How to Use Website Contests to Market Your Brand Online

Running a contest is one of the best things that you can do to effectively market your brand online, and more websites are starting to offer giveaways as a means to increase their exposure and audience. Thanks to the rapid evolution of social media and online sharing tools, it’s now easier than ever to attract a large number of entrants and make your contest a success.

Some webmasters are hesitant to try their hand at running an online contest, but it’s a lot easier to do than you might think. Regardless of whether you have a small site with relatively few daily visitors or a massive online following, you can use online contests to bring about a spike in attention, brand awareness and conversions.

I’ve had the opportunity to run several successful online contests, and below are a few lessons that I’ve learned in the process. I hope these tips can help you promote your website or brand in a way that’s fun and engaging for your visitors.

1. Offer a Popular Product as a Prize to Entice People to Enter

While it’s true that a more substantial or valuable prize will encourage more entries, don’t think that you have to offer a product worth thousands of dollars to get a good result. Even modest prizes will result in more entries than you might expect, as long as you market your contest aggressively (see tip number four).

One thing to remember about prize value, though: if you aren’t giving away something worth a lot of money, then your entry requirements shouldn’t be very complex. People are much more willing to jump through hoops if they have a chance to win an expensive prize.

2. Tie Entry Requirements to Social Media, RSS Feeds and Newsletter Signups

There are many different actions you can require people to perform for an entry in your contest, but it’s best to focus on social media, RSS feeds and newsletter signups . . . all of which will give you the ability to capture a new, expanded audience that you can update long after the contest is over.

Your contest can have a simple entry requirement, such as becoming a “fan” of your brand’s Facebook page or following you on Twitter. One method that has worked well for me is to give people the opportunity to earn multiple entries in your contest by completing a variety of actions. Award one entry for becoming a Facebook fan; one entry for following you on Twitter; one entry for subscribing to your RSS feed; and one entry for subscribing to your newsletter.

Of course, you could also hold four contests over a longer period of time and have each focus on a single type of entry requirement. This works well if you have multiple prizes to give away.

3. Asking For Links is a Bad Strategy

While getting backlinks to your site from other domains is great for increasing organic search traffic, be careful if you’re thinking about making links an entry requirement. This is technically a form of paying people for links (even though only one person will end up winning), which is a practice that’s frowned upon by Google and other search engines. Rather than helping your organic rankings, requiring backlinks could end up hurting you.

That’s not to say that increased backlinks shouldn’t be one of the goals that you hope to achieve from running a contest. Rather than requiring links, though, you should use your contest to build links naturally: by increasing the awareness of your brand and inspiring people to link back to you because they want to.

4. Take Time to Promote Your Giveaway on Contest Sites and Forums

Once you’ve launched your online contest, don’t think that you can just sit back and watch the entries roll in (unless your website is one of the few that already get thousands of daily visits). The harder you work to promote your contest across the Internet, the more exposure and success it will have.

Luckily, there are hundreds of different online resources where your can promote your contest to people who are eager to enter. I recently wrote a post listing dozens of the best contest and sweepstakes websites, and more of these types of sites are launched every month. Take the time to submit your contest to as many sites as you can, and you’ll see a huge increase in entries.

Guest author Phil Van Treuren is the webmaster of Contest Blogger, one of the most popular sites online for searching and sharing contests, sweepstakes, giveaways and free samples. Read our guestblogging guidelines to share your articles.

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About the Author: P Chandra is editor of QOT, one of India's earliest tech bloggers since 2004. A tech enthusiast with expertise in coding, WordPress, web tools, SEO and DIY hacks.