Win Big! Five Tips for Using Online Contests to Raise Brand Awareness
By Sandra Fathi, President, Affect
Raising brand awareness in a competitive media environment can be a challenge. Many companies struggle with developing creative strategies to engage their target audiences effectively, and as media platforms become ever more crowded, brands face fierce competition for attention.
Leveraging online contests to raise awareness about brands and generate interest in products and services can be extremely effective. Specifically, online promotions can help you:
- Generate leads and sales
- Drive traffic online and off
- Increase brand awareness
- Engage and delight customers, leading to brand loyalty
- Grow your fan base, generate opt-ins and subscribers
- Gain user data and insight
- Collect consumer generated content
- Keep your brand in the press and/or social media spotlight
If implemented in the right way, contests are a great way for both business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) organizations to raise their profiles and interact with stakeholders. The five tips below outline how to launch a successful online contest from start to finish.
Tip #1: Have a plan.
Without one, your contest will be hard-pressed to generate success. First determine the goals of the contest. Is your brand trying to generate sales and leads, drive traffic to a specific site, expand your company’s fan base, or something else?
Once those key questions are answered, you can build the strategy for the contest.
- Be creative with the concept, conservative with the rules and liberal with the entry requirements.
- Make sure the prize is worthwhile and will attract entrants.
- Consider working with a third-party expert who can help you identify or develop the platform and set you up for success.
- Get input from colleagues on the concept and whether they would be enticed to enter, but keep your contest team small so you can be nimble and make decisions quickly.
- Don’t over-complicate. Having a clear message and a concise call to action will ensure contestants don’t become confused or decline to participate.
Tip #2: Measure, measure, measure.
Having a contest for the sake of having a contest will not impress the CEO of your company. It’s also important to consider your budget and the resources you’ll realistically be able to put behind the contest to drive its success. Setting goals for how the contest should elevate your brand, along with metrics by which the campaign will be measured, is imperative and will prove the value of your efforts. For example, are you trying to reach a certain number of Twitter followers? Will you be measuring an increase in visits to the website? How many entries will be needed to justify the contest? Set and agree upon the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in advance so that you can measure success objectively.
At the conclusion of the campaign, be sure to follow through with recording the results and debriefing with your team to make sure ideas for improvement are noted while they are still fresh in everyone’s mind.
Tip #3: Know the laws, or a good lawyer.
Understanding the rules and regulations for conducting an online contest is crucial so that the promotion does not encounter any issues once it’s launched.
For example, to run a legal lottery the promotion can only contain two out of the following three points. Having all three makes the contest illegal:
- Prize – defined by anything of tangible value
- Chance – any random selection of winner, absence of skill
- Consideration – purchase or payment, substantial effort required to enter
It’s imperative to consult your legal team to discuss laws related to the contest.
Tip #4: Implement a safety net.
The crowds may not have your best interests at heart. If a public voting round is involved in the contest, some contestants may receive votes based purely on their photos rather than the actual merits behind the entries. One way to ensure your brand’s contest yields desirable results is by including a safety net, such as the option to select a wildcard entry or the implementation of a screening process. This will enable you to ensure the best entry wins in the end.
Tip #5: Promote, promote, promote!
No matter how big the brand, every contest or sweepstakes needs a push to help drive awareness and increase the number of entrants. Make it easy for entrants to share their entries online and on social channels. Make the most out of social media, and don’t be afraid to put a little money behind some advertising. You might be surprised about the high return you receive.
At the end of the day, online contests are an innovative way to invigorate a brand in a competitive market. Through proper planning and execution with measurable results, you’ll be able to demonstrate the value to the c-suite of your organization and achieve your goals.
About the Author: Sandra is the Founder and President of Affect, a public relations and social media firm based in New York. Established in 2002, the company specializes in business-to-business and business-to-consumer technology, healthcare and professional services. The agency recently won several awards for its online contest, the New York Intern Project. Sandra can be reached at email@example.com or @sandrafathi.