Large number of niche and business blogs host contests for the readers' that includes freebies, prizes and giveaways for the participants. Bloggers do it for different purposes (at the micro level), but more or less the primary goal is almost the same - "Pulling more leads and prospects". If you're planning to host your very first
promotional contest on your blog, chances are that it may not yield (or in fact ruin) the expected returns. You can never predict or assert the success level of a contest as it is dependent on several variable factors. But you can definitely minimize the risk of failure (a contest with no or very few participants) by following some of the most elementary guidelines for creating a fairly successful contest.
Some of these guidelines are quite obvious, while others are often ignored by first timers resulting in a dead contest. So let's see what it takes to host a successful contest on a blog. Here we go...
Relevance is the key - Here I'm talking about the activities to be done by the participants for winning the contest. Broadly, these activities are divided into two different categories (for e.g., simple voting or an exhaustive article submission) and are generally dictated by the value of the prize. How? Well, you can't expect each of the participants submitting a 1000 word article for winning a fountain pen. That was just an example to explain the fact that not only the contest activity should be relevant to your blog's niche, BUT the participating activity itself must complement the value of the prize. The more big prize you're announcing, the more liberty you have to include an activity that perfectly justifies releasing such a big giveaway.
It's not just the scale (big or small) of the activity, but the close connection (relevance) of the activity with your blog's niche is what matters the most. If I'm running a contest on this blog that involves a small survey about blogging habits of the participants, I'm likely to get more participants. On the other hand, if I try to host a contest about completing a survey for weight loss exercise, it is bound to face criticism from the readers.
Ensure a win-win situation - Now this is closely related to the 'Relevance factor' we just discussed above. An ideal win-win situation would be -- a decent prize for the winners and at the same time accumulation of loads of valuable information in your database that can be used to boost your online/offline business. The latter part doesn't mean capturing emails of the participants to bug them later with your affiliate marketing pitches. You can use the content or data (captured during the contest) to further replenish your online/offline business. That's why bloggers intelligently collect demographic data and/or industry trends through contest participation activities. It's a win-win situation for both the ends.
Find sponsors - This step may or may not be necessary depending on the scale and type of the contest. If you're giving away digital or tangible products to the participants, you must find some sponsors to arrange for the same in return of marketing or promotion through your blog and other social media outposts. Finding such sponsors is not a big task for a high traffic blog, but if your blog is still in the early stages, you may struggle to arrange sponsors for your contest.
Tabulate & announce the set of rules - Needless to say, no contest is complete without inclusion of transparent and clearly defined rules for the participants. Every post announcing the contest includes a separate section for these rules which is perhaps the second most read part of the entire blog entry.
The best way to post these rules is in a tabular form giving a number to each entry making all the important phrases bold, if necessary. This small tweak in posting style helps in understanding the rules easily resulting in more submissions for your contest. You can also provide a link to the PDF file containing all the rules just beneath this section for offline reading.
Market aggressively - Once your contest post is live, it's time to pull up your socks for some promotion campaigns. Start with a newsletter tailored specifically for the contest. That's the initial push which can bring momentum to the entire campaign. Do not forget to include social media sharing buttons within the newsletter at targeted locations. The next step involves mailing all your peers who regularly help you in spreading the word about your various online efforts.
Once these two steps are completed, you can start spreading the word on various social media platforms to gain maximum exposure through your friends' network. Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are the most promising among all that can bring tons of potential participants in quick time.
Ensure transparent result declaration - Sometimes contests are ruined by the allegations of cheating in choosing the winners. It can happen with your contest as well. The best way to avoid such situation is to make the entire process completely transparent. How to do it? It's very simple. All you need is a desktop screen recorder and the services of Random.org website. With these two useful tools you can easily make the whole result declaration process credible and transparent.
Follow up with the winners - Declaration of winners is just the beginning of the next important step. Whether the prize is a digital download (e.g premium WordPress theme) or a tangible product (e.g an iPad), ensuring their timely delivery to the winners is your responsibility. You must follow up with each of the winners till they acknowledge the delivery. Failing to do so may put you in an awkward situation if one of the winners start complaining about deferred or delayed delivery on various social media channels.
Doing such follow ups also ensure that each winner has received the correct prize as intended. Sometimes winners receive the wrong giveaway but never complain about the same. And lastly, it paves the way for next successful contest as such follow ups makes the winners' your die-hard fans. They not only participate in forthcoming contests, but also helps in spreading the word effectively.
Close the contest post with a final update - The last step involves two important activities that must be completed without any fail. Start with thanking all the participants as well as the sponsors who made the contest a grand success. Ensure that each new update is appended beneath the post with appropriate headline. Finally do not forget to close the comments for that post.