Running contests can be exhilarating…
Once you’re on that viral wave the feeling is addictive. Leads are flowing and things are looking on the up and up for your marketing campaign.
But if you’re not careful, all that hard work can go to waste.
There is one thing that people tend to neglect when it comes to running a contest. They get so caught up with the fanfare of social media engagement, shares, leads, and opportunities, that they forget some of the basics.
Believe it or not, but the way you announce the winner of your contest can make or break the success of your follow up and any future contests you run.
If you fail to appropriately notify all contestants of the outcomes, as well as promote the success of your winners, it leaves a stale feeling of neglect. No one likes neglect!
So, then, how do you announce a contest winner the right way? Here are five best practices.
#1. Notify the winner(s)
The first step is to notify the winner. Depending on the contest you run, this may be one or several people.
Notifying the winner seems like a simple step in this process but it’s an extremely important one.
You need to make sure your winner is well aware that they have won. In fact, you should ask for a confirmation response from the winner so you are 100% certain they want the prize on offer.
Why? This may not be as necessary if your contest prize was simple and universal. But, what if you are running a design contest? Maybe the designer has had a change of heart, and you’ll need to notify your second place contributor before announcing the results.
Or, what if you have several tiers of prizes? Perhaps the contest participant entered specifically to win the top prize and they have no interest in the second prize. In this instance, you may be able to give this prize to another, more interested party.
The most logical way to notify a contest winner is via email – assuming, of course, that you collect email addresses as a form of entry for the contest, which we recommend. If they don’t respond, you could utilize other channels that make sense – such as social media or text message.
#2. Do it promptly
As a contest participant, there is nothing worse than feeling left in the dark about the outcome of the contest. After the contest ends you want to work double-time to notify the winner(s) and prepare yourself to announce the result to everyone else.
Most contests promise a maximum of 28 days (4 weeks) for the winner’s details to be available to participants, but in reality, this is just a timeframe to cover yourself legally. Below is an example of this guideline from eCommerce retailer The Dog Book Company:
An example of contest terms.
If you take any longer than a week or two to announce the winner of the contest you are probably losing the attention of the audience.
Remember, all of those contest entrants are now your leads – so don’t neglect them. Even if you take a little longer to announce the winner, send out updates about the process you are going through to select them. This keeps people interested and engaged with your business.
#3. Update the contest landing page
While the viral nature of a contest is amazing when it’s live, after the contest finishes it can be a burden on your resources. You can’t control where the link for your landing page has been shared or who stumbles across it after the contest is finished.
You’ll also find that most entrants will venture back to the contest landing page to look for a winner or to see if they were lucky themselves! This can result in a lot of people contacting your business after the fact – something you don’t need to manage with everything else going on. It’s a much better use of your time to focus on the follow-up process, rather than support requests for those that missed out.
To avoid this unnecessary work once your contest is finished, it’s important to update the landing page. On the landing page you should; state that the contest is closed, and if possible, provide details of the winners. By doing this you allow participants to find this critical information themselves, reducing their need to contact you and ask.
#4. Take it multi-channel
Much like notifying the winner of your contest, you want to make sure all of the other participants know about the outcome. Even though they will be getting the bad news that they didn’t win, at the end of the day, they want to know.
If you don’t make every effort to notify the non-winning participants you will end up with a lot of questions, support requests, and potentially disgruntled individuals wanting to know what is happening.
The best way to make everyone who was involved aware of the announced winners is to publish the results across multiple channels. Write a short blog post, send an email to all participants, and publish the results on all of your social media channels. If you had a social media post for the contest, you may like to update the written content on this too, like Deebee’s Organics has done below:
Updating a social media post after a contest is complete.
Essentially, you want to do everything you can to keep people informed so there is no chance of bad blood.
#5. Send the prize
The final piece of the puzzle when it comes to announcing a winner for your contest is to send them the prize. Again, you want this process to be as prompt as possible so it creates goodwill for your business.
If your prizes are digital – such as coupons or gift cards – get these to your winners as soon as possible. Preferably within 24 hours of notifying them of their win.
If your prizes are physical, you’ll need to ask your winners for their shipping information. The shipping costs are something you should budget for prior to running the contest, and if you can, send the prize by registered express post. You want it to arrive quickly, in pristine condition, and without any hiccups.
Your contest winners can become an asset for your business as ambassadors, spreading the good word to everyone they know. Don’t miss the opportunity to capture this value!
As you can see, the five best practices for announcing a contest winner are fairly simple in theory – but you can’t underestimate their importance.
The better your communication with winners, participants, and everyone else involved in a contest, the more equity you will accrue as a brand. Not everyone expects to win a contest, but they do expect to be notified and informed. After all, they gave you their contact information in exchange for a chance to win, you need to respect that.