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How to Boost eCommerce Conversions With Giveaways and Contests

a shopping cart with gifts in it and a bow on the cart

It’s a familiar scene: You’re in the grocery store when you spot some free samples. You immediately make a beeline for the sample stall, curious to see what’s on offer. The next thing you know, you’ve filled your cart with the trial product.

Research shows that offering free samples can immediately boost sales. It can also increase customer satisfaction and, in turn, their likelihood to repurchase.

The same principle applies to your online store visitors. Even though your eCommerce store is digital, you can still take advantage of other forms of free samples.

Giveaways and contests (the free samples of eCommerce) pique the interest of your online visitors. Incorporating them into your marketing strategy can be a smart way to generate more sales for your store.

Do giveaways increase sales? Here are some statistics about giveaway performance

While giving something away for free may seem counterintuitive, there are many benefits to running contests and giveaways as part of your eCommerce marketing strategy.

Contests and giveaways are strategic promotional tactics that can help your eCommerce store reach new customers and reengage existing ones.

Encouraging people to share your giveaway or contest is a simple, yet powerful way to extend the reach of your campaign. The more people share your giveaway, the more people will see it.

When executed successfully, these contests and giveaways can also drive brand awareness, increase customer loyalty, and expand your store’s bottom line. Some of the benefits of running eCommerce contests and giveaways include:

  • Drive brand awareness – By encouraging sharing, contests and giveaways are a great way to get even more eyes on your store and products.
  • Increase customer loyalty – Gamification makes shopping with your brand fun and encourages customer loyalty.
  • Grow your social media following – A study by Tailwind found that companies running Instagram contests grow their followers 79% faster than those who don’t.
  • Generate more leads – With one in three entrants opting in to receive more information from brands, contests and giveaways can be a great lead magnet for your eCommerce store.
  • Boost sales conversions – Contests and giveaways can be a strategic way to boost sales for your eCommerce store by enticing consumers to try something out and drawing them into the brand.
  • Cost-effective marketing – Giveaways and contests don’t have to be expensive. Think about the prize value compared to forecasted conversions; you give a little to gain a lot.

Whether your goal is to increase awareness or drive sales, the right kind of eCommerce contest could help you reach that goal.

What are some online giveaway ideas?

When it comes to hosting an eCommerce contest or giveaway, you have the freedom to be as creative as you like.

Choosing the right type of contest depends on three key elements:

  • The intended goal of your contest or giveaway
  • Audience behavior and interests
  • The selected prize for the giveaway

For example, if your goal is to increase your social media following, your target audience is millennials, and the prize is a $100 gift card, a social media giveaway on TikTok would be a favorable option.

Below, we’re sharing some of our favorite eCommerce contest and giveaway ideas to help you get started with running your own giveaway campaign.

Social media giveaways and contests

Social media apps are a great place to host a giveaway or contest. If one of your goals is to raise brand awareness, then a social media giveaway may be the right choice for you.

Choose the right platform based on where your target audience is most likely to be. Then, have fun planning your giveaway.

Social media giveaways can be as simple as asking entrants to follow your brand page and tag a friend in the comments, or it could involve asking them to share their own photos to enter the contest. Whatever you do, be sure to read up on and follow the promotional guidelines of your chosen social media platform.

You could even collaborate with another brand like Nutribullet did in this Instagram contest. Doing so will expand your reach by allowing you to tap into your brand partner’s social media network.

Lead generation sweepstakes

A sweepstake is a contest where winners are selected at random. This type of contest is conducive to lead generation, as the rules for entry can be as simple as entering an email address for the chance to win a prize.

If you decide to run a sweepstake to boost lead generation, consider setting up a contest landing page where you tell entrants the details of the sweepstake: what prizes are available, how to enter, and when a winner will be drawn.

Once you’ve captured their email addresses and contact information, you can employ ongoing marketing to keep them engaged and guide them along the purchase path.

Gamification contests

Next time you plan to host an eCommerce contest, think about how you could make it more appealing through gamification.

Gamification inspires customers to take action through a sense of reward and achievement. It draws on our emotions, which then impacts our levels of satisfaction and brand love.

One brand that does gamification well is the fast-food giant, McDonald’s. Their Monopoly contest encourages people to collect “game pieces” in return for the chance to win prizes with a range of value. Some of the prizes offered in the past have included free food, cars, and a $1 million prize.

For your eCommerce store, you could create a virtual game that customers can take part in online. Remember, the more appealing the prize is, the more likely people are to participate.

Referral contests

We’ve spoken before about the value of an eCommerce referral program. In a similar vein, referral contests can also be a powerful tool for amplifying the performance of your eCommerce store.

Referral contests are straightforward: customers can refer a friend to gain an extra entry in your contest. Rewarding contest entrants with bonus entries further incentivizes customers to participate in your giveaway by increasing their chances of winning.

For instance, you can give users a second entry when they mention your giveaway on Twitter, and a third one when they share a unique referral code to get their friends to enter the contest. You could up the stakes even more by creating a leaderboard to build the sense of competition.

Seasonal giveaways

Even if your product doesn’t change with the season, you can take advantage of key holidays to boost sales and drive traffic to your online store.

Black Friday, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day are just a few of the holiday periods you can leverage with seasonal giveaways. Rather than just offering a seasonal discount like most eCommerce stores, develop a well-thought-out seasonal giveaway or contest to stand out from other online retailers.

One giveaway idea you could run during a festive period is a 12-day Christmas giveaway. This could comprise a series of small daily offerings, all of which lead up to one grand prize on day 12 of the giveaway. This will not only boost sales over Christmas, but also increase customer retention by encouraging them to reengage with your contest constantly.

How to run your own giveaways and contests

Now that you have a good idea of the eCommerce contests you can run, it’s time to map out the strategy for hosting a successful giveaway.

Here’s our step-by-step guide to running your own eCommerce giveaways and contests:

1) Set a clear goal

We cannot stress enough how important it is for your contest to be goal-led. As soon as you start thinking about your eCommerce contest idea, first consider what you want to achieve with the contest.

Once you’ve settled on a clear goal, establish the key performance indicators (KPIs) you’ll measure. For example, if your goal is to increase sales, your KPI will be to measure the number of orders received.

2) Offer an enticing prize

The prize you offer needs to be appealing enough to make people want to participate.

When deciding on a prize, consider what would interest your audience the most. Analyze existing customer behavior and look at what they’re already telling you.

At the same time, you need to make sure the prize is financially viable for your brand. To do this, you need to determine if the cost of the prize will be redeemed in forecasted conversions, leads, or new customer acquisitions. According to Hubspot, the average value of a contest prize is $369.

Tip: Make your prize something that you can encourage the winner to create UGC out of. It should introduce your winner and their fans to your brand.

3) Build out your promotional strategy

To make your eCommerce contest or giveaway a success, you need to have a solid marketing strategy in place.

Whenever you host a giveaway event, you should have a checklist of marketing activities to perform before, during, and after the contest campaign.

Add a contest landing page and pop-ups

Before the contest takes place, you need to create a contest landing page. This page should be the go-to place to tell your audience everything they need to know about the contest.

Make sure it contains enough information to generate interest while focusing predominantly on encouraging buy-in. Tell people how they can take part, and make it as easy as possible for people to enter your contest from this page.

You could add a countdown bar to your landing page or as a pop-up box on your eCommerce store to build excitement in the lead up to the contest going live.

Promote your contest on social media

Besides updating your own website, you should also plan out your social media activity. Create a series of pre-launch posts to drive interest and let customers know about your upcoming contest.

As part of your social media marketing, you could collaborate with popular influencers to promote your campaign once it’s live. This will further extend the reach of your campaign, increasing its chances of virality.

Make your giveaway shareable

If going viral is one of your goals, work a viral loop into your marketing strategy by making your contest shareable. A viral loop is a referral marketing tactic that will drive continuous referrals to your contest.

Tap into email marketing

Don’t forget the power of email marketing. Create a series of contest-related emails comprised of pre-launch teaser emails, an announcement email, contest reminders, and post-campaign emails including a winners spotlight and suggested next steps. You might also offer an exclusive coupon code for contest participants who didn’t win this time around.

Marketing checklist

Before launching your eCommerce giveaway, implement the following steps to help set your contest up for success:

  • Create contest landing page
  • Add a contest countdown to your website
  • Send out pre-launch teaser emails to your existing audience
  • Announce your upcoming contest on social media

These activities will help increase awareness for your upcoming giveaway, making sure people know what it is, when it’s happening and how to get involved.

4) Launch your giveaway

With your contest marketing strategy in place, you should now be ready to launch your eCommerce giveaway or contest.

Keep the noise alive once your contest has launched by continuing to promote online. Again, make sure you post about it on social media and through email marketing. As previously mentioned, you could also work with influencers to promote your contest, or host a live shopping stream as part of your promotional activity.

When the contest is over, spotlight your giveaway winners as a way to celebrate their success and make them feel like valued members of your community. With their permission, you can post about your winners on social media, or create a “past winners” page on your website as a way to celebrate previous winners and generate social proof for future giveaways.

Post-giveaway, you should also send out emails to everyone who participated thanking them for taking part and encouraging them to stick around. This email could include an exclusive offer and direct them to where they can shop the prizes on your website. Offering free gifts or coupon codes to those who didn’t win can further boost eCommerce sales after the giveaway has ended.

5) Measure performance

Last, but not least, is to measure the performance of your eCommerce contest or giveaway. Remember to check how your contest performed using the KPIs you chose to measure when first establishing your contest objective.

Measuring the contest’s performance will gain you a deeper understanding of what did or didn’t work well so you can improve your future contests. If you’re part of a marketing team, gathering performance statistics will also help you obtain buy-in from stakeholders or senior management for future contests by demonstrating their effectiveness.

eCommerce contest and giveaway apps

You can approach hosting eCommerce contests and giveaways in several ways. You can manage them manually by, for example, running a social media giveaway, monitoring entries, and announcing a winner. However, this approach can be time-consuming.

Luckily, there’s a wide selection of eCommerce giveaway apps you can use to run your next contest with ease.

Rafflecopter is an easy-to-use platform for running giveaways that can be seamlessly embedded into your website.

If you’re looking for something more intuitive, ShortStack offers a variety of landing page contests, social media contests, and games.

Similar to ShortStack, Wishpond is an all-in-one platform with various solutions to take care of all your marketing growth needs. Wishpond offers 12 types of social media contests, including photo contests, referral contests, sweepstakes, and leaderboard contests.

When it comes to finding an eCommerce contest app for your online store, you won’t be short of options. Do your research and choose an app based on your specific eCommerce contest idea and requirements.

Wrapping up – Use eCommerce giveaways and contests to leave an impression

Running an eCommerce giveaway or contest can be a powerful way to build followers, generate leads, and boost conversions for your online store.

Before running a contest, you first need to determine your contest goals, focusing on who it’s for, what you want to achieve, and how you’re going to measure the performance. From there, you can choose the perfect contest format to attract, engage, and convert your ideal leads into customers.

Remember, contests are meant to be fun. So, make sure you have some fun while planning your giveaway strategy. The more appealing your contest is, the more likely it is to go viral.