One of the most effective tools in your newsletter growth toolkit is the referral giveaway. And at SparkLoop, we make it incredibly easy to set one up.

By running referral giveaways alongside (or instead of) your regular referral program, you can grow your audience faster, add urgency, and incentivize more subscribers to refer their friends.

You can even partner with a sponsor for the giveaway prize and earn extra ad revenue as you take your subscriber growth to the next level.

SparkLoop allows you to run an unlimited number of giveaways right from your dashboard, without the need to import or export any data.

Just choose your settings, run your giveaway, and let SparkLoop randomly pick the winning subscribers for you.

⚠️ You need at least 20 active email subscribers on your list to run a giveaway.

Why you should run a giveaway

Used strategically, a giveaway can offer you some real advantages alongside your regular referral program.

With a giveaway, you can:

  • Revitalize a stagnant referral program.

  • Add urgency for a significant referral boost.

  • Motivate a large section of your audience from another platform (for instance, social media or YouTube) to join your email list.

  • Earn extra revenue from sponsors and close new sponsorship deals.

Here’s an example of how Front Office Sports partnered with Bose to run a referral giveaway:

Types of giveaways

There are three kinds of giveaways you need to know about.

1. The Subscribe-to-Win giveaway

A Subscribe-to-Win giveaway does not require referrals.

Instead, it allows you to incentivize people not already on your email list to sign up by offering them the chance to win a grand prize (or several).

For instance, as part of a book or course launch, you could give away copies of your book or course to people who sign up for your newsletter the week before launch.

Subscribe-to-Win giveaways work particularly well if you have a large social media, popular podcast, or a YouTube channel with a substantial viewership.

These are people who already know and trust you, but may not have known or been motivated enough to sign up until now.

Learn how to run a Subscribe-to-Win Giveaway here.

2. The Refer-to-Win giveaway

A Refer-to-Win giveaway is similar to your standard SparkLoop referral program with one exception: In addition to subscribers winning rewards for making referrals, they get entered into a giveaway for the chance to win a prize.

The more referrals a subscriber makes, the higher their chance of winning.

The Flipside newsletter, for instance, generates thousands of referrals with a monthly Refer-to-Win giveaway. Every subscriber who refers at least one friend is entered into a prize draw to win a $200 Amazon gift card.

Refer-to-Win Giveaways have three chief advantages over a standard referral program:

1. Many of your subscribers are more likely to be motivated by the chance of winning a larger prize, even if they weren’t enticed by a smaller reward in your usual referral program.

2. Giveaways are time sensitive, which adds extra urgency — prompting more subscribers to share today.

3. It's easy to come up with new and exciting prizes every time you run a giveaway, prompting more of your subscribers to share more often.

Learn how to run a Refer-to-Win Giveaway here.​

3. The Two-Sided giveaway

A Subscribe-to-Win giveaway allows you to bring in new subscribers to your newsletter by offering them the chance to win a prize.

A Refer-to-Win giveaway allows you to incentivize existing subscribers to make additional referrals, again, for the chance to win a prize.

And a Two-Sided giveaway?

Allows you to do both.

With a Two-Sided giveaway, both existing subscribers who make referrals and new subscribers who sign up during the giveaway period are entered into the giveaway to win prizes.

Learn how to run a Two-Sided Giveaway here.​

How a giveaway impacts your regular referral program

In SparkLoop, your referral giveaways run alongside your regular referral campaign.

Which means your subscribers will continue being eligible for your regular rewards in addition to being in the draw for the giveaway prizes.

Giveaway anti-fraud

To ensure you’re only bringing in high-quality subscribers during the giveaway period, follow these guidelines:

1. When running giveaways with high-value prizes, make sure to state clearly that only genuine referrals will count. Also consider setting your SparkLoop anti-fraud level to Strong.

(Learn more about our anti-fraud settings here.)

⚠️ Changing your anti-fraud settings will impact both your giveaway and regular referral program.

2. Enforce double opt-in on your sign-up form for the duration of the giveaway.

3. Choose a giveaway prize specific to your newsletter subject and customer profile. For instance, while an iPad is a desirable and high-value reward, it will likely bring in high numbers of subscribers who may have no interest in the subject of your newsletter.

How delaying referral conversions impacts your giveaway

If you’ve chosen to activate “Referral Conversion” in SparkLoop and introduced a delay in verifying referrals, this will become the default option for your SparkLoop campaign, including any giveaways that you run.

⚠️ It is important to remember that pending referrals do not count for points in a giveaway.

Which is why we recommend either manually verifying any pending subscribers before drawing the giveaway winner, or waiting N+1 days after the giveaway, N being the number of days the referral needs to stay subscribed to your newsletter.

Read more about delayed referral conversions.

Making your giveaway a success

For best results:

  1. Choose a reward that will motivate your audience to share. Exclusive, limited edition, and high-value prizes work well.

  2. Run a giveaway every 4-8 weeks to maximize results.

  3. Switch up your giveaway prizes regularly so people don’t bore of seeing the same incentives.

  4. Give a consolation prize to people who entered the giveaway but didn't win. For instance, a small gift voucher from a sponsor can go a long way in making people feel valued and looked after.

  5. Announce the winners, ideally with photos, on social media and in the newsletter. Seeing that someone actually won will increase trust and participation next time!

Use giveaways for more sponsorship revenue

At SparkLoop, we frequently see newsletter creators use giveaways as an opportunity to close new sponsorship deals.

In fact, any newsletter with 5,000 or more subscribers should be able to find sponsors who can offer amazing giveaway prize(s) for free, but even pay for the opportunity to do so!

This is definitely something to discuss internally with your advertising/sponsorships acquisition team, especially as a foot-in-the-door strategy with new sponsors to help them feel more comfortable with paid sponsorships.

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