Why Contests Work
Why User-generated Contests Work for Marketers
They Create a Dialogue with Consumers - Given the current online marketing landscape, it's critical for savvy marketers to engage consumers in an open, two-way dialogue. By allowing consumers to contribute to marketing campaigns through photos, videos, text and user-voting, campaigns become personal. You can learn a lot about what resonates with your core consumers in a very short period of time based on what they share with you on the site, as well as what they send to friends and family as contest participants transform into viral evangelists for your brand.
They Virally Spread Your Marketing Message - Assuming your contest site is built well and with the right viral tools at the disposal of users (see tips), user-generated contests can be a great way to virally spread your marketing message. What is unique about contests is that entrants have an incentive to promote themselves in order to get the votes needed to win the contest. And as we're learning, in a digital world with a lot of noise, consumers have a higher level of trust and interest in content referred by their friends. This provides brands with an amazing way to expose their message to a new audience of engaged consumers.
They Build Community Around Your Brand - Creating a contest microsite with built-in social networking features provides the landscape for your customers to talk about the promotion. What's a contest microsite you might ask? It's a standalone web site or sub-section of your existing brand web site that is dedicated to the contest and fully customized to your look and feel. In addition to contest rules, guidelines, user entry forms and voting it should utilize key social features allowing visitors to share and interact with the contest entries and each other. Depending on the theme of your contest, this interactive conversation could be focused on your product or brand specifically or something with which you want your brand associated with.
They Allow for Safe Participation in Social Media - Some brands are reluctant to turn over control of their marketing to consumers for fear of what the masses might say. Contests can provide a great way for brands to safely participate in social media. By clearly outlining rules and guidelines for entering contests and making smart use of prescreen and moderation tools, your brand can remain protected.
They Build Your Customer Database - Because of the viral nature of entrants reaching out to friends and family to promote entries, contests can be a great way to build your customer database for future marketing efforts. It goes without saying, however, that users must opt-in to receive future marketing messages.