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How to Host a Contest

posted April 12th 2017, 8:00 am by Hannah Jorgensen

maico-amorim-57141Competition is part of our human nature. As a marketer, you can tap into this urge to compete and win by hosting a contest. Contests can generate leads for your company and expand your social media presence. Are you dissatisfied with the lack of buzz about your brand? If you want to drive traffic to your website, one way to do so is to host a contest.  Perhaps you have entered a contest before, but never held your own. Never fear - we have your contest hosting cheat sheet right here!

How to Host a Contest 

Establish Your Goals 

This seems to be the first piece of advice given when starting any type of marketing effort. However, it is an important piece of the puzzle. Without defining your goals, you cannot map out a plan for success. Is your main objective to add onto your email list, increase your number of followers on Facebook, or get the word out about your brand-new product? The entire contest will be tailored to achieve this goal. This is also the best time to set a budget, as a prize cannot be chosen until funding is established.

Choose a Prize 

What will the participants be receiving? The prize will have to be exciting enough to motivate individuals to take the time to apply for your contest. In their minds, they will be weighing their options. "Should I take 2 minutes out of my day to fill out this form? Yes, I really want to win that ___." This is the reaction you want to elicit.

Your target audience will determine what prize you choose. You want them to take notice. Appeal to the interests and trends for that particular group of people. While you want to be specific in your targeting, you also do not want the prize to be obscure. Choose a well known, well liked product. You're still trying to appeal to the largest number of people possible. You might even consider having first place, second place, and third place prizes, depending on your budget. It will give applicants a better chance of winning, providing further incentive to sign up.

Pick a Delivery Method 

Social media contests have become quite popular. They are perceived as simple and fun, often giving away beloved products as the prize. Keep in mind that social media platforms have contest rules. Research them so as not to violate the rules of the site, which would reflect poorly on your company. 

You may go this route by hosting your contest on Facebook or Instagram, or you may choose a different route entirely. If your email newsletter performs well and you have a strong contact list, you could reach out to your audience this way to notify them of your contest and urge them to participate. The email could then direct them to a landing page on your website dedicated to the contest, where they can sign up for the contest. To reach the largest number of people, reach out through social media and email.

Set a Length 

You will want to allot a decent length of time for sign-ups. Two to six weeks has proven to be effective for other companies hosting contests. Do not make it too short. Give your audience time to register, and give them multiple chances. A few reminders won't hurt. If you are hosting this contest on social media, post frequently about the contest in order to maintain and build interest all the way to the end of the contest. A contest that is too long will cause people to lose interest, tune out future posts, or even forget that they registered, so do not it drag on. A sense of urgency can work to your benefit, as participants will feel as if they need to sign up right now, rather than waiting until "later."

Promote the Contest

Of course, you want the greatest number of participants possible! This means crafting exciting copy that will move followers/email recipients to action. It should be slightly persuasive since you are asking your audience for something, for which they may or may not get something in return. Once again, social media is your friend here. Craft posts about the contest for each of your social media platforms, making sure that you provide instructions or a link to a web page with instructions for how to sign up. Keep it as simple as possible. If the process is too complicated, users will not follow through, giving up halfway into the form. The contest should be promoted throughout its duration. Daily emails are not suggested, but a daily post on social media about the contest would be appropriate. The challenge will be making every post different.

Track the Data 

Before you even launch the contest, be sure to record all data, such as the size of your email list and the number of followers on your social media accounts. Record these numbers throughout the contest to track performance. At the completion of the contest, you will have real numbers to compare. You can determine if you did indeed meet the goals that were established in the planning stage of the contest.

We wish all of your participants the best of luck!