Mistakes to avoid when running an online competition

Competitions, contests and giveaways can often be a good tactic to quickly help grow your online audience. When run well, you can get your website in front of a lot of potential customers. Your competition could even go viral. But there are some pitfalls to be aware of.

Avoiding these mistakes could help increase your chances of running a successful promotion.

Simplify the entry process.

People hate filling out sign up forms, especially if they’re new to your business. If the incentive is worth it, the competition might be successful, but sign up forms are often a hurdle that most people aren’t willing to jump.

There needs to be a low barrier to entry. If the barrier to entry is too high, it means that either your entry process is too long and requires too much information or the requirements necessary to enter take too much time to complete. If you’re running a contest giving away a $100 gift card, and you ask the entrants to provide their name, address, phone number, email address and even credit card number… that might be a bit much. Keep it simple. Ask for just an email address and you’ll see the number of entries improve.

A confusing entry process is one of the main reasons why promotions fail. If it isn’t a simple entry process, people might not understand what they have to do to participate, which can cause a drop in entries. The landing page for your promotion should be as clear as possible. If there is no clear call-to-action, they may get lost or frustrated and close the page.

Offer the right Prize.

Make sure the cometition prize aligns properly with the audience that you’re targeting. If the prize is of extremely low value, or it is not attractive enough to your target audience, then people won’t be interested and they won’t take their time to enter. In order to create a strong value proposition, the prize needs to relate to your business and it has to be something customers will care about, otherwise your promotion might under perform.

Sometimes it is better to give away more smaller prizes than one giant grand prize. If you give away one big prize, you have one very lucky person who may or may not just take the prize and run. On the other hand, many people winning even just a little is probably doing more for your business in terms of building positivity and encouraging positive word of mouth referrals.

Get the timing right.

Before launching your competition, check to see if there are any major events or holidays coming up that will conflict with your promotion? Avoid scheduling your promotion on the days of major events (Christmas, New Years, Grand Final weekend, etc) where people may be away from the computer or on vacation.

Choosing the right start and end dates can also effect how many people enter your competition. If you don’t run it for long enough, not enough people will get a chance to enter and if you run it for too long it can start to drag on. The sweet spot is often around 2-4 weeks for the length of a promotion, although it’s a good idea to experiment with this; some marketing stratagies perform well with daily giveaways.

Plan your marketing.

Marketing your competition is just as important as everything else mentioned above. One of the reasons why these promotions don’t perform as well as expected is because the marketing was poorly planned or executed. Posting the competition on your Facebook page one time is not enough; you should be sending out emails, encouraging people to share, and communicating the message several times. Set up your marketing plan before the competition goes live, so you know exactly where you’ll be promoting it when it’s launched.