How to make your contest promotion more effective
There are a number of factors that will impact conversion rate for a contest campaign. In this article, I will talk about conversion rates for contests specifically. Keep in mind however, the general principles outlined can be related to coupons, samples, loyalty, email, content and other types of digital promotions.
Note: Specific examples provided below have been sourced from Qoints’ repository of digital engagement and performance data.
Conversion Rate Optimization 101
No matter how many consumers you reach online with the message to enter your contest, some will drop off the radar during their engagement with the promotion before fully completing the entry process, or converting. When thinking ahead to the end of your promotion and how many full conversions you’d like to have when it’s all said and done, you can build a stronger case for choosing certain tactics over others.
The first consideration is your industry; the same strategies implemented in different industries can have completely opposite results. When you are analyzing only the promotions that have occurred in your industry, then consider using the following list which details the most important factors to derive a conversion rate goal for your contest.
In this article, I define a conversion rate as total participants divided by total possible participants (typically unique visitors). I also reference unique conversions as individual (unique) participants divided by total unique visitors.
Often, the definition of a conversion rate will vary depending on the promotion objectives. For example: survey completion, email subscriptions, white-paper downloads, event registration, etc. are all possible goals for a promotion that will impact what a good conversion rate looks like.
The most significant mechanics variable across contests is single entry vs. multiple entry.
Multi-entry campaigns generate a lower unique visitor conversion rate because the potential participant needs to make a larger commitment to the campaign (they need to return when allowed to create more entries in order to maximize the chances of winning).
For example, when running a multiple entry contest in the retail sector, more than 60% of entrants will participate 3 times or more. This generates a much stronger brand engagement experience for those more committed consumers, but overall these types of promotions have a lower conversion rate when compared to those that only allow for a single entry per user.
Note: One way to increase visits for multi-entry campaigns is through the use of bonus entries – when leveraged effectively, they can both bring participants back and help expose them to other aspects of the campaign or brand.
Another thing to keep in mind is what you are asking users to do in order to qualify – how much effort do potential participants have to put in to complete their entry? As you might expect, the more you ask a user to do before their entry is completed, the lower you can expect your conversions to be.
For example, when adding any kind of content submission requirement such as uploading a photo or writing a sentence or two, the conversion rate drops by approximately 190% in contests that are promoting consumer packaged goods (CPG).
This may seem like Marketing 101, but it’s important enough to repeat a thousand times: know your target audience (demographics AND region), and select tactics that are proven to work in those groups. Everything else being equal, engagement with contests is relatively similar from region to region.
That being said (and without being income-specific), females, people living in more rural areas, students and moms are the groups that are most likely to engage with a contest. In terms of the industries they tend to like, CPG, Retail, Entertainment and Fashion are the sector favourites for this group of consumers.
The prize you build your contest around has to be shiny and appealing to the target demographic – if you get this right, you’ll spend less money attracting the people you don’t want. Try to pick something that’s exclusive to your brand and is not easily replicated if you can (high intrinsic value), especially if you’re asking for a little more from your participants than just their name and email address.
You’ll also want to ensure the dollar value of the prize is in line with the amount of engagement you’d like to generate, and how much engagement you are asking of the participant.
In some industries, you can boost your conversion rate even more by selecting prizes that are appropriate for the season… in all industries, however, the best prizes are the ones that are deeply connected to the actual brand that is sponsoring the contest.
Brand marketers spend a pretty penny on media to generate awareness and drive traffic to the contests they run. Generally, the majority of a budget is spent on paid media as opposed to being spent on the production of the promotion.
Before you propose or approve any media budget, make sure you consider which channels are most suitable for reaching your target audience, and of course your campaign mechanics and prizes, as detailed above.
These considerations are relevant to the entire campaign, but they warrant special attention on the media buying side since the majority of investment is made there and careless decisions made in media buying have the ability to thwart the entire effort.
It’s strongly recommended that you monitor your media buy as it occurs, so you can make adjustments earlier if they’re needed (hopefully resulting in both cost savings and more relevant traffic).
When utilizing real-time analytics and performance monitoring, you have the ability to gain timely insights to help optimize your spend while the promotion is still in market. Again, it may seem obvious but if 50% of visitors that are driven through Facebook Ads convert and only 25% of Paid Search visitors are converting, tweak the spend. Different industries and regions will have varying results for even the same promotion.
Check the Infographic - 5 step process for conversion rate optimization
Media buying is great for building an early base of entries, but a well-conceived contest will drive shares as well (which cost you nothing and generally bring much higher conversion rates than paid media budgets).
One thing that helps is an element or the appearance of exclusivity – the duration of the campaign can create the feeling of exclusivity simply through urgency, but stricter entry requirements (ie restricting entries to people residing within a particular region) or highly-targeted prizing increase the shareability of a campaign to an even greater extent.
The best place to prompt the participant to share the promotion is immediately following the completion of their entry; this moment is the greatest point of satisfaction aside from actually winning a prize. This should be accounted for when designing the user experience of the contest. The longer it has been since the entry was made, the less likely a participant is to share it.
In Conclusion for boosting CRO for your contests
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the factors that affect a promotion’s conversion rate. If you are not currently taking into account one or more of these considerations, it’s certainly worth taking another look at the process you go through before signing off on a campaign and how you monitor it while in market.
Feel free to contact Qoints via email) to find out more about how you can use online tools to make this process easier and more effective!