The Most Successful Social Media Contests All Offer the Same Prize

This content discusses the importance of conducting successful social media contests and how to achieve marketing goals through them.

By Barry Feldman ・5 min read
Best Practices
Campaign & Contest Ideas
Email Marketing
Social Media

What’s it take to conduct successful social media contests?It starts with a good idea, but it also takes planning, design, promotion, fulfillment, and more. What does “more successful” even mean? Success, as I hope you'll agree, means achieving the marketing goals you had in mind from the get-go.What might those marketing goals be? I’m going out on a limb here, though it’s a very thick and solid limb, to say you do (or are considering) social media contests to:

  • Get new followers
  • Foster engagement and social shares
  • Earn word of mouth marketing

Now let’s get to the bottom line.What you really want are new customers.

New customers are the grand prize of a successful social media contest.

Here’s how you win them.

First, you capture customer data

The best digital marketers gather useful insights about their prospects and customers and parlay the data into more personalized marketing. You need not look any further than Amazon to realize how powerfully they use customer data. Based on data they collect from customer interactions, they deliversuggested items for purchase, past purchases, related products, and more.However, few companies have the wherewithal to gather data based on behavior the way Amazon does. So an obvious question that follows is, “How do you gather personalized insights about people who are not yet active buyers?”The most obvious answer, of course, is: ask them questions. In the online world, the task is often tackled with forms. Therein lies some interesting challenges and items to consider:

  • A basic form that requires only an email address, or email address and name, is likely to get the highest response rate, but gather only contact information.
  • Conversely, conversion declines, as your forms expand and grow needier in terms of required fields.
  • This does not bother many businesses because they favor smaller, more useful lists versus larger lists that lack the data needed to create personalized campaigns.
  • Trickier, or more intelligent forms, from marketing automation providers can introduce dependent form functionality. In this scenario, additional questions are based on answers provided.
  • What’s more, some advanced platforms can be programmed to seek more data from repeat visitors.

Form fatigue sets in

Greedy form, asking for lots of information from the user

Granted I've seen "greedier" forms, but are all eight fields above important? Unless the marketer plans to send physical mail to the user, the four address fields are not. People are growing weary of filling out forms. Many people never liked the idea to begin with. They guard their email inboxes closely and rarely volunteer their email address or any information.Of course, visitors also use alternative email addresses when aiming to remain anonymous, enter bogus information, or assign you to the spam folder as soon as you reach out.What’s a marketer to do to combat “form fatigue?”

Gather data with interactive content

A little magic happens when you conduct social media contests and giveaways, and share quizzes and various other forms of interactive content. People interact!

Some interactive contest templates available in ShortStack

Each of the ShortStack templates above makes it easy to gather user data with interactive promotions. View ShortStack Templates. You might go so far as to say they fill out forms without realizing it. What you learn about a participant will depend on how you set up your promotion, but you’re bound to learn something.For example, your promotion might:

  1. Ask questions about the participant’s beer, wine or food preferences
  2. Aim to find out what teams users are fans of
  3. Gather information about vacation destinations users want to travel to

And so on. Use your imagination to track your interactive content to relevant selling points and you can gather all kinds of useful data without cramming a form down anyone’s throat.

Then you create more targeted lists

Now what do you do with the data you’ve collected? One option is to input it into the CRM or marketing automation platforms you use. These platforms tend to be complex and expensive, but if you invest the money and put in the time you’ll be able to create segmented lists and work towards personalizing your email going forward.Another option, for those using ShortStack to promote goods and gather user data, is to take advantage of our new marketing automation features built to catapult the effectiveness of your follow-up efforts. It works without integrating a separate email marketing platform.

ShortStack's Marketing Automation flow

ShortStack's Marketing Automation flowYou can visit the page I’ve linked to above or get the skinny right here. With ShortStack (and ShortStack alone), you can now:

  • Send automated emails instantly when someone fills out your form. We call this feature “Autoresponder” and have offered it for some time.
  • Schedule emails to send on a later date. We call this feature—which is new—“Scheduled email.”
  • Send email to your entire list or specific segments.
  • Set up emails in minutes using readymade templates.
ShortStack's new Marketing Automation features

ShortStack's new Marketing Automation features also include templates.Accelerate your marketing automation by starting with a ShortStack template. Dozens are available, including the templates shown above.

Camp Chef Campaign with autoresponders

ShortStack's Multi-Day Promotion Template comes with autoresponders built in for each entry day. View and Create Your Own

I could have integrated the 12-day giveaway with our existing email provider, but it was so much easier to just keep it all within ShortStack.~Tom Broschinsky, Camp Chef

Read how Camp Chef is using the new feature here.

Then you make it personal

A few well-documented realities in email marketing create a convincing case for sending autoresponders and scheduling a series of follow-up emails:

  • Instantly delivered autoresponders produce far higher open rates than newsletters and the like
  • Personalized messages and special offers deliver higher open rates, click-through rates, and conversion

Interactive content and marketing automation are a match made in marketing heaven. As I’ve already mentioned, the types of campaigns you create with ShortStack inspire participants to tell you more about themselves—sans forms.

Automated email

An automated email with a discount personalized for the contest participantAs you see, the wine company not only learned Jenny had participated in their quiz, but that Pinot Noir would be her favorite varietal. The follow-up email offers a generous coupon for purchasing all Pinot Noir selections.

Autoresponder Entry Confirmation Template

An automated email encouraging daily engagementHere, Aromas Coffee House sends personalized email to John encouraging him to enter their contest daily and follow their social media feeds.There’s really no end to how you might capitalize on the integration of interactive content and marketing automation. You simply gather insights about your prospect’s desires, challenges, and needs and respond accordingly. For instance, you might:

  • Learn about their favorite flavor and offer a discount (as in the wine example above).
  • Learn about their preferred travel destinations and deliver special offers accordingly.
  • Find out when the customer (pregnant woman) will give birth and send personalized emails based on the child’s age.
  • Gather birthdays, anniversaries or other special occasions and send special offers in advance of them.
  • Determine the prospect’s favorite team and send news or offers specifically about the team.
  • And in B2B… Learn more about the prospect’s challenges and deliver the specific content bound to be most useful.

I suspect the gears are turning for you now and you’re finding it easy to imagine how your business can integrate promotions and marketing automation to:

  • Create “more intelligent” email lists
  • Personalize your offers accordingly
  • Deliver more timely and relevant messages

Increase your IQ

The key to selling somebody something is to KNOW his or her needs.We set out not only to help you build email lists and fans, but to unlock the intelligence within your lists to uncover your customers’ needs.In most cases, when you create and execute social media contests, giveaways, sweepstakes and various types of promotions with ShortStack, not everyone will win a prize.But as the promotion’s host, gathering the intelligence you need to market to prospects more effectively, immediately and over time, is a winning strategy.In fact, it’s the grand prize.

About the author

By Barry Feldman ・5 min read

Barry Feldman is a content consultant for ShortStack. He is the author of several books and contributes to many of the web’s top marketing sites. Barry was named one of 25 Social Media Marketing Experts You Need to Know by LinkedIn.

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