A Survey Changed the Way I Run Giveaways Forever

The following post is from Katie of Kitchen Stewardship:

source: the Italian voice

I usually take a Sabbath from blogging on Sundays, for a whole bunch of good reasons. When I ran a giveaway for a big ticket item last June, I decided it would be okay to relax with my family, watch a movie, and approve comments since I was getting way behind. I just make sure people aren’t entering too many times and that they’re following the rules.

Six hours later, I realized I needed to change the way I run giveaways.

I kid you not.

It took six hours just to get through the comments for one giveaway.

After I saw a new method from Stephanie at Keeper of the Home, I decided to try using a survey for my next giveaway. I have never made a decision I regret less in my life!

Why I Love Using Surveys for Giveaway Forms

  • My comments don’t get clogged up all week.
  • I can skim the entries to find duplicates.
  • I have the total number of people who entered the giveaway to share with the sponsor, not just how many entries there were, which can fluctuate greatly as you add extra entry opportunities.
  • I can email all the entrants when the giveaway is over, directing them to my site to find the winner (bringing traffic back to the blog) AND sharing any coupon codes the sponsor offered, which makes the sponsor happy and works great if the product is something I’m affiliating for.
  • I can also send the sponsor a list of reader comments as a sort of free market research for them, since the mandatory question is often “what product are you most interested in?” I never share reader emails with anyone though.

The survey form also got good reviews from my readers, who have commented both that they like it because it’s easier to enter and that they like it because then actual comments or questions on the post don’t get buried, and real conversation can happen.

See how easy it is to enter the giveaway if you do multiple entries? No more commenting 5 times:

How to Use a Survey Form for Giveaways

You could use Google docs for this, which is free, but there is a lot of functionality in kwiksurveys.com that I really love. They have no limits on number of entries or length of survey, which you have to be really, really careful of if you look into other free services. You can also:

  • personalize your color and logo
  • use hyperlinks within the survey, to send readers to the sponsor site, for example (I track with bit.ly links so I can tell the sponsor how many people clicked to their site)
  • send readers back to your site after taking the survey or make announcements of other series, sales, or cool things happening on your site
  • download reader responses in an Excel form
  • see graphs and lists of responses (i.e., how many people followed on Twitter, etc)
  • “duplicate” the survey and simply change the title and mandatory question for new giveaways, leaving the extra entry information the same. It takes about 5-10 minutes to create the whole thing, and it runs itself without me all week long.
  • set a deadline for closing so no one can enter past the expiration of the giveaway

To make the survey form, I just create mandatory questions for name and email address, then another mandatory question for the initial entry.

I use one question with checkboxes, which are recorded separately in the results export, for all the extra entries like “follow on Facebook” and “subscribe to blog”. These only change slightly from one giveaway to the next.

I still explain/list all the giveaway entries on the blog and simply include a note that NO entries in the comments will be accepted. One or two people don’t follow directions each time, and they are deleted. When I first changed the system, I would reply to them or email them to help people adapt, but now I just heartlessly blow them away. 🙂

Choosing a Winner

I know a lot of people are loving the ease of the “And the Winner Is” plug-in for WordPress, and I’ll admit; with the survey method, you will have to do a little math to find the winner. However, I still feel the time savings and other advantages are well worth it.

I just make a little chart like this:

Then I can choose the random.org winner and do some simple subtraction, then go to that name on the list in the Excel sheet, sorting for that column to count down.

Are There Any Disadvantages?

I suppose the one drawback of this method is that I don’t get a “click” or pageview every time a reader leaves a new comment. But with the time it takes to sift through comments to make sure I catch all questions on old posts as well, I’m willing to give up a few hundred pageviews per giveaway for the ease of this method!

Even if you’ve hired a virtual assistant to manage comments, I’m willing to bet that paying them to create a giveaway survey and choose the winner will be less time than it takes to flip through giveaway comments.

I highly recommend taking the 30 minutes or so that it will take to familiarize yourself with kwiksurveys and try it out on your next giveaway. Your comments dashboard will thank you!

Editor’s Note: When I first saw this method for running a giveaway, my first thought was that it might make it easy for people to select additional entry methods even if they haven’t actually done what’s required. I think Katie’s outlined some pretty great advantages to doing a giveaway this way, though, and that could be prevented  by offering fewer entry methods and verifying the winner(s) once they’re chosen.

One issue we’ve run into here at Life Your Way is tracking down winners who sign into Disqus with Facebook or as guests, so you can expect to see something similar to this in the coming weeks!

Do you have any other tips for running giveaways?

Katie Kimball is a mom of two who spends a ton of time in the kitchen making real food with whole ingredients and then blogs about her successes and failures at Kitchen Stewardship. She believes everything in life is a gift from God and should be taken care of wisely.