Recently, we covered the key things you should figure out before running a contest. This week, we’ll go over how you can best run the contest and what you should do when it’s over.
The value of a prize
Choose a prize your target audience will care about, and communicate the value, not just the dollar amount. Maybe it’s something people can’t easily get on their own (“curated by a top style expert”) or something they wouldn’t normally buy for themselves (“the most luxurious running socks on the planet”). It seems obvious that the more something costs, the more people will enter. But you want the right people entering the contest—those who are interested in your brand, not just folks who want to cash in.
The Normal Brand had success running contests for their signature hats but wanted to try something bigger. They partnered with another brand to give away a Big Green Egg, but the response was weaker than expected. Later, they realized why: their brand typically attracts young men, many of whom are still in college, and who might not be all that interested in a fancy, heavy charcoal grill (that won’t likely fit or be allowed in a college dorm room).
Taking charge of operations
Create contest materials in advance so you’re efficient with time and consistent with messaging. If you’re partnering with others, you may want to take the lead on creating visuals, email content, posts, and a schedule. Be sure your terms and conditions are easy to understand, and be clear about what people are opting in to receive from you—weekly newsletters, daily emails, or contest information only.
Decide in advance how long the contest will run, how you’ll promote it, and the amount you can spend to make it successful. All of this depends on you and your goals. Most say a couple of weeks is plenty of time for a contest, and some run contests over just a couple days. Investing in some boosted social media posts typically pays off and results in more entries. You might even consider finding a media partner who can feature your contest on their site or in their newsletter.
Consider using an app to help with things like collecting and managing entries and selecting winners. Gleam is one popular option that integrates with MailChimp (automatically imports new emails to a specified MailChimp list) and offers social media entry options.
We have a winner. Now what?
You’ve done a lot of work to build a new list of emails, and your gut might tell you, “Quick! Get these into your MailChimp list! Watch it grow!” But you should consider keeping these new contest subscribers in a separate contest list—at least temporarily.
LifeAfterDenim, a contemporary menswear brand, keeps a different list for each new contest and sends about 3 rounds of their newsletter separately to their main list and the contest list. They clean out anyone on the contest list who doesn’t engage before merging them into the main list. By waiting, and giving contest subscribers a few chances to unsubscribe, LifeAfterDenim adds only people who are interested in their brand to their main list.
You might even consider making the unsubscribe button more noticeable for the first couple of emails to the new contest list. This makes it easier for people to opt out rather than make a complaint. No one likes to see unsubscribes, but abuse complaints can create real problems.
The other big decision you’ll need to make is when to start communicating with these new contest subscribers: as soon as they enter, or at the end of the contest. By emailing sooner rather than later, there’s a better chance they’ll remember entering (and who you are), especially if the contest lasts a few weeks. By waiting, you avoid coming on too strong, and you can offer a consolation prize—like a discount or credit—to those who didn’t win. You might even consider splitting your contest list in half and testing out both approaches to see which works best for your business.
The Normal Brand uses MailChimp Automation to trigger a welcome email as soon as a new address is added to their contests list. They do this to confirm contest entry and introduce new subscribers to their brand before marketing products to them. Logan Spence, who manages the marketing for The Normal Brand, explains: “You want to help them understand why they may want to keep receiving emails.”
In contrast, SPIbelt, which sells running belts to hold phones and small items, waits until the contest ends to send their welcome email, just to be sure new subscribers aren’t put off by receiving email too soon after signing up. They reason that customers might not be ready to buy while the contest is still running since there’s still a chance to win.
Of course, what works for The Normal Brand or SPIbelt may not be right for you. Giveaways and contests can take up a significant amount of time, so if you try it, craft one that will fit within your workflow and be worth it for you—and your subscribers.