6 Giveaway Mistakes You May Be Making

If you’ve got a grand opening coming up, or you need to generate traffic for your store or brand, one great way to accomplish this is through a giveaway. People love free stuff, so what can go wrong? Surprisingly, a lot. Giveaways come with their own set of guidelines and mistakes you can make. Here are six giveaway mistakes you may be making, and should avoid if you aren’t.

Requiring signup

If you must do signups, run a test that sends traffic to one of two options. 50% of your traffic should be able to sign up and then enter the giveaway, and the remaining 50% should enter the giveaway before signing up.


Make it clear for people where, how, and when to sign up. If details are vague about how they should enter, how they can win, and when/how they’ll be notified, they won’t enter.

Jumping through hoops

Another major barrier on giveaway entries is if the entrants feel they have to jump through hoops. This may be entering a lot of information up-front, which people may feel wastes their time. Try getting just a name and an email address from participants. You’ll still be able to contact winners afterward and get more information to send them their prize.

Overvalued or misaimed prizes

When deciding to hold a giveaway, you must first decide who your audience is and what you’re giving away. Does the prize match your audience? Free pizza or other free meals, while appealing, may not provoke a visible response among your audience if it doesn’t stand out specifically to them and their needs.

Your prize also won’t get a response if it’s of low value or too common for your customers to bother entering for. Make sure your prize relates to your business and audience, and that it’s something entrants will care about winning.

Good examples of prizes that match their market include:

  • Clothing store: a watch or jewelry item that matches a large variety of shirts
  • Conference: books and other products from featured speakers
  • Athletics brand: athletic shoes
  • Outdoor/camping store: ski lift passes

Poor Marketing

Though you may know your audience, it’s still possible to botch your giveaway by mishandling your marketing. Some giveaways post once or twice out of desperation on their social media pages, but that is not enough. You’ll need to send out emails, encouraging people to share*, and posting multiple times over the course of your giveaway.

Of course, it’s also possible to over-market. Giving everyone a hard sell from the beginning and posting several times a day to the same group of family and friends may deter your audience, and even alienate them. Or, your ads may become obnoxious, from their frequency to their design. Make sure you have tested out your ads and marketing efforts with a small group first to determine how effective they’ll be, or if you need to try again before launching.

*If this is part of their entry into your giveaway, it’s a great way to spread the word!


Don’t schedule your giveaway over a holiday weekend or alongside an event like the Super Bowl. While people are rarely separated from their mobile phones, they won’t be checking them as frequently over these busy days and weekends. Your promotion, no matter how valuable or interesting, will go largely unnoticed by your target audience. If you’re hosting a giveaway specifically for a holiday or major event, make sure to do it well in advance, while people are thinking of the event but not actually participating yet.

Another mistake may be holding a giveaway that’s too long or too short. Various durations will depend on your prize and your audience, but a good rule of thumb is to keep your campaign running for as long as you can advertise and market without wearing on your customers. Some examples:

  • Holiday sales — 3 weeks up to the holiday itself
  • Grand opening — 3 or more weeks prior to the opening
  • Books — 1 or 2 months before the release of the book or an ARC; several months over the course of a book tour