Contests and prize giveaways are a great way to attract visitors to your website, engage your audience, build community, and reward loyal customers. People love to receive swag and in return, they are usually willing to give you some basic information to sign up fo your mailing list – the marketer's most powerful tool.

Setting up an online contest or prize giveaway usually involves setting up a signup page to collect the information you're looking for and identify winners, web and social media advertising for the contest, and, of course, a great prize.

Signup Requirements

Decide what you want from your customers. Detailed information will often scare customers away. The less you ask of your clients, the more willing they will be to sign up. Some contest examples require agreeing to receive newsletters, others just add a name and email address to a mailing list. Your customer list is your most valuable asset, so plan to treat customers with respect. Have a privacy statement in place...and stick to it.

Some websites ask customers to do something in addition to providing information. For example, they may offer additional chances to win for placing a link or clickable image on your blog. This is a great tactic, as it seeds backlinks to your website, which in turn helps move your site closer to the top of the search results.

Social Media

Social media is absolutely crucial to contests and prize giveaways. Set a goal for the number of people you want to add to you mailing list or the number of backlinks you want to generate, and then promote, promote, promote. Generating interest is surprisingly difficult unless you have an extensive network, so plan enough time to drum up entries, and echo the contest/prize giveaway across numerous social networks. Don't hesitate to ask your friend to help out. The end goal here is increased traffic.

Prizes

Before settling on a prize, consider your target audience. Pick something that will appeal to the people who will be your best customers. This is usually related to your website content, but the customers you start with are not always your target audience. Everybody starts within their own network, which may be limited to real life and internet friends in your own industry or age group. Your friends might swoon over the idea of a high-tech giveaway (anything that starts with lowercase I, for example), but if your target is people over 50, you might want to rethink that.

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