Online Contest or Prize Giveaway: 6 Steps to Success

1. Decide on the prize.

This may seem like a no-brainer for an online contest, but the prize has to be exciting and desirable to drum up the right level of interest. It should speak to your target market and create buzz so that people will want to spread the word. You also need to consider budget. What return will you get on your investment? You should consider the cost of the item, plus shipping, handling and the tie it takes to administer the contest.

2. Entry method.

How will people enter your online contest? The end goal should determine how people enter. Here are some suggestions for goals and entries:

  • Facebook likes: Generating facebook likes is a great use for an online contest. Count the likes as the entry. Facebook is a great venue for contests because your activities are displayed on the timelines of your fans for their friends to see.
  • Email addresses for mailing list: The traditional method requires an entry section on the front page (or every page) of the website itself. Simple entry fields allow the visitor to enter easily. Spreading the word of the contest is a separate issue.
  • Physical addresses/phone numbers: Use the same method as above, and explain that addresses are necessary for prize delivery. You may lose some potential entries, but if your goal is to capture full details, this is necessary up front.
  • Seeding backlinks: Create a graphic or snippet of code that includes a link to your site, then use metrics tools to verify the link, or ask the contestant to paste a link to the page. This is a great way to boost SEO.

3. Prize delivery.

Decide your delivery area. Remember, the web is global. Are you willing to deliver to Croatia? Unless you are specific, mailing costs can torpedo your budget.

4. Write the rules.

Certain things must be defined before you announce an online contest. Start and end dates should be defined, plus delivery restrictions, how the winner will be chosen, entry instructions, and legal disclaimers (there are standard disclaimers all over the web). You also need to place a limit on response time for the winner. Once the winner is chosen, chasing him down for delivery costs money. Make it clear that the winner has a time limit to respond, after which the prize will be awarded to another contestant.

5. Picking a winner.

What method will you use to choose the winner? A low tech solution is to assign a random number to each entry and ask someone unconnected to the contest to choose a number. You could also load the numbers into Randomizer.com and let the program pick a number at random.

6. Launch

When you launch your online contest, go BIG. Set up a web page with details and colorful graphics, describe the prize in glowing copy, and announce on all social platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and any other site where you have a presence...even if the goal is to generate Facebook likes or followers.

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