At The Bookie Monster we love being able to give away free copies of the books reviewed on the site. So readers can find oodles of goodies on our Free Stuff page at any given time.
The downside to having so much swag to raffle is the page load time is of dinosauric proportions. But alas, I am a techie, and after years of owning sites and developing eCommerce sites, I know that slow means Sayōnara. I don't wait around for minutes for a page to load, so how can I expect others to?
So began my quest to explore what was out there and compare features and, of course, speed among some of the different tools available to bloggers. Short of begging my husband to build it for me (I did...he's considering it) my hands are tied.
Read on to find out what I consider the good and the bad about these tool's offerings.
"Rafflecopter is the world's easiest way to run a giveaway online. Rafflecopter allows you to customize and embed an entry form on your site that incentivizes your audience to perform tasks in exchange for entries into a sweepstakes. Customize your widget and place it anywhere HTML is accepted, whether it’s on your Wordpress blog, your Facebook page, or both! Provide the promotion details, plug in the prize, and you’re off and collecting entries. The more entries completed by entrants, the better chance they have of winning, and the more interaction your promotion receives, helping you grow your community."The Good
Ease of use - It's said one should always customize their message to the dumbest person in the room. Rafflecopter does this by giving it's users an easy to understand interface to both manage your giveaways and create new ones. The dashboard displays giveaways in three categories: Current giveaways, giveaways that have ended and need winners, and closed giveaways. A user can easily duplicate any previous contest, which makes it convenient and less time consuming. There is no reinventing the wheel, only modifying the information to match the current raffle. Should you have an issue, tech support is very attentive.
There is no ability to customize your giveaways. Users are given only the options of a prize description, start and end dates, and to customize Terms & Conditions. What's missing are things like prize quantity/number of winners and sponsor information. Additionally, when choosing winners, it doesn't differentiate between individual entrants. Thus often times forcing a user to delete a winner and choose a new one. Entry types are limited in the free accounts and a user must upgrade to a premium account in order to add an image. Reporting on campaigns is nonexistent.
Plan Costs: Free, $7.99 - $59.99 per month
Screenshots (click to enlarge)
"Giveaway Tools is a web application that creates an embeddable entry-form used for promotions & giveaways. You create the settings and we give you a small snippet of code to place anywhere you want your entry-form to appear. Make the lives of you and your readers easier. GT is the first entry form system to feature automatic entry confirmation. The GT entry form is absolutely free. It always will be."
Giveaway Tools has aesthetically pleasing widget appearance. The ability to auto generate winners and notify via automatic email is convenient. It provides users a choice on how to filter duplicate entries and allows entries to be sorted by total entries or people. Like Rafflecopter, the dashboard displays giveaways in three categories: Current giveaways, giveaways that have ended and need winners, and closed giveaways. Users can specify the number of winners for a particular raffle. Contestants are rewarded entry points for saying they followed/liked a Facebook or Twitter account. No validation is done to confirm they are still fans upon generating winners. (If this has changed, please let me know) Adding an image to the giveaway is included for free and users can crop the image to show as much or litter as they like.
Sponsor name & Prize description do not show on raffle, which begs the question 'why even have these options?'. The raffle title is small and not prominent located in the thin black bar on top. Also not shown is the number of winners that will be selected. So while it's great to be able to specify this information, what good is it if the widget doesn't display it? Entry types are limited in the free accounts and only Feedburner is available for mailing lists. This excludes anyone using Mailchimp or another email campaign site. If using an entire image for the giveaway, there is no way to scale down the image. Users can only crop it. Uers will need to resize images before adding them to the giveaway. Reporting on campaigns is limited. Customizations are limited to color schemes and require upgrade to premium plan.
Plan Costs: Free, $9 per month
Screenshots (click to enlarge)
"PromoSimple is a self-service application that provides brands, websites and bloggers the tools to easily setup, launch and track the results of online sweepstakes and promotions. With the PromoSimple platform you can create custom designed giveaway entry forms, integrate actions on social media networks including Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest as well as email service providers including Constant Contact, MailChimp and Mad Mimi."
Promosimple allows users to view their giveaway in real-time during creation. The appearance and customization of this tool is leaps and bounds ahead of Rafflecopter and Giveaway Tools. Users can select what information (in addition to email address) they would like to capture. There are a huge list of available entry types along with the ability to add in your own custom type. Most are available in the free plan, and only Constant Contact and Mad Mimi are paid integrations. Twitter and Facebook follows now have the option to auto-validate and authenticate accounts and ensure they actually follow. Options to promote your giveaway are built into the design. Users are given the option to publish their contest to the Promosimple directory or your own widget which lists all your current contests. This can be embedded on a blog, site, or Facebook.
With great customization capabilities comes great headache. Other tools take mere minutes to create new giveaways. With a five page process, Promosimple can take ten times the time. Any customization of appearance is not included in the free plans. When I added the code to a Blogger post and it was the last thing on the post, the post was truncated in the middle of the widget. Load time was still slow, but made inert by the widget not loading fully. Pricing, shown below, is outrageous for the premium plans.
Plan Costs: Free, $15 - $550 per month
Screenshots (click to enlarge)
The short of it is none of these options will remedy my speed issue. They all load slowly. But after comparing all three, I'm intrigued enough by PromoSimple to try one out on a future giveaway and potentially move away from Rafflecopter. I chose not to include PunchTab in the comparison. Their entry type selections are very limited. If you currently use PunchTab, leave a comment tell us how it stacks up to the others Pipe up if you have the same issues, or if I missed something.