You’ve seen companies large and small promoting their stuff using sweepstakes and giveaways. But it begs a question: do they work to improve sales and visibility?
As a sweeper (the term sweepstakes entrants use to describe themselves) on and off since 2002, I can offer some experience and insight into the greedy mind of a sweepstakes entrant. I am also an occasional sweepstakes consultant to businesses and the author of a book about winning sweepstakes that I wrote using a pseudonym.
Here are the pros and cons to giving things away via a sweepstakes:
Giveaways are a dirt-cheap way to promote your business. It costs next to nothing to run a giveaway. All you’re giving away is your own product or some trinket of your choice.
You get dirt-cheap traffic. There are websites like mom blogs and sweepstakes sites that will list your promo for free. They send you traffic without having to pay for it. You also get a permanent backlink.
Build your list with these dirt-cheap opt-ins. Giveaways are a good way to build your email list and social media follows fast. Ask for an opt-in as a condition for entry, and you’re good to go.
Sweepers are often cheap. They’re entering to get something for nothing. Duh! They may like what you’re selling, but won’t buy it because they know you gave it away free.
Winners will often sell the prize you sent them. Many times people enter for things they have no interest in because it has resale value. These entrants are about as welcome as a Zika mosquito in a closed car while driving at 80 mph. But it’s their prize and they can do what they want with it.
Sweepers tend to unsubscribe. They may sign up for your newsletter to enter, only to unsub when the giveaway ends. They’ll sort your emails to an address specifically for promo newsletters and not read them. I would know, because I did.
Things to Know
Your giveaway must be legally compliant. The FTC has rules for giveaways stating it’s illegal to compel a purchase to enter. It’s also illegal to ask for a payment to ship the product.
You must post rules. The rules need to state what you’re giving away, who is qualified to enter and when it ends, among other things. Sweepstakes websites won’t list your giveaway without rules.
Is it worth bothering with this?
Most of the world’s biggest consumer product companies run a giveaway at some point, so they must be working to some extent. Some companies run them continuously.
Giveaways are a prime opportunity to spread the word about their products and generate good karma. After winning tens to thousands’ worth of free products in the past, I still have positive feelings toward companies that sent me on a free trip and/or a free product. Once in a while, I even buy something.