wonAn online giveaway can be a great marketing tool. Handled correctly, it can help build the all-important email list, and increase your brand awareness. There are a few things you should keep in mind when planning your online giveaway, and we’re going to make sure that you have the tools to make this marketing campaign succeed.

First, never give away something you want people to pay for. If you’ve got a great online program, then don’t give it away to someone-it cheapens the value. While giving away one copy of your book, or an item that you’re marketing, is a good way to build brand awareness, you don’t want to give away a bunch, or give them away on a regular basis. People won’t buy if they think they can score it for free instead.

Use a giveaway to cross-promote. Some authors will use a giveaway of their first book to lead up to the release of their second. This is especially effective if your books or products are tied together.

Know how you can, and cannot, get entries. A lot of businesses (I’m looking at you, bloggers!) like to offer “extra” entries for liking or following a brand on social media, or signing up for their newsletter. This is a great way to build your social media presence and increase your brand recognition. However, Facebook recently changed their TOS and made it against their rules to use liking a Facebook page as a contest entry. Make sure that you check the TOS of any social media platform you’re planning to use a giveaway to build.

Make sure that you run your giveaway for enough time to achieve your desired results. A giveaway that only runs for a short amount of time is called a flash giveaway, and while those are effective for building excitement for a brand (especially if the giveaway is a sample of a new product), you need to already have a good following for this to be effective. If you’re using a giveaway to build your social media following, you want to run a longer giveaway and promote it extensively.

Which brings us to our next point: plan your giveaway. You should answer all of the standard questions-who, what, where, when, and why. Why are you having the giveaway? Your goal will determine a lot of how you run the giveaway. When will you do it? If you’re planning to cross-promote, you need to get your timing just right. Where will you promote your online giveaway? Besides your own social channels, there are hundreds of websites online that exist just for people to search for links to giveaways. If you’re planning to pay for promotion on these sites, make sure that you check your marketing budget. What will you be giving away? Make sure you spell that out very clearly on your giveaway page. You’re legally responsible for delivering exactly what you say you will to the winner. If you’re running a joint promotion with another company, it’s a good idea that one of you be responsible for prize fulfillment of all of the prizes, so they can be sent together and delivery be assured. Who is going to handle all of this planning? Some companies prefer to hand off the giveaway to a blogger or to hire help, such as a marketing assistant that has handled online giveaways before. If you choose to give this responsibility to someone in-house, make sure they are familiar with every aspect of the giveaway, as you are legally bound to honor the terms you set in the beginning!

Overall, an online giveaway can lead to some incredible results for brands. However, like any marketing campaign, it needs to be planned out and taken seriously, to make sure that you achieve your goals!

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