One of the best way to build traffic and increase interaction on your blog is by running a contest. How to run a great contest was the session of Rob Gough from Finishline.com, an online retailer of athletic shoes that runs a lot of contests. Rob opened the afternoon sessions of the Performance Marketing Expo.
Running a contest is designed to accomplish four things. The first is to build the relationship with your readers (or affiliates in the case of Finishline.com). Other goals include creating brand loyalty, industry excitement and increased sales.
You will have to do a lot of trial and error to find the best contest that works for you. Finishline.com tried everything from offering small cash bonus to giving away free merchandises. In the end, they find that giving away free trips worked best for them. I think Rob has one of the best jobs in the world because he gets to go on all these trips with the winning affiliates.
While giving away free trips to exotic locations maybe out of your reach, setting a great contest can do wonders for your blog. Even something as small as offering a free book (like I did for last week’s Dot Com Pho) can generate a lot of excitement. Here are some more tips to running a great contest.
Tailor The Contest To The Prize
The bigger the prize, the higher you can make the entry requirements. If the only way to enter my Dot Com Pho Social Media book giveaway was to ask people to write about it and link to my blog using a desired anchor text, I wouldn’t get that many entries. However, change the prize to a 24″ LCD monitor and I’ll be flooded.
I’ve seen many blogs setting up a contest using the same rules I use for the monitor contest but their prize doesn’t warrant that kind of entrance requirement. If your prize is big enough, you can ask for more. However, if you’re going to give away a smaller prize, make the entry requirements really simple. You’ll get more entries and create a bigger buzz.
The Best Prize To Give Away Cost You Nothing
Everything that I have given away in my contests have cost me zero dollars. All the prizes were given to me as gifts from sponsors. When looking for a contest prize, look at what you have laying around before spending money. If you can’t find anything, then consider offering something that has intrinsic value, but doesn’t cost you any out of pocket money. For example, if you’re a designer, have a contest to win a professional blog redesign.
Contest Should Be Part of Your Overall Marketing Strategy
A contest should not be a one shot deal. Instead, make contests a part of your overall blog marketing strategy. Doing it one time is the same as someone trying Google AdWords for a week or buying a text link for month and then stopping. Blog marketing is the same as blog posting – you have to be consistent. On again, off again blogging doesn’t work and neither does on again, off again marketing.
I run two types of contests on my blog. I have big contests where I give away something really big, like $5,000 worth of tickets to the Affiliate Summit. I also give away smaller items with a “reply to this post and you are in” contests. Each contests serves a different purpose. The first one generates a lot of buzz and links back to the blog. The second generates a lot of activities in the community (it also gets the RSS readers to visit the blog). In both cases, the contests tell people that this is a fun and happening place. However, they are also part of the blog’s overall marketing strategy.