This guest post was contributed by James Adams, a designer, marketer and writer working at a supplier of HP cartridges where he analyses and reviews hardware such as HP 351XL ink and also posts about design and advertising on their blog, the CreativeCloud.
Online contests can generate the enthusiasm and excitement you need to stimulate interest in your business. Giving users something to work or hope for in return for their participation on your Web site increases your exposure while associating positive emotions with your products and services. A contest is also a great way to show the world that your business is honest, fun, and legitimate.
In these 10 tips for hosting a successful online contest you will find valuable advice for boosting your business through this powerful opportunity.
- Establish clear goals for your contest: By planning your contest before it begins, you will find that your efforts will get better results. After all, if you don’t know what you want to achieve through your contest, how will you judge its success? Your goals could be to achieve a certain number of subscribers, new visitors, or click-throughs from a particular site. Document what you want to accomplish and then plan your contest in ways that will achieve your goals.
- Choose a theme that people care about: Relevance can make or break your contest. Regardless of how specialized your products and services are you need to make sure that your contest encourages open participation while promoting your business. You want people to see how your business can make their lives better or how bad things would be if your business wasn’t there for them.
- Let people shine: You don’t want just yes or no answers from your contestants: you want people to let their hair down, say what they think and show their true personalities. This may sound to achieve, but more personal expression will spawn more participation and more success.
- Select a format: The type of contest you choose may have more to do with your personal preference than anything else, unless you can find performance data showing which style works best. You could have drawings, sweepstakes, essay contests, treasure hunts, or criteria based contests that offer rewards for a certain number of blog posts, comments, or recruited subscribers. Regardless of what form your contest takes, make sure the rules are clear and easy to find.
- Make it worth it: Don’t make your contest center on a useless subscription, a spam e-book, or a cheesy promo item. If you are not willing to give away something that’s worth having, your customers may not think your contest is worthy of their participation.
- Let users drive the contest: By allowing users to interact with the contest by voting and having other input into the contest, you’ll find that you will have more enthusiastic participation. Publicize the results of the contest so users know that someone actually received the prize.
- Publicize your contest: Get the word out about your contest through a special Adwords campaign, your email list, or through social media. After all, what good is having a contest if no one knows about it? Address your appeal to your audience, be creative, and inspire people to act.
- Consider your timing: Consider when you will have your contest as part of the planning process. Allow enough time for promotion before the contest starts and end it when people will be around (not on a big holiday, for example). You could also time the ending of your contest to coincide with a new product release.
- Moderate your contest: You already know that your users need to interact with the contest for it to be successful, but you need to be involved as well. By paying attention you will find out if participants find your contest confusing, or if there are offensive comments that need to be removed.
- Stay legal: Check with your attorney to see if your contest is legal in your location. Also find out what disclaimers, policies, and procedures you need to have in to prevent your contest from turning into a nightmare.
These 10 tips for hosting a successful online contest will help your contest be fun, fulfilling, and profitable. Get started today!