By Macky Drese is co-founder and managing director, MCBX
Fifty per cent of internet users claim to enter some form of online sweepstakes or competition every month, according to Forrester Research. That’s a lot of people. More importantly, that’s a lot of engaged people - even if that engagement is only momentary. Added to that are a growing number of brands using social media channels to communicate with their audiences (in many cases leaving their dotcoms completely). These brands all need content to fuel the dialogue between themselves and consumers, and this is why competitions are taking centre stage in an increasing number of communications plans. But it’s crucial to keep the following front-of-mind when deciding to run a successful competition in the digital space.
Should you run a competition?
It sounds obvious but before embarking on a campaign using a competition, be very clear what your objectives are. Write a list and when you’ve finished planning your competition see whether you’re actually achieving them. Too many competitions happen ‘automatically,’ without much consideration as to what they should achieve. A small amount of planning can enable you to exploit that competition and turn it into an extremely valuable asset.
The prize is critical
The most successful competitions are the ones that capture the entrant’s imagination using money-can’t-buy experiences to generate their own PR and create viral distribution. And these should of course be totally tailored towards your desired audience – what attracts 40-something men is very different to what is going to interest 18-year-old girls! Again sounds obvious but there’s a lot of competitions out there which miss this point, often the same ones which end up with only 15 people entering them.
Our research also shows that ‘money-can-buy’ prizes do deliver big audiences too. The reason? Subscribers to the glass half-empty philosophy are more likely to believe that they have a chance of winning, if they think the prize is something more tangible. For best results, try using a combination.
Media owners, agencies and clients regularly confess to us that they have used competitions as a bolt-on all too frequently the last spoke on the marketing wheel, or just a box to tick. When used properly at the hub of a communications plan, competitions can be much more effective. Having a PR strategy in place is also paramount – media owners are hungry for content and make willing partners.
Ensure you incorporate all the mechanics necessary to make a call-to-action by your entrants as easy as possible, be that via social media, through email or SMS. Also ensure that the call-to-action is itself a viral message, thereby creating a seeding mechanism.
Content is king
Wherever possible, your competitions should generate content, and a competition that continues to live beyond the closing date is the ultimate aim.
Show the results
Everyone remembers the pictures of lottery winners holding the big cardboard cheque – it’s what reassures us that it’s real – it could be you!
If you’ve followed the money-can’t-buy rule and you’ve got a prize that captures the imagination, chances are you should also be able to generate engaging content from the fulfilment of that competition.
One of the best examples of this is the competition that Queensland Tourism ran for the ‘World’s Ultimate Job’: a chance to spend a year looking after your own island on the Barrier Reef. News broadcasters around the world screened the footage of the winner on his sun-drenched island – what better (and more cost-effective) way to showcase your product to a global audience?
One of the key reasons for running a competition should be the collection of willing consumer data. It is surprising the number of big brands who run competitions without having a way to assimilate the data they collect into an integrated CRM plan. Competitions should be a catalyst for consumer dialogue; in the past, receiving an email from a brand after entering their competition was basically ‘tolerated spam’. The ability to communicate with consumers across more interactive platforms means that, if used to their full potential, competitions can not only build a community but sustain it, creating an army of brand advocates.
So now when you think of that simple competition, think again – there is no other form of communication that has so many participants willing to give up information about themselves, and who will happily tell you all about their behaviours, while also becoming brand ambassadors, and creating content for you. And you get to make some of them very happy in return.
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