The Ad Council recently hosted a panel discussion, along with Google, on Online Contests. Presenters included YouTube, AARP, National Parks Foundation and ePrize. While it was mostly geared to nonprofits, the presenters provided some good “lessons learned” which I’ve included below.
For Federal government folks looking to create or improve their online contests and challenges, GSA’s Center for New Media and Citizen Engagement is helping agencies learn more about innovation challenges and prizes. Visit their site to get tools, examples, guidelines, case studies and sample rules. They will also soon launch Challenge.gov, which will be a one-stop shop for federal agencies to post challenges and for the public to find and participate in federal challenges.
Initial Steps for Success…
- Do your research.
- Prioritize your goals – what behaviors do you want to motivate? Your goals will help define the solution.
- Identify consumer touch points.
- Assign a budget.
- Keep it simple. You may not need as many bells as whistles as originally thought.
- YouTube: Create a great call-out video.
- You need to promote your promotion! Use email blasts, banners, homepage placement, Facebook posts, Tweets, Direct Mail (bill stuffer), events, mobile – use it all.
- Prizes should be topically relevant. The combination of a bigger grand prize coupled with frequent smaller instant win prizes has proven to be a powerful draw.
- Keep it simple – Simple clear message with clean creative. Just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should.
- Leverage social networking, blogs, newsletters and websites.
- Think about advertising and which sites make sense for your contest and who it targets.
- Target individual YouTube users. Don’t be afraid to send messages.
- Utilize all resources (internal and external) available to you
- Engage your web and marketing teams
- Engage your partners/prospects
- Use social media/Integrate!
- Generate excitement about upcoming contest(s)
- Send emails to your database
- Have a sweepstakes or “teaser” contest
- Don’t take on more than you can handle.
- If your budget is limited, keep it simple
- Engage a contest administration company if budget allows
- A major redesign/relaunch is not the best time to launch a complex campaign that requires technical integration.
- Bring some content from behind the registration wall, and don’t make it flash-based, in order for it to be viewed/found by search engines (missed out on organic traffic opportunity).
- Get legal in early and keep them updated each step of the way to ensure that there are no last minute surprises, i.e. incenting referrals are a no-no at AARP (which was learned just before launch).
After you launch…
- Keep it exciting – after 10-12 weeks, offer a new message or reason to engage
- Continue to grow and evolve. Keep it fresh.
- Create contest updates to keep people engaged throughout the contest.
- Finish strong and leverage your content to create mashups, ads and video press releases.