It’s been four weeks now since I started using Rafflecopter for my giveaways. As some of you know, I asked for input from readers before I moved to Rafflecopter so that I could get some feedback before making the switch. I’ve been planning a follow-up post to share what I learned but I wanted to wait until I had actually chosen a giveaway winner and verified entries using Rafflecopter so that I could talk about that aspect as well.
For me, like most other blog owners, there are two important questions that need to be answered when choosing how to run a giveaway. The first question is, “Is it easy for my readers to enter?” The second is, “Is it easy for me to monitor entries and choose a winner?”
The feedback from my readers played a very big role in helping me make the giveaway easy to enter. Because some people mentioned that they forgot whether or not they had entered a giveaway after their cookies were deleted, I used leaving a blog comment as the mandatory entry almost every time. This way, if someone forgot whether or not they had entered a giveaway, they could just search through the comments quickly.
The other important piece of information I received from readers was that when their cookies were deleted, they were required to complete the mandatory entry again so that they could access the daily tweet option. I worked around this by not using Rafflecopter’s “mandatory entry” feature, which blocks access to the other entries until the mandatory one has been completed. Instead, I simply made sure to state that completing the first entry was mandatory. Yes, it requires readers to read the giveaway details, but that’s no different than when I was running a giveaway using blog comments as entries.
That effectively dealt with the two biggest issues people mentioned about Rafflecopter. The other consideration was, of course, whether or not choosing a giveaway winner and verifying their entries was easier using Rafflecopter than it was using WordPress. Choosing the winner was much easier; with one quick click Rafflecopter randomly chose a winner and provided me with all the relevant information including the comment number, the entry method, the IP address, the date and time of the entry and the winner’s email.
But choosing a winner has never been terribly difficult; the hard thing about running a giveaway is checking and verifying the winner’s entries. With WordPress, I can filter comments using a winner’s IP address to find all the entries that person has made. The downside is that all the entries from all of my giveaways are lumped into the same list, so I then have to search through pages of entries to find the ones from the giveaway I am currently dealing with. This isn’t a big deal when somebody only enters once, but when the person is collecting daily bonus entries with tweets I sometimes have to search through ten pages of entries to make sure the winner truly tweeted once per day.
Rafflecopter, I was thrilled to learn, made this process SO much easier! First of all, when I searched the giveaway entries for a certain IP address, I was searching only through the entries for that particular giveaway. No more hunting through pages and pages of unrelated entries!
Then, I just expanded the entries to see what entries the winner had completed and I could start verifying. I was quite honestly blown away by how easy finding the winner’s entries was; it was a HUGE improvement over searching through my WordPress comments!
Of course, there are still a few issues with Rafflecopter; I know at least one reader ran into a problem where they were unable to enter a giveaway. (I have a feeling “Oh Noes!” is going to become a phrase that causes shudders among giveaway entrants everywhere!) But for the most part I haven’t had people reporting a problem with the widget or the system so I hope everyone is finding Rafflecopter to be an effective means of entering giveaways. While both easy entering and easy verifying are important to me, when it comes right down to it I would much rather make sure that my readers are able to easily enter giveaways even if it means more work for me verifying the entries. After all, I couldn’t run my blog without you!
So, after four weeks of Rafflecopter giveaways, what’s your opinion? Is Rafflecopter a keeper? Have my work-arounds for some of the program’s issues been effective? Let me know!