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So you’re thinking of running a competition, but you’re not entirely sure why…

It might sounds strange, but it’s actually a lot more common than you would think to be curious about competitions but still confused as to why you would run one, what it could do for your business and how it can help you achieve your goals.

One of my absolute favourite things about running competitions is how versatile and customisable they are to achieving any business or marketing goal. Competitions are like a Swiss army knife – need to open a bottle? There’s a tool for that. Need to saw some wood? There’s a tool for that. Heck, there’s even a tool to clean your horse’s hoof… (I don’t know about you but I use *this* one on a daily basis…)

If you’re curious about competitions, but confused as to why, this post will show you exactly how you can use competitions to smash your business and marketing goals.

1. To increase your social media followers.

Let’s start with the most common and well-known reason to run a competition or giveaway – to increase your social media followers.

Now, I’ve made my feelings quite clear about how I believe follow to win competitions are a waste of your time and money, but at the same time, I understand that increasing your followers may have a time and place in your business and boosting your following might be something that’s important to you – so that’s why using competitions to boost your followers still makes it on to this list of reasons to run a competition.

The most obvious way to increase followers with competitions is to run a follow to enter or like to win style competition. The premise is simple, to get an entry, your audience need to follow you on Instagram or like your page on Facebook and you pick a winner from those that followed during your competition. 

Your follower count grows and (at least in theory) you can then reach those people with your content and encourage them to purchase.

2. To grow your subscribers or email list.

Now we’ve got my least favourite reason to run a competition out of the way, let’s move on to my favourite – how to use competitions to grow your subscribers.

Why would you want to collect emails instead of likes or follows? A couple of reasons – firstly (and most importantly) email has a much, much higher conversion rate to purchase than social media, meaning more money in your business and less money in Meta’s pocket, but also because you then own that email data which means you’re free to access it how and when you please, instead of being at the mercy of the dreaded algorithm or finding your account blocked and suddenly unable to reach any of your customers…

Using competitions to grow your subscribers is very simple – in return for an entry into the competition, you ask your audience for their email address and add it to your email database. You can do this with the help of a third party app or even with Facebook and Instagram’s lead generation ads (though that does require a budget) but my favourite way by far is to pop a simple email collection form on a competition landing page on your website.

Running a competition or giveaway to grow your email list is severely underrated. Not only are enter your email to win competitions quick and easy to set up, but email lists have much higher conversion to purchase too – which leads me to…

3. To generate sales.

Yes, you read that right. You can use competitions to generate sales of your products or services – and not by selling tickets to enter, because that’s not permitted in Australia (and indeed many countries around the world).

I’m sure I don’t need to explain why you would want to run a competition or giveaway to generate sales and revenue… so let’s skip straight to the how.

There are so many ways to leverage your competition to generate revenue. The most obvious of which is a purchase to win style competition. With this type of competition, your audience can only gain an entry into your competition if they make a purchase from you. You would then draw your winner from everyone who purchased during the competition period.

Whilst this is the easiest and quickest way to generate sales with a competition, there are many other ways to create sales during and after your giveaway. My favourite way to encourage entrants to become purchasers is by sending them an offer once the competition is closed – if you combine this offer with your winner announcement the high open rates combined with a valuable offer will most likely cover the cost of the competition itself – and then some.

4. To generate leads.

Sales may be the ultimate goal, but sometimes your customers may need a little warming up, especially if your business is new or your product is unusual, or you may have a service-based business that works on turning leads into sales.

For these types of businesses, a lead generation competition may be a better fit.

Think about your ‘sales’ process – what is the journey that your customers take from first hearing about you and your business, to finding out more and engaging with you, to making a purchase?

Let’s take OrigamiGlobe as an example. Usually, people find me when they Google a problem they’re having with competitions (such as ‘how to use competitions to achieve my marketing goals’!) and then see this post amongst the results, click through, have a read, maybe decide to subscribe or download the Competition Kickstart Plan or even submit an enquiry for a Competition Concierge quote.

What’s your sales process? How do people find and interact with you? Computer and phone image by Ben Kolde via Unsplash.

I could run an ‘enter your email to win’ competition, or drive people to my website for an ‘easter egg hunt’ style competition to get them to engage with my content or I may choose to enter everyone who downloads the Kickstart Plan or submits a Concierge enquiry during the competition period into the draw to win.

Either way, I’m encouraging people to follow the traditional ‘sales’ process journey to help generate leads for my business – something that you can do too, by mapping out the journey your customers take, then match your competition goals and entry methods to that process.

5. To [re]engage your customers/audience/followers etc.

Hands up if you’ve ever neglected your email list (yes, my hand is up)… OK hands up if you’ve ever taken a little break from social media and not talked to your followers for an extended period of time (… yep, my hand is still up).

Hopefully by now you’re getting the picture that competitions can be shaped and moulded to fit any goal – and that includes engaging (or reengaging) your audience.

Let’s say you have an email list that’s fairly large, but pretty unengaged – your open rate is lower than you’d like and you rarely get click throughs. Emails are a great example because there are so many fun competitions you can run to increase your engagement and rekindle your relationship with your subscribers.

Pretty much anything that encourages clicks is going to work wonders for engagement – so why not encourage your audience to browse your products or services on your site, then let you know in 25 words or less which product or service they most need right now and why.

Engaging or reengaging your customers with a competition is a great excuse to refresh your audience, reconnect with customers and rekindle your relationship – because nothing is more enticing than the chance to win a prize!

6. To collect user-generated content.

User-generated content is content that comes from your users – this could be reviews, survey feedback or pictures of your customers using your products or services, for example.

So why would you bother gathering content from your audience when you have professional photos and you can just ask your business bestie for opinions on your new product line? Well, the truth is, sometimes real is best. Though the polished studio photos of your new range of dresses are stunning, sometimes people prefer to see what that dress actually looks like on a real-life sized person. Often, when running ads for competitions, user-generated photos far outperform the polished professional photos, so real-life photos from real-life customers can actually be incredibly valuable!

Competitions are a super effective way to encourage people to bother to submit their content, because there’s something in it for them if they do – the possibility of winning a prize.

The above is a screenshot from a real client competition where we tested a ‘professional’ photo against a ‘real’ photo for a week.

The ‘Results’ are how many entries we got from each image – you can see we got close to twice as many entries with the user-generated photo… but not just that – our cost per entry (‘Cost per result’) is $0.06 cents cheaper, our quality ranking is higher, link clicks are far higher and click through rate is higher too.

7. To create brand awareness.

I’ve left brand awareness until last because it’s a bit of a funny one.

Whilst it’s entirely possible to run a competition with the sole purpose of increasing awareness of your brand and educating people on what you do, how you do it and why… it’s actually kind of a waste of a competition.

Let me explain…

Brand awareness is actually a free bonus gift that comes with running any type of competition – you could run an enter your email to win competition or a tell us in 25 words or less competition and you’re 100% guaranteed to increase awareness of your brand – PLUS you’ll have a bunch of new subscribers and content. If you’d have run your competition just for brand awareness, you wouldn’t have those additional bonus subscribers or content.

You see, by running a competition in the first place, you’re getting your brand out there to a much larger audience than normal – thanks to your competition promotion. If you make a point to keep your marketing materials on-brand and craft your competition messaging well then everyone who sees your competition gains awareness of your brand by default.

I would very rarely recommend a client to run a competition solely for brand awareness as it’s possible to get huge brand awareness and recognition by running any type of competition with any goal or entry method.

So there you have it, seven different ways to use competitions and giveaways to smash your business and marketing goals… though there are far more ways to leverage these totally powerful little tools for any goal you wish to achieve with your business. Whether it’s more leads or more customer photos you’re looking for, competitions can help you smash your goals and grow your business.

Ready to smash your goals? Get started with my totally free Competition Kickstart Plan, where you’ll explore what you want to achieve, create a plan to achieve it and get three super valuable tips to help ensure you actually launch your competition. Download it here.