The Low-Budget Guide to Online Contests

Online contests are a great way to bring attention to your affiliate marketing brand.

Giving away an item, one of your products, or a service, can be just as impactful as operating an advertising or wide-scale content marketing strategy since online contests generally come with the stipulation that one must share and participate in spreading the contest for their entry to be valid.

When used properly, a contest will increase your conversions; this guide will share how to get started with online, social contests that won’t break the bank.

Here’s how …

How to Setup Low-Budget Online Contests

There are really just three things you’ll need to be mindful of when setting up online contests:

  • What will you give away that’s not only attractive to the contestants but will match your marketing campaign to siphon entries into conversions?
  • What tools will you use to conduct the contest (and the medium it’s delivered)?
  • What do you want to gain from the contest?

Consider asking someone in your network how they went about setting up their contest for real-world insight as to what you may want to offer and how to go about doing it.

The prize

The item or service you give away is very crucial to how the contestants perceive value in your contest but it’s especially important that you choose something that matches your brand.

Giving away an iPad when you promote Android devices doesn’t make much sense, does it?

You may want to choose a product that’s a hot seller already in your market. Alternatively, you could create a package deal of smaller items that add to a whole.

In short: you’ll want to use the contest to promote something that matches what you have to offer so people landing on your contest page can make their way into your offers – and not just bounce after leaving their entry.

The delivery

You’ll want to choose a way to deliver the contest to the contestants after you chose the prize.

There are many options, but here a few simple and advanced methods for delivery:

  • Creating an email opt-in form, with a landing page, and collect emails as the ‘entry’ and then use a random number generator to select the winner based on the email list.
  • Using a service such as PunchTab to create a multi-tiered approach to the contest which allows multiple entries based on their social media interaction on multiple platforms, comments, and more.
  • Telling people to comment their social profiles on the page so you can manually check their entries and utilize a point system for each share.
  • Having people send in physical forms for their entry.
  • Get people to write a blog post linking to your website and then sending you an email once it’s complete.

It’s very possible to operate a contest with very little use of technology though you’ll find it to be a pain once you begin to gain a lot of entries and need to manually monitor the campaign which is why your best bet is to go with a format or tool which collects entries automatically (such as an opt-in or tracking social shares).

The Outcome

Knowing what you want from the contest will ultimately guide you through the previous elements.

The general ‘goal’ of online contests is to bring attention to your brand and hopefully make a few conversions to recoup and increase revenue after expenses on the prize.

The outcome will be what you want it to be – here are a few you may want:

  • Opt-ins for your email list
  • Likes and follows on your social media account
  • Shares on your money-making pages
  • Buzz for a future marketing campaign

A great way to spur additional competition and interaction is to get your community involved with the judging process which will increase engagement and buzz around the contest since it may encourage others to write about what’s going on.

online contests

Running the Online Contests

Important: Create terms & service/entry rules for the contest before you launch and go over the guidelines and stipulations for each social network as for what you can and cannot do on the platforms.

Now set, it’s time to get things up and running.

Start promoting the online contests everywhere just as you’ve done with other forms of media and marketing:

  • Create a landing page specific to the contest
  • Share on all of your social channels
  • Email your list and provide regular updates
  • Run an advertising campaign on paid networks
  • Get your network and best community members to share the information
  • Encourage bloggers and site owners to write about the contest

It’s your job to get the ball rolling on the contest and the rest will fall into the hands of the contestants and the entry rules you’ve put in place (which is why automated contest tools are wondrous since they inject social elements, automatically).

Promote the online contests each day while it’s still going on.

Select the winner and share the prize once the contest is over and update each of the channels so you don’t miss out informing each and every contestant.

Bonus: Follow up with the contestants with an offer for a related product/service you have listed on your affiliate website – you may not connect with all contestants but the relevance between the prize and your offers will snag a few takers.

The end goal is to build enough buzz and exposure around your brand while simultaneously collecting interested leads and converting a few once they’re in the fold. Online contests do not require an expensive prize – just that it’s valuable to your target market. Give contests a shot and see how it can transform your business – it’s worth a try.