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Topic: Increase your online shop's exposure through giveaways.  (Read 353 times)
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DaBunny
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« on: April 29, 2009 07:26:24 PM »

Giveaways are fun. They create excitement and can be a great tool for getting consumers to visit your online shop. The more traffic you can bring to your shop, the higher your chances of making a sale. And while all giveaways don't mean sales, what they do equate to is great exposure, name recognition, and possible sales down the line. Running a successful giveaway, however, can be trying and I know a lot of indie business owners who have been disappointed by how little traffic their giveaway has yielded. Because of this I've decided to share my tips on how to run an effective giveaway for promoting your shop.

Decide on a prize. First and foremost you need to decide what type of item you'd like to offer as a prize. While it's tempting to offer that bracelet that never sold and sat in your shop until it expired, this is not the type of item you want to give away. Look over your shop or inventory and pick a product that has gotten a lot of positive attention. Even pick an item that you have sold and re-create something similar. Why? Because you want people to want to take the time to enter your giveaway and most will only do this if you're offering a product they like and can use. Think about who your target market is and what they would want. Also, be sure to keep in mind the retail value of your prize. People like big prizes - things they wouldn't necessarily be able to afford or justify buying without knowing the business or the product. Further, the broader the appeal of your prize, the more entries you're likely to receive as well. Remember that if you can't get consumers to enter your contest, then you're missing out on potential new traffic sources for your shop. Then decide on a prize.

Host your contest. Now that you've decided what you're going to give away, you'll need to decide how to host your contest. If you have a blog or website, that's the best place to start. Not only will you increase traffic to your blog and potentially gain new followers, but you can set the terms you want for entering your contest as well. Don't discount having other sites host your contest for you though. Other blogs and sites often have different audiences which ensures you are reaching new people and not the same ones over and over again. If you don't have a blog, now would be a good time to start one with the giveaway giving you a big introductory push. There are free blogs that cost little to nothing such as Google's free blogging platform, Blogger. I highly recommend using Blogger for a first time blog as it's easy to work with and will automatically be indexed by Google.

Setting up your giveaway. Setting up a giveaway really isn't difficult. Writing the copy is the easy part .After all, you already know everything there is to know about your product. However, what you do need to think about is what you want to gain from the giveaway. Do you want to increase traffic, gain sales, expand your social network? All of these are important things to consider. Personally I'd never pass up the opportunity to expand my social network through sites like twitter and facebook. Friends share things that interest them with their friends and so on, which can lead to a lot of indirect marketing the larger your network grows.

Here is how I set up my contests.

1. Start with a paragraph about the contest. What can visitors enter to win? Include a brief description.

2. Include a photograph of the prize.

3. Expand on the prize being offered and/or include information about what you sell in your shop. This is your chance to not only show off some of your best work through the contest, but to push your shop and the other items in it. If you hope to gain sales from this contest, include a discount code here or a special free shipping offer if a purchase is made. Be sure you include a link to your shop.

4. Include a ByHand Spotlight of nine other pieces available from your shop. Artisan Spotlights allow you to create a visual collection of your work, or the work of others, in which every item links back to its listing no matter what handmade venue it resides on. (ByHand currently supports Etsy, Artfire, 1000 Markets, Zibbet, Wink Elf, DaWanda, Shop Handmade, Silk Fair, Made It Myself, iCraft.ca, and Foodzie.) Spotlights are a very valuable tool because they are so easy to share. They can be posted (and stay fully functional) on your blog or social network. Not only does this help to increase interest, but it also adds your products to ByHand's Window Shopping feature and increases your chance of having your products seen through other media outlets.

5. Tell your visitors how they can enter your contest and set up your rules. When will the contest end? Who are you willing to ship to? How old do you have to be to enter? How many times can a contestant enter? Be sure to address how contestant information will be used as well. I always want visitors to have to browse the items available in my shop, so here's an example of what I might put here:

Want to win? Now through Sunday, May 3rd at 11:59pm EST you can enter to win a free CONTEST PRIZE! To enter this contest simply visit YOUR SHOP NAME (WITH LINK) and pick out your favorite item. Then leave a comment with your favorite item to enter. This contest is open to residents of US and Canada ages 18 and up. Limit one entry per household/person/email. Please remember to leave a way for me to contact you if you win. Your contact information will only be used for acquiring your address information should you win this contest.

To increase exposure for your contest and to add to your social network, you can also add additional ways to enter. For example:

You may complete each of the following tasks for one additional entry for each task completed. Please comment in a separate post for each task.

1. Tweet this contest. Comment with your tweet.
2. Become a fan of YOUR SHOP NAME on Facebook. Leave a comment. (Don't forget to include a link.)
3. Blog about this contest. Comment with a link to the blog post.

Marketing your contest. Marketing is a never ending necessity. It's great for exposure and can be more effective than advertising in the long run if done properly. While advertising and marketing together make for the best outcome, I understand that not everyone can afford to run ad campaigns. Therefore, to market your shop, you must market your contest. Here's how.

1. Utilize your social networks. Use platforms like twitter and plurk to announce the contest to your followers with a direct link to enter. Share your contest with others on facebook. Post about your contest on other social network platforms and social communities you may be a part of. This may include forums and blogs on sites like Ning and ByHand.

2. Submit your contest to popular sweepstakes sites. You can google for these and pick and choose where you'd like to submit your contest. Ones I recommend are Online-Sweepstakes and CashNet Sweepstakes. I also like Etsy Giveaways as they directly target handmade interested consumers and will post your contest, regardless of venue, as long as the prize is not commercially produced.

Draw your winner. Once the contest has ended you'll need to draw a winner. A great way to do this is to use a random generator. You can find one at Random.org. You'll then need to email your winner for his or her shipping information. Be sure to ship out the winner's prize within a reasonable amount of time. If it takes you a month to ship the prize, this could reflect poorly on your business practices.

I hope this article helps everyone who has wanted to run a contest but hasn't been sure how. After all, contests are a wonderful marketing technique and are often less expensive than advertising.
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