10 Tips for Hosting a Successful Online Contest

September 23, 2010 Posted by James Adams

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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!

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Posted: September 23rd, 2010 under Guest Posts  

23 Responses to “10 Tips for Hosting a Successful Online Contest”

  1. Alex Dumitru says:

    Great tips. I have been doing contests for a long time and this is really useful :)

  2. I was actually planning a contest :) good post James!

  3. Contest are great..I got a simple content on my blog now for the person who leaves the most comments in a months time..will get an free TrafficColeman T-shirt..just something for them to do in exchange get something free..

    “TrafficColeman “Signing Off”

  4. Ya,I am going to start doing contests in a week or so.I don’t know what kind of contest yet though. :(

  5. Julius says:

    We also have to ask the contestants for comments on how to improve the ongoing contest.

    In addition, we should make sure we do an entirely different contest, if we plan to have other contests in the future.

  6. great tips, I am just gettin started with online business so I guess there´s a lot of work ahead.

  7. Dan Lew says:

    I think the best value in contests is giving cash prizes or electronic gear!

  8. I think Tyler needs to take some notes from this guest post. It seems that Tyler’s blog contests get far too few entries. Perhaps his prizes just aren’t good enough.

  9. car battery says:

    Those are some great tips and guidelines. I often come across contests that don’t feel any different from buying a lottery ticket, as the question is so easy and simple that it might as well be a formality. A contest has to be engaging to draw in a lot of contestants.

  10. Precious information inside type of ebooks is good to. If the contest is held by somebody that is very succesfull, every person would like to have a peak inside

  11. Well, nice tips on hosting an online contest but what about traffic? How to let a lot of people know that you are hosting a contest?

  12. Bit Doze says:

    For some time I am thinking to do a contest on my site to bring more visitors. Thanks to your article I have some good guidelines of how to do this.

  13. Staying legal is what some of the online contests cannot accomplish. I have come across some sort of illegal or copyright infringing contests and didn’t enter them.

  14. We also have to ask the contestants for comments on how to improve the ongoing contest. ;)

  15. Well promotion has to be done at a great extent to make most out of your contest.
    If you do not get enough participation your contest will go in vain.

  16. Jasmine says:

    Great tips. I think one of the most important thing to consider is having a big and great prize for the winner!

  17. SEO Miami says:

    Nice Tips! I thought about running a contest as well! This will definitely come in handy.

  18. […] or Less (TwiTip) 32. 45 Link Building Tips To Help You Promote Your Blog (Blogussion) 33. 10 Tips for Hosting a Successful Online Contes (Tyler Cruz) 34. Using Delicious to Understand Your Users (ShoeMoney) 35. 50 Power Twitter Tips […]

  19. I’ve been thinking about how to better use FB for the last few weeks. I’m glad I found this article. Very good ideas to get my thoughts in order.

    Especially about not just letting people choose a yes or no response. Most of the contests and polls that I’ve seen allow people to only click a radio button as an answer.

  20. […] giving your current followers something to get excited about. As a result, they begin to associate positive emotions with your products and services. This is especially true if you let the users actively participate […]

  21. […] or Less (TwiTip) 32. 45 Link Building Tips To Help You Promote Your Blog (Blogussion) 33. 10 Tips for Hosting a Successful Online Contes (Tyler Cruz) 34. Using Delicious to Understand Your Users (ShoeMoney) 35. 50 Power Twitter Tips […]

  22. Rob Campbell says:

    these are actually not good tips. I could have come up with better insights in the shower. oh like #10 get your attorney involved. What kind of advice is that? but you all know that and you are all just comment spammers

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