Do Viral Giveaways Actually Help You Get More Followers?

When we talk about running viral giveaways, one of the most common questions is…

“Do giveaways actually work?”

For many people, giveaways are a new and different marketing tactic.

Everyone knows about SEO, online advertising, and social media.

Those marketing channels are familiar… while giveaways are a hidden marketing gem most people don’t know about. 💎

Here are just a few examples of how giveaways can lead to insane results for you:

  • 30% of AppSumo’s revenue for years came from giveaways. This is how AppSumo bootstrapped their business to an 8-figure company. Giveaways were the best ROI in all of the early AppSumo marketing strategies.
  • When you’re launching a new product, giveaways can help you get new customers: Ryan Holiday ran a giveaway last month and got 6,144 subs in two weeks.
  • Over past few years, giveaways have helped grow Noah Kagan’s personal email list by 52,919 email subscribers.

kingsumo blog giveawayswork results

Giveaways are one of the BEST ways to grow your business and brand for nothing.

And in this post, I’m going to share three misconceptions about giveaways.

You’ll learn how giveaways can really grow your customer base, email subscribers, followers, and more — backed by data to prove it’s true. 🤓

Let’s get it on…

Run FREE giveaways with KingSumo

Misconception #1: Giveaways result in bad subscribers

Picking the right prize

Any marketing channel can lead to bad subscribers or customers if you set up the wrong targeting.

Just like targeting your Facebook Ads or Google SEO keyword strategy correctly, targeting is important with giveaways too.

To make an uber-successful giveaway, choose a narrow product your IDEAL customer wants.

For example:

  • Noah Kagan’s audience is interested in travel and entrepreneurship, so he created an Ultimate Traveler giveaway that generated 23,127 entries.

    kingsumo blogpost viralgiveaways biztraveler
  • Ryan Holiday ran a book giveaway for 10 copies of his signed book. This generated 6,145 entries — that’s 6,145 people Ryan can also sell to in the future…

    kingsumo blog giveawaypost ryan
  • A California surf company is running a giveaway for a new surfboard and accessories. All entrants in this giveaway are super targeted for their niche audience.

    kingsumo blogpost viralgiveaway d33

Focus your giveaway on your niche or target market — like Facebook ads, when your targeting is too broad, you get bad results.

For example, if you give away an Amazon gift card or iPad, that may be too broad.

But when you focus specifically on what your audience might WANT or NEED, you can build a list of perfect subscribers for your business and drive incredible ROI from giveaways.

Keeping a healthy mailing list

Some people think giveaways “destroy” email lists.

Not true.

When you use proper email list cleaning techniques, your reputation won’t be damaged at all.

The team at AppSumo has grown an 8-figure business from giveaways. And so has Sumo.

Here are 3 strategies to keep your list clean:

  1. ONLY add confirmed entries. Many giveaway tools will tell you if a user is a confirmed entry or not. To confirm an entry, the entrant needs to click the confirmation link in the giveaway confirmation email. In many giveaway backends, you can easily delete anyone who isn’t confirmed — and only add the people who are confirmed.For example, here’s the people we would keep vs. delete from a recent KingSumo giveaway…

    kingsumo blogpost viralgiveaway pruning
  2. Enable double opt-in. With every email service provider (like MailChimp), you can enable double opt-in. Similar to a giveaway confirmation email, the double opt-in email from your email service provider is an extra measure to make sure people want your emails.If you set up double opt-in and they don’t click to confirm their email address with your email service provider, they’re not added to your list
  3. Clean inactives. To make sure your email list is super clean and your deliverability never suffers, we recommend removing anyone who hasn’t opened or clicked an email in six months. After six months, old inactive emails can become spam traps. Keep your list clean!

Misconception #2: You need a huge audience to have a successful giveaway

It can be easy to see some of the big names using KingSumo and think, “it’s easy for Noah or Ryan Holiday because they have a big audience.”

It helps… but you can still run an ultra-successful giveaway with a small audience.

For example, a small notebook manufacturer you probably never heard of called imStone ran a giveaway that got 3,370 entrants (aka new email subscribers)!

kingsumo blogpost viralgiveaways imstone

If you want to run a giveaway but don’t have a big audience, here are 3 FREE things you can do to get entries right now:

  1. Start by using KingSumo. KingSumo is our free giveaway tool that enables you to create and promote your giveaway. Once you have your prizes in place, KingSumo will help you get your giveaway up and running in minutes.

    kingsumo about creategiveaway
  2. Share your giveaway across social media platforms. Your own followers are low-hanging fruit for your giveaways. Share your giveaway with your existing audiences on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.Once you’ve shared it with your own audiences, try looking for some additional places to promote your giveaway. For example, Sam Jeffries shared his giveaway in a few Facebook Groups focused on his core audience.

    kingsumo blogpost viralgiveaways books

    It’s also worth scanning Reddit and submitting your giveaway on a subreddit like /r/giveaways (or another subreddit that has a lot of your audience)
  3. Collaborate with people you admire to give away a package prize — and cross-promote. If you’re running a giveaway with no existing audience, ask other people to give you their products for free if you promise to link them in the giveaway and mention them on social

Many times, this is all they need to help promote your giveaway to their audience!

A recent KingSumo was able to launch a successful giveaway using this tip… and got in front of thousands of new people because of it.

Here’s the email he sent to potential partners

kingsumo blogpost viralgiveaways julien

To find partners for your giveaway, follow the below steps:

Step 1: Identify potential partners

First, brainstorm businesses that share the same audience as you.

If you’re stuck for ideas, head over to a tool like Moz and search for key terms and phrases related to your business (Moz gives you a few free searches per day).

The results will help you identify potential partners who are talking about your niche.

For example, say you were running a giveaway aimed at developers and engineers. You could search for “cool computer gifts’ and Moz would show you the pages ranking highest for those keywords.

kingsumo blogpost viralgiveaways computergifts

Step 2: Find contact details

Once you have a list of relevant products and companies that you could partner, it’s time to find their email addresses so you can get in touch.

You can Google around or use a tool like Hunter to save time.

All you need to do is enter the company name and Hunter will show you the email addresses of people at that company (you can even search for specific people).

Step 3: Reach out

Now that you have the contact details of everyone on your list of potential partners, it’s time to drop them a message.

Here’s a neat template you can use (this exact template helped Sam Jefferies land partners for his giveaway):


I LOVED your book. Read it a few times, my favorite part was where you shared advice on negotiating a raise.

Quick question…

I’m running a giveaway for my readers. Gonna promote to 1,000+ on my social and email channels.

Would be excited to give away your book + link to your site.



If you have some budget to invest in giveaways, you can boost your entrants even more by using these three additional paid smart strategies:

  1. Use retargeting ads to people who have already entered your giveaway and encourage them to invite their friends to the giveaway for more chances to win
  2. Keep in regular contact with entrants throughout the duration of your giveaway and remind them when the giveaway ends and how to enhance their chances of winning
  3. Promote the giveaway on your website using a Smart Bar to spread awareness of the giveaway and encourage entries.

3. You need a BIG prize

When some people think about “giveaways” they think BIG.

Like NBA halftime show giveaway BIG…

“Win a new car”

“Win $10,000”

“Win a 5-star, luxury Caribbean holiday all expenses paid”

These prizes might sound great… but they’re often unnecessary.

For example, Noah Kagan recently generated 6,411 email subscribers by giving away a Seth Godin books collection that cost about $80.

kingsumo blogposts viralgiveaways sethgodin

When you break the numbers down, this campaign cost just $0.01 per lead! 💰🚀

In other words, it was WAY less expensive than other marketing methods.

Aim to provide prizes that appeal ONLY to your specific niche.

For example, a book company ran a “Walking Dead Super Fan” giveaway and generated 2,236 entrants.

kingsumo blogpost viralgiveaways walkingdead

The more your prize appeals to your audience, the more likely your giveaway will spread virally and through word of mouth, too.

Instead of focusing on a BIG prize, think about how you can offer prizes that will:

  1. Solve problems for your target audience
  2. Help your target audience to learn
  3. Encourage your target audience to take the next steps towards their goals
Run a giveaway FREE using KingSumo

Bottom-line: Giveaways work to get you more email subscribers and customers.

You can…

  1. Get quality subscribers and customers by picking the right prize and keeping a healthy mailing list
  2. Launch to a small list of people and still get tons of potential customers. Share your giveaway across social media and collaborate with people you admire
  3. Use a small niche prize to generate TONS of leads for minimal cost — that’s how Noah Kagan generated leads for $0.01! 💰

Get more advice on how to run an amazing giveaway: “How to Make a Giveaway for Free in Under 5 Minutes.”

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