Best Practices For Creating the Types of Contests That Your Audience Will Love
These days, contests are an incredibly successful form of online marketing for several essential reasons. In addition to the fact that they give away free items (and everyone loves something for free), they also leverage the full power of urgency to your advantage. They’re incredibly persuasive, and they help you satisfy the need for instant gratification for as many people as possible.
All this, coupled with the fact that they allow you to tap directly into the desire to win your audience, creates something of a perfect storm in the best possible way.
But how do you create the type of content for a modern audience that will capture their attention and, more importantly, allow you to hang onto it for as long as possible? The answer to that question requires you to keep a few essential things in mind along the way.
The Art of Creating Marketing Contests: An Overview
Before you even think about how to create a contest that will capture the attention of your target audience, you need to spend a considerable amount of time thinking about who that audience is.
Remember that even though it’s true that everyone loves “free stuff” (or the opportunity to win free stuff, in this case), not everyone is going to be responsive to every offer. Therefore, you’ll want to gear your contest not towards the broadest possible audience, but a niche—one filled with people who are already predisposed to engage and buy with a business like yours.
Even if you’ve already defined your audience as a part of your broader video marketing strategy, you’ll still want to take the time to update this research just to give you the most stable (and accurate) foundation from which to build from moving forward. Go back over your buyer personas and ask yourself if anything significant has changed. Likewise, use the real data you’ve been collecting about your customers to see if any of the answers to the following questions need adjustments:
- What demographics are these users?
- What types of problems are they experiencing, and how can I help solve them?
- What types of goals do they have, and how do I help accomplish them?
- What do they like and, more importantly, what do they dislike?
- Where do they spend the majority of their time online?
Not only will the answers to these questions help you design a contest with a structure that appeals to as many of these people as possible, but it will also help make sure that you launch your competition in the right places where they’ll see it, too.
In a lot of ways, it’s not too dissimilar to the process you would take if you went to a site like Respona to research topics for that next blog post you were planning on writing. You still want to make sure you’re tapping into something that people already care about as opposed to trying to create interest out of thin air, and you’re still doing your part to make sure you’re communicating with people in exactly the right way at the right time. Connecting is just the same thing, only on a much larger scale.
Along the same lines, you need to acknowledge that nobody should ever run a marketing or social media contest just for the sake of it. As is real with so many other parts of your marketing strategy, every step you take needs to be purpose-driven – meaning that it should be the best way to accomplish a particular goal that you’re focused on at the moment.
Therefore, before you begin to design your contest, you need to come up with a quantifiable and measurable goal that it will help you accomplish. You also need to create a set of boundaries that you and your team members can work on for the duration of this experience.
Time should also be devoted to exactly how you’re going to define success and which metrics you should be measuring. Sure, your contest may drum up activity, and someone “wins” something in the end – but what did your business get in return? Did you get the number of new customers or conversions that you were after? Did you increase sales by the percentage that you were hoping? If the answers to questions like those are “no,” was your contest a success?
All of this activity will not only help when it comes to the actual nuts and bolts of your contest’s design, but it will help enormously with budget and resource allocation, too.
Contest Types and More
When it comes to the actual contest itself, there are many different avenues to pursue. Just a few of these include but are not limited to ones like:
- Photo contests. You could give away a prize to people who take excellent photos of them using your product or service, for example.
- Video contests. These are mostly the same thing as a photo contest, only obviously using video footage instead of still photographs. Both of these are great ways to leverage user-generated content in future campaigns.
- You could create a quiz that ties into your industry or your niche and give away prizes to the winners.
- Polls and surveys. Not only is this a great way to embrace “gamification,” but the results of the votes or reviews can also unlock valuable insight to fuel future campaigns, too.
Regardless of which type of contest you select, you’re also going to want to make sure that yours is tightly regulated before it launches – meaning that you need to establish the rules in a way that absolutely everyone can understand.
Rather than merely creating a text-based document that absolutely nobody will read to completion, take your contest rules and try to visualize them using a presentation software solution like Visme (which I founded). Not only do people remember more information for more extended periods when they’re presented visually versus via just text alone (meaning that more people will follow your rules). This type of visual communication also makes it easier for people to understand even complicated topics, too.
When you also consider that presenting your rules visually makes it more likely that people will at least skim over them before entering your contest, it’s easy to see why this is such a good idea.
In the end, it’s no secret that the digital marketing era we’re currently living in can best be summed up by a single word: engagement. Beyond creating conversions or sales, your job is producing as much engagement between an audience and your brand.
Especially when it comes to social media activity that so many companies rely on these days, contests are one of the best opportunities you have to do precisely that. Plus, they’re the gift that keeps on giving – once one successful contest is in the books, you can immediately get started on the next one.
About the Author
Payman Taei is the founder of Visme, an easy-to-use online tool to create engaging presentations, infographics, and other forms of visual content. He is also the founder of HindSite Interactive, an award-winning Maryland digital agency specializing in website design, user experience, and web app development.