How to Increase Web Traffic, Leads and Publicity with a Contest
People love contests. We love to win things, especially when the contest is about something we are “into.” Like Pets, or children, or food. There are Cutest Pet contests, Smartest Kid Contests, Toilet Paper Wedding Gown Contests, Limerick Contests, and Ultimate Appetizer Challenge.
Companies host contests for all sorts of reasons. Increased Traffic. Building Credibility. Lead Generation. Publicity. Increased Business. And some do so for all these reasons.
Before you consider hosting a contest, think about the goals you have in mind. Why do you want to host a contest? If you want to increase traffic to your website, (or your storefront) a contest can do that for you. If you want to build credibility a contest can do that too. You can host a contest to gather names and contact information from your target audience. Easy. And Publicity. Well if you promote the contest well, create press releases, send to the right media then you will get publicity too.
Here is a case study of one of my clients that can help you plan your next Contest: Big Chef Online, (a Health-conscious, Lean & Green freshly prepared frozen Foods Company known for their High-quality manufacturing processes using local & organic ingredients) is hosting an Ultimate Appetizer Challenge. The first thing we did was brainstorm to decide what type of contest we should create. Since a majority of products Big Chef selsl are appetizers, we decided appetizers (finger foods in particular) should be the focus of the first contest.
Second, we came up with the goals of the contest, what my client wanted to achieve as a result of the contest. In addition to the above stated reasons, another goal is to create a new resource from the contest entrants. The resource is an ebook which will include the best recipes submitted. This resource can then be used as a “give-away” on the site for more lead generation. The resource will also help build BigChef’s library of cook books which is another goal they have for the company.
Third, we decided on “rules” of engagement. Things like: how to enter, who can enter, what type of recipe’s are acceptable, deadlines, etc. You can find the Rules here: http://www.bigchefonline.com/promo-rules.php
Fourth, a list of prizes needed to be decided upon before we could publicize the contest to get people excited about what they can “win.” Here is BigChef’s list of prizes:
First Place winner will receive: $500.00 Big Chef Products Gift Certificate + *Jazz Up Your Food Music CD + **Tips on Entertainment
Second Place winner will receive: $350.00 Big Chef Products Gift Certificate + *Jazz Up Your Food Music CD + **Tips on Entertainment
Third Place winner will receive: $150.00 Big Chef Products Gift Certificate + *Jazz Up Your Food Music CD + **Tips on Entertainment
The added incentive of the recipes being published in Big Chef’s new book is to further encourage people to submit entries.
Next we talked about promotion. As their Internet and Social Media Marketer, that is primarily my job. So we listed the contest on Facebook, Linkedin, promoted on Twitter, on the BigChef Blog and wrote a press release which was submitted to 27 national press release sites.
Other things we did/are doing:
• We created 20+ tweets to send out to our followers.
• In addition, I did research on food blogs and have been promoting to the blogger community to stir some interest and potential respondents.
• We are also submitting some articles to blogs about entertaining, etc.
• And finally I listed the contest on PitchRate, Reporter Connection and Help a Reporter (HARO) to get food writers to submit appetizer recipes.
• We are in the process of creating an email marketing campaign to send out over the next three weeks.
13 things to consider when hosting an online contest:
1. The Theme: Create a theme people can get excited about, and identify with. The focus for the Ultimate Appetizer Challenge is people who love to party, cook and create appetizers. Create a theme logo to go with the promotion.
2. Sponsors: Sponsors can help promote your contest, donate prizes, and publicize the contest for you.
3. What type of contest do you want to host? Is it going to be as simple as having someone just register on your site, leave a comment on your blog or do entrants need to do something such as submit a recipe?
4. What prizes will you offer? And where will they come from? Will they be your own products? Other people’s? Cash prizes? Whatever the prizes they should have a high perceived value to the audience you are targeting. And are the prizes worth the effort? The greater the effort to enter, the higher the value should be.
5. You must establish your own “rules of engagement” the rules by which you run your contest. What will and won’t you allow people to do? Do they need to write an essay? Submit a photo or video?
6. How will you publicize your contest? And where? Will you create a postcard? An email campaign? Any of the above ideas already shared?
7. How will you gather entries? Will you use an online form (such as the form created for BigChef) and where will entries be sent?
8. How will you evaluate (judge) entries? Who will do the judging? When will you judge entries?
9. How will you award prizes? Will you mail them to the winners? Are they email ready? Publicize the winners?
10. How long should the contest run? 30 days is about the maximum I would recommend to run a contest. 15 days is good for quick contests such as enter-to-win where someone doesn’t have to do anything but give you their information. In my experience, a contest that runs longer than 30 days, gets fewer entries and those who do enter wait until the last minute to do so.
11. Don’t make the rules too hard to comply with. Keep it as simple as possible without compromising the integrity of the contest.
12. Do you have a focus group or test group (of 5-7 people) to help you make some of these decisions? People who are likely your target audience are good for this as they will be able to tell you if they would enter the contest and if not, why not.
13. The legalities. Be sure you consult with a legal expert before hosting your contest. In some communities contests of this nature are illegal so you need to know what the legalities are in your community. For instance, did you know you cannot ask people to purchase anything as a condition of entering the contest. You can ask people to submit an entry fee for certain types of contests. There are other rules. Check out www.sweepstakeslaw.com for more information. The important thing to remember about this is Full Disclosure will help you run a successful online contest.
Best of luck with your contest. And if have a family recipe you’d like to share, be sure to enter the Big Chef Ultimate Appetizer Challenge (deadline for submission: August 15, 2011)
Note: if you need help with YOUR Online Contest, give me a call (954-625-6606) or drop me a line! I have hosted dozens of contests over the years and help clients create theirs from idea to implementation.
Heidi Richards Mooney is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of WE Magazine for Women, a WordPress Web Designer, the author of a dozen books and a social media consultant and trainer. Heidi has interviewed hundreds of experts on Social Media Around the World. In 2003 Heidi was named one of 50 women shaping the Internet by the International Virtual Women’s Chamber of Commerce. In 2009 she was named a Twitter Woman to Follow by Only2Clicks.com. She works with solopreneurs, professionals and small businesses in ecommerce, direct sales and retail. Follow Heidi on Google Plus