WordPress Giveaways Plugin by KingSumo: First Promotion to Build Our Email List

Recently we went on the hunt for a WordPress giveaway plugin. After running 100 websites for over a year and accumulating over half a million page views primarily with Search Engine Optimization, we came to a harsh realization: We have traffic, but our lists are anemic. We never focused on list building, not like we’ve obsessed over rankings. Sure, we set up opt-in forms on our sites, but we were after the sale out of the gate.

After hitting a wall and admitting our biggest SEO, affiliate and blogging mistakes of 2015, we realized that we had built websites, not a sustainable business. That’s all changing starting now. Step one is setting up the WordPress Giveaways plugin by KingSumo to start building our email lists.

What is KingSumo Giveaways?

KingSumo Giveaways is a plugin for WordPress (self hosted, not wordpress.com) that is used to create viral giveaways to help build an email list. That’s it. Simple. It leverages humans’ natural self-interest to help generate large amounts of traffic to giveaways. Less work, more traffic.

KingSumo has a few weaknesses, which we’ll share later, but just keep in mind that it’s designed to build an email list. Why? Because the money is in the list!

Oh, you don’t own your list? Eeeek! Time to rethink that! Facebook now only shows your posts to a fraction of your followers.
Metaphorically, everything is in the list. If you don’t have a list, you don’t have much. We’re in this category with many of our sites. Even really good Google rankings can disappear overnight, but a list is worth it’s weight in gold. (<——lists are very very heavy don’t ya know!?)

We’ve actually had this plugin on our “look into” list for over a year. Several big internet influencers have been using it with great success, which caught our attention. I’ll share some of their case studies a bit later.

Why We Chose the KingSumo Giveaway Plugin for WordPress

A big factor in us getting on the KingSumo train was that AppSumo had us on their email list. Wait, did you see what just happened? THEY HAVE US ON THEIR LIST! Duh right? We didn’t even enter one of their giveaways they used to grow their list to 700,000 subscribers (<——DUDE WHOA!)

We’d done some research and found several other options out there, which I’ll list a bit later, but KingSumo Giveaways stands out as different. You own it, and you own your list.

The upfront cost is a bit higher than some other options so it won’t be a good fit for everyone, but if you’re serious about list building and want complete control, this plugin is a very solid solution.

We run all of our blogs on WordPress which is required to use the plugin. So if you’re not using WordPress, it might not be a fit for you. However, you might want to consider setting up a WordPress site just to do giveaways. If you plan to collect serious email numbers from your promotions, it’ll quickly become worth your time. Once you see the cost of collecting emails from some of the other services, KingSumo Giveaways quickly becomes very affordable.

Finally we are big fans of the other SumoMe products made by AppSumo and Noah Kagan’s group. We use their highly successful Welcome Mat and other list builders with great success. Currently, we’re running a case study to improve our conversion rates on our white-hat, authority blog. With 260,000 websites running their plugins, they’re not going anywhere. With a 60 day money back guarantee, the risk is on them.

Single Site vs. Multi-Site License Option

If you’ve decided that KingSumo might be a good fit, you’ll next need to decide which license to buy. They offer a couple options. Here’s the overview:

Single Site License: With this license, you own the plugin and can use it on as many sites as you want, but you can only use it on one site AT A TIME. That’s important. So you can use it across your portfolio, but you’ll only be able to have one active installation at a time. This might be great if you don’t plan to use concurrent promotions, for example. Simply install the plugin and add your key. When you’re done you can move the key to the next site. So don’t think you’re married to having it on just one site for life.

Multi-Site License: With this license you get to use it on unlimited sites. To be clear, this means you can run concurrent promotions on an unlimited number of sites. For those with a large portfolio or doing client work (<—-yea run promotions for clients! DUH!) this is a must have.

For us, list building across our entire portfolio will be a focus for the coming year so we decided on the multi-site license. To be able to list build on 20 sites at the same time is priceless. Now THAT’S list building on steroids!

KingSumo Giveaways Case Studies

Having data to backup a service is priceless. As I mentioned earlier, there have been some big influencers using and getting fantastic list building results from KingSumo. I’m sure this isn’t an accident. Noah Kagan is excellent at leveraging major players to get traction with a product. Here are a few of the case studies we found using KingSumo on WordPress Sites to list build.

Joshua Earl – JoshuaEarl.com – 200,000 new subscribers (CASE STUDY HERE)
This case study was so profound Pat Flynn shared it on his blog SmartPassiveIncome.com. If you’ve been in internet marketing for more than a month you likely have heard of Pat Flynn. For you veterans, there’s no need for an introduction. Joshua’s case study shows some absurd list growth with KingSumo.

Noah Kagan – AppSumo.com – 700,000 new subscribers (CASE STUDY HERE)
This plugin was born out of need and filled a massive void in the WordPress community. AppSumo used it themselves and got shocking results from a simple Dropbox for life giveaway. Within 10 days they’d collected 200,000 emails.

Simon Cave – theBecomer.com – 1,134 new subscribers  (CASE STUDY HERE)
Simon used this plugin plus some excellent outreach strategies and leveraging other people’s lists to get a fantastic response. He shows how to get other people with massive followings to promote your giveaway to gain even more traction.

Derek Murphy – creativindie.com – 8,500 new subscribers (CASE STUDY HERE)
Derek isn’t even a digital marketer. He’s an author and book guy. He saw the value in a list and used KingSumo to get a launch. Because he’s not from the digital crowd, he shares some great out-of-the-box ideas for things to giveaway you might not even thought of! He also has a few videos showing how to setup a solid giveaway!

The Weaknesses of KingSumo Giveaways

  • No app integrations: Giveaways is a WordPress plugin, so it lacks many of the app integrations many other services offer. No photo contests, No Pinterest promotions. Don’t expect to be able to integrate it with your Facebook fan page. That’s not the point. It’s to get emails and build a list from your website. Exactly what we want!
  • Requires basic WordPress blog / knowledge: WordPress now runs 20% of the internet, which is like the size of China! It’s simple, but to use KingSumo you’ll need at least the skill to run an independently-hosted wordpress.org site… not to be confused with a wordpress.com free blog which you can’t use plugins on.If you’re not wordpress.org savvy, best to look elsewhere….or get on board with 20% of the internet and get your first WordPress site built!
  • One goal, emails, no more, no less: There are a million ways to increase your following, influence or to promote things. Adding likes, adding followers, increasing shares, giving deals etc. KingSumo is designed to get emails. As you’ll see in the case studies below, one of the peripheral benefits of giveaways is increased social engagement such as likes, shares, followers etc. You can even help drive such activity with your promotions, but ultimately, it’s an email you’re after. So if you want something other than emails, then check out some of the other options below.
  • You can’t give away the farm: Some other apps allow you to require your entrants to jump through a lot of hoops to get entered. This can increase the value per participant substantially. Gleam can even require someone to write a blog post about why they hope they win. You’ll pay for that service, but SEOs pay attention here….it’s a great way to build a lot of links. What’s that worth? With KingSumo, you’ll have to carefully choose the prize. Since you’re only guaranteed to get emails and that means unsubscribes too, you’ll want to choose carefully.
  • Email lists cost money to maintain: Sending emails to large lists isn’t free. If you don’t expect to be able to monetize or create revenue of some kind through your list, don’t build a big list. You’ll simply get stuck with a whole bunch of costly campaigns. Better yet, find a way to monetize your list! After all, you don’t own your list on any other channel. If you’re building a Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest following, you’ve been warned.

Black Friday Deals, Discounts and Coupons for the KingSumo Giveaways Plugin

Sadly, we missed out on some really great coupons from AppSumo. Maybe we should have watched our emails a little closer as I’m finding them now, but totally overlooked them then.

We did find a 50% off coupon that worked for us!

A Few Things You Should Know About Doing Giveaways and Building Email Lists

What we’re about to say is the most critical part of doing any kind of blog or social media giveaway.

Are you paying attention? Here it is. CLEAN YOUR LIST!

Having a huge list is like having a huge stamp collection; it’s really cool to brag about with your chess club friends, but it isn’t worth anything. Okay, maybe stamps can allow you to send a letter if you need to.

Huge email lists that don’t convert are just expensive and a waste of time. Most all major email marketing platforms charge you for one of two things, or both; the size of your list and quantity of emails sent.

Therefore, you need to fine-tune your list so that you’re creating a high-performance marketing channel. Export or segment your list based on past performance. We’ll cover that in a future blog post! If you do seasonal promotions, it could be worth it to pay the money to send an email to everyone during peak season, so don’t throw those emails away. Keep them under your digital pillow.

How to Buy the KingSumo Giveaways Plugin

  1. Go to http://kingsumo.com/apps/giveaways/#pricing and choose your license.
  2. Go to the checkout page where you’ll want to enter the coupon from the previous section.
  3. Choose your payment type. They accept Paypal or major credit cards.
  4. Complete the payment and you’ll be taken to a confirmation page. This page contains a link to download the latest version of the plugin as well as your license key. They also email this information to you so you don’t need to worry about saving it.
  5. Go ahead and download the plugin to safe place.

Installing KingSumo Giveaways and Setting Up Your First Promotion in 5 minutes

Upload or Install KingSumo Giveaways

Upload or Install KingSumo Giveaways: You can either unzip the plugin and upload it via FTP to your site or install it on the ‘add new plugins’ page in your WordPress dashboard.

Navigate to the KingSumo Settings page.

Add your license key which was emailed to you when you purchased KingSumo

setting up the kingsumo plugin wordpress

Set up Google reCaptcha services and insert your keys

Add your social media information

Save your settings

Navigate to the email tab to set up your email settings.

Set your entry email preferences and edit your confirmation email script


Set your winner email preferences and edit your winner email script

Save your settings

Navigate to the settings tab

Add your address: You’ll see later once you create a campaign that this information is used to generate the contest rules and conditions. So be sure to use a valid address here. Using a P.O. Box or like service is a great way to keep your location discrete.

Navigate to the services tab:

You have the OPTION of adding an instant sync with your email provider. The emails collected are still stored in WordPress so you can export them, but it can be easier to also do auto sync. Where this might be a problem is if a flood of emails suddenly puts you over your allowed emails with your email service. That could be a HUGE problem. We’re going to try leaving the emails in WordPress and importing them after the promotion ends, just so we can do some cleaning and filtering before importing.

If you need to add an API key from Mailchimp just go to Account > Extras > API Keys and create one. Then label it “King Sumo”. Copy the key and paste into the box in KingSumo.

Saving your settings

If you’d like to test the integration use the box at the bottom to simulate adding a subscriber. If there’s a problem repeat this section and test again.

Navigate to the advanced tab

Fire Google Analytics events or add other tracking / event code

If you’d like to track events such as visits and entries you can use this code in the ‘extra footer box’:

(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){(i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o),m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m)})(window,document,'script','//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js','ga');ga('create', ‘PASTE YOUR UA PROPERTY CODE HERE’, 'auto');ga('send', 'event', 'KingSumo', 'Visitor', 'Giveaway name');</script>
and this code in the Extra Contestant box

ga('send', 'event', 'KingSumo', 'Contestant', 'Giveaway Name');

Save your settings.

How to remove the KingSumo branding badge

This one will save you a ton of headaches! If you’re new to sweepstakes and giveaways it’s a whole new animal. Would you believe there are people with Google Alerts setup to find new promotions they can enter, just to win free stuff? I know, right?

Here’s a before of the badge

and after with it removed

I’ve found a few different ways to do this that didn’t work and a couple that were way too complicated to mention here so let’s take the easy route shall we?

Head over to Settings > KingSumo Giveaways > Advanced

Paste the code below in BOTH the Extra Footer and Extra Contestant Footer text boxes. This ensures it doesn’t show on either page. The giveaway page or confirmation page.

<style type="text/css">
.powered-by { display: none; }

Save your settings

Setting Up Your First Giveaway With KingSumo

Now let’s set up a promotion. In your navigation bar, hover over KingSumo Giveaways > Add New

First you’ll need to title your giveaway. Do this where you would normally title your page or post. This will be the big title text on your giveaway page so make it appealing and catchy. Let people know clearly what’s up for grabs!

Step 1 – Giveaway information

  1. Add your giveaway description letting people know maybe in more detail what the prize is.
  2. Set your start date and time
  3. Set your end date and time
  4. Set the date and time a winner will be chosen
  5. A default set of contest rules is included. It utilizes many of the shortcodes from the settings we completed earlier. This is why it’s important to include your address etc. Modify this if needed.
  6. Lastly you can decide the value of referrals to the contest. If you want someone to get a lot of entries per referral, be generous here. If you’d like to keep it more interesting, be more conservative. This information is sent to the contestant in their email so think carefully about how to maximize the incentive to share.

Save your settings

Step 2 – Prize Information

  1. List the name of the prize.
  2. List the brand: If you’re using name-brand prizes you’ll want to proudly display that to motivate people to work hard to for more entries. It’s important to put this information in as the plugin uses this in the disclaimer text to show that the brand you’re promoting is not affiliated with your giveaway. It’s in the footer text.
  3. Add an image: Look for and use a very high quality image here. Don’t use a fuzzy, low res or cluttered image. Be clear about what’s up for grabs. Google image search can be helpful or if it’s one of your own creations, be sure to present it very professionally and make it appealing.
  4. List up the retail value of the gift
  5. List how many winners will be chosen.
  6. Save your settings

Step 3 – Security settings

This just helps get around bots and the like. Also, people who don’t answer correctly likely shouldn’t be entering the contest anyway. Make the question easy to answer, but not too easy so people who shouldn’t be entering will be slightly deterred from doing so. Give your good followers or contestants a fair shot.

Fill in a couple of obviously wrong answers and one that’s obviously right. Be clear here. Don’t confuse people. After you’ve done all the work promoting this giveaway, you don’t want to lose people to a silly thing like a poorly written question.

Step 4 – Design

Here we’ll add images that will bring the giveaway page to life. Choosing images that fit your audience, as well as sweeten the giveaway, is vital to success. Take your time selecting the images you’ll use. Using one is fine, or use them all. Just be sure not to distract people too much from the prize.

Step 5 – Services

Finally choose how KingSumo will handle emails for this promotion. The easiest option might be to have KingSumo just store the emails.

If during the initial setup earlier you set up an API key with an email service, you should be able to choose lists you have set up with that provider in this menu. KingSumo will automatically add them to that list as they are collected.

WARNING: Remember, if you get a massive response, this could cause you problems with your email provider account. Often, these accounts are based on subscriber count and getting a swarm of them could cause your account to exceed your limit. Choose carefully here.

We’re going to choose to do nothing as we haven’t any idea how well the giveaway will go.

You’re giveaway is now setup!

Great! Now you need to decide if you’ll save this as a draft for editing later or if you’re ready to go live. Either way you’ll want to preview the giveaway page and ensure the informant is accurate and correct any spelling or image problems. Presentation is important.

Either way, be sure to save your edits

KingSumo Alternatives to Grow Your List

We’ve kept our eyes open for the dominant players in the giveaway and sweepstakes service market. KingSumo is great, but won’t fit everyone. Here are some other services we found and what they do better or different.


Rafflecopter may be one of the oldest and most well-known SaaS sweepstakes services out there. Their service is designed to be fast, easy and very universal.

To get features comparable to KingSumo Giveaways, you’ll need to get to their Premium Package which is currently $84/mo.

They do offer lower-priced options, but you lose a lot of features quickly and perhaps the most vital of all, the viral “refer-a-friend” feature. This is basically the entire premise of KingSumo, to harness the power of self interest to grow your promotions FOR YOU! Think long and hard about starting a promotion without the ability to harness virality.


Gleam offer tons of promotional apps, not just sweepstakes, so you can get creative. The bad news here is that unless you get on a paid plan, you’re not getting access to your list. They hold the list hostage on the free accounts.

Unless you simply want to give something away and have a software pick the winner, you’ll need to get a paid account. The point of this post is to list-build, not give stuff away. They do offer many integrations, entry verification and fraud protection (<——always a concern with giveaways!).


Viralsweep is a robust service to say the least, but you don’t get much here for free. They have an app just for Pinterest giveaways and have many other great features like a redirect after entry, verification codes to avoid bot and spam entries and even daily entries to keep people coming back.

ViralSweep has awesome features, but to rent for one month you could own KingSumo. So just think about that before you decide.


PromoSimple is seemingly a less-polished giveaway platform. PromoSimple is an SaaS solution and I’ll point it out again: to get the “refer-a-friend” feature you’re going to have to commit to paying $75/mo.

They do offer social interrogations again with a WYSIWYG Facebook page builder, so if you’re going straight for social giveaways this might be an option for you.

It’s not entirely clear how well they integrate with different platforms, and whether they give you a snippet of embed code or if they require you to send traffic to a page on their site. If you’re leaning this way be sure to research this thoroughly as you’ll lose analytics if you send traffic somewhere other than your site.


Woobox is the Facebook app goliath. They have all sorts of promotions you can do. Their sweepstakes app apparently can also be embedded into your website. Look for engagement restrictions based on pricing. You basically don’t get anything for free, but the features for Facebook promotions are second to none, so you might see the value in their paid packages.

Creating a Promotion Strategy for Your Giveaway

Giveaways are a proven method to drive viral traffic and build your list. However, even the best giveaway without a proper promotion strategy could very well fall flat on its face. This doesn’t need to be complicated, but having a written plan will ensure you don’t make a stupid mistake like forgetting to publish the giveaway page, or post it to your Facebook group.

The case studies provided earlier have some fantastic suggestions to help develop a step-by-step checklist and action plan.

Time to Do a Case Study and Share Our Results

We’ll be doing several giveaways across our affiliate, blogging and SEO properties. We’ll be keeping track of which promotions do the best and worst. With the data, we’ll try to create a case study with what we did well, what we think we could have done better and what we think impacted the success rate of each.

To be notified when this case study is available, don’t forget to subscribe to our blog! If you haven’t already, just use the blue bar the top of our site!

Also… subscribe to our blog to see how we will be using these lists! We have some wile and crazy ideas planned for maximizing our lists and trying out new monetization strategies.

Ready to Give KingSumo a Try?

Are you going to try KingSumo to grow your list? Do you have questions still about the plugin or list growth?

Please share any experiences, questions or ideas below. We’d love to know!

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