Recently I ran a contest for our client Rain Dance Hydrographics The client was giving out their service as the prize to the winners. This being the first contest that I had personally ran there was a lot of learning experiences. Here are the top 5 things that I learned in the process of running this contest.
1. Start Early – Before we started this contest we tried to contact blog owners by email offering them a discounted service if they would publish a short post announcing our contest. About a week later when the contest was about to begin we had only heard back from one of the blog owners that we had contacted. We continued on with our contest announcing through other means we had previously decided on. The period of time we ran the contest was two weeks. By about a week and a half in we received a few more emails from the blog owners but by that time it was almost to late. We realized that some blog owners may not check their emails very frequently or that some were just busy and had more important things to do. If you are looking to run a contest I would suggest emailing those you wish to announce through early.
2. Do Your Research Before The Contest Starts - Another thing that we did before the contest started was research to find different forums that we could announce the contest on. We made a large list and then started registering to these forums so that we could post the topic of our contest. We discovered that with a lot of these forums you have to have to be a member for a certain period of time before they would allow you to post a new topic. So of the large list we compiled only a handful of them would allow us to post.
3. Make It Easy To Enter - When running a contest there are a few things that need to be done to have a successful contest. One thing that is very important is to make it easy to enter. If you have started early and had great success announcing your contest but the ways to enter are complicated or confusing chances are people are not going to waste their time on it. Even if the prize is something very appealing to the reader, they aren’t going to put in much time into figuring out what they need to do. Also, depending on who your target audience is, you will want to gear your entry methods toward them and their general abilities and knowledge.
4. A Contest Run On A Blog Is Much Easier Than One Ran On A Website - The client, at this point in time, did not have blog associated with their business. We decided that we would run this contest by creating a new page on their website containing the information about the contest (prizes, rules, ways to enter, etc). The reason we found it easier to run a contest on a blog is because it is much easier to get readers to interact with a blog and enter a contest. Posting a comment on the blog was a huge success in our other contests. Also people who generally read and are associated with the blogging world are typically (not always) more familiar with the link building methods used to gain entries. To sum up our reasons for thinking it easier to run the contest on a blog, it is easier to put up the contest content and it is easier for the readers to interact and enter.
5. Leverage The Losers - As we know, anytime there is competition there is a winner and a loser. In the case of a contest, often times there are many losers. These losers can be a great audience to target. For one, these losers have enough of an interest in the product or service that was being given away to have taken time out of their day to enter. One of the ways you could target this audience is by offering a small discount as thanks for participating. This will not only help give you a good reputation but gives those that entered reason and incentive to come to you for your product or service. Also many times you will have their E-Mail addresses, You could occasionally send them a special offer or a product update to keep your company fresh on their mind for when they decide the time is right.
There is no instruction book that tells you exactly how to set up a contest, and there probably never will be. Every contest will be different because each contest is geared toward a variety of people. However, there are certain things that are general to every contest, and as you (and I) continue to run contests we will learn many things that will be beneficial to running a contest.