iPhone giveaway wrap-up

I was reminded by “Nick Bonatsakis on Twitter”:http://twitter.com/nickbonas that I never wrote about how giving away the iPhone worked out. The short answer is: pretty well! The longer answer follows.

I’ve conducted 3 giveaways for Riverfold Software now:

  • Nintendo Wii, back when they were in short supply. You could enter by sending a message to “@wii”:http://twitter.com/wii or by entering your email address and sharing the link with a friend.

  • iPhone 3GS, plus year of Vimeo Plus and Flickr Pro. That’s what I’ll talk about below.

  • New Super Mario Bros Wii game. Probably the simplest giveaway, all I asked is that you give me your email address and optionally sign up for my newsletter.

In all cases I had two goals: do something fun for potential customers, and give the press an excuse to write about my products. By that metric all the giveaways were successful.

I noticed when originally giving away the Wii that most of the entries were Windows users — people who couldn’t even use my application! So for the iPhone giveaway I made a change: you could only enter by downloading the app and choosing a special menu item, which loaded a simple webview with the entry form. Pretty straightforward, and no complaints. The total number of entries was lower, but they were targeted to existing or potential customers.

In additional to sending news about the giveaway to a few contacts who I hoped would pick up the story, I also wrote a formal press release for it, which “went out through prMac”:http://prmac.com/release-id-6861.htm. This is so inexpensive that it’s hard to find fault with it, but I think the main outcome was getting contacted for advertising on sites that I had never heard of before.

Another thing to remember is to set up a “system to track referrers”:http://www.manton.org/2008/09/tracking_sales_referrers.html through to sales, so that you can judge the effectiveness of these giveaway-style marketing efforts. I could tell right away that it paid for itself, but it wasn’t a significant bump in overall weekly stats. I do believe it helps long-term though.

The final part I took pride in was shipping quickly. Growing up we all had the wind knocked out of our sails by the “allow 6-8 weeks for delivery” fine print on cereal box prizes or other mail-in gimmicks. If nothing else, I made an effort to ship the next day if possible, and I paid for express shipping.

Giving away stuff is fun. Until I get sued for not following some obscure rule on contests because I didn’t hire a lawyer, I’ll plan for more giveaways in 2010.