Nothing works like a good prize, freebie or giveaway to motivate someone to click, subscribe or like your Facebook page. Setting up a contest online is fairly simple to do, and it gives you the opportunity to spread brand awareness, get people interested in your products and cultivate a high-quality email list.

To set up your own giveaway campaign, you’ll need to decide whether to give a cash prize, free product or service discount, then advertise it on your landing page. People can enter the contest by typing in their email addresses so that they can be added to your email subscriber list. A random winner gets the prize, and you can start marketing to your new leads. Win-win!

Motivating Contest Entrants to Share Online

Ideally, you want the people who enter your contest to share it with their friends and followers. This can create a viral factor that ultimately earns you more email addresses than you would generally receive from a posted pay-per-click advertisement or simple organic traffic.

The question is, how can you motivate people to share contest information when it is clearly in their best interests to keep the number of entries low? A common way around this problem is to offer your entrants extra “tickets” in exchange for sharing the contest link. The more interested the entrants are in winning your prize, the more they will share and ask others to enter.

The Downside of One-Size-Fits-All Prizes

Your first instinct may be to offer a prize that almost anyone would want—let’s say an iPad. If your business is to sell iPads or Apple accessories, that’s a pretty great idea. If you are in the business of selling accounting software, pet food, artisan candles or anything non-iPad related, however, it might not work.

Here’s why.

Pretty much everyone wants an iPad, so they will scramble to trade their email addresses for a chance to win one. They’ll tell their friends, and those people will do the same. It might be a very successful contest in terms of entries, but your leads would be of very poor quality.

When you start sending marketing messages to your new email list, a lot of them are going to unsubscribe or ignore the messages completely. Contest entrants are only about 25 percent as likely to actually buy something from you in the future than your normal leads, so you need to filter out those who are just looking for free stuff.

Email marketing has an enormous ROI, which could be as much as 4,300 percent. As an online medium, email is used by over half of the world’s population. Obviously, it’s in your best interest as a business owner to put together a high-quality email list! To ensure that your list has targeted leads, you’ve got to cater to your niche and select contest prizes that your specific audience will be excited about. Consider giving away one of your own products or an industry-related software membership.

Contest Software and Campaign Managers

It’s perfectly fine if you want to set up the contest on your own, but there are plenty of popular software options available. Rafflecopter,, Amazon and many others will take care of the details for you and fairly choose a winner at the end of the contest.

If you’re interested in posting ads for your contest, Twitter is a good place to start. The tailored audiences feature allows you to choose existing Twitter companies that are similar to yours and share your ad with the same type of audience members.

5 Important Tips to Create a Successful Giveaway

1. Be Specific about the Contest Time Frame

Contests can receive up to 40 percent more email subscribers when you name the month in the advertisement. Doing this lets people know the contest information is still valid.

2. Say “Giveaway” Instead of “Sweepstakes”

“Giveaway” has proven to be 27 percent more popular with contest entrants than the term “sweepstakes.” Avoid the latter term in your copy and people will be clearer about the terms of the contest.

3. Avoid the Facebook Widget

Eighty percent more people signed up for contests when simply asked for their email address than when asked to like a Facebook page. The reason for this is easy to understand, since every time Facebook is a part of the sign-up process, you need to open more pages, read more content and click more boxes. It’s time-consuming.

4. Watch Your Page Placement

A contest box placed on the bottom right of your lead page can increase email subscriptions by 125 percent.

5. Include an Image

Testing shows that even low-quality images will increase engagement, with up to 22 percent more conversions than text-only. Of course, the higher quality, the better the results, so choose a relevant photo that has good resolution.

It’s All about the Leads

Giveaways open a lot of opportunities for getting more subscribers and customers. A contest doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does need to be clever and valuable enough for your prospects to convert, either right away or down the line. Focus on attracting highly qualified leads to your contest instead of general audiences, and the additions to your email list will be worth the effort.