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Grow Customer Engagement This Holiday Season With Free Giveaways

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Offering customers and prospects free giveaways can be a powerful strategy to increase brand visibility, drive engagement and increase sales, especially during the holiday season. Although giving away free products may seem counterintuitive, well-executed giveaways and contests can help you achieve rapid growth.

According to Shopify, giveaways have been widely successful in driving growing traffic to the platform’s blog and social media accounts, while many organizations reported an increase in revenue by employing the same strategy.

We asked 13 entrepreneurs from YEC to share their best ideas for driving customer engagement and increasing sales through the use of free giveaways this holiday season.

1. Let Your Customers Give Back

This year, we will be giving our customers the opportunity to donate a percentage of their purchases to the charity of their choice. This is the gift of giving back that really resonates with our clients.

Jessica Gonzalez, InCharged

2. Make It Specific to Your Audience’s Needs

When running a giveaway, your no. 1 goal should be to build your email list with targeted leads. To accomplish this, your giveaway needs to be a product that only your target customer would use. For example, don’t give away an iPad; everyone in the world wants one. Instead, if your audience consists of, say, online marketers, give away a yearly subscription to a marketing software you love.

Bryan Kesler, CPA Exam Guide

3. Retarget With Free Trials

As a service provider, we’ve found retargeting coupled with free trials to be an effective strategy. Retargeting allows us to create promotions relevant to the user’s browsing history. If they show an interest in a particular type of server hosting, we can retarget them with advertising containing promotions related to that product.

Vik Patel, Future Hosting

4. Partner With a Publisher

In your category or niche, there are at least a handful of publishers who partner with brands for giveaways. This allows you to leverage the relationship they have with their already large audience to get more active participation so you can ensure thousands of highly qualified consumers will be clamoring to win your giveaway.

Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep

5. Utilize Social Media Influencers

Giveaways are a great opportunity to directly engage with current and potential customers. We have hosted a few subscription giveaways, and have even gone outside of our current customer base to host a giveaway with an Instagram influencer. In this instance, we were able to engage with potential customers who may have never seen our brand before, and it expanded our own following.

Stefan Lewinger, Sock Fancy

6. Barter for Reviews

We recently launched a new line and wanted to generate reviews on Amazon so potential customers could see what real users were saying. As such, we gave away hundreds of samples with a stipulation: You’re accepting this free giveaway if, in return, you agree to post an honest (good or bad), constructive review on Amazon within a week. This really helped get the ball rolling.

Nicolas Gremion, Free-eBooks.net

7. Exchange for Email Addresses

Online giveaways are a great opportunity to collect email addresses for highly targeted email marketing campaigns. Ask your visitors a few questions to best target future email marketing campaigns, such as their names and what they are interested in hearing from you in the future. Then, take this information and segment your email lists to deliver only what they want from you.

Syed Balkhi, OptinMonster

8. Bundle Offers Together

This is an effective strategy commonly used in smartphone apps and online games. Giving away an amount of store credit big enough to purchase one smaller item, with a bit extra left over, will encourage customers to spend more of their own money to get the most out of the remainder. They’ll end up spending more money than they originally would’ve, but will still feel like they got a good deal.

Bryce Welker, Beat The CPA

9. Offer Branded Merchandise

If you don’t want to give away the farm, branded merchandise is the perfect free giveaway for customers who make a purchase with you this season. This could be a T-shirt, hat or something smaller. People love branded merchandise, and it also boosts your word-of-mouth advertising. The more loyal people are to your brand, the more likely they’ll be to bite.

Kristopher Jones, LSEO.com

10. Organize Sweepstakes and Contests

We are offering a holiday giveaway for all new customer sign-ups within the month of December. This allows us to drive sales through our people, on our website and via social. This is a good incentive and great for driving sales during that critical last month of the year.

Baruch Labunski, Rank Secure

11. Use a Countdown

Countdowns in e-commerce are great. They create a lot of excitement and buzz around the sale. It can get your customers to know what’s coming up and can be used to leverage sharing and more discount offers.

Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now

12. Reward Social Media Followers

Making it exclusive to a certain part of your audience that is more loyal is a great approach. It creates the idea that only certain people can get it because they have gone the extra step to be loyal. That’s why those that take the time to like us on Facebook or follow us on Instagram get holiday giveaway access, hopefully encouraging others to sign up.

John Rampton, Calendar

13. Play on the Excitement of a Good Deal

It’s so easy to run a promotion during the holiday season because most people are out actively looking for a good deal. If you can play on this excitement, your online giveaways can gain a lot of traction. In turn, you can add the new sign-ups to a unique nurturing funnel and create a paid upsell offer for them to take advantage of, turning them into paying customers.

Nathalie Lussier, AmbitionAlly

How to Get the Most Out of Your Holiday Promotions

While the holidays and fourth quarter might seem like the best time to run a contest or giveaway promotion, year-round promotions are happening all the time. Get creative with your ad campaigns and engage with new audiences through social sharing and refer-a-friend promotions. Sometimes the best contests and giveaways are for simple prizes or promotions, that paid ad campaigns could never duplicate!

If you enjoyed this expert round up, be sure to read our previous ones on top recommended entrepreneur books and also 7 low-cost site builders to consider when creating your next site.

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Zac Johnson is a online marketer with 15 years of experience and also a blogger at ZacJohnson.com, as well as the founder of BloggingTips.com. You can also follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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4 Simple Steps to Creating Powerful Pinterest Communities for Your Blog

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Pinterest has a new feature and this is going to be a great source of massive traffic for us bloggers. Like Communities on Google Plus and Groups on Facebook, Communities on Pinterest are more social with engaging features like comments and likes.

But at the moment of writing, This is an ‘invite-only‘ feature. Don’t worry though. Here is a quick invitation link if you are excited about joining. (more…)

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The Ultimate Guide to Building a Loyal Instagram Following

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Let’s look at some facts. Did you know that there are roughly 25 million active business profiles on Instagram? And that out of Instagram’s billion-strong user base, 80% follow a business profile? In fact, out of all the top three social media sites on the internet, Instagram ranks 1st when it comes to user-brand engagement: ten times higher than Facebook and 84 times more than Twitter. One look at all these facts and figures and it becomes glaringly obvious that Instagram is the place your brand should be.

Thing is, all your competitors are most likely there, too. So in a saturated space such as Instagram, the game is no longer just about gaining views or traction. It’s about actually getting your followers to stay interested. Read on, and we’ll show you how you can turn your audience into a loyal following.

Be playful with content

No one likes being talked into buying an item like a telemarketer does when they’re selling you insurance over the phone. Or a saleslady, when she’s following you around the store. The same principle applies to your brand on social media.

After all, people are primarily on social media to be social, not to be bombarded with ads and sales talk. So to keep your audience interested, you have to make sure your content is interesting. Keep up with their jokes. Listen to their stories. Stay in tune with their language. Are you a brand that sells camping gear? Try posting bucket-list-worthy pictures of real people while traveling off the beaten path. Do you specialize in sports equipment? Turn your page into a great source of inspiration for all athletes—semi-pros, aspiring newbies, and couch megafans alike.


Let your followers know who you are, and not just what you’re selling. Lure them in with relevant posts and interesting visuals that allow them to see the lifestyle and culture that comes with your brand. Follow the 80-20 rule: keep hardsell posts down to 20% of your weekly content, leaving the rest free for posts that spark engagement with your audience.  

Create eye candy

Check it: a whopping 67% of consumers reported to have preferred relying on detailed images over product information when it comes to shopping online. That means that with an average of 70 million photos posted on Instagram per day, your post has to rise above the clutter. While your audience mindlessly scrolls away on their feed, make sure that when they come across your photo, it’ll make them stop, like, and buy. Instagram is all about visuals, and your brand has to keep up.

Start by playing around with filters. And you don’t have to stay with the ones that are built-in with Instagram. Try downloading photo-editing apps that will allow you to enhance the colors of your images and match them with the rest on your page, like Instasize. This app has over 50 artistic filters, all crafted and curated to help you bring out the best with each photo. Try one of their top performing filters then adjust brightness, saturation, colors, and hues as you see fit to turn any product image into a stunning picture, all with the touch of a button on your screen.


While you’re at it, discover other ways to jazz up your photo. Layer photos on top of another to add interesting borders to your image. Or add beautiful typography-style text to your images. Use this app to play around and create one-of-a-kind visuals that are totally unique to your brand.

Engage, engage, engage

One-sided conversations are boring. And after a point, they’re actually really unsustainable. So when it comes to keeping your followers interested, don’t do all the talking. Let your audience’s voices be heard and you stand a better chance at keeping them engaged.

Never keep a question hanging. Whether it’s a follower asking if they have an item in their size, or a rhetorical one like if you’ll ever sell it at 90% off, or if what they want ships to a country your post clearly says it doesn’t—always answer back. You have nothing to lose but time. And at the very least, you have their gratitude to gain.


See an interesting comment posted on your picture? Respond in a way that will garner positive reactions. Are they declaring their undying love for you? Tell them you love them back! Are they airing their frustrations at the lack of stocks in their area? Acknowledge and apologize. Whether you’re trying to be funny or comforting, always answer in a way that’s smart, witty, and genuine. Keep these tips in mind, and your audience is sure to keep your brand in theirs.


Remember: don’t ignore your followers. Use each response from your audience as an opportunity to engage.

Ride on trending topics

When it comes to trending topics, there really is one cardinal rule: treat each one like a moving train. Hop on the right one, and your brand is sure to get some talk and traction. So when you see the chance, take it. Use what’s relevant in the internet to keep conversations about your brand going.

One surefire way is to pay attention to popular memes going around on social media. Memes are a funny representation of what’s current in culture, which is why they tend to be highly shareable. So if you find a meme that fits your brand and audience, take advantage and have fun.


Just make sure that you’re not forcing your brand to fit the meme—otherwise your post runs the risk of becoming cringe-worthy.


You can also keep track of holidays happening around the world and create content around it. Add a relevant hashtag while you’re at it. By celebrating a day that means something to people, you’re building an affinity with your audience and strengthening your relationship with your followers.

Spark interesting collaborations

There’s a reason endorsers exist. When used correctly, a celebrity’s character and influence can do wonders to your brand. Take the collaboration of Puma and Rihanna for example: the cool R&B singer, known for her urban and edgy street style, was able to freshen up the retro sportswear brand—leading to a spike in sales worldwide.


This meant a spike in following to Puma’s brand as well. Rihanna’s followers naturally pledged loyalty to the songstress by supporting the brand she was currently endorsing.

Collaborations don’t always have to be this big. The most important thing is to pay attention to the needs and wants of your followers. Know an influencer they love? Try collaborating with him or her. Or collaborate with your audience instead! Take their opinions into consideration each time you plan to come out with something new.

Share (Instagram) Stories

What’s great about Instagram Stories is that it allows you to connect with your audience on a more personal level.

Unlike the rest of your feed, whatever you post on IG Stories will only be up for 24 hours (unless you actually add it to your page using Highlights). This means you can share pictures and videos without disrupting the current content plan of your page. So post previews of a photoshoot. Excite people with an exclusive sneak peak before a product launch. Use your IG Stories to give your audience a behind-the-scenes look on what goes on in your day.


You can also use it to talk to your audience. One great thing you can do with this feature is create polls and ask questions, allowing you to see and keep track of your audience’s responses in real time.


But just because you’re posting something that’ll be gone in 24 hours, doesn’t mean aesthetic goes out the window. Always remember to check if what you’re posting is visually aligned with your brand! An easy fix is to apply an awesome filter before sharing.

Empower your audience

If there’s one thing to remember, it’s that building a loyal following really is about empowering your audience. Make them feel like you’re talking to them each time you post. Make them realize you’re listening to them by planning and curating your brand’s content.

Hold promos and contests that keep your following excited about what’s in store for them. Ask for their opinion when it matters. Feature them in some of your posts. Establishing a strong influence on Instagram starts into getting insight into what makes your audience happy—then keep doing it, and always challenge yourself to do even better.

About the Author:

Natasha Ponomaroff is the Senior Marketing Director of Instasize – a content creating tool kit for anyone editing photos and online content on mobile. A weekly contributor on the site’s blog, Natasha tracks social media trends and updates the millions of “creatives” who are currently using Instasize to curate awesome online content. When she isn’t writing up the latest trend, Natasha is overseeing a team of 10 over at the Instasize HQ – ensuring that the marketing content on the apps various social platforms is ready to go.

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5 Ways to Get More Instagram Likes to Drive High Converting Traffic to Your Blog

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I am surprised that Instagram is still an overlooked traffic source for bloggers. With over 1 billion active users, it is the second best social networking site in the world for reaching potential blog readers.

Unfortunately, not everybody that uses Instagram has great results. You need to understand how the Instagram algorithm works and find compelling content that inspires people to visit your site.

Instagram gives more visibility to content that receives more likes. Once your posts start getting more visibility, you will be able to refer people to your profile page and encourage them to visit your blog.

Here are some proven strategies to boost your Instagram likes, which will drive more traffic to your blog.

Get Followers to Create (Original) High-Quality Content for You

Content is king. That is just as much a truism with Instagram as blogging. Unfortunately, coming up with compelling content can be tough on your own, especially if creating visual content isn’t your specialty.

Don’t worry – you don’t have to do it on your own. Conscripting your followers to create great content for you can work wonders.

Adidas Neo got their followers to take pictures of themselves wearing Adidas products. They chose the best pictures and featured them on their Instagram profile.

You may not have as large of a following as Adidas, but you can still get your existing blog readers and social media followers to help you come up with great visual content. Many bloggers offer contests to people that share images. There are a few tips to pull this off effectively:

  • Don’t make it sound like they are doing you a favor. Make it feel like they are making a contribution to other people. For example, if you run a weight loss blog, ask for pictures of people engaged in weight loss activities to inspire others.
  • Offer some valuable incentives to make it worth people’s while. This could be a coupon, cash reward or simply some exposure on your site.

You will be surprised by how well this can work.

Experiment with Local Hashtags

You may run a blog that appeals to people all over the world, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try marketing to people at the local level. If you have a blog post that is relevant to a specific city, try using local hashtags. They can get a surprising among of publicity with people in that area, since people notice hashtags that are more specific to their area.

If you aren’t sure what type of hashtags you should be going after, check out this resource guide from Oberlo on the most popular hashtags being used on Instagram daily. You can see a clear example of how Shopify likes to use hashtags in their social postings below.

Run a “Like to Enter” or “Tag to Enter” Campaign

There are a lot of ways to run contests on social media. Getting people to share content is a great idea if you need more fresh images to share on your Instagram feed.

But what if you already have lots of great images, but don’t have a strong enough following? You may be hurting for likes.

Running a “like to enter” campaign can be a great idea. You can tell people that they just need to like a post to be eligible for a reward. It is as simple as that. Can you imaging how many likes you could earn by promising a chance to earn a $30 reward if people simply needed to like your post? That might be far more cost-effective than running a like campaign on Instagram or Facebook.

Another idea is to run a “tag to enter” campaign. This is a campaign where people need to tag two or more friends in one of your Instagram posts to be eligible. The idea here is to help you reach more followers than you otherwise would.

One of my colleagues created a like to enter campaign for her mommy blog last year. It helped her increase her Instagram visibility by over 60%.

Consider Buying Likes

Many people are very skittish about buying likes on Instagram. However, this approach can actually work very well. You just need to make sure that you go with a right provider for this service, as quality and timing is the key when buying Instagram likes. In order  to reach people that are interested in your content you have to make yourself visible on Instagram. And that’s exactly what buying Instagram likes does, it make your posts visible for more people. Make sure to use a company that has quality accounts and fast delivery speed (30 minutes or less). A key point when using this technique is to buy Instagram likes as soon as possible after uploading a new post. Instagram likes from BuySocialMediaMarketing come within minutes after placing an order which makes it a perfect boost to get more visibility for your posts on Instagram.

Use Your Email List to Create Lookalike Ad Campaigns

Running an ad campaign on Instagram will take a larger budget, but it can pay off very well if you target carefully. You just need to find people that resemble your existing blog list.

Unfortunately, you can’t use your Google Analytics data to create a lookalike campaign. You need actual email addresses.

This means that you may want to use your existing email list to build a lookalike campaign. Bloom and Wild did this last year and gained a tremendous number of Instagram likes with their profile as a result. They had a large email list already and were able to use that for their campaign. They found that you don’t need a huge budget to make it work. It just takes a little ingenuity and a great understanding of your audience.

You Don’t Need a Huge Budget to Get Instagram Likes

Getting more Instagram likes can substantially increase the visibility of your content, which will translate to a lot more traffic to your blog. Once you understand the types of approaches that yield the most likes, you will start noticing impressive results!

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