ShortStack Create web Campaigns, Facebook apps, Facebook contests and custom forms 2017-02-23T16:47:42Z http://www.shortstack.com/feed/atom/ Dana Kilroy <![CDATA[8 Steps to Running a Successful Contest (Plus New Photo Contest Templates!)]]> http://www.shortstack.com/?p=25203 2017-02-23T16:47:42Z 2017-02-22T17:42:07Z Are you looking for ways to reach new customers and/or reconnect with your existing ones? Whether you’re a small business owner, an account manager at an agency handling many clients, or even if you manage marketing for a large brand, you probably know that photo contests, can increase engagement with your customers and bring traffic to...]]>

Are you looking for ways to reach new customers and/or reconnect with your existing ones?

Whether you’re a small business owner, an account manager at an agency handling many clients, or even if you manage marketing for a large brand, you probably know that photo contests, can increase engagement with your customers and bring traffic to your website. But did you know they can also help you build segmented email lists, and learn more about the kinds products your existing customers want in the future? 

To help you plan a successful photo contest, use this eight-step guide which includes everything you need to know about how to launch a photo contest that’ll both increase engagement and give you leads to use throughout the year.

To make things even easier, use one of our free, customizable photo contest templates.

ShortStack’s “Basic Photo Contest” template.

 

ShortStack’s “Refer-a-Friend Photo Contest” template

To access these templates, and 35 others, just set up a free ShortStack account.

Ready to create and launch a photo contest?

Step 1: Set a Goal

Before you create your contest, decide what you want to achieve.

Here are some broad goals we see among ShortStack users:

  • Increase sales
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Promote a new product or service
  • Boost user engagement
  • Gather user feedback or content
  • Develop brand advocates

Once you’ve decided on your big-picture goals, set smaller, SMART goals — goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Why? The more specific you are, the easier it will be to gauge whether your goals have been met.

Here are just three examples of SMART goals:

  • Use a basic photo contest to collect 100 pieces of user-generated content (UGC).
  • Use a refer-a-friend photo contest (and reward every person who enters your contest with extra entries when they share your contest with a friend) to collect 1000 email addresses from new customers.
  • Use an enter-to-vote contest to determine which product(s) your existing customers are most likely to purchase from you in the future.

Step 2: Decide on a Prize

The prize you plan your photo contest around is key. The prize could be your product or service, or a product or service that is relevant to your brand. Spend some time thinking about what kind of prize will attract your ideal customer.

For example:

  • Be audience-specific. One of the biggest mistakes companies make is hosting a generic “win an iPad” giveaway. You might gets lots of entries, but they won’t necessarily be your target audience. For more tips on choosing the right prize, check out this guide. 
  • Give away several “inexpensive” prizes. We’ve seen companies get lots of attention by offering a prize like the chance to test-drive a car, taste-test a new food, or take a cooking lesson from a famous chef.

Step 3: Build Your Contest

Once you’ve set up your account, you’ll have access to more than 35 professionally designed templates that are easy to customize, even if you don’t know CSS. (And if you do know CSS the sky’s the limit.)

The type of contest you build will determine the next steps, but basically they go like this:

  1. Choose the type of photo contest you want to host.
  2. Choose a template.
  3. Edit the template — logo, images, form fields, etc. — to reflect your brand. You can even create designer-quality images for your contests without needing graphic design skills.
  4. Write rules. Make sure your rules include the following verbiage and other details:
  • “No Purchase Necessary”
  • “Purchase does not enhance chance of winning”
  • “Void where prohibited”
  • Details regarding non-monetary consideration
  • The identity of the host/promoter
  • Entry procedures with beginning/ending dates, including time and time zone
  • Eligibility requirements
  • An explanation of all methods of entry
  • A clear description of the prize(s); certain states have stricter regulations (see examples at the end of this document)
  • Date winner(s) will be chosen and notified
  • Judging criteria must be clear and sponsor should be able to show how the winner was determined based on objective criteria
  • Method of selecting a winner (to avoid any appearance of impropriety, it is recommended that sponsors avoid conducting their own drawings or determining the winners of their own contests)
  • Publicity rights regarding use of Winner’s information (Sponsor should obtain written consent from Entrant to ensure compliance with state laws)
  • Publicity rights regarding use of Participant’s information (Sponsor should obtain written consent from Entrant to ensure compliance with state laws)
  • Liability limitations
  • Odds of winning
  • Physical address, not a PO Box

We’ve written extensively about what to include in social media contest rules, and even have a template that outlines everything you need to consider. 

Step 4: Create a Promotion Plan

The success of your contest depends on how you promote it. If you’re giving away a trip to Paris or VIP access to a Taylor Swift concert, word will get around and your contest will get plenty of attention. If your prize is more modest, you’ll need to create a comprehensive promo plan.

Some steps you’ll want to take include:

  1. Install a website header notification bar; we use Hello Bar.
  2. Add website sidebar display ads
  3. Use popup notifications
  4. Add calls-to-action footer images on blog posts
  5. Update social media platform cover photos with details about your contest
  6. Send an email blast to your subscribers (make sure the subject line is attention-grabbing)
  7. Write a blog post
  8. Post a link to your contest on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, etc.
  9. Pay for some advertising on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google Adwords, etc.
  10. Publish a press release
  11. List your offer on giveaway sites — this blog post has an extensive list of options.  
  12. Embed your contest on your website so that you leverage your existing website visitors.

If you want even more tips, including some that focus on ShortStack’s unique sharing features, read one of our most popular resources, “46 Ways to get the Word Out About Your Campaign.”

Step 5: Test and Publish Your Contest

Once everything is in place — you’ve established your goals, created your offer, designed your promotion plan (and have all the images, ads and posts created or in the pipeline) — you’re ready to launch.

Make sure you have someone who isn’t too close to the project test your contest for you, including having them fill out forms. If you built your contest with ShortStack you can be sure it’s already mobile-ready but if you used any other platform you’ll want to test the contest on mobile devices, too, since we know mobile is increasingly how people access pretty much everything on the internet.

Step 6: Use Email Autoresponders to Contact All Entrants

Email autoresponders let you contact everyone who has entered your contest instantly. Since ShortStack added this feature to our platform in November 2016, our users have had a 46.9 percent open rate (a phenomenal number when you consider that the average email open rate is about 25 percent!).

Email autoresponders let you personalize any follow-up communication you have with people who enter your contest. You can even send them special announcements or offers after your contest ends.

Step 7: Measure and Analyze the Results of your Contest

What happens after your contest is over is just as important as the actions you take before and during.  Measuring and analyzing the data you collect are two of the most important steps in this process (leveraging the data, which we cover in the final step, is another one).

Once you’ve collected leads, you’ll want to make them as useful as possible.

First, eliminate low-quality leads from your list. Delete email addresses from people who didn’t confirm their email address and/or giveaway confirmation emails. You don’t want these email addresses anyway since they’re probably fake accounts or otherwise not valuable to you.

Next, segment your new list. A properly segmented list is a profitable list. Now that your contest is over and you’ve reduced your email list to only the most active and qualified leads, it’s time to segment the list. Each business has different segmentation filters that benefit them the most. Some filters include age, gender, industry, their relationship to your business (are they already a customer of yours, or are they on another one of your other email lists?), etc. Geography is another popular filter. Many international clothing companies, as just one example, find that segmenting their list by zip code is crucial. If they don’t take the time to do this, they could end up sending messages promoting their new summer apparel to people who live in Australia.

Once you know how you want to segment your list, you’ll be prepared to craft different types of messaging. This is the beauty of segmenting your lists. The more personalized and refined your future messaging to your giveaway entrants is, the more effective your messages will be.

Then, share a relevant offer. After giving people a resource, or a chance to win something special from your brand, give them even more.  When your contests ends, consider sharing an exclusive, just-for-those-who-entered offer. And be sure to customize it to appeal to your entrants.

Step 8: Make a Plan to Leverage the Data

As you plan out next year’s marketing efforts, look for ways to leverage the data you’ve collected during the holidays.  Look at your lead data through an analytical lens. The amount and the quality of the data you’ve collected can help you fine-tune future contests and other promotions you run.

Here are just two ways to use the data you’ve collected:

1.As a conversation starter. One of the best examples we’ve seen of a company that kept the conversation going through the data they collected from a promotion was when loan servicer, Great Lakes, used a Facebook giveaway to help their customers learn more about student loan borrowing. Great Lakes promotion featured a quiz with five questions relating to student loans. Fans were not required to take the quiz in order to enter the promotion, but the educational questions combined with the fact that everyone loves a quiz, attracted their entrants to participate. While Great Lakes grand prize was a big one — a $6,000 payment towards a student loan — they closely monitored their quiz answers and used that to craft their social media and email marketing messages to their followers. They were even able to provide resources to help address the questions they were seeing from their followers.

2. To offer something exclusive to your new fans and followers. Even though email marketing is still a majorly successful communication tactic, people are still inundated with emails every day, and marketers still need to find a way to stand out in the crowd. Exclusivity is a great way to incentivize your entrants and to get a little more out of your fans than you previously would have.

Let’s say you’re a small business that ran a promotion where you asked fans to provide their email address in exchange for a chance to win a prize. You include a link that suggests they subscribe to your email list….which one sounds better?

  • Subscribe to our email list!
  • Subscribe to our email list and receive a free gift!

Obviously receiving a free gift is much more enticing than simply subscribing. Exclusivity instills excitement for your product, and excitement for your product builds brand loyalty. Loyal fans means loyal customers! If you want to learn more, here are seven other ways to leverage the data you’ve collected from your customers.  

If you have any questions about using ShortStack to create a photo contest, shoot us an email: theteam@shortstacklab.com.

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Dana Kilroy <![CDATA[Valentine’s Day Giveaway Ideas [Live Examples]]]> http://www.shortstack.com/?p=25413 2017-02-02T19:00:28Z 2017-02-06T14:56:01Z Do you love your customers, but think it’s a bit over the top to send them a Valentine festooned with candy hearts? Well, you’re probably right. Why don’t you create a Valentine’s Day Campaign and share some love instead? I’m head over heels for this week’s Campaigns – two out of this world Valentine’s Day Campaigns...]]>

Do you love your customers, but think it’s a bit over the top to send them a Valentine festooned with candy hearts? Well, you’re probably right. Why don’t you create a Valentine’s Day Campaign and share some love instead? I’m head over heels for this week’s Campaigns – two out of this world Valentine’s Day Campaigns and an awesome spring-break travel contest.

Reebonz Valentine’s Day Gift Finder

Help your customers find the perfect gift this Valentine’s Day by creating a gift finder. The gift finder Reebonz built is a fantastic example. Shoppers choose their favorite brand, color, and product category and then Reebonz reveals recommendations for luxury presents, which can be purchased on the Reebonz website. How clever is that?!

TIP- Reebonz uses Action Widgets to trigger different Container Widgets to display based on the link the user clicks. However, you could also try our new Quiz Template if you want to set up something a bit more simple. The Quiz Template works like a personality quiz — the outcome with the most points is revealed at the end.

Here’s what Reebonz’ campaign looks like (to see it in action, click here).

Use the Quiz Template Now.

Albert’s Diamond Jewelers’ “Tell Us Who You Love” Contest

A photo contest with voting is a smart way to encourage entrants to share your contest and increase repeat visits. After all, the more they share, the greater their chances of winning! Albert’s Diamond Jewelers did a wonderful job with their Valentine’s Day photo contest by encouraging their entrants to submit photos of people they love. This contest is a great way for users to show off someone special to them, creating an incentive for folks to share their entries.

IDEA – Are you using voting to choose a winner for your contest? Use our Facebook ID restriction to limit the number of times users can vote. It’s one of the best ways to reduce contest fraud.

Get Started with the Photo Contest Template.

Awake’s Energy To Do More Spring Break Sweepstakes

Is your target market more interested in planning a Spring Break trip than sending a dozen red roses? Whether you’re offering a free vacation, offering hotel specials or promoting travel accessories, folks are already planning their spring and summer trips. Awake created a neat sweepstakes to promote their Awake Caffeinated Chocolate Bar. By giving away a Spring Break trip for four to college students, Awake does a great job at marketing their product toward their customer base.

Learn about our Custom Design Services.

Check out these great ShortStack resources!

• How to Use Prizes and Rewards in Successful Promotions

How to Run a Successful Hashtag Contest and Collect 106K Entries

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Dana Kilroy <![CDATA[7 Ways to Use Leads Collected from Social Contests [Guest Post]]]> http://www.shortstack.com/?p=25250 2017-01-30T23:02:18Z 2017-02-01T14:46:06Z By Ana Gotter Plenty of brands and businesses put a ton of time, money, and effort into social media contests, knowing it can bring valuable leads. Many of these same brands are sometimes unsure of how they can fully use this lead information once they have it. Our heavy reliance on the digital world—and the tools...]]>

By Ana Gotter

Plenty of brands and businesses put a ton of time, money, and effort into social media contests, knowing it can bring valuable leads. Many of these same brands are sometimes unsure of how they can fully use this lead information once they have it.

Our heavy reliance on the digital world—and the tools now available to marketers and businesses— makes lead information like email addresses extremely valuable. Instead of sending one personalized email and attempting to follow up manually, there are so many ways we can use lead information—and only a few of them actually involve emailing the lead.

For optimal lead generation and best results—and more conversions!—make sure you try these 7 ways use the lead information you gain from social contests.

1. Email Marketing, Autoresponders

The number one way leads should always be used is for email lead nurturing. It guarantees you’ll go right to their inbox, and since they’ve entered your contest, they’ll be happy to receive emails from you to find out if they’ve won.

Autoresponder campaigns can nudge leads further along the digital sales funnel

Autoresponder campaigns are extremely effective and can save you a ton of time. You can use them for everything from welcome campaigns at the top of the funnel to discount offers towards the bottom of it. Leads are great, after all, but don’t amount to much in the long run if at least some of them don’t convert.
Shortstack’s new autoresponder feature can help with this; it makes it easy to create and distribute a series of autoresponder campaigns to the people who enter your contest. You can learn more here.

2. Email Marketing, Targeted & Personalized

While most contests stick to asking for engagement and an email address, some ask for additional information. I’ve seen contests that ask “how can we help you,” or what products or services most interest users. HGTV’s Dream Home Giveaway Contest, for example, gives users the option to select which niche-specific newsletters they’d like to sign up to.

If users provide any additional information that can qualify them as leads, make sure to always use this information to your fullest advantage.

This information allows you to create more targeted and seemingly personalized content for the leads who enter your contest. Depending on how much information they provide, you can even have someone on your customer service team reach out to some users personally to drive conversions.

3. Custom Audiences for Social Ads

Facebook and Instagram share an ad platform, and the targeting on this platform is second to none. One of the best features they offer is their custom audiences targeting, which allows you to upload a list of users’ contact information to create an audience that you can then target through Facebook and/or Instagram Ads.

“Warm audiences” are more receptive to your messages, meaning they’ll be more likely to convert.
You can learn more about running custom audience campaigns here.

When you run ads on the leads from your contest, you know that they’re already at least a little familiar with your business, making them a “warmer” audience. This means they’ll be more receptive to your message. You can use a series of ads to slowly raise more brand and product awareness; you don’t need to rush right into product sales with this audience.

4. Lookalike Audiences

Once you’ve created a custom audience from the leads you’ve gained from your social contest, you can use it to create lookalike audiences. Lookalike audiences are created to find and target users similar to the ones in your custom audience, meaning that you’ll be able to reach more of your potential target audience that you haven’t yet connected to.

Creating lookalike audiences off a custom audience of leads from your social contest lets you find and connect with new, similar users who may be interested in your brand.

Because these users are likely new to your brand, they should be considered a “cold” audience, and aren’t already in the sales funnel yet. You can test campaigns on your custom audience to find the offers and content most appealing to them, and apply these to your lookalike audiences for best results.

As a note: the larger the audience reach, the less the lookalike audience may resemble your custom audience. Check this carefully when creating your campaigns.

5. Create Twitter Lists & Twitter Ads

Custom audiences aren’t the only way to segment your users to your benefit on social media; you can also create use lead information to locate your leads on Twitter. From there, you can create Twitter lists made up of the users who entered your social contest.

You can keep Twitter lists private, meaning that only you will be able to access the list you create. You can use these lists to follow your users and get insight into what motivates them and what brands and hashtags they’re interacting with.
You can also upload the list of social contest lists to tailored audiences on Twitter, and target these audiences the same way you would as a Facebook custom audience.

6. Segment Lists Based on Voting Contests

If your contest involved voting, that’s additional lead information that’s both valuable and actionable. If your Pinterest contest, for example, required users to choose their favorite of four different products (like outfits, or styled living rooms, or types of photographs), you can use that information to identify which products or services these leads would be most interested in.

Voting contests can give you information about what products or services your customers are most interested in.

When you create segmented lists off these posts, you can send more targeted messaging to your leads based on the preferences they’ve already expressed through voting. These lists can be used for any of the campaign styles discussed above, allowing for an additional layer of specificity and relevance in your content to these leads. Since Shortstack’s software prevents voting fraud, you’ll know that your information will be reliable and accurate.

You can also use this information to learn more about your customers in general and what their overall preferences are. This can help you create stronger content and even help you fine-tune your products when possible.

7. Find Similar Leads on LinkedIn

When it comes to social contests, most of the attention goes to B2C businesses, but B2B businesses can- and often do—host amazing social contests that result in strong lead generation. And while email and Facebook gets most of the attention for lead nurturing, LinkedIn is a valuable lead nurturing platform that shouldn’t be overlooked.
You can use the email addresses you’ve obtained to research connections and leads on LinkedIn. By searching the email addresses of relevant leads, you can view profiles of people similar to them. This can open you up to a whole new audience that you may not have connected with otherwise, and you can reach out through LinkedIn to forge a new connection. You can send them a link to your site or to your company’s LinkedIn page—just make sure to be genuinely interested in them, too.

LinkedIn is a valuable B2B networking site that often gets overlooked for lead nurturing.

As a note: if you don’t want leads to know that you’re checking out their profiles, make sure your own is set to private view; you won’t be able to see who is viewing their profile, but they won’t be able to see that you’ve been viewing them, either.
Final Thoughts

As valuable as email marketing is, you’re ultimately wasting lead potential if you only use email to nurture leads. Using a combination of traditional email marketing and social networking sites—with both free and paid features—is the best way to ensure multiple touchpoints with your leads, increasing conversions and long term success from your contest.

 

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Dana Kilroy <![CDATA[How to Run a Successful Hashtag Contest and Collect 106K Entries[Case Study]]]> http://www.shortstack.com/?p=25260 2017-01-31T02:30:05Z 2017-01-30T14:44:04Z Whether you’re an adventure seeker, solo traveler, family, or foodie, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) wants you to know there is a cruise line or ship that’s perfect for you. This was the purpose of their month-long October initiative: “Plan a Cruise Month.” CLIA, the world’s largest cruise industry trade organization, used a month-long giveaway to...]]>

Whether you’re an adventure seeker, solo traveler, family, or foodie, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) wants you to know there is a cruise line or ship that’s perfect for you. This was the purpose of their month-long October initiative: “Plan a Cruise Month.” CLIA, the world’s largest cruise industry trade organization, used a month-long giveaway to promote cruising to a new audience. It was a huge success.

Cruise Line International Association members are well-known brands like Royal Caribbean International and Holland America Line, as well as more “boutique” lines like Seabourn and Tauck. “Most people hear ‘cruise’ and they think ‘Caribbean,’” says Sarah Todd-Evans, CLIA’s social media and digital content manager. “We wanted to use a giveaway to show travelers there are many options available all around the world.”

With that in mind, when CLIA set out to plan their annual fall promotion, they decided to use hashtags to gain traction on Instagram and Twitter. “The primary goal was to reach people who hadn’t considered cruising before,” says Todd-Evans, “so we settled on a hashtag giveaway.” Posting a hashtag as a way to enter the giveaway would help CLIA meet its goal of at least 100,000 entries, says Todd-Evans. “All we asked people to do was take a selfie and post it to Instagram or Twitter using the hashtags #CruiseSmile and #Sweepstakes, and share the photo with their friends and family,” said Todd-Evans. People who did not use Instagram or Twitter could also enter the sweepstakes by filling out a form on a landing page (also called a microsite) designed by ShortStack.com. The landing page featured a full calendar showing where visitors could learn about the variety of cruise vacations participating CLIA members have to offer, watch cruise videos, and see all the sweepstakes entries. People could also entering by mailing a photo to CLIA’s headquarters.

AnchorEasy to Enter = 106K Entries

“Our instincts about hashtags being an ‘easy’ way to enter were right on,” says Todd-Evans. During the 31 days the giveaway was live, more than 83,000 people entered on Instagram and Twitter; an additional 23,000 entered via the form on the microsite. “We far surpassed the benchmarks we’d set,” says Todd-Evans.

The CruiseSmile Sweepstakes may have been simple to enter, but due to its many moving parts, it was complicated to build. CLIA used ShortStack’s custom design services team to build the contest. “Our hashtag-to-enter feature is new, and CLIA’s campaign was definitely a good test of our capabilities right of the gate,” says Ryan Walker, ShortStack’s lead designer.

“We designed the CruiseSmile campaign to showcase one cruise line each day, but visitors could also browse and get information about additional cruises,” says Walker. “Then visitors could submit their entry for the cruise they hoped to win.”  Even though it had so many components — photos, video and text — the campaign loaded to phones and tablets in seconds. “We were even able to incorporate promotional videos into each week’s theme,” adds CLIA’s Todd-Evans.

It’s worth noting that even small businesses can use simple hashtag contests to attract attention from a coveted audience. “One thing that makes hashtag contests so appealing is they have such a low barrier to entry,” says Jim Belosic, ShortStack’s CEO. “If your primary goal is brand awareness, like CLIA’s was, you don’t even need to ask people to fill out a form or go to your website.” People who want the chance to win your prize just have to follow your Instagram or Twitter account and post a photo and include your hashtag in the caption. If your secondary goal is to collect email addresses, then you’ll also want to build a landing page where you incentivize people with extra entries if they share their contact information.

AnchorMultiple Prizes Motivated Return Visits

Each week of October, CLIA promoted a different category of cruise:  Family Friendly; Cultural Exploration; Fun in the Sun, and Exploring Nature. Within those weekly themes, each day of the month featured a different cruise line and itinerary.

People could enter throughout the month, and a new winner was announced each week. Once the winner for each theme week was randomly selected using ShortStack’s Random Entry Picker tool, he or she was allowed to pick their itinerary from the week’s featured cruises.  The prizes ran the gamut from a transatlantic-crossing, a sailboat cruise through Tahiti and an Alaskan cruise, to a cruise through Italy and the Dalmatian Coast.

AnchorMulti-Pronged Promotion to Get Maximum Attention

Using ShortStack to build a campaign was just step one for the #CruiseSmile #Sweepstakes. CLIA also had a comprehensive promotion plan that relied on four efforts: paid advertising on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter; email messaging to travel agents and other CLIA members, digital influencers who promoted #CruiseSmile to their followers and fans, and weekly Twitter chats with the growing #CruiseSmile community.  Here’s a breakdown of where CLIA dedicated their marketing efforts.

AnchorAdvertising on Social Media Platforms

Since the #CruiseSmile #Sweepstakes focused on using hashtags, CLIA focused their advertising on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. “With the Twitter ads, we kept the focus on driving hashtag entries,” says Todd-Evans. “Facebook and Instagram advertising was bundled as a joint campaign, and people were encouraged to enter using both the hashtag or microsite.”

AnchorReady-Made Content for CLIA’s Individual Agent Members (Travel Agents)

“Our first priority was activating our members,” says Todd-Evans. In fact, CLIA gave their affiliated travel agents content packages that included tweets and Facebook posts, emails and other assets they could share with their clients. Many CLIA affiliated travel agents are small business owners who don’t have staff to create and manage social media efforts or advertising for them. “By providing them with ready-made content, we made it easy for them to share the contest,” Todd-Evans says. Agents were also motivated by research surveys showing, “Once people take a cruise, 90 percent of them will take another one,” says Todd-Evans.

AnchorDaily Paid Digital Influencers

Since influencers play such a big role in online promotions these days, CLIA hired 31 of them — travel bloggers, mommy bloggers, etc. — one for each day of the month. The influencers talked about the day’s featured itinerary and cruise line, as well as the various activities cruise guests are able to partake in during the vacations.

“Throughout the campaign, our travel agents and CruiseSmile community let us know that they are excited and, most important, they are booking more cruises,” says Todd-Evans.  “Ultimately our goal was to showcase that there truly is a cruise vacation for every travel style and budget, and it’s wonderful to hear that our efforts paid off.”

Here’s a glimpse at the #CruiseSmile gallery:

If you're interested in having the ShortStack team build a hashtag contest for your business, just email theteam@shortstacklab.com. 

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Dana Kilroy <![CDATA[Contests Ideas for the New Year]]> http://www.shortstack.com/?p=25263 2017-01-27T22:42:56Z 2017-01-26T20:55:06Z The beginning of the year is all about fresh starts. Seize the moment to create Campaigns that inspire your customers. Make it a great year for them, and for your business! KLM’s Win a Trip to St. Maarten Giveaway You only live once, right? That’s probably why so many folks include “travel more” on their list...]]>

The beginning of the year is all about fresh starts. Seize the moment to create Campaigns that inspire your customers. Make it a great year for them, and for your business!

KLM’s Win a Trip to St. Maarten Giveaway

You only live once, right? That’s probably why so many folks include “travel more” on their list of New Year’s resolutions. Airlines like KLM seize this opportunity, too. With their “Win a Trip to St. Maarten” giveaway, KLM is collecting email leads for future offers. Don’t work for an airline? Vacation giveaways can make sense for all kinds of business. For example, a restaurant or bar could host a sweepstakes for tickets, hotel and airfare to the Super Bowl, or for a trip to a favorite brewery. A car dealership could give away gas cards and cash for a road trip, or a B2B company could allow customers to enter to win a spa getaway.

DESIGN IDEA – Have a long list of rules? Follow KLM’s lead and display your rules in a popup! This will clean up the look of your Campaign. Believe me, your users will thank you.

Tip: Display Contest Rules in a Popup 

Long Tall Sally’s Gym Membership Giveaway, Discount Code & Fitness Apparel Sweepstakes

Setting health and wellness goals is always popular at the beginning of the year. Gym owners, personal trainers and healthy-eating gurus naturally leverage all kinds of “get fit, lose weight” resolutions, but other companies can also benefit. I love the Campaign Long Tall Sally created to help promote their new activewear line. Long Tall Sally’s sweepstakes is a two-parter. First, users who visited Long Tall Sally’s Campaign received a discount code for gym memberships. Then Long Tall Sally hosted a follow-up giveaway featuring their fitness apparel. The one-two punch was a great way to get their new product in the hands of their target market.

PROMOTE - Keep your goals in mind when deciding where to publish your Campaigns. For example, if you’re an online retailer and your goal is to increase purchases, then drive traffic where you want it to go by embedding your Campaign on your website.

Tip: Embed the campaign on your website.

Independent She’s #noexcuses Contest

New year, new career! January is the perfect month for many to get moving on creating the business of their dreams. Independent She created a #noexcuses contest that’s a perfect example of how B2B businesses can encourage entrepreneurs to meet their goals. By giving away a 30-minute consultation, Independent She is growing their email marketing list, as well as giving away an entry-level product for their service. If someone wins the product and they find the consultation useful, then they might decide to become an Independent She client.

GREAT IDEA - Independent She includes our refer a friend feature on their Campaign, which not only rewards users with extra entries for referring folks to the contest, but also helps Independent She is increase their reach through “word of mouth” marketing.

Tip: Use the Refer-a-Friend Feature 

 

Check out these great ShortStack resources!

9 Ways to Leverage the Data You Collect From Your Fans During the Holidays

 

Setting Up an Email Autoresponder

 

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Dana Kilroy <![CDATA[When Your Contest is Over, Use These 5 Autoresponders to Drive Conversions [Guest Post]]]> http://www.shortstack.com/?p=25198 2017-01-24T22:00:34Z 2017-01-20T14:47:31Z By Ana Gotter Congratulations! You’ve run your contest; your winners have been awarded their prizes, and you’ve gotten useful lead information in return (thanks to contest software). So now what? While the social engagement from contests is extraordinary, the most valuable takeaway from the contests is your users’ contact information. Email addresses, especially, can be used...]]>

By Ana Gotter

Congratulations! You’ve run your contest; your winners have been awarded their prizes, and you’ve gotten useful lead information in return (thanks to contest software).

So now what?

While the social engagement from contests is extraordinary, the most valuable takeaway from the contests is your users’ contact information. Email addresses, especially, can be used to nurture leads and create customers as you send them down the sales funnel. This is where you’ll see the long term—and sometimes short term—monetary ROI from your contests. And the best way to guide contest participants down the digital sales funnel is with email autoresponders.

Autoresponder campaigns are exceptionally valuable—that’s why Shortstack has recently released an autoresponder feature.

This post is going to take a look at several autoresponders to distribute in your contest-related messaging, and how to make them stand out.

Here are five ways to use autoresponders:

1. Welcome Autoresponder

Send a “thanks for entering”/welcome autoresponder immediately after a user submits their entry.

A welcome autoresponder email sent to leads from social contests should always include:

  • Confirmation of their entry
  • Contest information recap, like when winners will be announced, prize information, or if they can enter multiple times
  • Social sharing/follow buttons prominently displayed, so users can visit you and follow you on a number of social platforms

The welcome email is designed to start the relationship between you and the lead—that’s it. The goal of this email is not to sell or blatantly promote your business; pushing products or services is not something that should happen yet.

Keep the subject line for those autoresponder strictly about the contest; “Thank you for entering our contest!” is all it takes, and users are likely to open this email.

2. Campaign Re-Engagement Autoresponders

Some contests allow for multiple entries, where users can earn more chances at a prize if they submit more entries or get friends to enter. Some even have a multi-stage process, where users can enter, and then engage in the contest later to vote for a winner. If you’re running a contest that encourages multiple actions from users over a period of time, re-engagement autoresponders can get you the results you want.

These emails, like the welcome email, should focus solely on the contest and not worry about selling or heavy promotion. They should also:

  • Remind users what the prize is and why it’s valuable
  • Remind users how they can earn more entries or continue to participate in the contest
  • Include a CTA to share the contest with your friends and/or to follow your social media profiles
  • Have information with contest participate end dates

These emails should utilize a sense of urgency in order to boost immediate participation. Phrases like “10 days left until we choose a winner!” and “Don’t miss your last chance to win our grand prize” can go a long way to getting you the re-engagement you’re looking for.

3. Content Autoresponders

If you want your leads to convert into customers, you need to give them value. That’s why most businesses have blogs, and why many offer ebooks for free in exchange for lead information. They get user’s information, and the lead gets something valuable in return.

These emails should:

  • Have content that’s relevant to the contest; if contest’s prize was for a free month to your kickboxing studio, for example, you could link to a blog post on the health benefits of kickboxing or tips on how to warm up before a kickboxing workout
  • Describe the content only briefly before sending them to your site; you want them to get the full information there
  • Choose content that’s value is obvious immediately, like how-to or educational blog posts

Sending relevant, valuable content to your users in an email autoresponder is a great “soft selling” technique that you can use to continue to build your relationship with your contest participants. Sending an email with a quick blurb and link to your blog post can send them to your site. Since plenty of blogs will eventually feature a business’s products, this can be a fantastic introduction to your products.

4. Discount Autoresponders

Ready to convert your contest entries into paying customers? Offer discounts, free trials, or purchase rewards to those who’ve entered in your contest but haven’t converted yet. Discounts are one of the most effective strategies to nudge leads towards their first purchase. It’s hard to resist the opportunity to save some money, after all!

These emails should include:

    • A discount or reward that is “exclusive” to contest entries or first-time purchases
    • UGC images or reviews to highlight the value of your product, which increases the likelihood and value of conversions
    • A limited timeframe to take advantage of your offer, which increases urgency and drives leads to use the offer immediately

5. Winner Autoresponders

At the end of the contest, you can use an autoresponder to announce your winner(s). Since a ton of contest participants want to know who won—especially in competition-styled contests—this can also get you a higher percentage of open rates from new leads.

This email should:

      • Include a CTA to follow you on social so that users can “watch for our next contest”
      • Let users know about any upcoming contests or offers
      • Thank them again for participation
      • Have a subject line that mentions naming the contest winners; this can increase open rates

In this email, you can share the winning contest entries, along with other great “honorable mentions.” Sharing UGC works in your benefit for a number of reasons, and featuring it in your email can start to foster a positive relationship with your new leads.

Final Thoughts

Social engagement is great, but to get a financial return from your contests, you need to push users along your sales funnel to convert. Autoresponders—customized for users who have submitted their emails in an entry—can build awareness, familiarity, and trust with leads that come from your social contests, leading to long term client retention and sales.
Want to learn more about ShortStack’s autoresponder feature? 

 

Ana Gotter is a frequent contribute to the ShortStack blog. She also writes for Social Media Examiner and many other websites. 

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Jessica Miller <![CDATA[ShortStack Feature Updates – Media Selector Makeover, Autoresponder Improvements, and More!]]> http://www.shortstack.com/?p=25174 2017-01-12T23:14:55Z 2017-01-12T22:55:59Z It’s a new year, and do you know what that means at ShortStack? New features and tools to make creating with ShortStack easier!  Even though the holiday tradition at ShortStack includes taking a little time off to relax and hang with our families, our engineers returned to work fully rested and fueled with ham and nog,...]]>

It’s a new year, and do you know what that means at ShortStack? New features and tools to make creating with ShortStack easier!  Even though the holiday tradition at ShortStack includes taking a little time off to relax and hang with our families, our engineers returned to work fully rested and fueled with ham and nog, ready to churn out platform upgrades.

Here’s just a sample of the latest and greatest:

Media Selector Makeover

We rebuilt our Media Selector. We made it better…  faster…  stronger. Not only does it have a fresh new look, it now offers stock images to use in your Campaigns. ShortStack has always been ‘no-designer-skills’ friendly, but with the availability of stock images, your DIY Campaigns will look more eye-catching than ever.

More Email Autoresponder Upgrades

Our new email autoresponder feature has been hugely popular. After just 2 months, our users have sent more than 266,000 autoresponders from their Campaigns. But what’s really impressive is that users who have been using our autoresponders have an average open rate of 44.69 percent. That number is especially impressive when you consider that the average email open rate is 25 percent!

With such an amazing response, our Developers have been working to keep making this feature better and better. We’ve just added some email templates, a “Reply To” option (for users on Business/Full Stack Plans and higher) and also the convenience of being able to “Save and Activate” in one click. And if that wasn’t enough, the autoresponders are also tracked in your Campaign’s analytics dashboard.

Better Defaults

More and more of our users are publishing their Campaigns as a landing page and promoting them as such. To give you a better preview of what your landing page will look like, the Campaigns will preview in fullscreen in the Campaign Builder by default.

Also, when adding a hyperlink in any Rich Text Editor within ShortStack, when clicked on, the link will open in a new window, by default.

Platform upgrades happen so often, we can’t list them all here. Check out our changelog for updates on new features as they hit.

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Dana Kilroy <![CDATA[How to Use User-Generated Content to Capture Customers [Infographic]]]> http://www.shortstack.com/?p=25094 2017-01-05T19:29:21Z 2017-01-05T19:20:12Z Do you have a friend who can’t resist taking photos of her latest Hello Fresh meal creation on Facebook? How about a colleague who posts her OOTD on Instagram? If you own or manage a business, this trend — everyday people promoting products they use, even if it’s just to their friends — is worth paying attention...]]>

Do you have a friend who can’t resist taking photos of her latest Hello Fresh meal creation on Facebook? How about a colleague who posts her OOTD on Instagram?

If you own or manage a business, this trend — everyday people promoting products they use, even if it’s just to their friends — is worth paying attention to.

In fact, user-generated content (UGC), which serves as word-of-mouth advertising, shows no signs of slowing down. And that’s why brands are taking advantage of it.

According to a 2016 Business Insider report, people who “interact” with UGC are 97 more likely to buy a product than customers who don’t. And according to Olapic, the ways in which millennials and boomers use  and interact with UGC is very different.

For example:

• Millennials say having real people featured in a post makes the branded image more authentic while boomers say the product or service matters more.

• Millennials trust UGC significantly more than they trust brand-created content.

• Millennials rank Instagram as their favorite social platform while 90 percent of boomers prefer Facebook.

• 54% of millennials use hashtags to let friends and the brand know they use a product; 50% of boomers don’t use hashtags.

• 76% of 1000 U.S. residents surveyed for Olapic’s research say they find content posted by other consumers to be more honest than brand content.

• 27% of people surveyed say they are now turning to UGC instead of ads before making a purchase.

Ready to build a UGC hashtag contest or other campaign?

Set up a free ShortStack account and we can help you with that!

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Dana Kilroy <![CDATA[10 Web Design Trend Predictions for 2017 [Infographic]]]> http://www.shortstack.com/?p=24946 2017-01-02T23:31:54Z 2017-01-03T13:28:43Z It’s a new year and you know what that means: new goals to set and design tweaks to plan. Today’s infographic outlines 10 web design trend predictions for 2017, offers plenty of things to think about. 1. Micro-mini interactions Micro-mini interactions are interactive animations that can make user interface more appealing. The animations can communicate state...]]>

It’s a new year and you know what that means: new goals to set and design tweaks to plan. Today’s infographic outlines 10 web design trend predictions for 2017, offers plenty of things to think about.

1. Micro-mini interactions

Micro-mini interactions are interactive animations that can make user interface more appealing. The animations can communicate state and provide feedback and even help people visualize the results of their actions.

2. Weather app development

Apparently weather apps are in high demand. Go figure. According to WP Shrug, the company that offers WordPress support and maintenance, and who made this infographic, plenty of UX designers are focusing on weather apps.

3. A mobile-first approach

This isn’t exactly new, but now that more people connect to the Internet via smart phones and tablets, making mobile a priority is essential. 

4. Interactive web storytelling

It might seem counterintuitive but one of the ways web designers are creating more natural interactions for users and companies, is with chat bots.

5. More responsive design

Responsive design makes websites more dynamic, allowing for its contents to adjust and even be rearranged, depending on the screen size the content is being viewed on. It’s right up there with “mobile first” in terms of design priorities.

6. Hapnotic feedback

Haptic feedback is the technology, which refers to the use of sense of touch in a user interface, such as a virtual keyboard.

7. Original images and typography

Unique typography, personalized illustrations (like the ones our designer creates for every blog post!) and authentic photography; here’s how to create designer quality images for free.

8. More flat design

Flat design, like Google’s website and Pinterest cards — in which sections of content are displayed as individual cards — make it easy to navigate around a website.

9. Parallax scrolling

Parallax is a scrolling mechanic which gives the illusion of a 3D experience to users. It can make websites look more dynamic.

10. Performance and intelligent analytics insight

Insights should go beyond views and unique visitors. When insights tell you which part of a website could be improved, or discarded, a brand can increase engagement with its customers.

For more details on each of these trends, read the whole infographic below.

12-28_web-design-trend-predictions-for-2017-png-1

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Ashley Hennefer <![CDATA[Marketing Trends and Predictions for 2017]]> http://www.shortstack.com/?p=24935 2017-01-26T00:12:06Z 2017-01-02T14:55:38Z The new year is an ideal time for marketers to branch out of their comfort zones and take advantage of emerging trends and developments using the tools we all love. Here at ShortStack, we’re always looking for ways  marketers can implement new ideas into their promotional efforts, and then share what we learn with our readers....]]>

The new year is an ideal time for marketers to branch out of their comfort zones and take advantage of emerging trends and developments using the tools we all love. Here at ShortStack, we’re always looking for ways  marketers can implement new ideas into their promotional efforts, and then share what we learn with our readers.

In this, our first post of 2017, we’re offering four predictions — based on research — for marketing and promotion trends we’re likely to see throughout the year. At the end of the year, we’ll revisit these to see how accurate we were!

Trend #1: Marketers will embrace machine learning and automation

Machine learning is using artificial intelligence (AI) to learn customer trends and behaviors. This can take the form of automation to streamline customer loyalty, or using chat bots to help customers better connect with a company’s support resources. We’ve also seen platforms integrate more AI-type features to help get customers more quickly acquainted with a certain product or service, taking tutorials and wizards to the next level.

According to SmartInsights, marketing automation will be one of the top marketing trends of 2017. Luckily, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to automation, so marketers can get really creative with it to serve the needs of their business.

Marketing automation will be one of the top marketing trends of 2017.

If this seems daunting to you, we recently created the ShortStack Guide to Marketing Automation to help you use ShortStack more efficiently, even as an adjunct to your other favorite marketing tools. Automation is just one branch of machine learning, but it’s a good introduction to how automation can help you reach your goals.

Don’t worry, we’re not on the precipice of a Westworld future (yet), and using automation doesn’t have to mean sacrificing authenticity. When used thoughtfully, automation tools can handle some of the more menial tasks so you can spend your time on connecting directly with your target audience.

Trend #2: Marketers will focus on omni-channel and mobile-dominant promotions

We’ve written extensively about the benefits of omni-channel promotions, which refers to promotions that are created to be accessible from multiple platforms, such as a Campaign published to Facebook, embedded on a website, added to an Instagram bio, and shared as a landing page. We predict that this is the year we’ll see more marketers take this approach, branching outside of just one social media platform. As a result, marketers will likely see an increase in leads collected from multiple sources. With ShortStack, you can see where leads came from, making it easy to create segments of these users.

Many marketers will take this a step further this year and think about promotions that are almost exclusively mobile, thinking beyond the desktop experience, and creating campaigns and landing pages made with the mobile experience in mind. This means campaigns that are readable, and easy to use on mobile devices.

A recent report from eMarketer delved into the data about multiscreen marketing campaigns, which refers to campaigns that are promoted across platform, such as a television ad with a mobile landing page to capture data from those who were interested in the ad. Experts stress the need to make the mobile experience top-notch, as smartphones and tablets “account for more than half of internet-connected devices in US households,” according to eMarketer’s 2016 data.

Trend #3: Marketing campaigns will feature live video

If 2016 was the year live video really took off, thanks to apps like Facebook Live and Periscope, 2017 will be the year that marketers really get creative with it. We’re expecting to see live video become an active part of many promotional efforts worldwide. As of now, it’s still hard for marketers to capture data from live video to use for follow-up efforts, but you can try creating a landing page to take advantage of the interest in your livestream.

According to a recent article on Social Media Examiner, marketers are tapping into live video tools like Snapchat and Periscope to incentivize engagement. And while HubSpot names live video one of the top four marketing trends of 2016, it’s still new for most business owners. Marketers can look at successful examples such as Lowe’s Black Friday offers life stream, which broadcasted on Facebook Live to 32,000 people.

Because of success stories like this, we predict that live video will be embraced not just by larger companies with larger follower bases, but smaller businesses, too, as a way to help build brand exposure. Instagram just announced their live video feature, and marketers can also experiment with Facebook Live and Periscope. Facebook Live even includes a live audio feature now, so it will be interesting to see if live audio also has the same appeal as live video.

Small business owners and marketers can take advantage of these free tools. It helps to create some buzz about your live stream, especially if you’re broadcasting for the first time, by creating a campaign to capture data from those interested. This is a good first step for building a viewership. And remember: your live video doesn’t have to be perfect! It’s a chance for people to learn about the people behind the brand.

Trend #4: Marketers will focus on creating customer loyalty programs

We geek out big time about customer loyalty here at ShortStack, so we’re excited to see marketers focus more on developing customer loyalty programs. A big reason for this is the rise of the subscription model. This refers to people subscribing to your goods or services on a recurring basis, rather than making one-time purchases.

The subscription model is dominating startups and independent businesses right now. But a subscription only works if there is customer buy-in, and not just monetarily. Customers have to feel some personal connection with your brand so that they continue spending money with your service.

According to Statista, 81 percent of financial companies specifically use customer retention metrics to determine success of their customer loyalty program. SmartInsights expects subscription-based business models to increase significantly in 2017. It’s worth launching your customer loyalty program in January to start gathering data on what works and what makes your customers stick around.

The first step to creating a customer loyalty program is to create an email list. Email marketing is vital to any successful marketing effort, so the new year is a great time to start one! An email list can help you keep in touch with specific groups of your target audience. Create a ShortStack newsletter signup, and after you’ve collected emails, you can set up an autoresponder to offer them a special discount as a thanks for signing up. From the first interaction with them, you’re welcoming them to your brand and giving them a reason to stick around.

Let us know if you try out any of our predictions in your campaigns this year! If you’d like to share your experience, send an email to ashley@shortstacklab.com.

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