How to Launch Small Giveaways with SMS

July 25, 2022

Written By

Chaz Gonzales


Whether you run a small boutique or have expanded your business into the eCommerce space, higher customer retention and repeat customers improves your monthly Revenue. In our other blog article we’ve shared the importance of running giveaways for your brand. Perhaps you are considering running your first giveaway, or perhaps you are not quite ready to run and maintain >$100k giveaways yet. Van Oakes, revolutionary marketing expert from Discovery Channel’s Diesel Brothers, was invited to speak at Via’s monthly eCommerce educational Webinars. He was asked how to best launch giveaways, and he gave insights into how to launch a small giveaway.

Launching Small Giveaways

Data is now the most valuable resource in the world.

For Van Oakes, the wisest thing he has ever done was in 2019, when he decided to create a closer connection with his customers by making an exclusive list of customers on a text marketing channel. Since then, it has become increasingly valuable to have his own audience. Since Apple has released the iOS 14.5 accurate targeting on social platforms like Facebook have greatly decreased. He now owns his customer’s most precious data: phone numbers.

Photo by Vitaly Vlasov here

Diesel Power Gear made 28x ROI with a single iPhone 12

Small giveaways are something that every small company should be utilizing to grow their list. Diesel Power Gear used a single $1,200 iPhone 12 to make over $40,000.

In November of 2020, Diesel Power Gear decided to buy an iPhone 12 for a small Giveaway. The iPhone was a very popular item at the time, and they selected it because it was a very simple giveaway. In a single day, they advertised their free iPhone Giveaway on instagram, opted them in on SMS with a Via Keyword, and sent a 1 Day SMS Campaign. The way to enter was simply: subscribe to be on their text list. They understood how valuable their SMS subscribers were. 

They ran the giveaway for a single day. After the giveaway they grew their SMS Subscribers List to over 5,000 new contacts. Because of the single text they sent out saying they would announce the winner the next day, they made $38,000. No call to action was given, simply the announcement, and a link to their store. Even the next day, after sending a follow up text to announce the winner, people still clicked into their website and DPG made an additional $3,600. 

Diesel Power Gear used SMS and Social Media to promote their giveaway

Understand the Value of LTV

It’s important to understand the value your community has. If you have a good community around your brand, people are going to buy again, and they’re going to buy multiple times. Since the iPhone Giveaway, Van Oakes segmented out all the customers who opted in from that giveaway alone, and discovered that those new 5,471 customers had brought in an additional $134,000 on other purchases in their store over their customer lifetime.

Know Your Niche

When it comes to launching Giveaways, the first thing you’re going to need to know is when, where, who, what, and why about your customers.

- When do they buy? Is it typically mornings, afternoons, or evenings?

- What are they buying most? What are hot items?

- Who is your target buyer? 

- Why are they buying?

Knowing what motivates your audience to buy informs your giveaway decisions. For Diesel Power Gear, they had a 91% male demographic, so DPG decided that the most enticing item to give away every month was an entire truck. 

Bake the Giveaway costs into Your margins

If you’re selling $10 tshirts for $10, you won’t have the margins to do giveaways. DPG sells $35 t-shirts. Do they cost $35 to make? Perhaps not, but with so many incentives to buy them, it makes the price worth it. While Van Oakes was CMO at DPG, he baked in $5 for every single product to accommodate for their monthly giveaways. 

Have a Clear Start and End Date

People will not enter a giveaway if they’re unsure when it started, and especially when it ended. Set a clear date when it begins. Send out segmented emails, leverage SMS with Via, post about it on your social channels, change your main landing page so it’s clear the giveaway has started. Then clearly communicate when the giveaway will end. Send out marketing material with a clear end date. Those who opt into your text messages will be automatically segmented as an audience, and you can send messages saying how many days are left in the giveaway.

Diesel Power Gear got their Giveaways down to a system where they were wrapping up their giveaways, delivering the reward to the winners and gearing up for the next one within a single month. They are able to run Giveaways effectively every single month. 

K.I.S.S. (Keep It Super Simple)

Too often Van would see brands on social media running giveaways that were too complicated. To enter their giveaways, a consumer would have to like the post, add themselves as a follower, tag 5 friends, share the post on their personal stories, etc. etc. That was simply too much work for anyone to enter a giveaway.

Rather than putting customers through so many hoops, have one clear call to action, and build a system so that you do all the work, and they do the least amount. That enables them to want to buy more, and make the entry experience incredibly easy. For Diesel Power Gear, they designed the system so that for every $5 a customer spends on their store, they would get 1 entry to win the giveaway. That meant all a customer would have to do is spend money on products, and wrack up the entries and increase their odds of winning their very own truck.

Keep Your Giveaway Front and Center on Your Website

In Van’s experience, if you send out promotions for your giveaway, and the customer then clicks into your website and there is nothing about the giveaway on any part of your site, it will greatly discourage people from actually continuing on their journey to buy and gain entries for the giveaway. Keep the giveaway prize front and center on your website so people know it is still currently happening, and they have incentive to buy more.


Getting your customers to return again and again can be difficult, especially since paid social channels just got a bit more complicated. But luckily, there are solutions and ideas to increase your revenue and empower you despite the ever changing climate. You can create new content, and engage your customers in new and interesting ways with regular giveaways for your business. It’s possible to start today on launching your own giveaway. Follow the guidelines given above by Van, and see your customers come alive today.

Q&A With Van Oakes

After the Webinar, Van Oakes graciously stayed after to field questions. The following questions are answered by Van.

What’s a good Amount to Start With for a Small Giveaway?

It depends on your monthly revenue. Figure out your monthly revenue and then take 10% of that and invest it into a giveaway. Most of the time you can back out of 10%, depending on what your margins are.

What If I Don’t Have a large social media following? Can I still do a Giveaway?

Yes you can still do a giveaway. No, you don’t have to have a large social media following. If you’re doing your paid ads correctly, you can still do a pretty good job at running a giveaway. You just need to get them to your site and register for the giveaway. You can do that with paid ads.

When Is the Right Time to Run a Giveaway?

Anytime is the best time. For us, we do a large giveaway over the course of a whole month. For smaller giveaways, we ran the whole campaign in a single day. I would suggest weekends because people tend to get paid on Friday. We usually run giveaways from Friday to Monday.

What Copywriting Tips Do You Have When Announcing Giveaways?

I use the Hemingway App to test out my writing and it will diagnose the ‘reading level’ your writing is, and give suggestions on making it more concise. You always want to be around a 4th Grade reading level. Don’t overcomplicate it. Don’t make it hard to understand.

How Far In Advance Should We Plan Giveaways?

We plan 2-3 months in advance for the large Truck giveaways, because we need 2-3 weeks to work with a law firm to get the larger prize registered legally in every state. For the small iphone-type giveaways you can do it within the same week. We like to plan a week in advance so we can get good content and good marketing in advance so our customers know about it.

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