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How to Create a Viral Refer-a-Friend Giveaway

Last Updated on September 18, 2020 by Stacey Corrin

Do you want an easy way to run referral contests for your business? With refer-a-friend promotions, you can build brand awareness, increase sales, grow your email list, and much more. Yet referral giveaways can be hard to set up if you don’t have a strategy or the right tools in place.

In this article, we’ll show you how to create a viral refer-a-friend contest quickly and efficiently.

What is a Refer-a-Friend Giveaway?

A refer-a-friend giveaway is a type of contest where the entry method is to send the contest details to other people and encourage them to enter.

There are several ways participants can refer a contest to others, including:

  • Sending an email with a link to the referral contest landing page
  • Sharing the giveaway on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, etc.
  • Copying the referral link and sending it to friends via messaging apps.

Referral contests are an effective way to grow your brand because they use word of mouth marketing tactics to increase leads and sales.

People tend to trust others more if they’re in their circle of friends and contacts. So if you can get customers to promote your brand to those people, you skip the obstacle of not knowing you enough to trust you.

What’s more, referral marketing is highly targeted. When people share your contest, they’re not spamming their entire contact list. They’re sharing it with people who they know will take an interest.

Look at it this way; if you’re sharing a giveaway with someone you already know, you’re automatically more trustworthy and influential to that person.

How to Create a Successful Referral Contest

Refer a friend promotion

Now that you know why running a refer-a-friend giveaway is an excellent strategy for growing your brand, let’s take a look at the process to run one successfully.

Find the Right Referrers

Referral contest announcement blog post

Referrers are the people who’ll influence their contacts to enter your giveaway. And your refer-a-friend promotion’s success depends on the ability to source the right referrers.

There are several places you can look for the right people to refer your contest, such as:

  • Your email list: Look for people who always open your emails, always click through, and who have purchased from you before. They are the most motivated people on your list, so they’re highly likely to refer others to your giveaway.
  • Website visitors: Some of the people who visit your site often might not subscribe to your email list. So reach out to them via blog posts announcing your giveaway, with exit-intent popups to catch them as they’re leaving, and floating bars at the top of your site advertising your contest.
  • Social followers: If your business has a profile on social media, let your followers know about your new contest by sharing a series of posts inviting them to enter.
  • Influencers: Reach out to influencers in your industry who talk to your ideal audience. If you can get an influencer to share your referral contest, it’ll widen your reach.

But don’t contact influencers out of the blue. Take the time to build a relationship with them first by sharing their content, commenting on their blog posts, and so on. Only after you’ve created a healthy relationship should you ask them to consider sharing your contest with their audience.

Choose Your Referral Contest Goal

The next step is to figure out what you want to get out of your contest. Do you want more signups, more content to use elsewhere, or greater brand awareness? Your end goal determines the type of contest you’ll run, so you must get this right.

Here are some examples of goals you can choose, with the type of giveaway needed to reach them:

  • More signups: Make joining your list the primary way to enter your giveaway, and support that with the option to refer-a-friend for additional entities. 
  • Increased customers: Offer people who sign up to your newsletter a coupon code, and if they refer-a-friend, reward them with entries towards the grand prize.
  • More user-generated content (UGC): Create a giveaway where your followers generate their own content (UGC) such as photos or videos sharing why they love your brand. And include the option to refer-a-friend for extra entries.
  • Greater brand awareness: Run a giveaway where the most voted for entrant wins. The people entering will refer friends and family to vote for them.

As you can see, your referral contest goal shapes what your giveaway will look like and the results you’ll get in the end.

Pick the Perfect Giveaway Prize

Refer a friend giveaway prize

The grand prize is what you’ll use to incentivize people to enter your giveaway, so it needs to be desirable to draw in a crowd. One way you can do that is to offer free products and services from your business. 

But if your target audience is mostly made up of past customers, you might want to entice them with something more desirable and valuable. 

Items like gadgets and game consoles are great for attracting tons of entries because they’re big-ticket items people desire. Similarly, large cash prizes and all-expenses-paid trips appeal to most people.

Here is a list of loads more proven contest prize ideas for inspiration.

Just make sure that the prize you choose is relevant to your brand and the audience you’re targeting. Otherwise, participants won’t stick around long enough to achieve your goals, like becoming a loyal customer.

Make Your Referral Contest Easy to Enter

If you want your referral contest to be a success, it needs to be easy to enter. As technology has become more accessible, we’ve become lazier. So if it’s hard to enter your giveaway, people will simply click away and move on to the next, easier opportunity to win.

For referral contests, you’ll want to make it as easy as possible for people to click, enter, and refer.

The easiest way to do that is to use the Refer-a-Friend entry method included in RafflePress (we’ll dive into the details of that shortly). Then participants can enter your giveaway and refer it to their friends at the same time.

You can also make your giveaway easy to enter by having a script ready for people to use. Keep it short and to the point.

Here’s an example of what you could write:

"Hey, I just entered this awesome contest to win [prize]. Fancy giving it a go? Join in here [giveaway URL]"

Then all participants need to do is copy the text and paste it on their chosen platform.

Keep Your Contest Rules Crystal Clear

Referral contest rules

Your refer-a-friend promotion isn’t complete without a robust set of rules. The rules ensure everything is fair for participants, and that they know what to expect from you as a business.

Here are a few points to include in your giveaway rules:

  • What’s the minimum age required to enter?
  • Can only people from a specific country or state participate?
  • Is a purchase necessary for entering?
  • What is the prize you’re offering?
  • Can the prize be exchanged for money of the same value?
  • What is the end time and date for entries?
  • How will you draw a giveaway winner?

Create your Viral Refer-a-Friend Giveaway

With your strategy in place, it’s time to start creating your refer-a-friend giveaway. The easiest way to do that is to use contest software like RafflePress.

RafflePress is the best WordPress giveaway plugin on the market. With its’ intuitive drag and drop contest builder, you can create viral giveaways in a matter of minutes. And since it comes with a ready-made referral contest template, you’ll be up and running in no time.

So get started with RafflePress here. Then follow the steps below to create your referral contest.

Step 1: Install and Activate RafflePress

Once you have your copy of RafflePress, upload and install the plugin to WordPress. If you’re unfamiliar with how to do that, follow this step-by-step guide to install a WordPress plugin for beginners.

After installing RafflePress, you’re asked to enter your license key. You can find your license key in your RafflePress user account area in the Downloads section.

Copy your RafflePress license key

Copy the key by clicking the clipboard icon and paste it into the license key box, as shown below.

Verify the RafflePress license key

Then click the Verify Key button.

Step 2: Choose the Viral Refer-a-Friend Giveaway Template

Now hover your mouse over the RafflePress logo and click Add New. This will take you to a screen where you can choose a template for your contest.

First, enter a giveaway name. It can be anything you want to call your contest, and you’ll be able to change it later.

Add a new giveaway

Next, hover your mouse over the Viral Refer-a-Friend Template and click Use This Template

Viral refer-a-friend giveaway template

Upon clicking, you’re taken to the contest builder screen. Here you can give your giveaway a name, set the start and end time, and edit your prize details.

contest builder app

Step 3: Enter Your Prize Details

Now it’s time to enter your prize information. Click the title or description area on the contest builder to give your prize a name and description. 

Edit your prize name and description

Pro tip: including the prize value in the title can help you get more entries.

Under the description box, you can upload a prize image. Simply click the Select Image button and choose a photo from your computer. 

Upload your prize image

If you’re offering more than 1 prize, click the Add Another Prize button and enter the details for your second prize. Both prizes will be added to the contest app in an image slider.

Add another referral contest prize

Remember to click the Save button periodically when building your giveaway to save your changes.

Step 4: Choose Your Referral Contest Entry Methods

The next step is to choose the ways people will enter your giveaway. Since you’re using the Viral Refer-a-Friend giveaway template, 2 methods are automatically added for you which include:

  1. Join an Email Newsletter: Connect an email marketing service so people can join your email list to enter. You can learn about the different RafflePress integrations in the documentation here.
  2. Refer a Friend – Viral: Enter your message and contest link for participants to share on social media and email.

Clicking on either entry method in the contest preview reveals options you can edit on the left-hand side of the builder.

For example, when you click the Refer a Friend entry method, you’ll see the following screen:

Refer a friend entry method settings

Here you can change the label to something more personalized and choose a value for the action. The value is how many entries that action is worth. There’s also the option to make the action Mandatory to ensure more people refer your contest.

Beneath that, you can choose the platforms where people can share your giveaway, including:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Email

Clicking the checkbox beside each platform opens a text box where you can enter the custom message for people to share. You can also add a custom image by clicking the Select Image button.

Referral contest share options

Depending on your referral contest goals, you can add extra entry methods by clicking the Actions tab. The actions are grouped by goal type like:

  • More Subscribers
  • Increased Social Engagement
  • More Traffic

Adding more actions is as simple as clicking the Plus (+) icon beside each action. Then they’ll be added to your giveaway widget where you can edit them using the same process mentioned above.

Add a new referral contest action

You can view a full list of RafflePress actions in the documentation here.

Step 5: Design Your Giveaway

Next, you can change the look of your giveaway by clicking the Design tab. Here you can choose 2 different layout types:

  1. Header, Text, Image
  2. Image, Header, Text

And you can change the font used on the giveaway widget.

Giveaway layout options

The next section lets you change the color of the widget’s button. You can either enter your own custom hex value or choose a color from the palette provided.

Giveaway button color

After that, you can follow the same steps to change the background color of your giveaway’s landing page.

Or, if you prefer, you can upload a custom background image by clicking the Select Image button.

Change the giveaway landing page background image

When your giveaway is looking how you want, hit the Save button to save your changes.

Step 6: Configure Your Settings

Now when you click the Settings tab, you’ll see several settings for setting up your giveaway. The most important section to set up is the Giveaway Rules.

RafflePress offers an easy way to set up and display your contest rules in your giveaway widget. Simply click the +Generate Rules button and answer the questions on your screen.

RafflePress Rules Generator

Then click Generate Rules to see a set of giveaway rules displayed inside the widget.

Giveaway rules template

You can check out our documentation for details on all the RafflePress settings.

When you’re happy with your giveaway rules template, click Save.

Publish Your Referral Contest

Now that you’ve learned how to create a viral refer-a-friend giveaway, it’s time to publish it on your website.

RafflePress makes it super-easy to publish your giveaway. Just click the Publish tab at the top of the contest builder.

You’ll then see 3 different ways to publish your giveaway:

  1. RafflePress WordPress Block: Embed your giveaway widget in a WordPress post or page.
  2. WordPress Shortcode: Add the giveaway in the classic WordPress editor, sidebar widgets, or theme.
  3. Giveaway Landing Page: Create a distraction-free landing page on your WordPress website for your giveaway.

One of the best ways to get more contest entries is to use the dedicated landing page option. Because there are fewer distractions on the page, it’s more likely that they’ll sign up and enter.

Publish options for giveaway landing page

So let’s use the Giveaway Landing Page option for publishing your contest. If you haven’t already done so, click the Click here link to set up a permalink for your page.

That will take you to the Settings page, where you can choose a URL for your giveaway page under the Page Permalink heading.

Contest landing page permalink

Remember to click Save. Then navigate back to the Publish tab where you can click the View Page button to see what your referral contest looks like.

Preview your referral contest

Great work! You’ve now got an awesome referral giveaway live on your website.

Refer a friend giveaway page

Promote Your Referral Giveaway

Once your giveaway is live, you should focus your efforts on promoting it. People won’t enter your contest if they don’t know it exists. So start promoting your giveaway right away to generate excitement and as many entries as possible.

There are several ways to promote your giveaway, the easiest being to share it on your social media channels with an enticing image to encourage entires.

You can also promote your giveaway by…

  • Emailing your subscribers and asking them to join in
  • Add a banner to your website homepage with a link to your contest page
  • Create a leaderboard of participants with the most referrals
  • Add your giveaway to contest directory websites

You can also check out this list of proven contest promotion ideas for more inspiration.

Choose a Contest Winner

When your contest is over, you’ll need to choose the winner of your grand prize. The fairest and easiest way to do that is with a random draw. 

Picking a winner randomly is super-easy with RafflePress. At the end of your giveaway, simply head to RafflePress » Giveaways and click the Needs Winners link.

The following page shows you all the people who entered your giveaway and the number of entries for each person.

Then to pick a winner, click Pick Winner, select the options you need, and click Choose Winners Now.

pick a giveaway winner

The winner is then instantly highlighted so you can click the Email Winner link and let them know.

email the winner

Follow Up With Participants

Let’s not forget that after you’ve chosen a giveaway winner, it’s good practice to follow up with everyone who entered. Following up gives you the chance to thank everyone for taking part and develop better relationships.

Winner announcement example

You can follow up by posting on social media, tagging the winner, and sending a message of thanks. To make sure you cover all bases, send an email announcement telling people the contest is over, who the winner is, and thanks for joining in.

Why not offer a consolation prize in the form of a discount? That way, everyone wins and leaves in good spirits.

Analyze Your Giveaway Results

Your work isn’t over yet. The last step is to analyze the results of your refer-a-friend giveaway to see if you succeeded in going viral and if you can make improvements in your next contest.

You can track your success by using MonsterInsights, the best Google Analytics plugin for WordPress. With MonsterInsights, it’s easy to track referrals to your giveaway landing page, eCommerce promotions, and other website activity.

MonsterInsights overview report

And with helpful dashboard reports, you can see all your results inside your WordPress dashboard. That means you won’t have to go to a different site to view your data. It’s all in one place!

By looking carefully at your analytics, you can see which promotion strategies drove the most referrals to your giveaway page. Then you can use that information to create a much better contest next time. 

Viral Refer-a-Friend Giveaways with RafflePress is Easy

Now that you know how to create a viral refer-a-friend giveaway go ahead and get started! Not only will you delight your audience with the chance to win a fantastic prize, but you’ll also increase your brand awareness and get more leads to grow your business.

What are you waiting for?

Get started with RafflePress today.

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