Organising Your First Online Contest: 5 Tried-and-Tested Steps

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So you have a website up and running. Your products are all there. But how do you get the crowd to come by your website without advertising?

Try running a contest!

Yes, running a contest is one of the many ways you can draw the crowds in, especially if you are offering your products as the contest prizes.

But what if you don’t have a product, especially for those specialising in services or consultancy? Don’t worry. You can still offer your services.

For example, why not offer free advice/consultancy to the winner for a duration of six months? If you feel that you need to offer something tangible, another idea to try is partnering with other businesses to offer prizes related to your business.

Besides garnering interest in your products/services, running a contest enables you to collect details about your potential clients.

After all, those who participate in the contest must be those who are somehow interested in what your contest offers, yes?

So, organising a contest is an indirect way to get more information about your potential clients. Once you have their emails in hand, you can contact them when you have promotions, discounts, giveaways, freebies and goodies directly.

To run a successful contest, here are 5 tried-and-tested steps:

What’s In It For Me?

Those who join your online contest are in it for one thing: self-interest.

What benefit will they derive from joining your contest? Give them a solid reason. This means offering them a contest prize that they simply cannot refuse.

The key thing is: never give them a product that is mediocre or worthless. People are not stupid so do not take them for a ride by offering something that you, yourself would not use or buy.

Think like your customer: does this prize get me excited if I win? If you can’t even get yourself hyped up about the prize, it’s time to re-think.

How Long Does It Run?

Next, determine the duration of the contest. Some run for a month, some run for three. The disadvantages of running a contest longer than a month is that participants’ attention will falter and soon, your contest may be forgotten.

A shorter duration may be a good bet sometimes. Again, this depends on how confident you are of your prize and how much attention you’ll expect it’ll garner (and how much excitement you can consistently drum up!).

Brainstorm For Ideas

Now that you have the prize and duration settled, think about how to present your contest.

What type are you looking at? Now’s a good time to brainstorm and decide how simple or complicated you want it to be.

Do you want your participants to write a slogan? Do you want your participants to hunt for some information on your website?

Again, as the organiser, it’s your call.

Based on our experience, give something in between – not too complex to stump them and drive them off, nor something too easy that insults their intelligence. We’ve run slogan-writing contests as well as run creative contests (where participants need to come up with a creative image, for instance).

Design The Contest

Finally, it is time to put the contest to work by designing the necessary web pages and forms (if applicable).

How do you want the participants to send their entries in? By email? Or do you need them to fill up a form on your website?

Before your contest goes live online, get family members or friends to test out the contest and weed out any problems, if any.

Another important tip is to also include a page which sets out the rules and regulations of the contest (you don’t want disgruntled participants, do you?).

Be sure you tell them when the contest results will be posted online on your website.

Most contest organisers will post contest results on their website as well as send an email to the winners, informing them.

Promote It Everywhere

Once everything is nice and ready, it is time to promote the contest to everyone you know.

The first place to do so would be on your website. You must have the contest prominently on your website or people won’t be able to find it!

Next, create a quick promo graphic using Canva ( so that you can easily share this on Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and WhatsApp too. (When you use Canva, you can easily resize the promo graphic to the size you want.)

Don’t think only in terms of online promotion. You’d be surprised that offline promotion works too.

At the same time, don’t leave out your existing customers either. Send them an email announcing the contest. Tell them to send or refer the contest to friends and families, especially since you know they’ve bought from you and they know your products well (that is if you are offering your own product).

The key to any successful online contest is to keep promoting it, even until the deadline itself.

Now that you know how to run a contest, go on, get one organised!

Sure it takes some work but it’s also loads of fun!

For ideas, check out the recent one we organised for ourselves.

Or read more contest how-to tips at

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