Do's and don'ts of online competitions

Posted on May 06, 2010

Online competitions are a great way to increase traffic to your website and gain opt-in subscribers to your email marketing list. However, to ensure you reap maximum benefits from the competition, it is essential that you follow these simple Dos and Don'ts.


1. Choose your prize carefully
It is generally accepted that the more expensive or sought-after the prize, the more competition entries you will receive, although this is not always the case. It is important to remember your target audience when selecting the prize. The aim of the competition, ultimately, should be to attract potential customers by raising awareness of your brand so you want to choose a suitable prize for your target group.

2. Keep it simple
The entry form should be short, simple and self-explanatory. Do not ask for sensitive or irrelevant information. Limit it to basic contact details and keep it short. Making the entry form long and laborious will discourage everyone except the keenest compers from entering.

2. Be clear
Make it clear exactly what you are offering the user and what you expect in return. Present a list of competition Terms and Conditions (users should acknowledge these when they submit their entry).

3. Get permission
Get users to opt-in to marketing newsletters. If you are asking for entrant email address, explain clearly how this information will be used with a link to your privacy policy.

4. Launch the competition
Take advantage of all opportunities to promote the competition both online and offline. This can take the form of a newsletter to existing customers, promotion on competition websites such as Loquax or Money Saving Expert, or flyer and word-of-mouth campaigns.

5. Promotion, promotion, promotion
Online competitions are a great way of increasing traffic to your website and awareness about your brand. They do not necessarily lead to increased business straightaway, but will gain consumer mindshare.

6. Be seasonal
Special annual events such as Christmas, Easter, Mother's day and Father's day are opportune times to promote your company by running competitions. Even if the entrant does not win the competition, they will know more about your products and services, which can improve future sales.


1. Don't forget to select and award the prize
So the competition has closed, you have increased traffic to your website and captured a large number of email addresses for marketing purposes, now what? It sounds like stating the obvious, but don't forget to announce the winner and award the prize. Surprisingly, there are some companies that neglect to deliver on their competition promises - you do not want to fall into this category. Running a competition that no one wins will, best case scenario, discourage users from entering future competitions and, worse case scenario, damage company credibility and drive away potential customers.

2. Don't mislead entrants
Do not promise what you cannot deliver. You should be clear and informative in every communication with users and compers.

3. Don't send unsolicited emails
Don't use email addresses for marketing purposes unless a user has opted in to such communications.