Contests and competitions are great traffic builders. Some sites hold regular contests on a weekly or monthly basis to generate repeat visitors. Holding contests is also a great way to find out about your target market by requesting information on the entry form (Figure 3.2).
Having a contest with your product or service as the prize or part of the prize is great, as all contest entrants are telling you that they are a potential customer. They wouldn’t enter the contest if they didn’t want the prize.
You can simply request that people fill out an electronic ballot to enter the contest. If you want to find out something about the people entering, ask them to answer an appropriate question or two. If you want to do some market research, again, ask a question or two. Make it easy and unobtrusive. The more fields they have to fill out, the fewer people will enter your contest. Be selective with the questions you ask.
If your product or service is appropriate for a prize or part of the prize for other people’s contests, the benefits can be many:
- You can receive exposure for your business if the contest site has a significant number of visitors.
- A link from the contest site will give you targeted traffic.
- The link will help your search engine positioning.
You might have contestants answer three questions relating to your business on the entry form. Of course, to find the answers to the questions, the visitor has to visit a number of pages on your site, and the three questions are marketing
related, sending the visitor to pages that may influence the sale or get them to take a desired action. A question like “What do you get when you join our e-club?” will take them to your e-club sign-up page to find that they get 15 percent off their next order when they join the e-club. Chances are they’ll sign up while they are on the page.
You can have the contest be one where you get information about your target market. When contestants enter the contest, have them rank what influences their buying decision. The information you request can also provide you with demographic or psychographic information.
Allow site visitors to enter your contest often. It boggles my mind when I see contests that limit the number of times a visitor can enter. The objective of the contest is to get visitors back to your site on a regular basis! I’d suggest that to accomplish this objective it might be more appropriate to tell your Web site visitors to “Enter today! Enter often!” “Bookmark this site—The more times you enter, the more chances you have to win!”
You might consider changing the information on the contest Web page around the entry form on a regular basis. Create Web site stickiness by providing links to other areas of your site—perhaps to other repeat-traffic generators you are using on your site, such as your coupons or your e-specials.
Whatever type of contest you determine best meets your marketing objectives, be sure you encourage permission marketing (“Join our eClub to be notified when we have a new contest”) and viral marketing (“Tell a friend about this great contest”). Tweet it out. Post it on your Facebook fan page. Leverage, leverage, leverage: “Tell five friends and receive five extra ballots for yourself.”
Make your contest conditional: “Sign up to receive our weekly e-specials and be included in our drawing for (something of interest to your target market).”
Before you go ahead with holding any kind of contest, find out if any legal issues concern you. There may be restrictions that you are not aware of. (For instance, you might be required to purchase a legal permit to hold lotteries.) You should also remember to ask the entrants the email address where they want to be notified of the winner. This, again, grants you permission to email them to tell them who the winner is, and also to inform them of the new contest or specials that you might have on your site that month.
You want to promote your contest through your social media accounts, public and private mail list postings, group postings, your email signature file, press releases, and links from contest sites.
It always amazes me when I see an online contest where the winner is announced only on the Web site. What a missed opportunity! If your product or service is part of the prize, the people who entered the contest have identified themselves as potential customers. Don’t let them get away! As much as contest owners might like to think that all the people who entered the contest are anxiously awaiting the date the contest ends and the winner is announced (perhaps they have even put a reminder in their scheduler) so that they can beat a path back to your site to see if they were the winner—it’s not going to happen! To take full advantage of having the contest and achieving your objectives, you
want to send an email to all contest participants notifying them of the winner and, in the same email, offering them the contest prize at a discount available only to the contest entrants for a limited time, or for the first 20 respondents. In the same email you also may want to tell them about your new contest and provide a link back to the new contest entry form.