Wednesday 29th June 2016

How to Use Contests and Competitions to Engage Your eCommerce Customers

Tom Shackleton

Using contests and competitions to engage your customers and encourage them to interact with you is becoming increasingly more popular. Contests are a great way of increasing your reach on social media and creating buzz around a new product and whilst they may not drive sales in the short term, they’re great for building a strong following that you can build on.

Here are some things to think about when using contests to lift your eCommerce sales:

Who’s Your Contest For?

Who's Your Contest For Before considering anything else, you need to decide what the objective of your contest will be. Do you want to use the competition to target new customers or do you want to use it to increase loyalty and repeat purchasing amongst your existing ones?

You may want to use the contest to increase your social media following? Encouraging people to share the contest with their friends is a great way to increase your reach. Alternatively, you may want to use a contest to increase brand or product awareness and even to build an email database.

Being more targeted with your contest by aiming it at a particular segment of your customer base can help make the contest more effective at achieving your aims. Your existing customers will most likely respond in a different way to your new customers - and to different types of contest, prizes and methods of distribution.

The more targeted you can be with a prospective audience for your eCommerce contest, the better results you’re likely to have and the bigger impact you will see, just as with any other form of marketing.

What Format Will The Contest Take?

What format There are many different forms your contest could take. You could use social media and set up a Facebook or Instagram contest that invites follows and likes. This form of contest would reward people with entry for social interactions. While these tend to be very popular, you could also run a contest in the form of a questionnaire, where entrants are rewarded for completing a short survey. The benefit of this format is that you can gather extra data on the entrant in the process.

Running a social media contest is great for boosting your likes and following, so expect to see a lot more interest in your social presence as a result. You’ll need to think carefully about how you’ll direct all of the new social media attention through to your eCommerce site. Promoting your contest on social media with a link to your store is a good place to start.

A great idea is to encourage entrants to submit their own content in order to be placed in the contest draw. This could be anything from their own artwork, videos or writing. This is a brilliant way of getting your audience involved and engaged - and you can then use this user generated content in future marketing campaigns.

Offer Your Product as a Prize

Product prize Whatever form of contest you decide on, offering your own product or service as a prize where possible is a great idea. If you don’t have the budget for high ticket items, offering vouchers can go down equally well. Offering a small discount to all entrants is also a fantastic way of encouraging people to enter and giving them a reason to buy from your eCommerce store afterwards - even if they don’t win the competition. Another popular idea is to offer a ‘hamper’, mixing your own products and similar or related products.

Offering your own product as a prize for your contest can position your product as desirable, and when visitors see all of the contest entrants desperate to win your product, they may well go ahead and buy it anyway.

You could even time your contest to coincide with a new product launch. Offering the chance to win a new or even unreleased product is sure to increase the buzz around your launch and send search traffic towards your site.

Gather Customer Data

Customer data Even if it’s not the primary objective of your contest, you shouldn’t miss a great opportunity to gather customer data as well.

Whether you’re targeting new or existing customers, anyone who takes part in your contest is likely to have an interest in your products and eCommerce site. They are therefore more likely to be more receptive to being included in future email marketing campaigns. Following up on the data you gather during a contest could well deliver more sales than the contest itself.

But the data you gather doesn’t have to stop at email addresses. If you include a questionnaire in your contest submission, you could gather data from customers on anything from their experience of using your site, to their opinion of your product range.

Consider Distribution

Finally, you’ll need to decide on how your contest will be distributed to potential entrants. Depending on what best suits your target market, this could be via email, your site, social media, a blog post or any combination of the four.

If you’re targeting existing customers, reaching them by email is a great way to increase that feeling of exclusivity. Having a contest available only to existing customers on your mailing list can increase brand loyalty and repeat purchasing, as customers feel they are part of a community. Having the email link through to a landing page on your eCommerce store or a blog post drives traffic to your site and gives them the opportunity to explore more products.

If you’re looking to draw in new customers, using social media to distribute and promote your contest is usually the best option. You’ll want to promote your posts and use the targeting features on platforms like Facebook to present your posts to your target audience.

Partner With Complementary Brands

Running contests in conjunction with complementary or similar brands that aren’t direct competition is a fantastic way of increasing the reach of your contests and enforcing your brand identity. Having access to two separate brands’ social following means higher engagement and positioning your brand alongside one that attracts a similar target customer can align your brand with theirs in the minds of customers.

In Summary…

When using contests to drive sales on your eCommerce site, think of the contest as a way of enticing potential customers in and making them aware of your product and brand. As long as your keep your audience and objectives in mind, you could see a positive impact on your eCommerce sales from running competitions and contests, both in the short and longer term.

Have you run a successful eCommerce contest? Let us know what techniques worked for you on Facebook or Twitter.

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