PMExpo 2010 – How Run a Great Contest

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, 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 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. 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.

29 thoughts on “PMExpo 2010 – How Run a Great Contest”

  1. Marios says:

    John, cool post, contest will always increase your traffic especially if its a great prize to win. My only question is where do you buzz about your contest if you have a brand new blog?


    1. For that why don’t you buy a review on John Chow or may I can also do for you through my blog.

      1. ZK,

        Are you doing free reviews or what is your price?


        Contests are great and if you can get great prizes like you (ipad etc) for free then it’s a sweet deal.

  2. Zac Johnson says:

    Contests are easily the best and usually free way to bring promotion to your brand, products or event. I’ve been using contests and promotional marketing for over 10 years now and it’s always working great!

    1. Dan Lew says:

      I agree, I will probably focus on this more particularly with my new product about to launch soon!

      1. Product like iPad or iPhone always work.

        John and Jeremy got huge numbers of twitter follower through this kind of contest.

        1. You are right that products like iPad work to draw people to your blog and participate. Even people who already have one of the products enter.

          Wasn’t it Zac in fact that won one of the iPads?

  3. d3so says:

    I ran a small contest on my blog and received great results.
    Imagine if I planned a more exciting contest.

      1. I think it was five dollars lately and I wonder who won.

        D3so, are you announcing the winners or you just send them the dough?

  4. Vik Tantry says:

    Some great ideas and tips, and a good marketing strategy. If you are giving away something that was free to begin with and getting extra visitors to your site, its win win all the way. Definitely a strategy that is worth trying.

    I especially liked the point you made on consistency. Like you said, it’s no good trying anything once and expecting results, you have to keep plugging away.

    Build up the reputation for good giveaways and people will look out for them. I didn’t know it got the RRS readers visiting as well, another bonus.

    1. I like that strategy too. GIving away something that’s already free is pretty clever. Personally I’m always drawn to sites with giveaways so it makes sense I should capitalize on this myself.

      1. Yes people would love to get free things … with that their name also published in the blog … so this is two way benefit for them.

        1. ZK,

          Have you run any contests before? When will you be having one?

  5. Kel says:

    I’ve been wanting to run contests, but agree with Marios, how do you promote a contest if you have small blog that you want to get off the ground?

  6. Abhik says:

    A contest always helps..
    I have run several contents in my forums and the results was superb.

    A $250 contest in one of my tech forum returned 10x amount I spent.

    Thanks john for the post.

    1. Would love to more about such contest … can you provide us the URL of such contest.

  7. Great tips you’ve got there John. I never run contest before and I would like to do so in the future. Again, thanks for the tips..

    1. Just make a full proof planning.

      # Select the prize which every person would love to have. May be new mobile handset, iPad or Kindle or digital camera.

      # Note down the time period

      # Note down how you are going to promote it.

      So before start make a solid plan … if you want to start it on December than start making plan from November 1st.

  8. Alex Dumitru says:

    Really good tips, John !

  9. I have run a contest before with limited success, but the information here is going to make my next attempt much more successful.

    Especially by using things you already have available either with what you have purchased, what you are offering yourself or even what someone has given you to promote their product. What’s better then getting sign up’s for something that didn’t cost you a dime?

  10. Dan Lew says:

    This sounds like a good idea John, I think you motivated me to write a competition, should have it live on my blog today!

    1. And we all would love to read that Post Dan …

      1. It would be good to read what it’s about and how Dan does it.

        I’m going to visit his blog now since it’s been a few days he decided to have it on his blog.

        1. Hey Dan,

          No contest on your blog yet. Did you get sidetracked or was your comment a bait for people to visit your blog?

  11. fas says:

    Contest is the next big think to leverage the blogging community.

  12. marita says:

    John, how do you deal with the legal implications of a contest? In the US a contest falls under lottery rules which requires pages and pages of rules and regulations in order to be legal.

    1. John Chow says:

      As long as the contest doesn’t cost anything to enter, you’ll have no problems.

  13. Essays says:

    Industry excitement can be crated through contest but i don’t think that it will create any brand loyalty. Customers will disappear after the contest.

Comments are closed.