Practical Ecommerce

PeC Traffic Report: Generate Buzz and Traffic With Contest Marketing

Ecommerce marketers can use contests to boost traffic and improve sales.

If I guaranteed you an additional $10,000 in annual sales just for reading this article and posting a comment, would you do it? What about if I said you had a 1-in-100 chance of getting an additional $10,000 in annual sales, would you read and post? If you did, you would be participating in a contest or customer competitive marketing.

Contest marketing encourages prospects to take some action in exchange for a chance to get something of value for free. And this sort of campaign can be an excellent way for ecommerce companies to generate buzz and drive repeated web traffic.

Create Your Contest With Repeat Traffic In Mind

Site traffic is a key measure of ecommerce success. The more potential shoppers you have visiting your online store, the more likely you are to make a sale. So plan your contest marketing with repeat traffic in mind, concentrating on getting potential customers coming back to your store over and over again.

You might, for example, create a contest that requires newsletter or RSS feed registration, so that you can market to your potential customers on an ongoing basis, repeatedly driving traffic to your store.

You might also take a lesson from the magazine industry and create a multi-part contest. Many cooking or craft magazines hold contests that require readers to find symbols hidden in articles. Specifically, a cooking magazine might place a picture of a spoon on five different pages. Contestants/readers must find the five spoons, take note of the pages, and send a postcard to the publisher for a chance to win. You could do the same thing on your website, even adding a time factor.

So, as an example, on every Monday in September you hide a symbol on some product page. One lucky contestant who finds all four symbols wins a $1,000 gift card. Everyone participating in the contest will come back to your site each Monday in the month and become very familiar with the products you sell. Even if they don’t buy right then, your store will be top-of-mind when they are ready to make a purchase.

Or, offer a testimonial contest wherein customers can submit a testimonial about how they used one of your products. Have other site visitors select the winning testimonial by casting a vote—one vote per visit. This is effective because anyone who submits a testimonial will ask his or her friends to go and vote for it, and with each visitor you have a chance to market your merchandise. You can even require that users register to vote for the best testimonial.

Offer A Prize That Creates Buzz With Your Target Audience

I recall going to a trade show a couple of years ago, where just about every booth in the place was giving away an iPod. Trouble was that the attendees at the show were all “early adopters” and everyone already had an iPod.

When you plan your campaign, be sure to consider your audience. What sort of prize would create a marketable buzz with them?

Let’s consider a few what-ifs. If you are a recipe site, try offering high-end copper pots. If you have a golf store, give away an expensive driver that most of your customers would not already own. If you have an electronics store, try offering a Dell Mini.

Don’t Forget the Small Print

When you create a contest-marketing campaign be sure to consider the legal ramifications of offering a prize. Be sure that you create a page that explains the contest rules, which must be fair. Be sure to explain exactly how someone can win the contest, including any facts, stipulations, or actions that could affect the outcome.

Market Your Contest

Now that you have a contest planned and a prize ready, market your contest.

Advertise the contest on your store website, at related websites, in web video, and in print media at the very least. Also, list your contest on contest and giveaway websites, such as ContestHound, ContestAlley, Contest Beat, or similar websites.

Post the contest on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Digg. Encourage your followers and friends to repost the entry.

Send out a press release about the contest specifically targeted to media associated with your client base.

Ballyhoo The Winner

Don’t let your contest marketing end when you have a winner. Ballyhoo the winner to all of the same websites, social media sites, and publications that you marketed to. Remember, the positive effects of your traffic-building contest-marketing campaign will last for a long time after the winner is rewarded.

Armando Roggio

Armando Roggio

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Comments ( 3 )

  1. Danna Crawford August 11, 2009 Reply

    This is a great article!
    Thanks for shedding some light on this fantastic idea!

  2. Etienne Savard August 12, 2009 Reply

    Interesting idea. Thanks for sharing it!

  3. coffee makers November 2, 2009 Reply

    What do you think about contests where every X customer wins a free gift. For example, every 1000th customer wins a free trip to Hawaii or every 500th customer gets a free Kindle?

    Is it buzzworthy? Does it create a sense of excitement?