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7 Steps to Creating an Effective Contest Marketing Strategy
  • Contest Factory
  • June 9, 2022

Contest marketing strategy

Contest marketing is an effective way to promote your business, brand, product, service, or event. It’s also a great way to generate leads for your business. The reason contest marketing is so successful is due to how our brain works – gamification makes contests fun for the buyer and provides that addictive experience you feel when gambling – but your contest will be free!  Before you start planning your next contest, there are several things you need to consider first.

Define your objectives

Before you begin creating your contest, make sure you understand what you hope to achieve with it. What do you want to accomplish? Do you want to build awareness for your brand? Generate leads? Increase sales? Or maybe you just want to see who has the best idea. Whatever your objective, make sure you clearly define it so you can measure success. And remember when defining your key performance indicators that you want these to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely goals – or your KPIs might not be the right metrics for this effort.

Typically contests affect two major marketing pillars, brand awareness and lead generation.  Tertiary results can be considered brand affect.  You need to have some benchmarks on brand awareness from a survey standpoint or just asking once you have promoted it would definitely have some response bias.  You want to compare numbers on your KPIs from before contest and after contest to determine your measure of success – you will also incorporate how much you spent on the contest so you can see if it was an efficient use of your ad dollars. If you can get the same number of leads and brand awareness from another advertising tactic, then you may consider once you evaluate your contest effort; it’s rarely true that you’ll find better lead gen results outside of contest strategies and tradeshows which are VERY expensive.

Identify your target audience

Once you have defined your objectives, you need to identify your target audience. This will help you determine what type of contest you should run. If you’re looking to generate leads, then you’ll likely want to focus on a smaller group of people. On the other hand, if you’re trying to build awareness for your company, then you might consider running a larger contest where anyone can enter.

And again, you may be trying to do both. You will want to determine your priority which is typically lead generation and identify your target demographics, psychographics, and where you think these folks live on the web so you can reach them. Typically, a combination of social media, native advertising, blogs, podcasts, and professional network sites will deliver the highly congruent audience you are seeking.  You can use a media buying agency to access larger more targeted audiences.  You may also upload your client file into many ad buying platforms to create look alike audiences off your best customers.

Your targeting will provide the value in conversions and the further you amplify that will provide the brand awareness you are also seeking.

Decide what type of contest you want to have

You’ll also need to decide on the type of contest you’d like to run. There are many options to choose from these days.  You can run a user generated photo contest, user generated video contest, a sweepstakes, a user generated audio contest, user generated essay contest, trivia contests, instant spin and win contest, and even tournaments.  The sky or creativity is the limit on this one – with 30 years in the contest business, there really is no end to what you can do, only legal limitations; and why it’s best to have a contest provider that understands the requirements by state on what you have to provision to ensure its legal in all states or global.

Selecting the prizes

This is the fun part – you want to identify something that cleverly evokes your brand in the prizes.  You will want to do a first place / grand prize with several runner-up gifts.  The grand prize may be something larger than your brand sells, like a vacation, yet you can also provide a swag bag the size of a suitcase to outfit your winning travelers in your brand.  Send them to Hawaii in your brand style with all the branded details of a water bottle, t-shirts, suntan lotion and more.

The Legal E’s & Fine Print of Contest Marketing

There is a lot to administering a contest that goes on behind the scenes; from gathering proper insurance and bonds, ensuring you are not violating any state or federal laws, writing the terms and conditions, obtaining affidavits of consent, multi-layer fraud detection, and winning customer acknowledgment and taxes.  To be sure you are compliant, you will want to run your contest with a reputable contest administrator.

Create a landing page

Once you’ve decided what kind of contest you’re going to run, you’ll need to set up a landing page. This will be the place where people enter their information to participate in the contest. Landing pages have a simple recipe to success:

  1. No navigation – this page should have one form call to action and no other click points.  Simply data collection fields with a button that says, “I want to win”.
  2. Strong title – consider looking at Buzz Sumo for ideas of what more folks click on; it costs to pay to play, so if you’re not ready to spend, you may not be ready to earn.
  3. Beautiful and vivid imagery – consider your grand prize as imagery of the promise to submit their contact information.
  4. Captcha and email verification – since you are paying, be sure you are getting the real deal and not a bot. Be sure to validate emails with one of the many options available.

It’s important to make sure that the landing page has a clear call to action so that people know exactly what they should do next. (i.e. Get My FREE Dream Vacation)

Promote it

You can promote your contest through social media, email campaigns, and other online channels. Make sure that you use these tools strategically. If you’re promoting your contest via social media, try to post at least once per day. Email campaigns work well when you send out one message per week.

You should be well on your way to devising contest marketing strategy that will increase leads, lower cost to acquire, and increase brand awareness. Let us know if you need help with the details – we’re here to help!

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