One of the highlights of my resume is that I devised an evergreen online contest that delivered 70,000 names to a database. Then my team and I tweaked it, and ran it again and again. I mention this because I want you to believe me when I say that there are two online contests running now that are prime examples of how not to run an online contest. [I won't mention them by name, but you can email me and I'll tell you what they are.]
The first relies on contestants posting videos of their vacation stays in the destination. Sounds good right? User Generated Content that builds a tipping point of video underscoring the fact that you can get to the place and that is worth visiting. The catch, however, is that the only people eligible to win the trip to the destination are people who have already been there. There is absolutely no incentive for the uncaptured traveler to visit the contest site and explore the videos. These folk lost of sight of rule number one in online contest development – your marketing goals should take second place to the self-interest of the entrant.
There will be folk who argue that you don’t want to build a list that is comprised of folk who don’t really care about your product. That’s the nature of contests – a percentage of participants are just people who like to win free things. Rule number two for online contests – is have a plan to qualify the list after the contest happens. Build that plan into the contest.
The other contest requires entrants to like a page on Facebook. The traffic driving invitation was sent announcing the contest would open on the date that the invitation arrived. I clicked through – nada, zip, rien, nothing. The contest had not been deployed or it wasn’t working. Either reason means you scuttled contest enthusiasm before you started. Rule Number Three – the technology has to be in place and working before you drive traffic to the contest entry page. Maybe that should be rule number1A.
That second contest also made the mistake of describing the prize as the first 10 to answer the day’s question. The Internet is 24/7. If your contest is designed for North America you have 5 time zones to consider. If the contest is deployed on Eastern time, those first 10 entrants will always be East Coasters. If you use Pacific Time for daily deployment, you just lose the interest of the East Coasters. That contest rule should have been the first two per time zone, with a total of 10 prizes – or something similar. Rule Number Four – design your contest to take advantage of a 24 hour clock. Do not let your 9-5 existence dictate how the contest runs.
Need my help developing your next online contest? I’m not cheap, but I am really, really good.