Running a giveaway is a great tool for increasing user engagement, acquiring new subscribers and bolstering your social media presence. In order to maximize the success and participation of the promotion it is vital to take the steps in promoting the giveaway to reach the largest number of potential entrants that you can. The promotional techniques here are easy to implement and can be repeated for each of your giveaways.

1. Email: build a list & use it

Email remains a medium where you are able to contact your users in a one-on-one format, unlike social media or paid ads where you are one of ten messages that the user is viewing at once. If you do not currently, start collecting email addresses from your website visitors.

If you don’t think you have the budget or time for designing and setting up an email program look into free, automated options like a simple Feedburner email or sign up for MailChimp and use RSS templates to automate the process for you.

Rather than just using giveaways as a user acquisition tool, inclusion of giveaways and special promotions in your emails is a great way to keep your open rates up and let your subscribers know that they are appreciated.

2. Refer A Friend: let entrants promote you

The people who are entering your giveaway are likely to have similar minded friends with similar interests. This means that they are likely to want to share your giveaway with their friends. Make it easy for them AND incentivize them to share the giveaway.

Enabling the Refer A Friend feature for your promotion rewards users by giving them extra chances to win every time one of their friends enters from the link that they’ve shared. This simple feature has been seen to increase entries up to 50% for some sweepstakes.

3. Tweeting: get creative, often

When it comes to utilizing your Twitter account to get the word out about a giveaway there are a few best practices that can drastically increase effectiveness. Sending a single Tweet out is not going to maximize the exposure of your promotion.

Tweet often (some giveaway bloggers recommend Tweeting about a single giveaway up to three times per day) and use unique messaging for each Tweet. Don’t just send the same Tweet over and over (this is against Twitter rules and will annoy your Followers).

Add photos and images to your Tweets to let them jump out in your followers’ Twitter feeds. The examples from CrossRope and ShopScoop below show how effective images can be.

Try focusing on different aspects of your giveaway with each Tweet such as it’s popularity or how many days are left to encourage a sense of urgency for entering to win. You can also schedule this by using a free tool like Tweetdeck so that you can write and schedule all of your Tweets at once for the life of the giveaway.

Including a sponsor’s Twitter handle or a brand name of your prize can often result in that account Favoriting or Retweeting you, giving you more exposure.

4. Facebook: be specific & visual

Try not to just toss a link to your giveaway into a post and call it a day. Like any marketing message you need to have the basic information plus a call to action. Tell your users what you’re posting about (it’s a giveaway), when they can act (how many days are left), who’s involved (you’re administering the giveaway and the name of the sponsor) and why they should care (prize information!).

For your actual posts about the giveaway include images which can increase the size of the post while making it more eye-catching on your wall and in your Fans’ timelines, garnering more attention. You can simplify the entry process for users by adding a giveaway within a tab of your Facebook page to reduce the jarring effect of clicking through to an external website where users can get sidetracked.

5. Your website: a single post doesn’t cut it

While it may seem that promoting on your own website is obvious and easy, it can be just as time consuming as promoting a giveaway externally. Particularly for websites and blogs that update their content regularly and have posts and articles ordered by publish date, giveaways can get lost in the shuffle after they’re a day or two old.

Try adding a widget or listing of your currently active giveaways in a sidebar and/or beneath each giveaway. This allows your users to easily view and access your giveaways when they are already in sweepstakes-mode. PromoSimple offers customizable website widgets that automatically update with your active giveaways.

6. Giveaway directories: spread the word

Sweepstakes and giveaway directories offer an entire new audience for your promotions. Best of all, there are many free options available that you can easily submit your giveaways to. If you are really looking to increasing participation, many giveaway directories also offer paid, featured listings which allow your giveaway to stand out from the crowd. Although it can be a time consuming process to submit all of your giveaways to all of the sweepstakes directories out there, if you really want to increase total entrant numbers it can be well worth your time.

7. B2B marketing: find and cherish your partners

When you are setting up a giveaway, consider whether there are other websites and blogs that have audiences that may be interested in your giveaway’s prize. Many giveaway administrators find great success by partnering with similar publishers to cross-promote their giveaways. These strategic partners can help by increasing the volume of giveaways that you are able to host as well as increasing the volume of entrants for your giveaways.

Keep a list of blogs and websites, or let them opt into a specific B2B email list, that have audiences that are similar to your target users and let them know about your current or upcoming giveaways. Many blogs will write about giveaways and sweepstakes that their users find interesting even if they are not hosting the giveaway on their own site so be sure to let them know about your promotions.

8. Cross promotion: help them help you

Entice similar blogs and websites to host your giveaway simultaneously to when you are running it by allowing them to include a Bonus entry for the giveaway such as a Facebook ‘Like’ in your giveaway. Including this as an optional, Bonus entry allows you to introduce your users to partners without overwhelming them during the giveaway entry process.

In exchange for the chance for your partners to reach your audience through this entry option you are able to put your brand in front of their users. Allow your entry form to serve as a branding campaign for your website by customizing the design with your blog’s look and feel. This entry form now lives on multiple websites and is promoting your brand to all of the entrants, regardless of where they are viewing it.

Whether you run one giveaway per quarter or average ten giveaways per week, the key is to utilize multiple channels for promoting your giveaways and automate as much of the repetitive work as possible. Your users are likely on social networks, checking their email and browsing other blogs so you need to get in front of them any chance you get to capture their attention.