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The 10 best giveaway ideas for opt-in advertising

Read about giveaway best practices from guest contributor Ben Phillip at Money Crashers.

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Today’s consumers are savvy and connected, but they’re utterly saturated with offers to join mailing lists and YouTube channels. 

The success of your text messaging campaign and other mobile opt-in advertising relies on the size of your subscriber list. The more qualified people you send your offers to, the more people who will accept those offers. 

That means when you craft your marketing plan, you need to give away something so appealing that people are drawn to subscribe to your text offer.

Exactly what type of item you should give away depends on your business. But here are the 10 most reliable giveaways you can test to help build up your text-messaging list.

1. An instant discount

Offer a real-time discount on a transaction in exchange for joining your text list. This could either be a flat dollar amount reduction, a percentage off, or a free extra item with a purchase. 

It works because it asks for a subscription at the moment a customer is most excited about your brand — when they’re making a purchase — and then continues that excitement as you maintain your relationship via text.

Thanks for joining the Chef’s Table mailing list. As a thank you, here’s a coupon for 10% off your first order!

2. Video content

Your text updates aren’t the place to provide a long instructional course. But a short video that informs the viewer about your product or excites them about you and your brand can be surprisingly effective.

For this to work, though, the video must have immediate value evident from a simple description. Make it funny, exciting, or promise to divulge a secret your potential clients would want to know.  

3. Event tie-ins

One of the key differences between text marketing and email marketing is the immediateness. People open email hours, even days, after receiving it. Texts get glanced at in real time and ignored if they aren’t compelling. 

Tying your text giveaway to a hot and current topic — like a local sports event, movie premiere, or a national news event — borrows momentum from general excitement and uses it to power your subscriptions.

4. Club membership

Do you have a discount club, elite level, or similar group your repeat clients can be a part of? Giving instant access to text subscribers can be a powerful motivator for signing up. It’s especially effective if doing so shortcuts the standard way of getting in. 

For example, consider a loyalty program that grants a 5% discount on future purchases after buying $1,000 worth of product, then allow instant membership to that program for text list subscribers.

You’re in! Welcome to the Pac Fun shopping club. You’ll receive exciting text rewards for all future purchases. Happy shopping!

5. Fame and appreciation

It’s amazing how much a simple, public thank-you motivates people in the Internet age. Ask 100 different people why that is, and you’ll get an array of answers, but we think it’s the personal connection. Social media is about authentic connection and dialogue, so when a brand personally mentions a person’s name, it means a lot.

This one is especially powerful because it turns new subscribers into powerful brand advocates. They’re likely to share the tweet or post in which you mention them by name, which gets their friends wondering how to get that treatment for themselves.

6. A digital punch card

You’ve seen these, and probably have a few in your wallet or purse. They’re the size of a business card, and you get a hole punched in them every time you buy something from a particular retailer. When you get enough punches, you get a freebie or a discount. Electronic versions exist now, but it’s the same concept, just more tech-friendly. 

The value is clear, and you don’t have to invent anything new if you already have a punch card or loyalty program in place.

This is your 10th purchase at Joe’s Coffee! Show this text for a free donut with your next order 🍩

7. Quick tips and tidbits

A mailing list gives you the space to send a long explanation fully informing and educating readers about your brand and product. Text messages don’t permit that. The form is meant for short communication, and the recipient’s attention span won’t last for a long text.

But you can send a series of quick one-sentence tips, facts, or even jokes to welcome new subscribers to the feed. Just make sure the description of what you’re sending highlights its value.

8. Contests

If you don’t play the lottery, you might be confused as to why contests work so well for gathering subscribers. But if you pay attention to how much lotteries earn every year, it’s clear they’re successful. 

A contest can be a simple sweepstakes, where everybody who subscribes in a set time gets a virtual ticket in a virtual drawing. It can also be competitive, with prizes going to those who spread the word about your brand in the most effective ways. 

The chance of a prize for a low investment of time is a proven and powerful strategy.

9. Quizzes and surveys

Facebook proved that people love taking quizzes and doing surveys. That’s true for text communication too, but it works best if there’s an incentive for completing the quiz or survey. Invite people to take a quiz to qualify for another free gift from this list, which comes with subscribing after they’ve enjoyed filling in the blanks. 

Bonus points here for encouraging them to share their results on social media and making it easy to do so. That way, they’re spreading the word for you and bringing more people in to take your quiz.

10. Early access

This may be the easiest and simplest option on this list, but that makes it no less effective. When people subscribe to your texts, send them links to purchase new items, view previews, and interact with your brand several days to a week before you release an item to the general public. 

People love being first and being part of the in-crowd. This giveaway requires very little extra effort or resources on your part. 

The Roger’s Spring Collection is here and you have exclusive access. Be the first to see and shop before the official release tomorrow-

Final thought

Many companies make the mistake of using one giveaway for both their newsletter and their text subscribers. But people view these mediums on different devices. Text messages are viewed on a phone, and newsletters are typically viewed on a laptop. That means some giveaways, like a white paper or case study, don’t work well for text messages.

Pay close attention to those who subscribe to both your newsletter and text messages, because they’re poised to become your most loyal clients and advocates. But don’t use the same giveaway for both streams. Rather, fine-tune each to work best with the device on which they’re most regularly consumed.

About the Author: Ben Phillip worked at a large marketing firm for more than a decade and now runs a consulting business from his home in Cape Cod.

Meghan Tocci
Meghan Tocci

Meghan Tocci is a content strategist at SimpleTexting. When she’s not writing about SaaS, she’s trying to teach her puppy Lou how to code. So far, not so good.

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