How To Grow Your Newsletter With Referral Giveaways

A growth hack I used to drive 100k+ subscribers

Deep Dive

How To Grow Your Newsletter With Referral Giveaways

I used Referral Giveaways to drive 100k+ newsletter subscribers.

Here’s how they work:

  1. Give away a product or service for free

  2. Subscribers enter to win by sharing their referral link

  3. 1 successful referral = 1 entry to win the giveaway

These work great because:

1) The Incentives

The more subscribers share, the better their shot at winning.

Yet subscribers still get a chance to win with 1 referral.

This incentive structure is key.

  • You want subscribers to share as much as possible.

  • But you don’t want subscribers without a large network or following to feel left out.

2) You don't need a referral program

If you don’t have a milestone referral program, that’s ok. You can still do referral giveaways.

Use beehiiv’s or SparkLoop’s referral tool to give readers a referral link to share and track results.

3) The subscribers you get will be high-quality.

This is because the people being referred don't sign up because of the giveaway.

They learn about your newsletter from a friend or co-worker sharing it with them.

4) Scarcity and urgency

Referral giveaways should only last 3-7 days.

This gets readers to share ASAP before they miss the opportunity to win.

Plus, if you can make the prize limited readers will share more.

You’ll get most of the referrals on day 1 and in the last 24 hours of the giveaway.

Make sure you promote it heavily in the last 2 days.

5) Commitment and consistency

Readers who share your newsletter are more likely to keep reading, share more, and buy your products.

6) These are the best types of products to give away

  • Apple products (MacBook, iPad, Watch, AirPods)

  • 1:1 coaching call with the newsletter writer / founder

  • Your products (your course, book, membership, physical product, etc)

I tested 10+ products at The Hustle and other newsletters, these worked best.

Don’t reinvent the wheel and try something new.

Try these first.

  • If you have a big list you can give away multiple prizes to multiple readers (Example: $7k tech giveaway with 10 winners)

  • If you have a smaller list you can give away a lower-priced product like AirPods to 1 reader.

7) You can run a referral giveaway every 30-60 days

Any more than this and your list will get fatigued.

Switch up the product and/or rules each time you do one.

For example:

  • 1st giveaway: Mackbook Pro - 1 winner - 7-day duration

  • 2nd giveaway: AirPods - 1 winner - 3-day duration

  • 3rd giveaway: 3 coaching calls - 3 winners - 4-day duration

  • 4th giveaway: MacBook Air, iPad, Apple Watch & AirPods - 4 winners - 7-day duration

8) Watch out for fraud

Some readers will refer other email addresses they own or create.

This is easy to catch by looking at the email addresses they referred.

If they have the same name or domain, it’s fraud.

9) Create official rules, terms & conditions, cover your ass

Every time you promote the giveaway you need to link to an official rules page with the terms of the giveaway.

Here’s a template I created with giveaway rules and terms. 

This is not legal advice.

Also, mention in your giveaway promotions:

“Only real, unique subscribers count as referrals. Don’t cheat, we can tell”.

That will help prevent fraudulent referrals.

10) How to select a winner

Export all successful referrals and referrer’s into a spreadsheet.

Sort so that only referrals within the giveaway timeline are shown.

Then use a random number generator to select the winner(s).

Once a winner is selected check for fraudulent referrals. If there’s not any fraud reach out to them about the prizes.

If there is fraud, select another winner(s).


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