Close your eyes, and picture this.
Your contest was a huge success! The winners have already received their prizes, leads are in your CRM.
Your email marketer colleague is nodding appreciatively. The ads colleague has a content smile on his face for the nice conversion numbers.
Your boss is happy for the money well spent. You are richer with thousands of new email addresses and fans.
Now you deserve that special spiced latte you were saving as a special treat.
You want that, right?
Now, you are just about to start your next campaign.
Do you believe that it can be a success? Just like you imagined?
I am sure.
We know why contests and sweepstakes flop (we have seen many), and we have also seen why they are wildly successful.
At the end of this post you will know what goes wrong most of the time, and how to make it better. You will have a map to successful contests.
Decide The Purpose First
Do you really know why you want this contest?
You need to… as it will define the tools you will use.
If you undress your business efforts to its most simplistic form (or any effort you make) you either want more, or better.
Also you can have these two motives in conjunction: growing your audience (more) and quality lead generation (better).
Neither is superior to the other, they are just different.
- Lead generation is about learning more about your potential customers. You want to know their email address and other quality information, like their product preferences. It’s okay to use longer entry forms and sharp targeting at ads.
- Growing your audience or fan base is about getting more people on board. You want to reach as many people as possible. You can use viral incentives, a catchy grand prize, shorter forms, broader targeting, and a “like gate” to make sure that people become fans on your Facebook Page.
Defining in advance the goal of your contest can help to decide what type of promotions to run, and how you measure your success at the end.
Okay, so let’s see the potential mistakes one by one.
Mistake #1. Flawed Grand Prize
“Yeah, yeah, let’s give away an iPad, I want customers!”
Well, It doesn’t work like this. You can attract volume with an expensive gadget, but chances are low that they are actually your potential customers.
Of course you can want volume if you are after quantity of leads! If you go for quality leads, then you should choose a prize that defines your audience.
For example if you are selling cameras you may consider giving away a tripod to attract pro customers who are looking to upgrade their gear. Or, you can give away a photography course for beginners to target those who are looking for their first camera.
Here is a handy guide on how to find the best grand prize for your marketing goals.
Mistake #2. Low Chances of Winning
What do you think, which one is more attractive?
“Win a car” or “Win one of the 10 test-drives!?”
You picked the first?
Well, I know that a valuable grand prize is tempting, but this research paper on consumer value-maximizing sweepstakes votes on the second option.
Because people think that many peers would enter to win a car, so they don’t bother entering. (This is how the value of a prize can backfire.)
Visitors run a swift cost-benefit analysis when looking at your contest. The more prizes you offer, the higher the chances of winning, so the more likely they will enter.
If the chances of winning are not attractive enough, people may think it is a waste of time and therefore they leave.
You don’t want that.
This post details the psychological background of entering contests and explains why you should offer multiple, lower value prizes.
Mistake #3. The Lack Of Incentives
You don’t think people will share your sweepstakes with friends just like that, right?
If you could win the weekend getaway you were dreaming about, why would you decrease your own chances by inviting more friends? The fewer friends participate; the better your own chances. – This is how subscribers think.
But there is a way to crack this behavior.
Offer bonus points after sharing.
People can increase their chances of winning through inviting friends. (Like one this image below.)
Mistake #4. Tedious Entry Form
Do you think you ask too many questions?
It depends. If you go for quality, then long forms are okay. If you want more and more people entering your contest, you should stick with their email addresses only.
You can’t have your cake and eat it!
According to this study from MarketingSherpa every additional form field decreases conversion by 11%. So ask for only the data that you will actually use in the future.
Mistake #5. Wishy-washy Stock Photos
There are those women who eat salad with knife and fork, have luminous white teeth and smiling to your face…
The Women Laughing Alone with Salad Tumblr is exactly about that.
Stock photos can’t cut it any more.
Actually it’s hard to believe that once they worked.
An overused stock photo can decrease the credibility of your campaign. Try to use something unique – a photo taken by you or a professional, or a nice design from your designer.
Mistake #6. Fluid Timing
Do you like deadlines? I do! A deadline helped me to write this post too.
And you must know from experience, that the work is done no matter when the deadline is, this week or next week.
It’s the same with contests and sweepstakes too. You don’t need to run contests for months so “everyone will have time to enter”. Actually, a long time frame can increase hesitancy and encourage people to postpone entering your contest.
You want a sense of urgency.
- At sweepstakes 5-9 day is the ideal length.
- At contests (where there is an uploading period and a voting period) 18-25 days is the best.
The time left to enter should be visible – that will increase urgency to enter.
Mistake #7. Unclear Call To Action
Okay! Your contest is up and running, and people arrive to your app. What’s next?
It should be obvious what’s next. They enter your contest, share their happiness with friends, and go to their inbox to open their email.
You need to design your contest in a way where people don’t need to think about what to do next.
See this contest here.
Here visitors might turn back as they don’t know what to do.
Where to click?
Actually there is a button at the bottom of the page, well below the fold.
Don’t make this mistake, make sure your fans know what to do, and of course where to do it.
Mistake #8. The Lack Of Promotion
Not promoting a contest is exactly the same thing as organizing a party and not inviting anybody.
You need to promote your contest, to drive traffic to the app.
You can use your existing channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) or pay for delivering the message with ads or sponsored bloggers.
At this photo contest Samsung hired bloggers to spread the word about their contest.
Here are some ideas on how to promote your promotion:
- send out a newsletter
- post to your social channels
- sponsor bloggers who reach your customers
- team up with companies with the same customers
- use paid ads
This post about promoting your promotion can give you further guidance.
Mistake #9. Deluded Ad Targeting
When promoting your contest you need to make sure that you are targeting the right people.
Facebook offers a quick fix by sponsoring posts just after they have been posted. But if you want to reach new people you need to go to their robust advertising system and create an ad.
Pay attention to targeting.
(And I know it’s needless to say but don’t advertise to those who are not even eligible for your contest.)
Fortunately they recently upgraded their ad system, and Jon Loomer has written a great post about the most important changes.
Mistake #10. Not Working On Mobile
Mobile is larger and larger. According to Facebook’s latest announcement 78% of users log in from mobile.
If you want to make sure that mobile users can participate with ease then you should have a mobile compatible version.
Facebook apps doesn’t support mobile, so your contest needs to have a workaround. (Tools like Antavo have this option by default.)
Mistake #11. Trickable App
Since everything is trickable, people have the temptation to hack their way through in order to get a greater chance of winning.
They change IP addresses, register new users, and even blame others with cheating. (Really. We have seen this.)
The sour conversation can continue on your Facebook page. There everyone can see this, and it’s very harmful for your businesses.
With the right technical background it is possible to prevent cheating and fraud at contests. Contest platforms like Antavo know this by feature, but if you develop a custom app, then it’s a must read.
Make sure you can deal with raving fans and cheaters, show commitment and take actions whenever it is needed.
Mistake #12. Can’t Convert To Customers
Running a contest is the first step.
Depending on the aim you may want fans first, then customers. You need to have a strategy in place to do that.
With a witty drip campaign.
A drip campaign is an email series that helps your contest subscribers with onboarding.
It helps build up trust step by step, rather than throwing it in their faces in one lump.
Mistake #13. Missing Hygiene Stuff
There are those technical details that you need to have in order for your contest to work well.
- Clear Terms and Conditions: it should be easy to understand, fitting your local regulations, also Facebook’s terms if you run it there. A good T&C includes all of these.
- The opportunity to ban entrants: I hope it won’t happen to you, but it might, that you actually need to take entrants out of the game. You should be able to control this from the backstage.
- Scalable technical background: a successful contest attracts a lot of web traffic. Use a server background that won’t break at high traffic, or a tool that takes care of it.
Life Can Still Happen
Despite all your efforts there will be people who have seen your contest and won’t enter.
You can’t appeal to everyone.
But that’s okay.
Remember, you compete not only with other contests out there, not even only with other Facebook posts, but with the whole activity of a human’s life. Sunny weather, TV, kids.
You Are The Captain
The thing with contests is that there is no tool that will do the job instead of YOU, the smart marketer.
Contest builder tools can help with the technical background, viral incentives and the design, but the content that makes it stick is coming from you.
Is this frightening? Do you feel like you need some help? You are running a contest and wondering what can be a problem? Comment below, I am happy to help.Do These 13 Silly Mistakes Make Your Facebook Contest a Miserable Failure? by Zsuzsa Kecsmar
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