Types of Contest
There are two main kinds of contest, and they each have their own benefits.
The most common type of giveaway is called a sweepstake, or a random draw. In a sweepstake, people only need to submit their email address. They don’t need to submit anything beyond that, meaning it’s very low-effort. For this reason, it appeals to even the laziest among us. It’s also the easiest on your part, as it’s simple to set up, and selecting a winner only requires choosing someone at random, although you do get plenty in return for the prize: lots of lovely data!
For some prizes, contestants don’t need to give more than their email addresses. For other, bigger prizes, they’ll need to provide more data too. Address details, for example, are obviously necessary if you’re going to send the prize to them. You don’t want to ask for too much, but offering contests is a great opportunity to learn more about your customers. This is a prime opportunity to gather some information about your customers which can prove useful later down the line when you come to segment your email subscriber lists. Also you might want to take the opportunity to get some quick customer feedback on your products or services – for example which is your favourite flavour / type of XXX that we sell? And just by asking a simple question you instantly have more information than what you started with.
Contests which involve participants submitting something – also known as “best entry” contests – require a bit more thought, but can be very popular. They can be text-based, asking people to write a story, idea, or essay. You could also hold a photo contest or a video contest (so shareable!). Try not to make the premise too hard, or not many people will make the effort to enter.
To pick a winner, you could manually go through the entries and select one personally, or you could allow the public to vote for their favourite. Going with a public vote is usually the best idea, as it encourages entrants to share your contest on social media, helping it to gain popularity.
What Type of Prize Should You Offer?
Choosing a prize isn’t as easy as it first seems. Of course, you should offer something tempting, that people will actually want. Believe it or not, you don’t have to go for a big, flashy prize such as a cash sum, a holiday, or an iPad. Although these might seem appealing first choices, do they relate to your audience? If they do, that’s great: it would make sense to offer a holiday to the Caribbean if your site is all about scuba diving. But if the prize is completely unrelated- say you run an E-Commerce site for scuba diving equipment, and your prize is a year’s supply of cat food- then you’re not working with your audience, which is only going to hurt your campaign.
The key to choosing a great prize is to make it unique. If you tailor the prize to your target audience, you’ll make sure that the people who enter – and therefore the people who newly subscribe to your emails – are people who are actually interested in the product or service that your company offers. They’re more likely to stay subscribed, and buy from you in the future. You could give away your own product or service as the prize, or you could offer something supplied by a sponsor. The advantage here is that the company sponsoring your contest will also help to market it, giving you double the exposure. You don’t even have to pick something that’s high in monetary value; limited editions and super-relevant prizes work, too.
Actually Marketing Your Contest
The most important thing about running a contest is marketing it correctly. Even if you set up the most exciting contest known to man, you need to make sure people see it!
Social media is your best friend here. Facebook and Twitter provide ideal platforms to get the message across about your contest. On Facebook, you can set up a promoted post that advertises the contest – you can even tailor it to the specific demographic that you want to target. Your contest will slot right into potential customers’ news feeds as they’re scrolling. Using Facebook also means that if people “like” your post or page, their friends will see it, too. Twitter, Google and Reddit also allow you to pay small amounts for advertising that many people will see.
Don’t forget to advertise on your own blog, too, as well as sending an email to your current mailing list. Even though these people are already subscribed, they’re obviously interested in your company, and therefore likely to share the contest with others. In order to encourage your current subscribers, you could offer them a separate prize only for subscribers, or smaller prizes like coupons and vouchers. If you’re giving away a product made by another company, contact them and ask if they’d consider promoting your contest too. If your company ships physical items to customers, you can also include flyers in the packaging to advertise your giveaway.
Make Sure Your Contest is Successful!
Now that we’ve decided on the type of contest, the prize, and how we’re going to advertise it, let’s go through our top tips on making sure it’s a success.
Set up an automated email that welcomes new subscribers added to your list. Make the tone friendly and personal – engaging with people is the best way of turning subscribers into customers. This is the perfect opportunity to tell people what you do, and what makes your company great.
If you’re using Facebook or Twitter, consider personally replying to people who comment or tweet about your contest. Don’t forget to send reminder emails as the contest is progressing, to keep people thinking about your company.
A good way to keep people interested and spread the word is to offer smaller incentives for sharing the contest. This could be as simple as offering people a second entry if they tweet or post about your contest, or a discount on your product.
Don’t forget to write a “winner” email – not just to the winner, but to everyone who entered. People don’t like to be left hanging, wondering whether they’ve won. This is your last chance to engage people in your company. You could offer runner-up prizes, to make more people happy; or you could offer small consolation prizes to everyone who entered. Make sure to hint that there will be more giveaways in the near future, to keep people subscribed.
So, there you have it: our top tips and guidelines on creating the ideal contest to grow your subscriber list. Now that you know how, you can easily grow your customer base at a fraction of the cost of paid advertising!