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People love them some free stuff. We’ve all spent time filling out ballots or online forms for a chance to win something, but what drives us to enter these contests and what benefit is there to the host for creating one?

First, let’s ask the question why do people create contests? There are several reasons. I would suggest the primary reason would be for brand awareness. Contests are ideal if you have a new product or service and only a small advertising budget to bring it to market. By introducing a contest, it motivates consumers to interact with your brand and it gives them the opportunity to get something in return for their entry which brings me to my second reason for creating a contest – generating leads.

As I just mentioned, we’ve all entered a contest at some point. You give me your name, email and address and I’ll give you a ballot for a chance to win something that you want. This exchange can be as lucrative as gold. It allows businesses to feed more targeted content and nurture leads by pushing them further down the sales funnel.

Let’s also not forget that over the past 15 years or so, we’ve evolved from cereal box contests to a complete online experience. Not only does online allow more people to interact with your brand, but it also allows you to better emotionally connect with your audience.

Plus you don’t have to hog down 800 pounds of Shreddies in order to win a moustache comb.

So now that we understand the value of contests, let’s focus on how to generate more leads.

1. Keep it simple:

Make your contest easy to enter. Nobody has time to fill out a tax return to save $20 on a swimming pool installation. Remember that all you need to capture a lead is just the basic information that you’ll need to send them future content. Name, Email and maybe one other piece of information like address or phone number. That should be enough for now. Also be sure to include a checkbox that allows you to send them further email content down the road.

2. Create an experience:

Make your contest memorable. Some of the most popular contests are the ones that engage attention in an interactive way. Just make sure you leave a positive experience, unlike these companies who clearly missed the boat with their own contests.

3. Make it relevant:

If your goal is to capture qualified leads, the prize should be relevant to your business. Sports teams are notorious for giving away random garbage just for the sake of saying it’s a giveaway. Make sure that your prize complements your brand positioning.

4. It needs the dream factor:

My information is valuable to me. If you want it, make sure you make it worth my time for me to give it to you. It doesn’t necessarily mean you need to shell out a million bucks, but it needs to be something that will instill excitement and give me the dream factor. Another way to generate buzz with your contest is to have multiple prizes or instant prizes. We live in a world of instant gratification. Not only do people want to feel like they actually have a shot at winning this, but if they know that they could win something right now, it will make it easier for them to let go of their personal information and make it easier for them to recommend the contest to others.

The McDonalds Monopoly game should include instant prizes of Charmin Ultra Strong.

5. Make it accessible:

You know what sucks? When you get a really cool promotion from someone like your cable provider that promises huge savings for a period of time. Then you see the fine print that says ‘offer valid for new customers only’. Thanks Bell. An important part of inbound marketing is delighting your current customers.

6. Use social platforms as a catalyst:

Use social media to push your contest. With over 1.7 billion people using social networks, you’d be crazy not to. Allow people to share your contest and reward them or motivate them by giving them a greater chance of winning by doing so. Make sure that you clearly identify how people can share and what they will get in return. Using social media can not only increase traffic to your contest but can help drive the right traffic.

7. Get some help:

When it comes to creating a strategy for your contest, hiring professionals to help bring it to life with design and graphics is extremely valuable. Something that looks professional and intentional will add credibility to your brand and to your contest.

8. Thank you pages:

Once people have filled out a ballot from your contest, take them to a thank you page. Not only should you thank them for entering the contest, but you can use this page to deliver a few other valuable options.

  • Give them value. Offer a discount off your products or services in exchange for additional information.
  • Give them the opportunity to share the contest with friends and family in exchange for more ballots.
  • Provide them with other offers that are relevant to your business to take them further through your sales funnel.

 9. Analyse the results:

One of the great things about online marketing is the ability to gather information in real time and adjust quickly and efficiently to achieve your desired results. There are great tools out there to help you track and monitor online and social activity.

So if you’re  looking to generate potential leads through contests, these tips should help you get started on the right track. If you’re looking for some cool contest ideas, I came across this website that has oodles of great examples.

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