Psst, do you want a free car?

Seriously. Completely free, no strings attached! That’s got your attention, right?

Back in 2004, on September 13, Oprah made television history with her car giveaway. Even if you don’t watch the show, you’ve definitely seen the video of her giving away a Pontiac to all 276 members of her audience that day. If you haven’t seen it, scroll down for the video.

Of course, it dramatically increased buzz around the show and the viewership shot up. But it also drove over 140,000 visitors to, a 600% increase in their regular daily traffic at that time. With one giveaway, Pontiac became one of the most talked about cars, if only for a short time.

Now 276 cars is a bit much, obviously, but the example serves to demonstrate the power of giveaways. These days many eCommerce brands use giveaways to give their brand recognition, email lists and sales a nice little boost. Even a small giveaway of a couple of hundred dollars is good enough, because it’s free and who doesn’t like free?

In this post, we’ll look at some interesting growth hacks to run successful giveaways. But first, let’s discuss how you actually create one!

How To Create A Giveaway

So here’s how a giveaway works, in principle –

  1. You announce that you’re giving away a bunch of your products for free to 3 (or any number of) lucky winners
  2. People go wild and they enter the competition by subscribing to your email, following you on social media, or whatever your criteria is for entering
  3. People can also earn multiple entries/points to boost their chances of winning by taking certain actions, like referring friends or tweeting about you
  4. At the end of the contest the people with the most points win, everyone else gets a consolation prize, and you have thousands of new email subscribers, followers and customers

Cool? Cool.

Of course, it’s not quite as simple as that. You need to promote the giveaway, then find a way to collect entries and keep track of points and referrals for each one. If you have multiple criteria like following you on Twitter, inviting 3 friends, posting to your Facebook wall, and so on, you need a way to automatically track all of that.



Fortunately, we already have technology to do all that for you. One of the best tools out there is Gleam, and they make it really easy for you to create giveaway contests with millions of entry combinations, and track each one of them. In fact, they’re running a competition on their site right now, so check it out to see how it works.  You can win an entire year of Gleam and maximize your chances of winning by doing simple things like following them on Twitter or downloading our popular growthhacking eBook – 50 Shades of Growth.

Win A Year Of Gleam

Gleam giveaway

Did you check it out? It looks pretty cool, right? The best part is none of this requires any coding. You can literally set it all up in 15 minutes. After you get Gleam, you’ll be able to create a contest and the entry criteria. You can then copy the embed code and paste it into your LemonStand store in your contest page. And that’s it!

Now it’s time to start promoting the contest. This is really the difficult part, but the following growth hacks should give your contests a boost.

Find A Partner

If you have a new eCommerce store, you probably don’t have much of an audience. That makes it tough to launch a new contest. You need an initial audience to enter so that they can then refer their friends (for more entries) and that creates a viral effect.

To solve this problem, you need a partner, preferably someone with a large audience that you can leverage. There are two types of partners – brands and influencers.

Partner with Brands

Partnering up with complementary brands adds value to your giveaway and gives you exposure to your partner’s audience. For example, if you have an apparel store, you could partner up with a popular footwear brand and create a bundle giveaway of formal clothes and matching dress shoes.

Loot Crate, an eCommerce subscription store for gamers, partnered up with Razer, the most popular gaming mouse, to create a bundle giveaway. The partnership helped them reach an audience 5 times larger than theirs. The best part is, the Razer audience is just the market they’re targeting, professional gamers with money to spend on an expensive mouse or a monthly subscription box.

Partner With Influencers

Alternatively, you can connect with online influencers to get them to promote your giveaway for you. Back to the apparel store example, you could partner up with popular fashion bloggers in your niche and have them promote the giveaway to their email lists. In fact, with Gleam, you can embed your giveaway on their blog too!

So why would influencers and bloggers promote your giveaway? Well, it helps them grow their audience too. They’re basically hooking up their readers with free stuff, and they don’t have to pay a thing because you’re footing the bill. On top of that, depending on your agreement with them, they can even ask entrants to follow them on social media or join their email lists too.

Related posts:  How to Position Your Lifestyle and eCommerce Fashion Brand

Get Customers To Promote You

It’s crazy how much content gets uploaded to social media every day. Every time someone buys something from you, you can be sure a pic of it is up on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram or the newest cool network. That’s free promotion for you, so learn to use it!

Diamond Candles is a perfect example of this. They sell soy-based candles with a little twist. Inside each candle is a ring worth anywhere from $10 to $5,000. Of course, most candles have the cheap rings, but every now and then someone wins the real diamond.

As you can imagine, people love sharing their wins online. In fact, they know to have a camera ready so that they can capture their reactions when the ring is finally revealed.

To take advantage of this, Diamond Candles created a contest around it. They encouraged customers to create and share images with their candles, and perform other social media actions, in order to win free prizes from them. For example, they ran a contest called “Pin It To Win It” where customers had to create Pinterest boards with at least 10 pictures of their candles.

diamond candles giveaway

Create A Viral Effect

I already mentioned this earlier, but it’s worth going into some detail. You want to maximize the number of entries into your competition, so simply asking people to subscribe to your newsletter is not enough. Instead, use the fact that entrants are interested in winning your competition by getting them to invite their friends for more entries.

Marley Lilly, a monogrammed gifts eCommerce store, did this really well. They created a contest for over 200 different sororities in the USA, with a grand prize of $1,000 in shopping credit on their store, and free t-shirts for the entire sorority.  The winner would be the sorority with the most number of referrals.

The prize was compelling enough that each sorority created their own landing pages and campaigns to increase referrals, which meant Marley Lilly didn’t have to do much marketing after the initial recruitment.

Marley Lilly Giveaway

Leverage Events

Every November, millions of men stop shaving and grow moustaches and beards in what is now called Movember. The movement has grown in popularity and Bearbrand, an eCommerce store for beard products, smartly used it to create a contest.

They came up with the idea of giving away a bundle of their products, worth $560, every day to one lucky winner for 7 days. The campaign was a huge success, with them nearly doubling their email list and also posting their largest sales day ever. They did about 4 times their average daily sales at the start of the campaign, and that momentum kept going even after the contest ended.

Beardbrand Giveaway

Launch With A Bang

We’ve already written about creating prelaunch campaigns for your new store or product lines, and many successful ones use competitions and giveaways. There’s already a novelty factor when you launch something new, so taking advantage of that to create a giveaway will help you build a list of people who are interested in purchasing your product.

Novermber Bicycles, an online retailer of specialty cycles, had created a new line of cycles, but they needed an audience for it. They could have pushed it to their existing customers, but they wanted to sell it to a different segment.

To do this, they set up a giveaway combining social media and email. The giveaway prize was based on the total number of entrants, at $1 per entrants. So if 20 people entered, the prize would be worth $20. They capped it off at 2,345 entries, which was the cost of one of their cycles. That incentivized entrants to tell their friends about it, so that they could get the cycle.

The giveaway was a huge success, growing their email lists by 488% and giving them an ROI of 1,170%!

November Cycles Giveaway

Give It Away Now

“Give it away, give it away, give it away, give it away now” – Red Hot Chili Peppers

As you can see, giveaways aren’t just great for building your social media following or email lists, but also for generating sales. Like Beardbrand, you can post your largest sales day with a successful giveaway too. With regular giveaways, you can keep that momentum going and grow exponentially.

Don’t forget to check out that Gleam giveaway. They do one every month and it works extremely well for them. So get your free copy of Gleam and start giving away products on your store too!

Grow Your Store With Giveaways

PS – Here’s that Oprah giveaway I mentioned earlier. Enjoy!