stuff.

Instead, pick a prize that aligns with your audience’s needs and interests. Make it provide value to spark massive sharing. It must also reflect your brand.

Related: 50 Creative and Small Prize Ideas for Different Industries

2. Unclear steps on how to enter the giveaway

If no one’s entering your contest, that’s because people don’t know how to do it. Your steps confuse them.

After you put together your giveaway rules, have a friend or family member enter your contest to check if they understand the entry process. If they ask questions, it means that you need to re-write the giveaway rules. Do this before making your giveaway go live.

Here’s a screenshot of a giveaway on Instagram that shows straightforward steps:

3. Poor headline copy

Formulating headlines for free giveaways is the same as formulating headlines for landing pages. The headline is the first thing people see when they arrive on your landing page.

The simplest headline formula for free giveaways would read: “Enter For A Chance To Win A [Prize] VALUED AT [$]

This headline tells the audience right away what they’re getting as a reward if they participate. Keep it clear and catchy like this headline. Leave the rest of the details in the landing page copy (benefits, steps, giveaway rules, etc.)

4. Lack of follow up with your giveaway participants

Just because a person has signed up for your giveaway contest doesn’t mean he will actively share your campaign with his friends. His excitement can wear off hours or days after he enters.

So how do you make people stick around? Simple: Send follow-up emails.

Using the UpViral app, you can send five types of emails to notify your giveaway campaign participants of the following:

  • That they registered for your giveaway contest.
  • That someone signed up through their referral link.
  • That they unlocked your reward.
  • That a suspicious activity was detected (possible fraud).
  • That they need to confirm their entry into your giveaway (if you chose a double opt-in).

With the follow-up emails you send out, you boost the chances of accomplishing your end goal which is growing your audience + a huge email list of qualified subscribers.

5. No contest rules

Seventeen-year-olds signed up for your “Romantic Getaway to Bali for Two” giveaway. 😱People from Europe participated but you only wanted entrants from the US. 😒

These are just some of the consequences of not putting out contest rules.

If you want qualified entrants and a smooth-sailing free giveaway campaign overall, make sure to write your contest rules. Create a page that states all your giveaway rules and link to that page from your giveaway landing page.

Contest rules must at least include the following details:

  • Start and close date of your giveaway
  • Whether or not participants should make a purchase in order to qualify
  • Eligibility criteria (age, gender, location, marital status, etc.)
  • Retail value of the prize
  • The number of points to be reached to unlock the prize
  • Allowable social media sites where the giveaway can be promoted
  • How winners will be selected
6. No visuals

It’s a common practice to post an amazing picture of your prize to build hype. So if you’re simply focusing on text, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to attract giveaway entrants.

Remember: a picture is worth a thousand words.

Kamila Bravo does an amazing job of posting a picture of the actual prizes of her giveaway. Anyone who loves makeup will crave for these freebies.

7. Poor marketing

A lot of free giveaways fail to get traction because they stay silent. Nowadays, if something isn’t promoted, it doesn’t get recognition.

Your work doesn’t end the moment you launch your contest. Getting the word out about your giveaway contest is as essential as planning your prize and creating your landing page. 📢

Wondering how you can promote your giveaway? There are so many simple yet effective means to do it:

  • Send it to your current email list if you already have one (regardless of its size)
  • Submit it to contest directories. (Read: 100 websites to submit and promote Online Contests)
  • Write a blog post that sparks excitement about your giveaway and link to the landing page.
  • Create a post on social media that shows a sneak peek of the giveaway.
  • Run Facebook ads that target your ideal audience.
  • Publish a press release.
  • Encourage your friends, family, and colleagues to spread the word.
8. Setting unrealistic goals

In the planning phase of your free giveaway, you have to identify the result you desire. Your end goal must be specific and achievable depending on your current situation.

For example, setting a goal to get 100,000 subscribers in 3 days would be impossible if you have zero social media followers to start with or have no budget for advertising your giveaway campaign.

If you don’t achieve your target, it must be because your goals were unrealistic. Make adjustments to your goals when necessary.

9. No start and end date of the giveaway campaign

How long should your giveaway last? State the start and end date of the giveaway on the giveaway landing page, call to action of your post, or giveaway rules.

Doing this sparks urgency and scarcity, thereby encouraging people to hop in — or else they miss out.

Business owners can create more impact with their free giveaways by reminding giveaway entrants through email that they have X number of days left to share your campaign before the winner announcement date.

Here’s a simple way of stating the end date of your giveaway:

10. Asking for too much information

Giveaways suck when businesses require their giveaway participants to fill out a very long form.

When gathering information, be strategic about the details you actually need.

Let people enjoy your giveaway by not letting them “think” when providing information. A person’s first name and email address are enough. Asking for their favorite brand or food makes them pause and think, which is time-consuming.

Ready to Run Successful Free Giveaways? 🎉

If your giveaway failed for the nth time, know that it’s not too late. These ten tips will hopefully help you plan and implement giveaway campaigns that entice visitors to join, encourage all entrants to keep sharing, and generate qualified leads for your business.

Using UpViral as your viral marketing platform simplifies the process of creating contests and giveaways regardless of your goals. First time to run a campaign? No worries. The UpViral app provides free guides and case studies to help you get a good foundation for your viral campaigns.