Make the most of your online promotions and competitions

Posted on 19. Jan, 2012 by in Digital Marketing

Thinking of running an online promotion or competition? Brand run promotions and competitions are two a penny online these days, so the question is: how do you make yours stand out?

Well first, you obviously need to make sure yours is worth shouting about! After that, there are certain important steps and actions you need to work through to gain better online visibility, encourage user participation and ultimately reap some SEO benefits.

In order to lend a helping hand, the following checklist outlines how to make the most of your online promotion. This checklist has been broken down into 4 parts: planning, on-site, off-site and social.

So, let’s take a run through to see what needs doing…

Planning phase:

  1. Make sure you have clear objectives for your promotion / competition in order to maximise your results. For example: “X number of competition entrants” or “Y number of visitors to Z page on the site”.
  2. Think about collecting data from your entrants that could be useful for future marketing campaigns. For example: email addresses, Twitter profiles, Facebook profiles.
  3. Create a calendar for the entire project from planning, launch and execution through to measurement and share this with people internally and any digital agencies you work with.
  4. Create a “messaging” planner which maps out every tweet, Facebook update, blog post, Flickr and Tumblr upload etc. that will be used to publicise the promotion. This planner should include dates these messages will go out.
  5. What other marketing is going on? Make sure your PPC, Display and Affiliate campaigns are in the loop and are on message.
  6. When creating messages, make sure they are catchy, but also plan what you want to say to drive the most traffic to the promotion at key times. Examples for a competition include:
  • Messages at the beginning of the campaign should drive participation e.g. “Tweet this message for a chance to win a XYZ!”
  • Messages towards the end should focus on urgency e.g. “Time’s almost up – enter today!”

On- Site activities:

  1. If the promotion is a competition, build a page on the website that houses information about the competition.  You should also encourage user participation by including social media “share” buttons on this page so people can share it with friends online and drive further visibility of the competition.
  2. Post about the promotion on the company blog – at least one post at the beginning, one in the middle and one at the end to keep people engaged. Direct people to the relevant information, whether this be a page onsite or to your social media channels.

Off-Site activities:

  1. Encourage easy “copy/paste” sharing using the URL shortener for the links to your promotion location online.
  2. Include a mention of the promotion in your customer newsletters / communications.
  3. If the promotion is a competition, promote it on dedicated competition and deal sites such as,, and However, when choosing sites to submit to, be aware some sites have restrictions on who is permitted to upload competitions – some do not permit brands to promote their own competitions, and only allow users to submit competitions. So it is worth checking before going full steam ahead.
  4. There are also competition forums and newsgroups you can submit to such as and The same goes for these sites as competition sites, remember to check that brands are allowed to post about brand-related competitions before going ahead.
  5. When a competition winner is chosen, do a PR push to publicise their win.
  6. It’s important to follow up with all entrants after the competition has ended. Even if they haven’t been fortunate enough to win, they could still become a valuable customer in the future.

Social activities:

  1. Invite people to share the promotion with their friends.
  2. Consider “multi-entry” for competitions, where users can benefit from 1 entry for re-tweeting, 1 entry for forwarding the competition to friends’ email address etc. This will encourage further sharing and promotion of the competition online.
  3. Create a flurry of dialogue, tweets, retweets, direct messages, Facebook posts, Google+ posts etc. on the first day of the promotion.
  4. Create tweets on a daily basis until the promotion has finished. On the last day, consider using a countdown e.g. hours / minutes until promotion ends.
  5. Create a unique #hashtag on Twitter to promote your competition.
  6. Post updates on the brand’s Facebook wall about the promotion on a regular basis until it has finished. On the last day, consider using a countdown e.g. hours / minutes until the promotion ends.
  7. Use the brand Google+ page and update related posts and photos on a regular basis to encourage sharing.
  8. Use your Flickr profile and upload images relevant to the promotion.
  9. Make the most of your Tumblr profile and share the promotion via this platform as well.
  10. Use your YouTube channel and consider making a promotional video. Upload to Youtube with “share” buttons.
  11. Use a social media tracking tool to see which people and sites are sharing your promotion, then promote it more heavily to those communities.
  12. When the competition has ended use Facebook and Twitter to promote the winner like mad!

After the promotion has finished, be sure to measure the impact it had on brand engagement, clickthrough to your site, conversion, and bottom-line sales.

And there you have it, 26 easy steps to making your promotions and competitions more effective! For more detailed insight into how to make the most of your online promotion via social media, check back later this week when one of our resident social media experts will be developing the discussion further.

But, as always, it would be great to hear if anyone has any more tips they would like to share on the matter in the mean time…

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