Shop Talk: How to Approach Online Contests
Q: "I've recently launched an online photo contest and have done all I can to promote it: made it easily sharable via Twitter/
Facebook, emailed my customers, incentivized my affiliates, etc. What are some other ways to get the word out about online contests?"
— Patrick Vesperman, internet marketer, Legacy Learning Systems
A: Contests are a great way to expand a company's marketing reach if the message gets out to the right people. Online promotions of all types, including contests, require a combination of paid advertising and a top-quality network to be successful. The network has to be large enough to generate traffic and interest to make the contest successful. Adding pay per click and advertising on social media platforms is needed to expand your reach. Before your next contest, create and execute a staged strategy to build community and interest. It should include three stages:
Stage 1: Prelaunch
Find the most active photography communities. Monitor the activity so you'll know who to include in the launch.
Plan an ongoing communication strategy that keeps the contest in front of your customers, social communities and media. Messages have to be repeated to gain traction.
Create and optimize promotions including the landing page, website, search, social networks, emails and press releases. Ensure that the contest is well represented everywhere. The current contest is weak on optimization. For example, the website homepage mentions the contest but the photography page doesn't. Use every opportunity to get the message to the people most likely to be interested.
Establish relationships with photography reporters and bloggers. When you're ready to launch, people that know you are more likely to share information about the contest.
Stage 2: Launch
Have a definitive beginning and ending for the contest. This was done with your current contest.
Execute the ongoing communications strategy. Follow up with interested reporters and bloggers to keep them informed.
Measure response from every promotion you do. Invest more in the areas that are generating the most entries.
Promote the end of the contest by announcing the winner online, sending emails to your customers, and notifying every reporter and blogger that participated in sharing contest information.
Shadow the winner and make sure to capture candid shots of his or her experience. Share them with your community.
Also, ask the winner to write a testimonial about his or her experience that you can use when promoting future contests.
Successful contests take time to create. They build on past experiences. People are hesitant to share personal information if they don't have an established relationship.
These three stages work together to help you create a top-quality community that trusts your company. Keep building on this foundation and before long consumers will be waiting in anticipation for your contests.