My First Giveaway: An Analysis

I recently ran a Rafflecopter giveaway, the main purpose being to increase the size of my mailing list. I gave away a $20 Amazon gift card, because lots of people shop on Amazon, and lots of people like money.

This giveaway did put some fat on my reed-thin mailing list – specifically, 211 subscribers signed up through the giveaway.

So do I consider this whole shebang a success? Well, of course I’m not going to tell you that in the third paragraph! You have to read on, dear friend.

Isn’t that how you’re supposed to blog? Drop a hook with some juicy bait, and then reel ’em in? I think that’s what a social media samurai told me once…

The Setup

For those of you not familiar with Rafflecopter, it’s an easy way to run a giveaway. I found their website intuitive and sharp, and I’m not tech savvy.

You set the entry conditions, the prize, and the dates of the giveaway, and then get out your metaphorical neon sign and promote your contest. When the contest is over, Rafflecopter selects a random winner, and you contact that person and bestow upon them their prize.

(For those of you not meme-knowledgeable, Rafflecopter derives its name from ROFLcopter, that much-beloved piece of Internet slang.)

However, while you can use Rafflecopter for free, to access premium stuff, including their mailing list options, you’re going to have to fork over some cash – $43 per month for their “Grow” plan at the time of this writing, to be precise. (For a full list of Rafflecopter features and pricing options, click here.)

Pretty steep, huh? Of course, you can run as many giveaways as you want in a month, and then cancel before you’re charged another month, but it’s still a substantial fee.

Once I’d bitten the bullet and given another tech company some bucks, I got my giveaway rolling. I set up three entry options:

– Join my mailing list (+3 points, and mandatory)

– Follow me on Twitter (+1 point)

– Visit my Facebook author page (+1 point)

Since the point of this contest was to buff up my list, I of course made that choice mandatory, and gave it the most points. If people wanted to add some points to their name, thus increasing their odds of winning, they could do so by following me on Twitter or visiting my author Facebook page.

For Facebook, I realize I should’ve set up a custom entry option so people would have to like my page, rather than just visiting it. But a) I was lazy, and b) I hate Facebook, and rarely use it, so I didn’t really see the point anyway.

If you decide to run your own contest, I’d suggest setting up a “Like Facebook Page” option, even if you’re like me and think Facebook is a soulless website that runs slower than molasses down a glacier.

You can add more entry options if you like, but the more you have, the higher the chance you might overwhelm people. Keep it manageable.

My contest ran from December 22, 2016 to January, 2 2017. I think this is a reasonable length of time; you don’t want your contest to be so short that no one has a chance to participate, but you also don’t want it to drag on for ages, so that by the time the winner’s announced, people have forgotten they’ve even entered. However, depending on what strategy you’re using (or like me, you have no strategy – ever), you may decide on a different time period.

So that’s how I set the thing up. It was now time to get the word out!

Promotion, or the Domination of the Sweepstakers

First off, I did the usual: wrote a blog post about the contest on my website (which was the “home base,” where I linked everything so I could track stuff), pinned a tweet, and posted something on my author Facebook page. (More on that last one below.)

Many of the “how to” blogs/articles/websites I came across suggested submitting my contest to sweepstakes websites. Made sense to me: put your thing on a well-trafficked site and watch the contestants pour in.

And indeed, most of the entrants for this giveaway found me through a sweepstakes website. Many of them seemed to be “sweepstakers,” or people who enter tons of contests every day in the hopes of winning something. I haven’t ever thought about this hobby – if you want to call it that – since I almost never enter a contest; I might buy four lottery tickets a year. It’s fascinating, and you could probably write an entire novel on a “professional sweepstaker.”

For those looking for good sweepstakes websites, here are where most of my referrals came from, according to WordPress:

Contestgirl

I Love Giveaways

Airplanes and Dragonflies

Online-Sweepstakes

I also spent $7 to boost my Facebook post announcing the giveaway, and this reached 635 people, but only generated seven link clicks. I wouldn’t spend money on Facebook again without doing much more research into what makes an effective ad or boosted post.

I also found someone on Fiverr to do some Twitter promoting, but again, the $16 I spent for a five-day deal wasn’t worth it. Very few people came to my website from Twitter. Again, I wouldn’t spend money on Fiverr services without doing more research.

I posted my contest in a handful of places on Goodreads and Facebook, but not as many as I should. I grow weary of marketing pretty quickly; I need to work up my endurance so I can surf the net for hours on end promoting my stuff and still have a smile – or at least, not a homicidal frown – on my face.

Let’s Sum It All Up

So, for a total cost of $86 ($20 for the Amazon gift card, $43 for one month of Rafflecopter “Grow” plan, $16 for Twitter advertising, and $7 for a boosted Facebook post), was it all worth it?

The answer is: time will tell.

That sounds like a cop-out answer, but it really isn’t. I haven’t made much use of my mailing list, beyond sending out two newsletters.

How will my subscribers react when I send out a book sale announcement, or some new release hype? Will they unsubscribe out of annoyance, or will they buy and read?

Again, I don’t know. I did have some unsubscribes right after the contest ended, but it was a much lower number than I anticipated. And I’ve had a handful of unsubscribes since then, but any list bleeds out a little over time.

One thing that concerns me is that, as mentioned above, most of my subscribers seems to be “sweepstakers.” Nothing wrong with people searching for deals, but I’d also like to have engaged readers and authors on my list, people who like my work and who aren’t just looking for free stuff.

Of course, to keep those people engaged, I need to produce more novels, blogs, and other content. I’m working on it, folks!

I will say this: I won’t run another mailing-list-boosting giveaway until I’ve tested out my current mailing list and done more research on how to maximize exposure.

Because it doesn’t matter if you have 10,000 people on your mailing list; if 9,999 of them don’t care about you or your work, then that 10,000 is just a big number that sounds impressive, but isn’t.

As the saying goes: it’s quality, not quantity.

Has anyone else run a giveaway? If so, how’d it go? Post your tips and tricks, musings, grievances, rants, whatever in the comments.

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