Contests are a great way to generate interest from new readers to your blog and encourage interaction but can have a completely opposite effect if they fail to get off the ground. Most people put the bulk of their effort into coming up with a prize and leave the contest details as an afterthought. A good contest is built like a well paved road, swiftly and smoothly guiding potential contestants to your prize.
Focus On The Contest First
It’s more important to have an intriguing purpose for your contest than a great prize. Ultimately people are working toward winning the prize but it’s not enough motivation to push the average person over the ‘entry’ edge. Give them a reason to enter by making the entry a prize in itself. Whether you appeal to their talents (e.g. travel videos); or relieve them from a moment of boredom at work with a simple entry (e.g. blog comment), a reward upfront encourages people to get involved.
- The Prize Is The final Step Of A Contest – Most aren’t looking down that far on long road between “now”, entering, and potentially winning.
- Define Your Own Success – Set up goals and specific personal metrics to measure your contest’s achievements.
Think of it like a weight loss program – it’s easier to remain on track when you see yourself lose a kilo every other week as opposed to envisioning when all 20 are gone 12 months from when you started.
Make Your Entry Straightforward
If you can’t explain what it takes to enter your contest in one or two lines, chances are not many people are going to enter. You want to reward people for entering – not punish them by reading 10 different things they have to do. When a new person comes to your contest post you’ve got a few precious seconds of their attention they’ll split between scanning the post and considering entering. (Another good reason to reduce page loading time.) Straightforward entry requirements help shift the percentage of attention time from “figuring out contest” to “maybe I should enter”.
Although it’s not always the case, generally prizes that are tangible tend to peak more interest as opposed to those like gift cards or similar.
- Recall those precious few seconds of attention you have with your readers? Well, if they have to spend a moment or two thinking about what they’d actually buy with a gift card you might lose them to one of the many distractions (aka. Twitter) online.
Having tangible prizes also has several other advantages as well. You can save on more expensive gifts, work on getting sponsorship for a particular product, and save time coordinating and sending out the prize.
Be Very Specific With Entry Rules And Deadlines
Anything you don’t define in your contest details is likely to be misinterpreted somehow by someone. Come up with very specific rules and restrictions along with solid deadlines.
- Make these deadlines very clear in the contest post and consider mentioning the entry deadline twice.
While we’re on the topic it also helps to have a relatively short period of entry for a given contest. 1-2 weeks tends to be a sweet spot for most; giving people the slight pressure of a deadline with enough to time not to be discouraged altogether.
A Few More Important Contest Points
Don’t fall into the habit of thinking your contest prize is so great that people will do anything to get at it. Be enthusiastic but remember pace of the medium you’re working in – promote and develop your contest for an Internet audience.
- Create An Ad – Put up a banner somewhere “above the fold” on your travel blog promoting your contest so it’s visible on each page.
- Use Social Media Effectively – Facebook, Twitter, and the rest are good outlets to let your audience know about your contest. Be thoughtful about when and how you post while making sure not to overdo it. Use your newsletter (if you have one) to pre-promote, and Facebook and Twitter at launch and a day or two before the deadline.
By keeping things simple, fun, and having a great prize you’re setting yourself up to have a good contest and with a little guidance, bring your readers with you.
[photos by: Piclsa (walking road), spackletoe (easy button), Juan Eduardo Donoso (microscope)]
Great tips like always!
It’s a very helpful post. That’s what I fear most to have a contest and not take off. I actually have sponsors lined up with prizes but I’m scarrrrreeed!
Play to the strengths of your audience and go with where they are. Ease to entry is very important 🙂