How to Successfully Integrate Online Contests Into Your Inbound Marketing Strategy

Many business owners would tell you that social media is a godsend. It’s an incredible way to reach and establish trust with thousands of potential and existing customers in a matter of days, hours, or even minutes.

However, most business owners often overlook or flat out disregard an incredibly valuable marketing tool that could make a huge positive difference: online contests.

Running a successful online contest is a surefire way to attract more followers and get them excited about your brand. The more awesome the prize is, the more excited they will be. Oftentimes this enthusiasm leads to brand loyalty.

A 2013 global survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (also known as PwC) revealed that many consumers are loyal to only a few brands. Out of the 15,080 survey respondents, a whooping 51% reported having interacted with their favorite brands on social media. Nearly half of them said that they would look for promotions by visiting brands’ social media sites. Also, 23% of the consumers surveyed actively seek out brand-sponsored online/social media contests.

4 great reasons to run an online contest

1. Word of mouth

Participants to your contest will be more inclined to spread the word about your business. It depends on the type of contest you’re running, though. If you’re running a voting contest where the participant with the most votes wins, your participants will want to drive their family and friends to your business’s social media page and have them cast their votes there. If you get your contest participants excited enough about the prize, some of them will want to let their followers know about it. In a nutshell, having a successful online contest will basically enable free word-of-mouth marketing for your business.

2. Virality

Done correctly, your online contest could go viral and bring tons of (positive) attention to your business. Check out those three tips that will help increase the chances of your contest going viral!

3. Lead generation

This is the perfect opportunity for you to grow your prospect base. The more you understand your target audience, the more you will be able to market directly to them and grow your prospect base. When there is a prize involved, people will feel more inclined to share some of their personal information with you. Be careful not to scare them away by asking for too much information, though (for instance, do you really need to know their date of birth?)

4. Visibility

People love free stuff. It’s that simple! We challenge you to find a person who does not like free stuff. Some of your followers might be following you just because you lured them with a prize, but at least they’re following you and will see other posts about your business. Sometimes exposure is all you need to turn a potential customer into a loyal one.

Ready to start brainstorming for the best online contest ever that will blow your social media followers away? Don’t bust out your thinking cap just yet! First, let’s cover a few things you have to do in order to create a successful online contest that will jive perfectly with your inbound marketing strategy.

Figure out which type of contest would appeal to your target audience the most.

There are many, many different kinds of contests you could do on Facebook, website and mobile applications. Here are some ideas:

  • Q & A contests/quizzes (to add a spin to it, go for a chrono quiz. The participant needs to beat a reference time)
  • Forms or surveys (everyone who completes a form or survey gets an entry in the sweepstakes, for example)
  • Instant win contests (have your participants fill out a form or click a button to see if they win something)
  • Animated games like memory, guess-the-word… (anyone who plays and wins a game either gets a prize or an entry in the sweepstakes)
  • Text submissions (in the form of a caption for a photo, a tagline, an essay, a short story, etc.)
  • Photo/video/artwork submissions (the best or most voted photo, video, or artwork wins)

To figure out which type of contest would resonate with your target audience the most, ask yourself this question: “What level of engagement do I expect from my target audience?”

In other words, how much time do you think your target audience would spend trying to win your contest? Are they the type of people who would prefer taking a few seconds to participate to your contest, or would they rather exercise their creativity and take some time to create the perfect photo, video, or essay submission?

Also, don’t forget to ensure that your contest appeals to the lifestyle and passions of your target audience! The key to a successful contest is to engage, excite, and “wow” your followers.

Make contests part of your overall marketing strategy

Since contests, if done correctly, will grow your brand on the internet, mobile and social media and allow you to really engage with your consumers (therefore making them more invested in your brand), they are truly an invaluable marketing tool. That’s why you shouldn’t treat them as a small aspect of your marketing strategy. Instead, find ways to integrate contests with the other types of marketing you already do. Be creative!

Keep it short and sweet

If you let your contest run for too long, it runs the risk of fizzling out over time. By adding a deadline to the contest, you will add a sense of excitement and urgency to it. Also, shorter contests are usually more likely to go viral. It helps to consider the timing of your other marketing campaigns. Work your contest around your other campaigns, or maybe even integrate it into one of the campaigns you have running at the same time!

Choose prizes that are “just right”

Channel your inner Goldilocks and decide on prizes that are not “too hot” (prizes that will definitely appeal to your participants, but may hurt your business financially), “too cold” (prizes that are affordable for your business, but may not appeal to your participants), but “just right” (desirable prizes that won’t break the bank).

Analyze, analyze, analyze!

The contest is not over until you completely understand the impact it made on your brand. As soon as the contest hits its deadline (and you choose the winner), take all the data you have available (such as conversions, sales, number of followers, clickthroughs, and so on) and measure how much the contest impacted your followers and your brand. If the effect is not as big as you had hoped, use the data to figure out what to change for the next contest.

Ready to give this whole online contest thing a try?

If you have your AHA! moment and come up with a creative marketing contest that will resonate with your target audience and get them all pumped up about your brand, we have three words for you…

Go for it!