A couple of weeks ago I was invited by a site called JobMob to participate in their annual guest blogging contest. I went ahead and wrote up a post for them, and you might want to go read it if you are interested in freelance job search cover letters. There are lots of prizes, and winning posts are chosen on the basis of the amount of traffic they receive. Look what this contest does for JobMob:
- They receive a whole bunch of free posts. Posts are vetted before acceptance into the contest and they reserve the right to edit the posts as well, so JobMob has control over quality.
- They get links. People often link to guest posts, opening up new traffic streams for the hosting site. People also link to contests.
- They get social media exposure. There are prizes for the most retweeted post and things of that nature, so JobMob can expect stronger advocacy in social media than it would usually receive.
- They have a whole bunch of strangers trying to drive traffic to them. I’m not that competitive, but people bent on winning those prizes will be putting in uncompensated hours sending folks to the site.
- They can write about this a lot at their blog, send out press releases, and otherwise make a fuss over it.
This is the 5th year for this contest, and while I had never previously heard of JobMob, I’m guessing that this provides lots of worthwhile exposure for the company.
How can you make good use of contests at your website?
You need prizes.
JobMob has lots of sponsors providing prizes. We were approached by a software company earlier this year with the offer of free software to give away, and I often see requests for prizes in the media pitch lists, so this may be the first choice. However, you can also buy a highly desirable prize (one of our clients gave away an iPad earlier this year) or give away something your company produces. The prize should be valuable enough to make it worth the effort involved in entering the contest.
You need rules.
JobMob asked for blog posts. We asked for forum comments. Contests often require entrants to “like” or “friend” or subscribe. It’s essential that the level of effort for entry be in line with the value of the prize, but otherwise it makes sense to choose something that’s valuable to you.
It’s also essential to have rules that are clear enough that you won’t end up with angry customers or owing people money. Have a number of people read the rules and tell you what they think the rules say before you post them. If you know some people who are literal-minded, dim, or so clever that they can see multiple possible meanings in everything, so much the better.
You need a goal.
HubSpot wrote about a “money sucking sweepstakes” a while back. Their sweepstakes didn’t work out so well, but their report shows how to determine and track a goal for a contest. Hubspot wanted more new email addresses, and they had set a specific goal for the number they wanted, and figured out the cost per address compared with their usual cost for email addresses. Our experiment with FreshPlans was intended to support our experiment with a forum plug in. We didn’t quantify a goal (we should have) but our results were poor enough that I know we wouldn’t have reached any goal we might have set.
If you don’t set a goal, you can’t tell whether you’ve succeeded. HubSpot got plenty of Facebook “like”s from their contest, and they could have gotten swept up in the excitement of being popular (they wouldn’t, of course, but a less experienced company easily could) and missed the fact that they weren’t getting a worthwhile ROI.
JobMob went to the trouble of seeking out people and inviting them to enter the contest. HubSpot bought prizes and put time and money into administering the contest. FreshPlans frankly put very little effort into the contest — and with a goal of getting enough action with the forum plugin to test it properly, we probably deserved our dismal results.
Contests can be great for your website and for your company. Just be sure to go into yours with the proper degree of preparation.