The everyday struggle of marketing your e-commerce site is a tough one: how do you generate excitement for your product? Not just interest, which is what your standard advertising is for, but genuine excitement for visiting your site and buying things from you. If you found a way to do that at will, then you should be selling that secret instead. Until somebody does find out how to do that, we need to find alternative ways to drum up buzz for your biz. One tried and true method for doing so is to run a giveaway or contest.
Not everybody is competitive most people enjoy winning, whether it’s an intense round of Super Smash Bros or a game of shuffleboard. Victory gives us a dopamine rush that really puts some bounce into your step, and that response is only intensified if victory comes with a prize. Wouldn’t it be great if people felt that same surge of positive emotion every time they visited your website? If you periodically do promotions that allow customers to win something, or receive something for free then they will!
Before you start trying to make your giveaway go viral
You need to decide what your goal is. It’s all well and good to want to sell more product, that’s what everybody wants, but a successful marketing campaign of any kind needs a specific goal to focus on if it is to be successful. There are many different metrics to measure your success. Your giveaway could be for the purpose of promoting a new line of products, or to expand your following across multiple social media platforms. Hone the guidelines of your contest or giveaway so that it serves your goal; a simple giveaway without any such focus is not likely to yield any lasting results for your business.
Once you know your goal, you need to figure out the most important part of your campaign: the prize! When you create a giveaway or contest, you’re asking people to invest their attention, time, and even money in your business, so you had better make it their while. This is also where you have a real chance to let your creativity and identity shine through. Giving away a gift card, for example, is boring, because it doesn’t showcase who you are. Worse, it won’t appeal to your target audience. You need the people who participate in your contest to be the kind of people who would become loyal customers and advocates for your business, and you won’t attract those people if you don’t make an effort to appeal to their interests.
The simplest prize you can offer is one or more of your own products. After all, if you want to attract that niche audience, it makes sense to do so with the thing they’re interested in buying. It’s also easy for you, since you only have to invest in the price of the product you give away, rather than something you buy from elsewhere. What sort of prize you offer from your own stock depends on what your goal is. If your goal is to generate buzz for a new line of products, giving away free samples of that product would make a lot of sense. On the other hand, if you want to attract new customers, maybe consider some kind of sampler that can really showcase all the things you have to offer. Finally, you can offer some kind of limited edition of the product you sell, which is a great way to reward repeat customers who can be convinced to become advocates for your business.
You could buy something special to be your prize. Again, don’t phone this part in. Just because you won’t make this prize yourself doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be thoughtful and unique. It should be something that relates to your products, or to the interests that your target audience holds. For example, if your business sells jewelry, perhaps you could give away a high end carrying case. This appeals to your target demographic, and rewards participants with something that they would like and use. More importantly, you can giveaway products that give customers a good reason to buy more from you. There are many other types of things you can give away as well, including less tangible gifts, like tours and visits with your staff. Whatever it is, make it unique and exciting!
Once the prize is set, you need to get the word out. While you should obviously promote the event across your social media, the fact of the matter is that you can’t do it alone. If you want your promotion to really go viral, you need advocates, because people will always trust their friend and family more than any business. However, you can contact social media influencers to help bridge that gap. Most Instagram and YouTube luminaries are more than happy to plug a contest or giveaway in exchange for payment or free swag. An influencer’s fans see them as a friend, somebody they trust implicitly. If you can have one promote your contest, you’ll have the word of the trusted confidante to thousands. That’s how you go viral.
A well-thought out and promoted giveaway or contest can be a massive boon to your small e-commerce business. It’s fun, it’s exciting, and it really gives you a chance to do something memorable and creative. Even if most of the participants don’t become repeat customers, the ones who do could be among your most loyal. And even people who don’t will be guaranteed to remember your name.