Wendy, a content marketing and media buying expert, shares some of her experiences running successful contests for hug through partnerships with companies such as American Express and Costa Blanca.
You’ve partnered with major companies, including Amex and Samsung. How did you connect with these organizations? Do they provide the prizes for their respective contests?
We connect with these brands mainly through PR and Ad Agencies and occasionally we go direct with the advertisers. Yes, all the prizes are provided by the companies.
Can you walk through the general steps you take when planning a contest?
We first set up a brainstorming meeting with the brand to see what their goals are and key messaging for their promotion.
From there we determine the type of contest to run based on where we think we can best reach their target audience. This can be as simple as a social media contest where we help them generate Facebook “Likes” or Retweet To Win to more elaborate giveaways where entrants have to be more proactive and creative.
Then we determine an execution timeline. Usually the best time to run the contest is in conjunction with a product launch or event or if something is growing stale and they need our help to give it a refresher or new spin.
I see that you’ve given away everything from spa treatments to smartphones. Have you found that certain prize categories work better than others?
Laptops and smartphones are definitely favourites simply because they are higher value prizes and we often get the latest versions to give away — everyone’s eager to have the newest tech toys! Spa contests work well since we are a women’s lifestyle website. We also get a huge response for ticket giveaways to music festivals and exclusive VIP events that the winner otherwise wouldn’t get access to.
How do you determine if a contest is successful? Do you have specific KPIs that you track?
We measure the success by total entries, if it goes viral, if traffic spikes on both our and the advertisers’ site and social signals like sharing on Facebook, Repins or Retweets.
Strategic partnerships are also great for generating awareness and increasing engagement.
Can you share some of your favorite promotion strategies? How do you generate awareness of, and participation in, your contests?
Mainly through Facebook, Twitter and our e-newsletter. Strategic partnerships are also great for generating awareness and increasing engagement. We often work with complimenting brands and bloggers to co-promote. It’s a win-win for all! We also try to blend in other relevant content such as running a contest within our holiday gift guide or doing a product review with a giveaway of the product and other forms of native advertising.
Let’s talk about specific contests. Your “Realize Your Potential with Pinterest” contest gave readers the opportunity to “pin your way to one of three prizes for a $5000 American Express Gift Card.” How did you come up with this idea?
The Pinterest contest was actually the brainchild of American Express Canada. We are Amex Ambassadors so we worked with them to promote it through sponsored posts on our site, social media and events. We also sat on the judging panel and helped pick the winners so that was different and fun!
You gave away a Samsung GALAXY S4 for Father’s Day based upon reader comments – “Tell us in the comment section why your Dad is #1 and deserves to win this smartphone.” I love integrating User Generated Content with contests. How did this work out – were you happy with the number and quality of responses?
I included part of this answer below.
I also see you integrated Comment UGC into your “Costa Blanca Summer Giveaway”. How did the response to this contest compare with that of the Samsung GALAXY S4 contest?
The Costa Blanca giveaway targeted fashionistas who wanted to win a wardrobe from their summer collection. The contest allowed the advertiser to showcase and pitch their new clothing line but also offered valuable fashion tips to our readers.
The Galaxy 4 giveaway targeted almost everybody (including a lot of guys). We deliberately chose to run the contest in a gift guide format (rather than a one-off) so other brands especially the smaller lesser-know ones, can take advantage of the spotlight as well. It generated a lot of traffic and responses, and is one of our most popular contest for sure!
Your prize needs to align with your ultimate goal — whether that is converting someone into a loyal reader if you have a blog or a customer that will make a purchase.
Before we go, can you offer any advice to marketers looking to run their first online contest?
Give away something that has value. It doesn’t need to be expensive but don’t just run a contest for the sake of giving things away because you think it’ll drive traffic to your site. Your prize needs to align with your ultimate goal — whether that is converting someone into a loyal reader if you have a blog or a customer that will make a purchase.
For example, we partner with brands that have the same target market (ambitious women who work hard and play hard, who are 25-35 and live in the city). Our prizes are mainly things that will benefit their lives or offer a fun experience. This attracts quality readers who will be your advocates rather than contest junkies who just drop by because they want to win something cool.