How To Grow Your eCommerce Business Using Online Contests

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In 2017, social media users will have noticed their feeds become increasingly filled with the words ‘Competition time…Giveaway…Win’. Apparently, everyone really does love a freebie - but treating customers to complimentary gifts isn't the only reason businesses are choosing to run online contests. Instead, online competitions have become a significant part of a business’ marketing initiative. In this blog post, we’ll introduce the benefits of running a successful online contest, and how this can help to grow your business.

One of the main reasons that online contests have become so popular in the eCommerce industry is because of the speed at which this tool can benefit your business. When all of your marketing endeavours seem costly and time consuming, running an online competition offers an alternative solution. Expect a sudden flurry of activity on your site and your social media channels!

Why run an online contest?

When considering launching an online contest, it's important to define what your outcomes will be. Your aims could include:

1. Driving traffic to your website.

Assuming that your website is selling your product, the more customers your competition directs to your site, the more likely they are to complete a purchase, in turn increasing conversion rates. Ensuring that you have provided direct links to your website whilst running your competition should cause a surge of traffic on your site. 

2. Build up a loyal customer basis (from both existing and new customers)

Remind your existing customers why they engage with your brand, and increase their satisfaction. When running an online contest, remember to consider a prize that will appeal to both old and new customers. Whilst most online contests aim to engage new customers, be careful not to forget those exisiting, loyal customers who have been with you since the beginning.

3. Promoting your product or brand

This one sounds obvious, but running an online contest is an opportunity for you to showcase your brand and create a buzz around it. Creating engaging content for your competition and posting frequently will remind your followers to engage. Your prize is an opportunity to represent your brand - whether this is an exclusive product, an entire collection, a limited edition product or a gift card. Remember that whilst a big-ticket item such as a luxury holiday could appeal to more people, if your prize doesn’t represent your brand or showcase what your company does best, your efforts could be futile. If you’re having trouble establishing where to situate your brand, there’s some more information for you here.

4. Growing your social media following and collaborating with partners

The conditions that you set for your giveaway are integral to growing your social media following. If your competition asks that your entrees follow your account, like and/or comment on your post, or even repost, your visibility will increase. More and more contests demand that participants tag multiple friends on entering - which in turn extends your reach for each applicant you attract. If you’re aiming to increase your contact list for your newsletter, make sure the link to sign up is straightforward and easy to find. 

If you have been active on your social media accounts, it’s likely that you’ve been engaging with brands and influencers that you like, that are of a similar size to you. Invite influencers or brands to engage with your competition, either by sharing the information to participate or combining a prize that showcases both of your businesses. If you have a budget set aside for online contests, then paid collaboration with brands can assist with expanding your reach. However, unpaid collaborations can benefit both of your businesses, so don’t be a stranger: approach similar-sized businesses and suggest partnering up. For more information on the world of influencers, click here

5. Conducting market research

Running competitions provides insight into your new and existing customers. Information can be obtained from your customers - such as gender, age, location, and what they like/don’t like. Many businesses use online competitions to try and gather as many customer details as possible, for example phone numbers, addresses and email addresses.

When your contacts increase, be sure to transfer this information to your list of newsletter recipients immediately. An extensive list of contacts will allow your business to communicate with customers more directly in the future, when sharing promotional content, new product launches and news about your business. The point at which you choose to gather this information from your competition is up to you - whether this be upon entry or during winner announcements. The most important thing is to ensure that you are gathering this information for more targeted marketing at a later stage.

6. Get rid of stock!

If your business is trying to reduce inventory - (perhaps certain products are close to expiration or will be out of season shortly) - consider running contests to shift stock and prevent waste. Remember that your prize is a representation of your business, even though it is free, so ensure that no prizes are damaged, faulty or expired.

What type of competition should I run?

Running a competition is a great way for your business to be creative. Consider both the relevance of your prize and the time of year! Here are a few examples of giveaways and contest ideas to get you on the right track:

Seasonal Promotions

The time of year plays a significant role in eCommerce success on social media, as businesses utilise holidays as opportunities to promote their businesses and grow. Business owners and marketers should look out for relevant seasons, holidays and national days to run contests and encourage activity on your social media channels and websites.

Social Media Sweepstake

Arguably the most popular and the most straightforward giveaway to set up – this competition asks that applicants like or share a post to go in the draw to win, then the winner is later selected at random.

User Generated Content

Competitions that ask participants to generate their own form of content, generally relating to your brand. This is a great way to engage visitors with your brand, especially if your product features in the content - thus the participant is directly promoting your brand on their own social channels. UGC generally attracts fewer applicants to the competition, but those who enter are more engaged and are likely to be existing customers. Provided the participant agrees, UGC can be used on your social channels in the future. 

How to create an online contest for your Shopify Store

Having established some initial guidelines and aims for your competition, here are the next steps for Shopify merchants interested in setting up an online contest for your Shopify Store:

1. The law of the land

Legally, your competition is referred to as a ‘trade promotion’ - essentially a free-entry competition that is hosted by a business in order to promote a brand/product. There are certain legalities involved when running giveaways, so before launching your competition, make sure that you have checked out any legal requirements, and consult a professional if you have any doubts. Learn more about it here. Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter also have their own guidelines when running promotions. Lastly, make sure that the rules for your giveaway are clearly communicated to your audience to avoid any unnecessary problems or confusion.

2. Set your time frame

How long will your contest run for? Too long and your potential customers know they are less likely to win, but you could collect more data and market research. If you run your competition for too short a time frame, you may not collect enough data or reach your goal. Whilst on the subject of time, it’s worth stressing the importance of maintaining a buzz around your competition for the entirety of your competition. Make sure to continually remind your followers throughout the competition’s duration.

3. Keep it simple

When running your contest, remember to make it easy for your potential customers to participate. If your competition is time consuming to enter, or demands too much data from the individual, they may back track their entry.

4. Be consistent

To ensure your competition is successful, it’s important to promote your giveaway on all of your channels. This should include all social media platforms, your newsletter, as well as your website and blog. If you're collaborating, ensure to promote your competition on any influencer platforms or partnership platforms.

5. Measure the metrics

Ensure that you are equipped to track and measure the success of your competition as it runs. Whilst live, and once the contest is complete, it is essential to analyse the data collected and compare the findings with your original goals. Your data can be analysed using applications such as Gleam, Woobox or ViralSweep. These tools provide useful services such as tracking engagement, extending your reach and also preventing fraud. Whilst live, and again once the giveaway has finished, examine the success of the competition. Ask yourself what your goals were and if you achieved them. Did you increase engagement but saw a lack of conversions? Were the rules communicated clearly to your audience? Would collaborating with an influencer or another brand help next time? Examine the information collected and consider what you would do the same and what you would do differently next time. To read more on all things data and analytics, click here.

6. Winner!

Announcing the winner of your competition legitimises the contest and generates excitement for the next campaign. When choosing your winner, check that their entrance aligns with the rules and regulations for your contest. Share the winner of your giveaway on the channels used to promote the campaign, most commonly your newsletter, website and social media platforms.

Now what?

Want to convert your followers into returning customers? Desperate to grow your email list? Running online contests and welcoming new business to your Shopify store can easily become one of your most effective marketing endeavours. Elkfox are here to help you make the most of your Shopify store. If you’d like more information on running online contests or other marketing techniques, get in touch with us.