Tag Archives: giveaway

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.

Wrapping up the Wii Giveaway

Sending away second Wii After sitting on a shelf in my office for 2 months, unopened and unloved, I finally shipped off the Nintendo Wii today to the lucky winner. I was initially worried because he didn’t respond until well into the second day after I notified him, but he was pretty excited (“You’ve made my holiday”) and I’m glad it could ship out before Christmas. The picture here is in the car before I went into the UPS store to fill the box with peanuts.

The promotion took a surprising amount of effort, but it was fun and definitely worthwhile. There were a total of 2447 unique submissions (1925 for the email form, and 522 from Twitter). Of those, over 1/3 agreed to sign up for my annual Riverfold Software newsletter. I consider that alone a success, although until I look at the stats more closely it’s not clear what percentage of potential-customers are actually using Macs. My “Wii Twitter account”:http://twitter.com/wii also doubled to about 300 followers.

Although sales were initially flat, both “TUAW”:http://www.tuaw.com/2007/12/05/wii-transfer-maker-giving-away-a-wii/ and “Ars Technica”:http://arstechnica.com/journals/apple.ars/2007/12/06/win-a-wii-to-go-with-your-wii-transfer-for-mac ran nice stories on the promotion. I also “wrote a press release”:http://riverfold.com/software/wiitransfer/press/giveaway.html, with the idea of hitting some of the bigger gaming sites for the second week of the contest. In the end I decided not to, because I wanted to focus on Mac users, and because frankly there were plenty of submissions and I was burned out on the process.

The contest easily paid for itself, but the extra sales really weren’t that significant. I have a database that tracks referrers through to the actual purchase, so I noticed an increase of only about 10-20 copies out of the 100 sales for the month so far. Part of that is no doubt the catch-22 of giving away hardware that is required for your software product, but I know that long-term there will be a benefit to the wider exposure.

Mistakes? I should have made the whole promotion last just a day or two, and hyped it before launching instead. I also should have required that Twitter users follow Wii before entering, which would have boosted those followers and also greatly simplified tracking submissions (replies were spread over 3 RSS feeds and 33 iChat log transcripts). Relatively minor complaints, though, overall.

To everyone who provided feedback on the idea, thanks. Maybe next year I’ll implement some of the more interesting promotion ideas I heard.

Holiday Wii Giveaway and Twitter

A few months ago I was in Target and they had some Wiis in stock, so on an impulse I bought one. I’ve owned a Wii since launch day, but I had this idea to give one away for Christmas as an experiment to help promote Wii Transfer. I sat on the idea for a while, listened to feedback from others, and finally “rolled it out this morning”:http://www.riverfold.com/software/wiitransfer/giveaway/ with two methods to enter: web form (with field to notify a friend about the giveaway) and via Twitter (by sending a reply to @wii).

Unfortunately there was a major snag with the Twitter idea. It turns out that @wii replies won’t show up in my Replies tab (or RSS feed) in Twitter unless the user posting the tweet is already following “twitter.com/wii”:http://twitter.com/wii. I now regret not making that a requirement, but I also know that it would have hurt the simplicity of entering via Twitter.

So what’s the solution? For now, a combination of things. I am now tracking every tweet that contains “wii” (try it, there are some fun ones), which I will aggregate with the standard replies as well as results from a search on “Terraminds”:http://terraminds.com/twitter/ to fill in any of the tweets I missed. It’s all a bit cumbersome because the tracking results come through IM (luckily iChat transcripts are XML now).

It feels very fragile, but hopefully I won’t miss any entries. There’s no cost to submitting multiple times, so consider sending another @wii tweet next week or entering with the web form to guarantee you’re in the drawing. If in doubt, re-read the “last line on the fine print”:http://www.riverfold.com/software/wiitransfer/giveaway/.