document.documentElement.className = 'js'; How to Make the Most Out of Your Online Contests

As online businesses gain momentum, e-commerce sites’ relevance and substance also pick up pace. They make their sites search-friendly and visually appealing, create valuable content, and establish their presence on social media.

However, if there is one way that will almost instantly rake in potential customers to your site and pique the interest of your existing followers, it would be contests. Apart from the fact that everybody loves winning a prize, contests make for a good way to advertise your brand as half the time, the participants will do it on your behalf.

On the other hand, a poorly-managed contest can be detrimental to your brand reputation. As such, it is important that you have a clear idea on how to run competitions online. In this post, you will learn how to make your online contests more appealing to your target audience, as well as how you can promote them effectively.

1. Align your ideas with your audience.

For any campaign to be successful, marketers have to keep their audience in mind when coming up with a plan. You have to identify who they are in the massive pool of consumers, and what kind of prizes make them tick. When it comes to contests, it is important that you know which channels are the best means to communicate with them.

Channels

Social media is the most favored platform used by marketers when launching contests, because it makes participating and sharing much easier. Some of the most common social networking platforms utilized in online contests include Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

However, not all businesses rely heavily on social media even if they maintain an active presence. Some of them capitalize on their blog especially if they regularly publish lengthy pieces or content that are technical in nature. If this is the case of your site, you can use your blog as the contest platform, with the help of a third party app to facilitate the voting mechanisms. The point is when choosing a channel for your contest, you have to consider the medium your audience prefers, meaning one that they are likely to visit more.

Contest Rules

Selecting the channels where to launch your contests is one thing, but setting the rules is a different story. Regardless of your chosen medium, you have to devise a way to minimize irrelevant or duplicate entries. One way to do this is allowing only one entry per contestant which you can monitor by detecting their IP address. The same can apply for people who will vote, that is if your contest provides that the entries with most votes declared as the winner. You can set a limit on how many times someone can cast a vote.

Prizes

As for prizes, don’t just give away what’s easy no matter how many of your customers want it. Giving away the latest iPhone model will definitely attract many potential customers, but this doesn’t mean that they will stay once the contest is over. Those who are merely after the prize you’re offering and not necessarily with your product or service may simply hide you from their feed once the competition is over. This means you don’t get to convert them to buying customers.
While it’s important to put up a prize that your target audience wants, it’s equally important that your prize will encourage potential customers to subscribe to your site and eventually convert. For example, if you’re selling dresses in your website, you might want to put up a complete ensemble worth $2,000 for a prize. If you’re selling gadgets then by all means give away iPads.

Just remember to keep the rules clear and direct to the point. If you have the resources, you can also opt to assign a specific channel (e.g. email address, live chat support, or social media page) dedicated to answer queries.

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2. Choose the appropriate platform.

 

Keep in mind that while social networking sites are an easy choice, they can be maximized in different ways. Not everything that works for a Facebook contest may work on other sites.

For instance, photo contests are popular on Instagram, but this doesn’t mean that any photo contest would take off on its own. You have to give your audience a challenge–say, a photo of them using your product creatively–to make the competition more interesting.

You can also make use of a hashtag that is unique to your brand. A witty and memorable hashtag will not just prompt brand awareness; it will also act as a filter that will help you in screening participants. Also, remember that not just because an entry has many Likes doesn’t always mean it’s the best candidate. It may be tempting to pick a winner based on the most number of Likes, but you might want to level the playing field by arranging a jury to help judge in qualifying the entries. This way, you can pick a deserving winner and communicate to your audience that you do the selection fair and square.

If, on the other hand, your target audience is more active and accessible through a different channel like your blog, you can also use this as a platform for your contest. Make use of raffle widgets to aid participants in joining the competition. Third-party widgets can help you enforce contest qualifiers, such as an email address and/or a comment on the blog entry that includes the reason why they want to win the prize. You can also use other means of holding contests on your website like online sweepstakes and register code games.

3. Create forms for lead generation and include calls-to-action.

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Lead generation is a common goal among many marketing campaigns, and you can aim for this as well using your contests. When you create a bigger mailing list through lead generation, you have more prospects that you can connect with for future campaigns or promotions.

When designing a banner photo for your contest, remember to spare a field where people can enter their email address. You should also make joining the contest more exciting by including calls-to-action on your entry form. A simple yet bright text that says “Enter to Win” or “Join Now” can motivate your customers to participate and even tell their friends about the contest.

4. Reward participants for joining the contest

In many cases, there is only one or a handful of participants who get to take home prizes from contests but this doesn’t mean you can’t make everyone feel like a winner. You see, while entrants realize that their winning is up to chance, they’d surely love a valuable take-away from you even if it isn’t the grand prize.

Whether it’s a discount coupon or a free subscription to your otherwise members-only digital magazine, you can inspire your leads to convert into buying customers by giving them something of value. You can also give them additional entries to the competition if they are able to successfully invite three friends to join.

5. Promote the contest

No matter how great your contest it, it won’t promote itself on its own. This is where multichannel marketing comes in. The Internet provides for an effective means of spreading the word about your contest and you can make the best of this by using several online means of advertising.

Apart from publishing an article about the competition in your own blog, you can also submit articles or PR pieces to relevant sites that are willing to promote your contest. You should also take advantage of your mailing list and email your existing customers about the promo. If the contest you’re holding is a fairly big one, you can also opt to advertise via traditional media such as TV, radio, and print.

The point in multichannel marketing is maximizing every possible medium that you can use to plug your campaign and bring the customers to your doorstep—literally or figuratively.

6. Follow up post-contest

Once you’ve picked out the winner, make sure that you announce their names on your site and other social media profiles. If they won a photo or video contest, it would also be better to post their entry on your site and tag them for full credits. This way, you get to share with your network how creative your customers are and inspire others to pursue the same.

You should also touch base with your customers—both existing and new—and express gratitude for joining the contest. Make them feel that their participation is valued and regularly update them of new products, services, or blogs that you publish.

Last but not the least, don’t forget to measure the results of the marketing campaign of your contest. Study all your data, from the numbers and metrics, to the feedback of participants. Rate the channels you used according to their effectiveness and check if you were able to reach your target number of leads. Measuring the results will give you an accurate view of how your campaign performed and will show you which channels can be improved for the next time you wish to hold another contest.