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Need to Engage your Audience? Use a Creative Sales Contest

Your business needs to acquire more email addresses. Your Facebook likes have stalled out. The traffic to your website is creeping down. What can you do to breathe some new life into increasing your online audience - short of begging people to just “like” you again? Bribe them!

Well, sort of; a creative contest idea that rewards people for interacting with your site and your brand is a great engagement technique. If you’re still on the fence about the benefits that contests can provide, or unsure how to get started, follow these six steps to turn your online contest idea into a tactic to grow your audience!

1. Set Objectives

It’s tempting to just run into the contest world wanting to collect every single bit of information from as many people as humanly possible, but you’re not going to get very far if you cast your net too wide.

Ask yourself what the purpose of running a contest is. Are you trying to get more likes on a page? Email addresses? Increase brand awareness? In an article by Hubspot, they reported that new campaigns acquire a 34% audience increase on average and that 1/3 of contest entrants sign up to receive email updates from brands and partners. Deciding what your ultimate goal is will make it easier to choose the format that will work best for your contest.

2. Define the Details

When you have decided what you want to accomplish, figure out how you’re going to do it. Offering a kick-ass prize is one of the best ways to appeal to your audience and encourage participation. A product you offer or something provided by a partner or related sponsor is a great way to tap into prizes that you already know your audience enjoys.

To make a really great grand prize, it can be a good idea to group together multiple prizes to offer a package deal that will make the perceived value of the prize even greater. But if that prize gets to be too lofty, don’t be afraid to split it up into tiers of prizes. This technique can actually increase participation because there are more chances for your audience to win. Offering an incentive to everyone who enters is also a way to boost involvement; give all entries a discount via email after they have successfully entered. Who doesn’t want to save a little cash?

3. Set Up the Contest

When designing the contest be sure to keep the design clean and clear of visual clutter. Make a very obvious and strong call-to-action so that your future customers know what action they’re supposed to take (entering your contest!).

As you begin to design your contest deep in mind that for every question you ask, you are going to lose people who don’t want to fill out a long form. Make sure that every single question serves a purpose. For instance, if you just want to get a general idea of where your audience is located, you don’t need to ask a person for their city, state and zip code; just asking for their zip will provide you will all the information you need. Are you planning on calling each of the people that enter the contest? If not, then don’t ask for a phone number unless that is how you are going to notify the winners.

Also be cautious on how much information you are asking for. People are usually very cautious when giving away their personal information. Ask only the minimum and make sure that you have a very clear rules section to clear away doubts and let people know exactly what you’ll be doing with their info.

4. Promote

Let’s get that new, shiny, lead-generating contest out into the world! After your contest is designed and tested then it’s time to get it out in the public by promoting the heck out of it. Anywhere that you have the ability to advertise yourself, make sure you mention your new creative sales contest you have created!

Promote your contest on your webpage, using social ads, on your blog, in your email newsletter, even in your company email signatures! Another great way to promote your page is to empower your customers to market for you! No matter what type of contest you are running, make sure that you give people the ability to share your contest, and possibly even earn more entries for doing so. When a friend recommends something, people are much more likely to trust that company, so let your fans do some of the work for you!

5. Monitor

After your contest is live make sure you don’t just “set it and forget it.” You need to be continually testing your contest to make sure it is working. Monitor your social media and email analytics to see if people are encountering any friction points when trying to enter the contest. As you go along, also keep some perspective on a realistic amount of entries. It’s not necessarily about the number of names or email addresses you get. The value is in getting quality leads to people who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer them.

6. Post-Contest Plan

If there is one thing that the mail-in contest company, Publisher’s Clearinghouse, does well - it’s showing that people actually win their contests. Watch cable television past 11pm and you’re bound to see commercials portraying their winners opening their front door to be greeted by an oversized check and an outrageous number of balloons. When you crown a winner of your contest make sure that they aren’t the only people that know about it! In the same way that you promoted the contest to begin with, make sure to promote the winner(s) as well!

If you have your next contest lined up already, it would be a great idea to start promoting those dates during the same time so that people know they can get in on the action immediately. As for everyone else that didn’t win, make sure you don’t forget about them! Contact your list of new contacts and make sure they know how much you appreciate them for taking the time to enter your contest. If you haven’t already done so, now may be a great time to offer them a discount code or coupon to encourage them to purchase from you.

An online contest can be a fun way to increase your customer base while also increasing brand recognition. What other questions do you have about running contests? Be sure to share them in the comments below!

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Liz Banman

Written by Liz Banman

Liz Banman has over a decade of experience in design and marketing, and she thrives when able to combine demographic market research with creative and innovative design solutions in both print and digital media. Always on the hunt for marketing innovations, Liz is versatile and creative with a passion for designing an exceptional experience for customers.

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