4 Steps to Launching a Web-Based Contest

Priti Sharma
by Priti Sharma 23 Jul, 2013

As a Web-based business, getting noticed can be a difficult thing. The Internet is vast, and there are millions of websites to compete with; how do you make yours stand out? How can potential customers find you?

SEO is crucial, of course, as are marketing and branding. There's another tactic that can help your enterprise reach a wider audience and drive new customers to your digital properties: social media contests and sweepstakes.

Step 1: What will you offer?

Sweepstakes aren't quite as easy to run as they first appear. It's more than just finding something to give away and putting something up about it. First, you have to decide on what you're going to offer up. A good? A service? You want to give visitors a chance to win something valuable enough to drive them to your website, but not so valuable that you won't leave them wanting more. It's got to give them a taste of your product, so whether they win or not, they'll want to come back to your website and browse (and, hopefully, buy).

Step 2: Publicize, publicize, publicize!

You also have to publicize your giveaway. This is where social media use comes in: post the sweepstake everywhere you can, but not so often that you turn off your existing followers and subscribers. There's a delicate balance to be found here. One great way to publicize your giveaway is to encourage those who are signed up for the sweepstakes to share information about it: post it on Facebook or retweet it on Twitter. But how do you incentivize them to do this? There are two ways. First, you can require it for entry. To enter the sweepstakes, they must share it. If you want to be less forward about it, a share on social media can count for a second entry into the giveaway or sweepstakes.

Editor's Note: Review Facebook's guidelines for promotions.

Step 3: Tracking and metrics

You need to know whether your giveaway is indeed attracting people to your website. Metric trackers such as Google Analytics, Statcounter, and Woopra, as well as link shorteners such as bit.ly, are crucial to this part of the sweepstakes. Frankly, if you have any kind of professional online presence, you should be using metrics to track it. It's easy to embed code for any of these services into your website; you can then track how many hits you've been getting and how many new visitors have been attracted to your website as a result of your sweepstakes. It's an important part of measuring how effective your giveaway has been.

But you also need to monitor the social media aspect of your sweepstakes or giveaway. How do you track how many retweets or Facebook shares you've gotten? This is especially important if social media sharing counts for an entry into the sweepstakes or extra entries into the sweepstakes. Facebook provides its own analytics, which is very helpful. It's best to use a third-party app for Facebook sweepstakes because of the company's new rules, but that's easy to do. Two good choices are ShortStack and Offerpop. For Twitter, it's best to select some sort of reply address or hashtag for entrants to use; this makes it much easier to track who's entering your contests.

Step 4: Winner!

Finally, the only thing left is to pick a winner! Assign all the entries with numbers and use a random number generator, such as Random.org. If you've publicized your giveaway well and used the social media tools at your disposal, you could possibly have thousands of new potential customers who gained awareness of your company and products through your sweepstakes. It's an invaluable tool to help gain an online presence and reach out to new customers.

Priti Sharma is the President, CEO, and Owner of Q-See, a company that specializes in surveillance systems for the discerning consumer. Q-See provides high-technology solutions to meet all your personal and professional surveillance needs.