Sometimes, you know you want to run a big, exciting contest. You spend months planning your contest and want to generate an enormous amount of buzz. That’s great, but it isn’t the only way to get the results you are looking for.
A series of contests can be just as effective as one larger one. How many times have you heard about something only after it is finished? Your friend brags about winning something, but you didn’t even know about it to enter! Take advantage of that by running more than one contest, one right after another. This works especially well in niche markets, where the community relies on each other to hear what’s new.
1. Don’t run the same contest, multiple times. When running more than one contest in a row, think about your end goal. Are you hoping to attract the same people back to your website multiple times? If so, running the same contest probably won’t work. If you don’t win a contest the first time, you probably won’t come back. Instead, think about hosting a series of contest with multiple winners, that lead up to one bigger contest, a series of contests that get progressively larger or a series of contests that have a theme, but are completely different.
2. Make a plan to measure. Pick one to three goals you’d like to measure with your contest and take a read on things often. Don’t be afraid to tweak your efforts as you go (if something is just plain not working, don’t think of it as too late). Having said that, don’t be nervous. If you’ve got everything in place and things are a little slow to start, trust that the plan you are executing is a good one
3. Promote, Promote, Promote. The most important part of getting people to enter the contest series is making sure that they know about it! Most of your time and money should be spent on promoting your contests. Think about who your target audience is and where they spend there time. Spend your money where they are, whether that is Facebook, Google, LinkedIn or specific blogs. Don’t forget the power of traditiional media as well – radio and local marketing can do wonders for making your contest a success.
4. Let everyone know what you are up to, before, during and after. Repeat often. Once you’ve spent all that effort promoting your contests, don’t go silent! The best way to ensure people help spread the word about your contest is to make sure they know about what is going on, before, during and after it happens. While you don’t want to be repetitive and annoying, you do want to make sure everyone is aware of the details. Important details include when you are accepting contest entries, when voting starts and ends, when the next round takes place and of course, when the winners will be announced.
5. Is there more than one layer to the contest series? Have you planned out a contest that will give you something back? Instead of only thinking about how to get the most people to enter, consider what else you can do with contest entries. Are you showing off everything your product or community has to offer? Are you building an archive of referrals or testimonials on why your organization is awesome? Can you highlight the contest winners, or random entries for other marketing goals? The more things overlap, the more rewarding your contest series will be (not just for the winners, but for you too).