Donating products for other websites to use as competition prizes is a tried and tested link building tactic which can work extremely well for all kinds of sites, especially eCommerce. Not only can it bring valuable inbound links to your site it’s an excellent way to get your brand “out there” and connect with potential customers.
Mike Essex is the giveaway king in my view and it was his “Using free stuff to build your brand online” post which inspired me to create this article using some data and techniques which have worked well for me in the past. Whilst Mike covers a multitude of things you can giveaway I’m specifically going to cover products here.
Not convinced that giving stuff away can work for you?
The above chart shows referral traffic to an eCommerce site I was involved with over the period of 4 weeks whilst we ran a competition on a popular related blog. The huge traffic spike about a week in is the day that the giveaway went live, as you can see the increase in traffic is phenomenal at that point. The competition lasted for around 2 weeks and closed on the 1st Dec, during this time referral traffic was roughly 3 – 4 times what it had been in the previous weeks. Not only that, as you can see from the last few data points there was an overall uplift in referral traffic even after the competition had closed.
You might say fine, this is good for a short sharp boost in traffic (and it is!) but what about the long-term? This competition was carried out some time ago now, since it was closed there have been well over 1,000 visits refered from this site and that figure is growing everyday. To achieve these impressive results we must have been offering something pretty spectacular as a prize right? Something of high value? Actually the total cost to the store supplying the prize was less than £5!
Find me that blog!
Ok, so hopefully I’ve now got you convinced that giveaways are an excellent way to promote your website online so how do you go about finding the right blog (or blogs) to take this further? Well, like anything you want to find online the best place to start is Google, more specifically Google Blog Search…
You can find tons of potential suitable blogs very quickly using a few short queries on the search engine. If for example I’m pet retailer and have a dog bed I’d like to give away I would search for something like the following:
- “giveaway” Dog Bed
- “competition” Dog Bed
- “prize” Dog Bed
I’d also mix it up a little, perhaps don’t just use the “dog bed” keyword, try other related phrases (“pet bed”, “dog collar”, “dog treats”, “dog lead”) to return even more highly relevent blogs.
The Hit List!
Now we have a rich source of potential targets to host our giveaway we need to evaluate which sites are a) going to be most agreeable to the proposition and b) going to give us the best return on our investment. The easiest thing to do at this point is to work though the top 10 – 20 (or more if you have the time) for each of your searches and compile a list in your favorite spreadsheet app. A standard checklist of what makes up a suitable site is as follows:
- The site is not tied to one particular brand/product
- There is a way to contact the webmaster (email/social)
- There is a suitable link back to the site offering the prize
- You have no reservations about the quality of the site
If you are happy with the above conditions you should go ahead and add the site to your potential list of targets, the basic information you are interested in is:
- URL of the giveaway
- Webmaster contact details (email + any social)
- Whether the link is follow/no follow
- Number of entries into the competition (often via comments on the blog)
- Number of social shares for each platform (Twitter, Facebook etc)
Hopefully at this point you have quite a healthy list of potential targets and all the important metrics with which to evaluate your return on investment.
The next stage is to reach out to the blogs which you believe offer the best opportunity to you. personally I like to connect with potential targets via social networks in the first instance for a period of time, in order to understand their interests. Perhaps you might retweet something of theirs on Twitter or like them on Facebook initially. The softly-softly approach via social media often means that when you finally send you idea’s over they are much more likely to be taken seriously, they’re not just out of the blue from a stranger at that point. If you have taken the time to show an interest in them already you can also use that to your advantage when you send an email over “I liked your tweet about XYZ” for example is an excellent way to personalise your approach. There are many ways to conduct the outreach stage and this killer outreach email article is an excellent piece of further reading.
I really hope this post has shown what an effective technique this can be for eCommerce stores, as you can see from the data at the top, it really does work! Now go do it!