We've discussed how important having your own website or blog is. If you want to stand out from the crowd and get noticed, you need a website: some place where you aren't blending into a sea of other authors. Your website is one of the most important pieces to your author platform. But only if people can find it. If no one can find your website, then what good is it doing sitting there in a lonely corner of the internwebs surrounded by other abandoned and unknown websites? Just as important as building a website is developing a marketing and traffic strategy to help drive traffic to your website.
Social media has really grown up to be the king of traffic referrals. Every channel offers a different crowd, because people use each one for something different. Yet any and all of them can help drive traffic to your website or blog.
But, let's face it…no one uses social media because they're hoping you will constantly beg them to buy your book. Even the people who love you the most will get sick of you if all they ever hear from you every day is “buy my book!” Setting up your website with great SEO will help the search engines find you and drive traffic to you, but that also takes time, especially if you aren't using any other drivers.
Setting up a giveaway on Amazon can be the perfect tool to get more traffic to your blog or website, more subscribers to your newsletter, and even more followers on Twitter. Done right, you will target your ideal audience, so for very little money you could see a huge return in your marketing efforts. Setting up a giveaway isn't that difficult. All you need is a few minutes, a product, and a plan.
Figure out what your readers want
Are your readers looking for a particular book? Or perhaps something bigger? A bookshelf? Laptop desk? Reading lamp? It doesn't have to be one of your products, just something that your audience would be excited to win. For my example, I am going to use Writing Book Blurbs and Synopses: How to sell your manuscript to publishers and your indie book to readers by Rayne Hall (the Kindle Edition). First, I myself have read and love this book, so I know its value. I also know the majority of my readers devour any and all books that will help them talk to publishers and agents, and a lot of them need help with writing blurbs and synopses.
So this is perfect.
Now, once you find the product you want to giveaway, scroll down to the bottom of the screen, below the reviews and above the area where Amazon shows you what other people bought after viewing that item. You're looking for the option to set up a Giveaway. If you don't see this option, then that means the product is not eligible for an Amazon Giveaway. You'll need to find something else.
Setting up the Giveaway
Once you're ready, click on the button that reads “Set up a giveaway.”
On the next page, you'll be asked to provide the details of your giveaway. First, enter the number of prizes you plan on giving away:
Notice on the right-hand side, Amazon will begin to calculate a cost for you. This cost will not include any taxes or shipping that you might have to pay for. Those get calculated after your winner(s) have been chosen.
Next, select the type of giveaway you want it to be. Sweepstakes (draw a winner after the giveaway is over), Random Instant Win (X number of people picked at random will win a prize), Lucky Number Instant Win (Every Xth entrant will win a prize), First Come First Served (First X people to sign up will win).
For a case like this, we want the “Random Instant Win” and I will explain why on the next screen.
You'll also need to enter in what a person's odds are of winning. Be careful here…if people think their chances of winning are too low, they won't bother trying. Amazon will let you know the minimum and maximum number of people who can enter to meet these odds (once a winner is picked, the giveaway ends).
Finally, you want to set up any additional rules for people to have to do before they can enter. There are three in particular that I want to pay special attention to.
Follow the Amazon Author is an obvious benefit if you happen to be giving away one of your own books. In this case, I'm not, and as I would have no benefit to requiring people to follow Rayne Hall on Amazon (nor any way to track it), I won't be using that option for this.
Next, you can have entrants follow you on Twitter. This is an obvious benefit, since we are giving something away that is targeted toward our ideal readers and clients — converting them to Twitter followers right away is a huge bonus.
The other one I like is to have entrants answer a poll. This is nice because depending on your overall strategy, you can learn a bit about your entrants. A good example for this giveaway might be “who is your favorite nonfiction author” and list several choices as options. And depending on the answers I receive from the polls I would have an idea of what I can giveaway next time, or another book I can review for my site (or both!).
If you happen to have chosen an item you sell, you can choose to give entrants a discount on it. Obviously, I don't sell Rayne Hall's book, so I am not going to include a discount. But if I were giving away one of my books, then I would offer a discount to the people who don't win to see if I might also be able to drive up a few sales.
Next, the last two settings you need to pay attention to on this screen:
First, pay close attention to the Giveaway Duration. There is no delay start. That means once you finish placing the order, your Giveaway will be Live and the clock will be ticking.
Additionally, do not make your giveaway public. With this giveaway, we are trying to target your ideal readers and clients — the people who just might want to purchase from you. If you allow the post to go public, you lose the advantages of targeting and you open it up to just anyone.
When you're ready, click on “Next” to design your page.
Now, because I am using the “Follow me on Twitter” rule, Amazon pulled my information over from Twitter. But if you are using a different rule, you may need to fill in your name and upload a photo or a logo.
Your “Welcome Message,” to be blunt and honest, doesn't matter. No one cares. I really doubt anyone is going to read it. They're there to enter and win and that's what they care about. So keep it short.
On the other hand, the Win or Lose page is where our strategy will really work for us. And you're about to see why:
Notice the messages I've set to show up here are almost identical. In one, the winning message will congratulate the winner and let him or her know that the book will be on its way soon… And in the other I wish the entrant my apologies for not winning.
But in both I invite entrants to join my newsletter by copy and pasting a shortened URL into their browser. I do this for a couple reasons.
- Amazon Giveaways do not allow you to place live links into your messages. In fact, the only live links on the page will be to other Amazon pages. But if at all possible, I want people to leave Amazon and come hang out with me.
- I use a shortened link so I can track it. In this case, I used a plugin called “Pretty Links” but you can use any link shortener you want (including bitly or google) as long as it offers tracking.
You may remember earlier I said to choose a Random Instant winner — this is why. It's the only option that allows me to write up the winning and losing messages in this way. So I can invite every entrant — win or lose — to join my newsletter (or wherever you want to send them: have a group you want them to join? Want them to go check out your page on Facebook? Whatever your strategy is).
Now, once again Amazon is going to try to give your giveaway maximum exposure by placing share links on your page. Be sure to remove these, because once again you have set this up to target your ideal client. Allowing this to be shared publicly negates your targeting.
Check, double check, and triple check everything. Once your giveaway is set up, it will be Live and you will not be able to make any changes or edits. If you misspelled your URL, it's too bad, so sad.
When you're ready, click on “Proceed to Checkout” to make your payment arrangements.
On the next page, you will be able to confirm your payment method. Amazon will also try to calculate an estimated cost for you based on the average cost of shipping — just remember that this might change depending on who wins.
Once you're ready, you can click on “Place Order” and your giveaway will be Live. You'll be charged for the item (plus tax plus shipping) once a winner is chosen.
Before you Place that Order
Since we're targeting a specific audience, you will want to have everything in place before you launch that giveaway. That means any methods of sharing, graphics, and links should already be in place before you hit go. What I like to do is create a blog post (kinda like this one) and I allow that post to be shared. That way, it's being shared among my readers and not as likely to be picked up by a random person seeking a free book.
Of course, you can't control everything. There is always a chance that someone outside of your target audience is going to somehow pick up that link, enter, and maybe even win. There are people who specifically hunt for prizes to win or even to resell. All we can do is try.
What do you think? Pretty easy, right? Once you have your strategy down, it takes only a couple of minutes to get these giveaways set up and working for you.