How a Candy Company Used Viral Giveaways to Get a 27x ROI [Step-by-Step Guide]
Running a viral giveaway is easy and can lead to great results for your business. Here’s the step-by-step guide on how the candy brand Little Secrets used giveaways to grow their email list by 56%, and generate $777.29 in net revenue.
Note: This is a guest post from Daniel, the founder of Loyal Tribe. Daniel helps eCommerce companies grow their email list, generate more sales, and build customer influence.To follow along with Daniel’s step-by-step strategy, you can use the same exact tool Daniel used: KingSumo Giveaways WordPress plugin. Or, the free KingSumo web app version.
Viral giveaways can grow your email list FAST.
But do those new email subscribers actually turn into new customers?
We wanted to know if the email leads from giveaways were quality or just quantity. If these leads turned into paying customers… or if they were all duds.
To test the theory, we used the KingSumo giveaway tool for our client Little Secrets.
The results beat our craziest expectations. 🎉
Giveaways helped Little Secrets generate email subscribers FAR faster than other marketing methods like Facebook Ads, SEO, Instagram, and influencers.
The giveaway captured more leads in 7 days than we organically generated in the previous 6 months.
And it wasn’t just about the leads: Revenue for Little Secrets increased, too.
One week after the giveaway, the ROI on the giveaway spend was 2.26x.
And our estimated annualized ROI was 27x. Awww yeah!
In this blog post we’re going to show you how to have the same success with your giveaway.
We’ll share step-by-step how we created a giveaway that…
- Grew the email list of our client Little Secrets by 56% in 7 days 📈
- Got email open rates over 80% by the end of the giveaway — 6x the industry average! 🚀
- Generated $777.29 in revenue (that’s $1.23 for every new subscriber) 💰
Let’s get started.
1. How to Setup a Profitable Giveaway That Generates 27x ROI
Pick the right prize to double your audience
When picking a grand prize, we wanted to make sure it resonated with Little Secrets’ ideal customer.
Everyone loves iPads, or Amazon gift cards… but those products don’t have anything to do with Little Secrets’ business of all natural fair-trade chocolate.
A generic prize would attract low-quality leads. So instead, we wanted to do an eye-catching prize that fit the Little Secrets brand, attracted the right customers… and got tons of attention.
We decided to make our grand prize an entire store display with 60 bags of Little Secrets candy.
Imagine setting that up in your house!
This grand prize only cost $125. This is less than most businesses spend on Facebook advertising in one week!
A common misconception about giveaways is the prize has to be expensive. Instead, it’s more valuable to focus on a prize that attracts your ideal customer. For Little Secrets, we wanted to focus on a simple prize that got the right kind of attention.
How to 3x your giveaway page conversion rate
To make sure visitors knew they had landed in the right place, we created a headline that we could repeat in all of the giveaway promotions.
Our headline formula = prize + time period.
“Win X during Y”
For our Little Secrets giveaway, here’s how we broke down the formula:
- X = 60 bags of Little Secrets Candy
- Y = Easter, which was 2 weeks away
So the final headline was: “Win 60 Bags of Little Secrets Candies for Easter”
This headline was designed to entice readers to click to learn more about the giveaway. It’s easy to get distracted online, so we wanted a headline that stood out.
Once users were on the giveaway page, we needed to sell them on why they should enter.
To make the page convert, here’s the body copy formula we followed:
- Hook – Short and compelling sentence fragment that’s easy to read
- Why – Reason why this giveaway is relevant to them personally
- Desire – Paint a positive picture of them winning the contest
- Action – Tell them exactly what to do with no ambiguity
And here’s what the KingSumo giveaway page looked like when finished:
KingSumo provides a great FAQ and videos if you need help setting up your giveaway.
Remember that users are distracted when reading your giveaway page — with social media, YouTube, kittens, and other giveaways — so you have to grab their attention.
Think like a user, and ask yourself: Why should I care about signing up for this giveaway right now?
Write copy with your ideal user’s experience in mind.
Key strategies to leverage social media for maximum results
Little Secrets uses Facebook as its social media channel of choice.
To leverage their existing Facebook audience, we focused on making it easy for contestants to share the giveaway on Facebook.
We could have focused on trying to grow the Little Secrets Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube followings as well — but asking people to do too many things leads to analysis paralysis, and they’ll end up doing nothing.
Through experimentation, we’ve found that focusing on one social media channel maximizes the final results.
To maximize the giveaway’s exposure on Facebook, we used KingSumo’s built-in “Sharing Options” and “Extra Entry Actions.”
The Sharing Options allow contestants to share the giveaway on Facebook with one click.
Seriously, one click leads to tons of free promotion on Facebook!
And the Extra Entry Actions gives contestants an additional giveaway entry for following Little Secrets on Facebook. To enable this additional entry, we added Facebook as a “social media follow” action.
This feature took 30 seconds to set up, and resulted in an additional 161 Facebook followers over the course of the giveaway!
Here’s an example of what these options looked like on the giveaway page after someone had entered.
The hidden power of referrals: Our secret to making EVERYONE a winner
In giveaways, there’s usually only one winner.
This can be defeating for would-be entrants.
People come to your giveaway page, think they have no chance, and decide not to even bother entering.
They exit the giveaway… and cost your business another lead and potential customer.
To increase our number of entrants, we tested offering guaranteed prizes to people that referred others to the giveaway.
Here’s what we offered:
- If you referred 1 person = Coupon for 15% off your next full order of Little Secrets candy
- 3 referrals = Bag of candy donated in your name to The Women’s and Children’s Shelter
- 5 referrals = Coupon for 32% off your next full order of Little Secrets candy
- 10 referrals = A Secret Swag box full of Little Secrets candy and swag
Notice how we don’t give away a product until they refer at least 10 people!
In other words, 1 referral and 5 referrals require the entrant to purchase something… which means we generate revenue (even if it’s at a discount).
The best way to encourage people to refer their friends, get guaranteed prizes, and help grow our giveaway was through a confirmation email.
As soon as someone entered the giveaway, the below email was immediately sent from our email provider:
We included a link back to the contest page four times in the copy to make sure everyone knew where to go if they wanted to refer someone and earn the guaranteed prizes.
This email had excellent results — a 62.7% open rate and 13% click rate. That’s 3x the results of a normal email.
To make sure this email went out immediately after confirmation, we integrated our email provider with the KingSumo services tab and chose the “Push contestants after they confirm their entry” option.
Using this setting, KingSumo sends the contestant’s email address to the email provider only after they confirmed their entry into the giveaway.
This way any non-confirmed, potentially fake entrants, were not sent to the email provider.
Once the confirmed entrants are in the email provider, that’s when the magic happened:
- Confirmed entrants are tagged as a “2018 Spring Contestant”
- They’re sent the automatic confirmation email with details on how to refer
- They take action from the confirmation email without our team lifting a finger
Here’s how a tag looks like in our ESP when someone enters the contest:
Starting the process with a tag allowed us to identify entrants in our email provider so we could track and segment them later in the giveaway.
At the end of the giveaway, we had some great results from referrals and guaranteed prizes:
- 109 people referred at least one person
- 12 contestants referred more than 10 people
- One contestant referred 41 people!!!
- 10% of all contestants referred someone
This confirmation email worked to help us increase our giveaway leads by more than 10%.
Set the ideal length to skyrocket your giveaway (without it losing popularity)
The engagement for a giveaway will drop off in less than a week without constant promotion.
If you look at our overall subscriber numbers below, you’ll see a spike on day one, a dip for the next five days, and a spike again on day seven.
The first and last days of the giveaway accounted for 90% of new subscribers. If you want to really grow your subscriber list, it’s important to send reminders on the first and last day.
Notice how the majority of subscribers came from the first and last two days of the giveaway.
We used the following promotion schedule to work around our most popular days:
- Thursday, March 15th: Sent the announcement email & switched our Sumo popup to promote the giveaway
- Friday, March 16th: Promoted the giveaway on social media
- Wednesday, March 21st: Sent a deadline reminder email on the morning of the last day to maximize the number of leads and referrals
- Friday, March 23rd: Sent the prize and results emails
- Tuesday, March 27th: Sent the Easter 2-day sales promotion email to the entire list
- Wednesday, March 28th: Sent the Easter sales deadline email
2. Strategies to Promote Your Giveaway And Get HUNDREDS of New Customers
We could set up the prize, landing page, and backend functionality perfectly…
But if no one entered, it didn’t matter.
With our giveaway set up, it was critical we promoted the giveaway effectively to get more leads and new customers.
Here are the exact steps we used to promote our giveaway for massive success.
Popups: How to 2x your entrants by leveraging your website traffic
To grow the Little Secrets email list organically, we used KingSumo’s sister company Sumo and their free list growth tools.
Using the free Sumo tools, we put popups on every page of the Little Secrets website promoting the giveaway.
The Sumo tools allowed us to create effective popups in minutes, instead of the hours it would take to manually code.
Here’s the popup we created with a simple image, title, and copy. You’ll notice, for ease and consistency, we reused a lot of the same copy and style as our giveaway page.
It took us less than 5 minutes to transform a Sumo popup into a giveaway promo on every page
When a user clicked the “Enter Now!” button, it redirected them to the giveaway page we had set up in KingSumo.
Here’s how to set up your first giveaway popup using Sumo:
- Sign up for Sumo for free
- Add the Sumo code to your website
- After the code is added, go to your Sumo Dashboard and click “Forms” then “List Builder” and then “Create New Form”
- Change the goal from “Collect Emails” to “Call to Action”
- Click the button on your form, and redirect to your giveaway page URL
Launch email: The key strategy to kickstart your giveaway for growth
The Sumo popup worked great for new or returning visitors to our site…
But what about all the customers who had bought from us in the past?
Or signed up for our email list?
Most existing fans aren’t checking our site every day, and they won’t see the popup. Instead, they’re waiting for us to reach out to them again.
To help the giveaway go viral, we sent an email promoting the giveaway to the Little Secrets email list.
We broke down the email into two parts:
- Subject line
Here’s how we optimized both:
We wanted to keep the giveaway offer as consistent as possible.
To keep it simple and effective, we matched our email subject line to our giveaway headline…
Get 60 bags of Little Secrets Candies for free
In the body of the email, we wanted to give a compelling reason for subscribers to enter the giveaway.
We positioned the giveaway around Easter and eliminating artificial, unnatural candy from their family celebration.
We also used the “frame the dream” approach in the body copy.
In other words, we asked them to imagine how many smiles they could create with 60 bags of hidden candy for friends and loved ones.
Finally, we made a last-ditch effort for the people who still weren’t convinced.
We mentioned the guaranteed prizes in the PS of the email to help skeptics see the value and take action.
Here’s the exact announcement email we sent to our existing email list.
The email was VERY effective.
The end results were 5x higher than industry average:
- 58% open rate
- 25.6% click rate
External promotion: How to leverage our favorite subreddit to propel your giveaway
There are multiple subreddits on reddit that are dedicated to giveaways and sweepstakes.
Most people avoid these subreddits because they think they will only result in terrible leads.
But we thought about reddit differently.
It takes 5 minutes to post on reddit, so if we generated at least one customer from reddit, we would make about $25 in revenue or $300 per hour worked (not too shabby).
For the experiment, we posted the giveaway on the subreddit r/giveaways to reach the largest number of potential new customers.
To attract the right kind of people, we crafted a specific headline that:
- Shared the unique benefits of Little Secrets candies
- Only attracted people who were interested in all-natural, fair trade chocolate
- Stuck close to the original headline we used for our giveaway and email
It was also important for us to get upvotes to our reddit post. This would help it stay on the r/giveaways homepage longer.
Plus, the more a post is upvoted, the more reddit’s algorithm features it across their site. Free advertising!
To get more upvotes, we had all our team members sign up for accounts and upvote. Then, we texted the link to a few friends, too.
Social media: Our exact step-by-step system to make your giveaway viral
Before we promoted our giveaway on social media, our three major marketing channels were generating a steady number of entrants:
- Popups were converting new and returning site visitors into entrants
- Our email was turning our biggest fans and readers into entrants
- Reddit’s r/giveaways subreddit helped get new entrants in the door
Social media would give us the chance to turn even more fans and followers into entrants. Some followers were already on the email list, but a good number of them were not. Also, not everyone is going to open the announcement email, so it always pays to communicate on multiple channels.
We decided to start our social media push by leveraging Facebook — the biggest social media platform for Little Secrets to get the most eyeballs.
Similar to the email, we positioned Little Secrets as a way to remove artificial flavors from your family’s Easter celebration.
Here’s how we set up our ultimate Facebook post:
- We kept the copy short, so people who scan their Newsfeed could catch it at a glance
- We used a bright visual image to catch their attention — and used Easter colors to tie in the holiday theme of the giveaway
- We linked directly to the giveaway page on the Little Secrets website
The post started to spread:
- Total comments = 5
- Total Likes = 43
- Shares = 3
We didn’t spend any money to promote this post, so this was all organic engagement.
A nice surprise was that followers grew 4% over 7 days. It wasn’t our primary goal to grow the Little Secrets Facebook fan page, but it was a nice bonus.
Deadline strategies: Last-minute tips to convert more customers
Every day of the giveaway, Little Secrets was getting between 25 to 250 new email subscribers.
However, not all of the entrants were confirming their email address and entry into the giveaway.
And because they didn’t confirm their entry, they weren’t going to see the confirmation email with instruction on how to refer their friends and win guaranteed prizes.
In our experience, the last day of any promotion generates 40% or more of the results when you send a deadline reminder email.
To make sure Little Secrets did not miss out on a ton of additional leads, we needed to send two different reminders.
To accomplish this we separated our entrants into two groups:
- Entrants who had not confirmed their entry
- Entrants who had confirmed their entry (and were already pushed to our email provider)
To separate, we exported all giveaway entrants in our KingSumo backend dashboard:
Once we had the CSV of the contestants, we used Microsoft Excel to sort them by confirmed or unconfirmed status.
We used the sort function under the Data menu in Excel.
We imported the unconfirmed entrants into our email provider and tagged them as “unconfirmed.”
For unconfirmed entrants, and existing subscribers who had not entered the contest, we resent the original announcement email with two adjustments:
- Subject line. We added a same-day deadline of 7 pm to get entrants to take action fast
- Body copy. We reiterated the deadline to further convince entrants to confirm their entry
In the body, we also used compelling copy to help unconfirmed entrants visualize what it would be like to win the main prize.
Also, in the PS, we teased the secondary benefit of confirming your entry for additional guaranteed prizes.
Notice the multiple deadlines we added to the email.
This email was sent to existing subscribers who had not entered the giveaway, and unconfirmed entrants… but we still managed to get a 38.3% open rate and 9.3% click rate!
That’s 2.5x normal email averages. Great for a “cold” group of users who didn’t enter the giveaway the first time!
And we didn’t stop there.
We also sent another email reminder to all the confirmed giveaway entrants.
This email was designed to generate more guaranteed prizes for the entrants and more referrals for Little Secrets.
Here’s the email we sent to the confirmed entrants list:
Like the unconfirmed email, this email also performed VERY well:
- 51.9% open rate
- 7.3% click rate
In total, these two emails DOUBLED the number of entrants, and new subscribers, to the Little Secrets email list.
Seriously. Just two simple deadline emails to a group of unconfirmed and confirmed users 2x’d the entrants.
That’s the power of a deadline.
3. Post-Giveaway Promo: How to Turn Your Giveaway Entrants into Raving Fans & Lifelong Customers
Just because the giveaway is over doesn’t mean the work is done.
The best giveaway creators know that post-giveaway follow-ups are critical to turn entrants into customers and get a return on their giveaway campaign.
Here’s how to turn your giveaway entrants into raving fans and lifelong customers after your giveaway ends.
The 3-step strategy to make everyone a happy winner
No one likes to find out they lost a giveaway. We made sure everyone who participated was a winner at the end of the giveaway.
To make everyone a winner, we started by creating 5 segments:
- Contestants who referred 0 people
- Contestants who referred 1 person
- Contestants who referred 3 people
- Contestants who referred 5 people
- Contestants who referred 10 people
After the giveaway was over we exported a new CSV and sorted contestants by how many entries they received.
Here’s how all the segments broke down:
- 1-3 entries = No guaranteed prizes
- 4+ entries = Coupon for 15% off your next full order of Little Secrets candy
- 10+ entries = Bag of candy donated in your name to The Women’s and Children’s Shelter
- 16+ entries = Coupon for 32% off your next full order of Little Secrets candy
- 31+ entries = Secret swag box full of Little Secrets candy and swag
After sorting entrants in Excel, we uploaded each group into the email provider and tagged them with the appropriate prize level.
The total number of entrants Little Secrets had for each prize:
- 4+ Entries = 53 contestants
- 10+ Entries = 13 contestants
- 16+ Entries = 4 contestants
- 31+ Entries = 11 contestants
We allowed entrants to stack their referral prizes. In other words, if someone referred 10 people they got all the prize levels. Sweet bonus!
Here’s the email we sent to entrants who referred 10 people:
The end result?
An 80% open rate and a 14.3% click rate average for the guaranteed prize emails.
This click rate is even better when you consider that two of the four prizes required someone to buy Little Secrets in order to get a discount. That’s free revenue for Little Secrets.
How to transition from giveaway contestants to life-long customers
Many giveaway creators will drop giveaway entrants into the middle of their email sequence.
Think about how confusing this is for the entrant: These people are new to your brand, and you’re treating them like you’ve known them for a while.
It makes your emails feel weird and transactional.
After the giveaway was over, Little Secrets had two new segments:
- New subscribers who joined the list because of the giveaway
- Existing subscribers who entered the giveaway
We wanted to make it easy for new subscribers to understand the Little Secrets brand, so we crafted a special post-giveaway email for them.
We broke down the email into three parts:
- Part 1: The email welcomed entrants to the Little Secrets email list, and told them how the giveaway helped donate chocolate to people in need. This was the “feel good” hook to keep reading.
- Part 2: We talked about where else new entrants could find Little Secrets on the web. This helped people learn about the brand… and it also helped grow their social following.
- Part 3: We invited entrants to say on the Little Secrets Society (the email list) — and enticed them by mentioning the BIG Easter sale.
You can see all three parts in the email that was sent to new subscribers:
The results were a 57% open rate and a 8.1% click rate.
Every click went to high-intent pages for Little Secrets: the Twitter page, Facebook fan page, and store.
For existing email subscribers who entered, we sent a different email.
We segmented the Little Secrets list by looking at the following parameters:
Everyone who entered the giveaway AND their subscription date was before the start of the giveaway.
We sent a similar email as the new subscribers, but removed the section that explained the secret membership since they were already subscribers.
We got an 84% open rate and 4.2% click rate on this email. This meant more Facebook and twitter followers for Little Secrets. Nice!
This 84% open rate was the highest of the giveaway, and there are two reasons why:
- All these people entered the giveaway, so this was an active list
- The subject line enticed people to see if they won the grand prize
These open rates are proof that maintaining an engaged list is crucial — and if you do it right, then your open rates, click rates, and sales will continue to increase.
Effective tips for making a healthy profit at the end of your giveaway
The week after the giveaway ended, we sent a 24% off promotion to everyone on the Little Secrets email list.
This email was designed to do one thing…
Convert subscribers into buyers.
From the giveaway, we had increased the Little Secrets email list by 56%.
We purposely planned the sale immediately after the giveaway so the new subscribers had an opportunity to buy before they forgot all about Little Secrets.
You don’t need a seven-part launch sequence to sell your product. Instead, just make an offer ASAP while your new subscribers are still engaged.
Here’s the sale email we sent to all subscribers announcing the sale:
The email got a 38.7% open rate and 7.2% click rate.
All these clicks went to the Little Secrets product page on Amazon, and many of them converted into new and repeat customers.
Two days after the first sale email was sent, we sent a second email to anyone who did not open the first email. Here’s the copy:
This email got an 11.7% open rate and 0.5% click rate.
It was lower than the other emails, but we were still happy with the results. It was a less engaged segment that didn’t open the previous email.
The final giveaway numbers and results (use this as inspiration!)
The giveaway was a massive success for Little Secrets.
Not only for growing the Little Secrets email list, but also for converting new subscribers into customers at a profit!
If we would have spent the same amount of money on Facebook advertising or SEO, the costs would have been much higher.
Here are the final numbers:
- Starting list size: 1,132
- New subscribers: 634
- List growth: 56%
- Number of entrants: 1,016
- Cost of the giveaway: $160 for KingSumo + $300 prizes = ($460)
- Sales from Easter promotion the following week: 50
- Revenue from Easter promotion = $1,044.02
- Net revenue from giveaway + follow-up Easter promotion = $777.29
The giveaway increased Little Secrets list by 56% with 634 new subs, and Little Secrets netted $777.29 after the cost of KingSumo and prizes! 🎉🚀
Another way of looking at the giveaway is…
Little Secrets made $1.23 for every new email subscriber they collected during the giveaway.
And based on past performance, we know that each email address added to the Little Secrets email list is worth $20 a year. This means over the next 12 months, entrants from this giveaway will add an estimated $12,680 in sales!
Because of the booming success of this giveaway, Little Secrets plans on running multiple giveaways a year.
It’s easier than you think to run your own giveaway
Thanks to KingSumo handling all of the technical hurdles, running a profitable giveaway is now easier than ever.
And combined with the strategy outlined above, we’re confident you can turn your giveaway into a profit machine too!
If you have any questions about running a profitable, successful giveaway…
I’ll personally be answering every single question in the comments for the next seven days. If you have any questions or comments, please click here to leave a comment and I’ll reply.
Daniel Reifenberger is the Founder and Chief Marketing Strategist at Loyal Tribe, an agency that helps eCommerce companies add 10-30% more revenue with email marketing.