Recently I ran an online competition to promote a local business. As a result we learnt a lot about how to market a competition effectively and I thought I would share with you some of the lessons we learnt.
Running a competition can be a great way to drive traffic to your site, raise your business’s profile and increase the number of people in your marketing database. We had some great interaction with existing customers and reached some new prospects who hadn’t previously had any contact with us.
You can run the competition on your web site, Facebook page, through Twitter or on a third party competition site. Whatever you do though, you need to plan ahead and think carefully about your competition.
Who are you targeting?
Decide what it is you want to achieve and who you want to target. For example, do you want to re-connect with past customers, build brand loyalty, reach new customers, add to your marketing database or raise your company’s profile locally?
Determine how will you measure the success of your competition. Will it be by the quantity of entrants you receive, how many people sign-up to your newsletter, product enquiries/sales, the number of Facebook friends you attract or visits to your website?
Keep it simple
Be clear about the competition and what the prize is. If you try to be too clever or make the rules complicated then you will turn people off.
Make the terms and conditions clear and jargon free. Don’t put too many restrictions on who can enter.
How are you going to run it?
What you want to achieve will determine the best way to run the competition. For example, if you want to build up your Facebook friends then you may decide to offer a prize to a randomly selected person who has liked your page.
If you want to drive traffic to your site then you could host the competition on your web site and use a web form to receive entries.
You may want to tie your competition in with another promotion you are running or other events so you will need to plan ahead. This will give you time to test and refine your competition and write some strong copy to entice people to enter.
If you are planning on promoting the competition on social networks then build up your Twitter and Facebook followers in the weeks leading up, otherwise you will be trying to promote your competition and your social media accounts.
Work hard to promote it
No matter how good you think your competition is, it probably won’t sell itself.
People are suspicious of free stuff so you need to encourage people to enter without overselling. If you tell people there is no catch then they will probably assume there is a catch!
Be open about what they can win and give people the option to opt-out of further contact from your company.
Just promoting the competition on your web site won’t be enough. This will only reach people who would have visited your site anyway.
- Promote the competition on Twitter, Facebook and Google+
- Use a social media plug-in on your competition web pages to encourage people to spread the word to their friends
- Promote your competition in store with posters and encourage your staff to talk to people about it
- Word of mouth is free so get other staff and departments on board
- Promote it online on other competition sites and get your competition pages listed in Google early to attract more visitors. Remember Google indexing takes time
- Get creative with other promotional ideas, such as mentioning it in email signatures or your web site’s 404 error pages and acknowledgement pages
- Follow a few celebrities on Twitter and see if you can get them to retweet your competition to reach more people. You may find minor or local celebrities more willing to do this
- You can use leaflets and adverts but this may be relatively expensive with little return
I found email newsletters are a good way of starting the competition off. You will be able to reach the contacts in your marketing database and may be able to encourage them to tell their friends or colleagues if you offer an incentive.
If the competition runs for a long period of time then send regular emails so the competition is fresh in people’s minds and keep them updated with who has won. Don’t send too emails too frequently and I suggest one a week is the maximum.
By publishing the results, people will begin to trust the competition and your business. It will encourage them to enter because they will know its genuine and that they stand a chance of winning.
Ask permission of the winner before publishing their names. If you can use their names then this makes the competition feel more personal. You can offer an incentive such as including their business details and web address in your marketing materials.
Don’t be tempted to fake the results, influence the outcome or be anything other than honest. You want good publicity and don’t want to run the risk of anything going wrong. Keep a record of activity and proof of the winner so that you can demonstrate the competition was run fairly.