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Tips for Running a Successful Competition

how to run a successful competition

How to run a successful competition

Have you considered running a competition to help boost traffic to your shop or build brand awareness? In this post we look at how to run a successful competition, including everything you need to consider before setting your competition live.

What is the goal of your competition?

If your answer to this question is ‘to raise brand awareness’ or ‘to make more sales’, you need to think a little deeper. You need to look at the specific goals of your competition so you can design a successful competition and measure whether or not the competition is ultimately a success.

Here are a number of goals you might consider:

1. To increase subscribers to your newsletter 
Building a database of potential and existing customers will enable you to reach more people when you have important product updates. The people on your mailing list need to be relevant and engaged – list numbers mean nothing unless they are opening your emails and engaging with the content.

2. To reach new customers
You can also use a competition entry as a way of rewarding existing customers for spreading the word about your brand – by sharing it on social media for example. This goal has the benefit of keeping existing customers engaged with your social media, newsletters and your latest products. Running a competition can also help to reignite their interest in your products.

3. To reach a new market
You can use a competition as a way to break into a new market, perhaps by partnering with an influencer in the specific niche audience you want to reach. Think about who this could be and what you could both offer.

4. Increase social engagement
You could use a competition to try to boost activity on your Facebook page or Instagram account, for example. Activity means the number of likes, comments, shares on your posts.

5. Increase your social following
Competitions can be a good way to encourage people to Like and Follow your accounts to increase your overall audience.

6. Market Research and Feedback
You can offer a prize as a reward for completing a survey or questionnaire that will help you improve your product range. The aim of the competition is to get the highest quality feedback from your target market, so you are getting useful responses to your questions.

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A Competition Checklist

1. When will you run the competition?

You want to maximise the impact of the competition to get the most entries, so think carefully about the launch date. This shouldn’t be an arbitrary decision. Is there something you can tie the competition in with. For example, if you’re launching a new range, you could use a competition as a way to attract more traffic just at the moment you have new and exciting things to share. Or maybe you’re being featured in a magazine or on a blog and you can use the competition as a way to retain visitors to your site as a result of increased traffic. Our featured sellers often do this to coincide with the increased exposure we give them.


2. What will the prize be?

Will it be one of your products, a voucher for your shop or something else, or a bundle of prizes? The prize is the reason people will make the effort to enter. It doesn’t need to be a big prize, it just needs to be desirable.  A good way to choose the prize is to imagine your ideal entrant – what would they be most interested in winning? Your prize needs to attract people who are likely to be interested in your brand. For example, if you make bags from sustainable fabric you could give away a book about living a sustainable life. This ensures that the entrants are aligned with your product.  Take a look at our competitions on Folksy – they’re all relevant to our customer base and/or sellers.


3. What’s your overall budget for the competition?

Stick to a budget! If you have £25 to spare it may be that you have a prize worth x (cost price to you) and then spend £15 on targeted advertising with Facebook. This may result in many more entries than simply having a more valuable prize.  Don’t assume that the more expensive the prize the more entries you’ll get, people love the opportunity to win something and even something worth relatively little is a treat if it’s for free.  The number of entries will be down to how you market the competition.


4. Could you collaborate with another seller / brand / influencer on this competition?

Collaborating is a brilliant way of reaching a bigger audience . The important thing is that all the parties involved in the competition feel like they are getting value from it. For example, you could approach the publisher of a new book that aligns with your target audience and see if they’d be happy to offer up a free copy to give away as part of a book review blog post.  They get publicity and you get a vehicle for bringing new, targeted traffic to your shop/blog.  Read our post on collaborating with fellow crafters here.


5. Where will the competition be hosted?

On your blog, on a social media channel, on someone else’s blog or using a competition widget such as Rafflecopter or Gleam (among many others). If you want to increase your Facebook following it doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be hosted on Facebook. Instead you could host the competition on your blog and let people know you’ll choose a winner from everyone who comments on your Facebook posts over a certain time period.

If you choose to host the competition on someone else’s blog you need to ensure that they fit your market and find out how the blogger / website will promote the competition or if you are expected to do that.  Many bloggers and websites will charge to host a competition, you don’t have to go with a huge site though, just an influencer within your niche who can help you reach new potential customers.

If they want to charge you to host the competition then you should get all their latest figures, follower/subscriber numbers are not important.  Open rates of newsletters, click through rates, Facebook post reach, a screen shot of their last months analytics, for example.  Also get in writing the details of how they will promote the competition.

6. How will people enter the competition?

There are two key question when you consider how people enter the competition.

a. How you will record an entry.

b. What is the aim of the competition

Make it crystal clear what they need to do to enter (like, comment, share etc) and ways they can gain additional entries by sharing even more.  If you feel it necessary give an example comment or tweet so they know exactly what to do.  Just remember you need to be able to collect up all the entries in order to choose a winner.

7. Brainstorm Competition Ideas

Here are a few ideas, be creative and think up fun but uncomplicated ways your fans and potential new customers can enter. You can mix and match with different social networks so you open up the competition to give people more than one chance to enter.

Blog Comment Comp: The aim is to gain feedback about your product range.  To enter the draw they must leave a comment on your blog (you should have a comment system where they have to record their email address so you can contact the winner) The comment must be the answer to a specific question about your product range. General questions will give you general answers.

Facebook Post Comp: The aim of the competition is to gain new Facebook Fans. To enter the entrant must be both a fan of your page and leave a comment, it’s best to get them to answer a question or you’ll just have a list of ‘entered’ comments which is a bit boring.  You could ask them to ‘like this page and tag a friend who you think deserves to win this’ to enter – people love to do things for others.

Pinterest Comp: The aim is to get more pins of your products and more pinterest followers. To enter they need to pin their favourite product, tag you in the comment area so you can track entries and follow one of your boards.

Twitter Comp: The aim is to drive traffic to your site. To enter people need to retweet your tweet. The tweet should include an image and a link to a special offer code / sale.

Instagram Comp: The aim is to grow your Instagram following. To enter people must use a particular hashtag (check it is unique first!) on a themed picture and tag you and 3 friends in the image.  Choose a theme and tag that fits in with your instagram style, don’t make it too obscure.

Ideally you want people to share the blog / social post as part of the entry requirements in order to encourage more entries. Just try not to make it too complex or people will get confused.

You could use a widget like rafflecopter.com (just one of lots of these social contest apps available) to help you record all the entries. Take care with third party applications as you may have to upgrade in order to retrieve entrants’ email addresses.

If you’re using Facebook for your competition, check their terms and conditions first as you are not permitted to ask people to share a post on their timelines as a condition of entry.

8. How will people find out about the competition?

There are many channels you can share your competition on, Your website, blog, on social media  and in your newsletter.  Create a plan for the launch day to ensure that your competition is launched with a bang.  You can schedule newsletters, blog posts and social media posts in advance to all go out at once. Do ensure you check all the links are working soon after they are published.

Don’t rely on one shout out about the competition to draw lots of entries, keep pushing it out there, use original text and images in the posts so as not to bore people.

You’ll need the right size graphics for each social media channel if possible.  If you don’t have time make the graphic the best fit for your most engaging channel.

Here are a few suggestions, we took the sizes from the ones they use on canva.com which is a really useful site for creating images for social media. It’s free but you can also buy great stock images for just $1 (about 79p)

Instagram – 1080px  x 1080px (Instagram pics no longer have to be square but most people still stick to square posts)
Twitter – 1024px  x 512px If you don’t use a letterbox sized image some of your image will be cropped in people’s twitter stream, they can click to see the full image if you have to use a different format.
Pinterest – 735px  x 1102px – use 735 as an ideal width, you want pins to appear as a good, readable size on boards. Small images look rubbish on Pinterest.
Facebook – 940x  x 788px – getting the right sized image can really help on Facebook.  Too small and the image looks too narrow on people’s time lines. If you are advertising on facebook any text you overlay needs to take up less than 20% of the entire image or they will reject the advert.

3 free listings, free listings folksy, where to sell craft onlineIt’s FREE to set up your shop and you’ll get 3 listings for free too! Find out more about selling on Folksy

9. Who can help you promote the Competition?

The competition entrants themselves can help to spread the word of your competition if you make this a condition of entry. However sometimes you need a way to kickstart the entries.

Build a list of people who can help you spread the word about your competition, email or direct message them with details in advance and let them know the launch date so they don’t send out any spoilers.  You could use Twitter to search for relevant people if you don’t already have any in mind.

Don’t just focus on people with a following on the same channels you use. For example if you don’t have a You Tube channel then partnering with a You Tube Vlogger could be a great way to break into an untapped market.

Never assume someone will help you, everyone is busy!  The more people you ask the better the chance of your competition being shared, but they need to be relevant or there’s no point.  Most people have an email address or contact form on their website.  Asking people to share or retweet in public can look a bit desperate and sending out loads of dm’s with the same text will be perceived as spamming. Pick your ‘targets’ carefully, network with them in advance.

Some may be more inclined to spread the word if you offer them an incentive, a free product or a mention of their blog / website in your newsletter for example. Many will happily share on social media IF it is relevant to their fans and followers.

10. Competition Terms & Conditions

You need the entrant to understand that by entering they are complying with your T&C’s.  You can simply create a page on your blog or website with the terms and conditions and then add a link from where you are promoting the competition.  In the event of any problems with the prize, the website hosting the comp, the winner or other entrants, having these terms available will help protect you.

Here are the general T&C’s we use – feel free to copy and paste them.

Competition T&Cs  1. The competition closes at [TIME] on [DATE]. Prizes cannot be exchanged for their monetary value or other goods. 3. Winners will be selected at random from all entries received. [or how you will select your winner] 4. The competition is not open to [your company] employees. 5. The winners will be contacted after the competition closes. 6. If the winning entrants cannot be contacted after reasonable attempts have been made, we reserve the right to stand that entrant down and select another winner. 7. [your company] ‘s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. 8. [your company]  reserves the right to alter and/or cancel the competition without any prior warning. 9. All personal data submitted with consent will be kept by [your company]  for the purpose of sending out the prize. 10. The competition is open to [COUNTRY] entrants only aged [AGE] and over.


11. How will you announce the winners of the competition?

It’s easy to do all the planning and promoting and then forget to actually pick a winner.   Ensure that you have created a competition entry mechanism that enables you to either message them on social media or email them and add a calendar reminder to pick the winner soon after the closing date.

You could use the announcement as another way to draw traffic.  For example send out a newsletter saying ‘we’ve just announced the winner on Facebook, is it you?’  Then in the post ask people to join you in congratulating the winner. That’s just one idea, you could use the same principal on lots of different social networks or announce the winner in a blog post.

12. Measuring the Success of The Competition

Did it work?  If you did your planning beforehand and set goals, you will have a list of data you can measure to see if the competition represented value for your time and money.

Some things cannot be measured, for example brand awareness is a fuzzy area.  When you look at things like Facebook Insights you may see an increase in ‘impressions’ these numbers can look big and exciting but an impression is just a view, it doesn’t tell you whether the person was interested.  Try to focus mostly on measurable goals and conversions.

  • The number of entries
    Was it the right prize, did enough people get excited enough to enter and did you promote it enough and in the right places?  Measuring the ratio of entries against time/money spent on promotion can be a useful metric.  300 entries for a total of 3 hrs work in promotion equates to
  • How many new subscribers/followers
    New subscribers to our Folksy Finds Newsletter or Social Media gives us an opportunity to convert them into sales.  If you use an email provider like Mailchimp.com (who we thoroughly recommend) you can group new subscribers into segments and track how subscribers from a specific segment behaves after they have signed up, did they open your latest emails, click your links (and much, much, more!) this gives you a great insight into the effectiveness of your competition.
  • Traffic to website/shop/blog
    You can measure the traffic with Google Analytics, ideally you will have had a goal for a visitor to subscribe or follow eg a pop up or a call to action so you can measure if there was a good conversion rate for this goal.  For example if you had 1000 visits and 50 people signed up having seen your call to action in the blog post that would be a conversion rate of 5%.  (a conversion doesn’t have to be a sale it means when a goal is completed)
  • Sales
    Did anyone buy your work?  Don’t be too downhearted if sales don’t rocket.  The brand awareness element and those new subscribers and followers may convert down the line.  Look at the conversion rate of your social channels and emails to measure the value of a new follow or a new subscriber.

Are you scratching your head with talk of conversion rates?  If Analytics feels like a dark art fear not, we are planning an absolute beginners guide to Google Analytics for Folksy shop owners.

Tell us @folksy about competitions you are running if you are linking to your Folksy shop in them and we will share them to our 47,000 twitter followers! The images you use need to be high quality.

Picture credit: D20 Cufflinks by Frilly Industries

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sianuska March 26, 2016 - 3:31 pm

WOW! Really thorough and informative post. I’ve done Facebook competitions (asking people to enter by ‘liking’ a post) before which haven’t been hugely successful, now I’m on Instagram I might try one on there.

Bullseye Marketing - Sell More Crafts by Clearly Defining Your Target Audience - April 4, 2016 - 12:35 pm

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