Giveaways present lucrative opportunities for beauty brands and stores. When executed well, they allow a business to meaningfully engage with existing customers while simultaneously attracting new clientele. A good promotional event has the power to grow both brand awareness and company coffers. Contests are inherently malleable: They can be small and straightforward or extensively grandiose. Prizes run the gamut, limited only by an organizer’s imagination. Given this flexibility and potential for great payoff, it’s no wonder sweepstakes are sweeping beauty stores and social media sites. But here’s the catch: It takes a lot of work to pull off a seemingly simple giveaway. Here are expert tips for success, including pitfalls to avoid.
ASK TOUGH QUESTIONS
Before jumping in, carefully consider this query: Should we even do a giveaway? It may smack as counterintuitive, but the question will, in fact, kick-start an essential conversation regarding your means and motivation. “You ultimately must determine whether the juice will be worth the squeeze,” says Allyson King, CEO of Beauty 360 Consulting Group and the cofounder of New York’s Hair & Co. BKLYN salons. Ask yourself or your team what the ultimate goal of the giveaway is.
Here are some examples:
• Increase overall brand awareness
• Drive foot traffic to your brick-and-mortar store
• Email and phone capture for future marketing
• Gain followers, page likes and boost social-media presence
• Garner positive feedback about a freshly introduced product
The ultimate goal should be clearly defined; it’s important to know what it is in order to create an effective setup. “Determining the objective of a giveaway will dictate the kind of event you hold, thus setting organizers up for early success,” explains Joanna Mariani, senior manager of digital marketing communication at Jane Iredale. And when crafting the event, target only those individuals your brand ultimately hopes to attract as clients.
For example, a single cash prize meant to entice non-brand loyalists might be ideal for an event aiming to boost general familiarity with a brand or store, while specific product sampling targeted to existing devotees makes more sense if the goal is to drum up glowing reviews about a line’s newest item launch.
The second building block is budget. Draft a plan projecting the approximate amount you’d need to earn to counter giveaway costs and make the incentive worthwhile. “Let’s say I want to raffle off an iPad,” King proposes. “The basic factors to plug in my monetary equation are X) how much does it cost me and Y) how much revenue must I generate to break even?” Of course, returns on investment need not be limited to cold hard cash, but may also be counted via less quantifiable currency including Instagram followers or Facebook likes.
Lastly, make the payoff irresistible to your target audience. “Suitability for the audience is the primary criterion because you want the bull’s-eye group to be excited about and interested in a prize in order to complete the necessary contest-entry steps and stand a chance of winning it,” says Paul Deacon, vice president of marketing at Juice Beauty.
DETERMINING THE PRIZE
A giveaway prize could be a limited-edition item or an entire product collection. It might be something more meaningful, like travel to a store’s grand opening or a once-in-a-lifetime experience with a top brand educator. “Though less visually alluring, we do find that gift cards work as the best incentives,” King reveals. “They allow winners to purchase items of their choice, while also giving you the chance to potentially feature a large, splashy dollar amount on a giveaway homepage, which is a conversation-sparker.” Products may also be combined. “My favorite giveaways are those featuring more than one prize, or those where opportunities exist to increase the odds of winning if you follow a brand on social media–all of which boost an entrant’s chance of emerging victorious,” Deacon notes.
Timing: Timing matters, too. Aligning an event with an existing holiday is an easy way to make it thematic. Think girlfriend spa events for Mother’s Day or red-hot makeup awarded in the weeks leading to Valentine’s Day. Tap into the national conversation by coinciding contests with special holidays. Pop culture moments likewise build fast interest. “I would recommend against running giveaways during heavy sales periods like Cyber Monday,” Deacon says. Conversely, as January and February tend to be slow retail months, King suggests building a contest into that leaner time of year.
Duration: Considering your giveaway’s duration is likewise key. “Two to four weeks is the sweet spot because people–particularly millennials– tend to lose focus during longer incentives,” King explains. If you do aim for a long-term contest, get smart by breaking it into bite-size pieces. Sprinkle in a related small prize at the start of every month so entrants can grasp a visual of how the whole journey will come together.
Campaigns: “Schedule giveaways around brand newness whenever possible,” advises Edward Valentine, managing director of NatureLab Tokyo. “This excites both consumers and influencers to vie for first access.” As a group new to the U.S. market, this brand’s foremost goal centers around gaining new social-media followers, particularly within its Instagram community. NatureLab Tokyo decided to anchor a recent giveaway around entrance into Urban Outfitters, both in stores and online. “Our prizes featured items sold at the retailer and we had five influencers home in on their favorite offerings, which for many was our best-selling Repair Treatment Masque,” Valentine explains. Seven total products were awarded to up to three winners per influencer, depending on what each talent preferred. “I find giveaways that offer a prize to more than a single winner typically perform better,” Valentine says. Results were a smash success: New entrants followed the brand account, engaging with giveaway content and incentivizing friends to also participate. “We garnered a follower percentage increase that was double our monthly average
over the course of this giveaway’s runtime,” Valentine marvels. Urban Outfitters likewise benefitted. “Given our similar target customers, we were able to effectively communicate the value proposition of our brand within this manufacturer’s assortment, which was one of the things they were most excited about,” he says.
On a larger scale, Benefit Cosmetics hosted its “Brow Search” campaign by asking entrants to submit Instagram posts recreating two Benefit brow styles. Twenty finalists were selected from a whopping 17,000 entries received. Winners were brought to Camp Benefit, where top beauty influencers like Patrick Starrr and Nicol Concilio shared singular beauty experiences. “The campaign was interesting because it was multifaceted, and it bridged the gap between influencer and consumer marketing on a social platform,” Valentine says. “Partnering with beauty creators lent the project clout, and by opening up to consumers, Benefit gained significant traction plus interest.”
Contests are a terrific way to garner visibility on social media. Engagement may come in the form of comments, posts and reposts, likes, shares, follows and mentions. A giveaway on Facebook or Instagram can yield the same return as scores of hours spent conceptualizing posts or hundreds of dollars invested in advertising. The perks of in-store events include lots of foot traffic, plus buzzworthy word of mouth–but they require extra planning, as driving consumers through a door can be labor-intensive.
It’s true that power exists in numbers, which is why many brands choose to work in tandem on giveaways. “Finding like-minded brands that aren’t rivals is a great way to introduce your company to new audiences, and therefore increase reach,” Deacon points out. The partner selected should be a natural match; one that doesn’t compete but rather complements, with similar branding and a comparable customer-demographic profile. “This allows you the opportunity to get your product in front of a group that’s already receptive because of their loyalty to the other brand, and will likely engage with you from that point due to similarities,” Mariani reports. “The drawback, like in any relationship, is that compromise will be required.” She recommends outlining clear objectives, timelines and key performance indicators in advance to ensure that the participants are in agreement. “Beauty is becoming a much more shared experience, so a joint giveaway is a great opportunity for affinity brands to tap into each other’s audiences,” Valentine adds. Deacon explains that the best Juice Beauty events have been those hosted by far larger brands, which then introduced their company to the biggest audience possible.
But partners need not be limited to analogous companies. Beauty influencers wield enormous power in the social stratosphere and can make formidable allies when it comes to promoting your voice on their social-media sites or linking products back to your own page. “We like
to work with micro-influencers who can sample our products through giveaways, and incentivize them to share socially and increase awareness,” Mariani says. “Another idea might include hosting a giveaway on influencers’ channels to drive awareness, engagement and trial directly with their followers.”
GET IN TOUCH
Along with brand awareness, audience engagement and social media exposure, an additional top benefit of giveaways includes the capturing of consumer data, such as email addresses or key demographic touchpoints. These can serve as important foundations for constructing the framework of a solid client base and can be invaluable to future marketing endeavors. But again, there exists a caveat. “Know that every question you ask is one more opportunity for drop-off, so give careful consideration to how you will use your data and how important it might be before attempting to acquire it,” Mariani cautions.
Most pros agree that phone numbers are no longer relevant. “In order to avoid deterring entrants from participating, refrain from requiring more than a few contact items before entry,” Valentine suggests. Mariani recommends starting with an email–today’s best way to target consumers. “Subsequent interactions can be used as opportunities to gather additional data, such as likes and dislikes, product interests and personal preferences,” she says.
And don’t forget to enjoy the experience. “Our giveaways on Instagram and Facebook give both clients and staff something fun to talk about because we’re making an impact in a way that’s slightly different,” King shares. “One year we got picked up by local media–which was unplanned, but awesome.” After each campaign, consider how you could improve your giveaways in the future, and make tweaks before the next event to truly hit your target audience and grow your following.