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How to Create a Contest that Drives Traffic to Your Small Business Website

Create a Contest that Drives Traffic to your website

Small businesses cannot underestimate the importance of traffic. It is a crucial metric that indicates the growing interest in your brand. That’s why small businesses employ all possible methods to boost traffic, from organic blog posts to search ads. 

But have you tried running a contest to generate more traffic to your website?

It’s true that most brands organize contests on social media to reach a wider audience, but who says you can’t redirect all the participants to your website to increase its traffic? Besides, an average contest campaign can bring you 34% more new followers, which is an opportunity you shouldn’t miss.

So, what’s the action plan? How do you create a contest that drives traffic to your small business website?

Here’s a step-by-step guide and a few valuable tips to make your contest generate more engagement. 

1. Set the Correct Goal

A good contest starts with a solid goal or a set of goals, to be precise. The main and most important reason for starting a contest is improving your online traffic. Now, you need to consider the resources you have to achieve it. 

Breaking down your goal with the SMART goal-setting model is the easiest way to see if you have everything to launch a contest that brings more website visits. This model helps you analyze your goal as:

  • Specific. You should know whether you want to drive more traffic to your blog, a separate landing page, a homepage, or any other destination on your website. 
  • Measurable. Set KPIs and determine the metrics to measure the success of your contest before you launch it. 
  • Assignable. Get a qualified team to run the contest and measure its results. 
  • Realistic. Set clear expectations of how much traffic you can generate with a contest, given the resources you already have. 
  • Time-bound. Figure out the deadline by which your contest should drive a specific amount of website traffic. 

Once you have a definite goal, it will be easier to determine milestones, tasks and set a realistic timeline within which your contest should deliver the results you expect. 

It is also possible to set other goals for your contest besides growing visits to your small business website. These goals include:

  • More email subscribers.
  • More social media followers.
  • Higher brand awareness.
  • Improved audience engagement.
  • Better sales. 

Keep in mind: if it’s your first contest, don’t set too many goals and expectations for it. Test the waters first—there’s a chance you’ll have to adjust your contest strategy a bit before it benefits you.

2. Decide How You Will Measure the Success of Your Contest

A contest is a part of your marketing strategy, and you will use it as a tool to strengthen your online presence, namely, by driving more traffic. To determine whether your efforts are paying off, you’ll need specific metrics to see whether your contest drives quality traffic. 

Here are the key metrics you should focus on if your goal is to get more website visits:

  • The number of people who clicked on and reviewed your promotion. 
  • The number of people who subscribed to participate in the contest. 
  • The number of likes and social shares.
  • Traffic sources to check which contest promotion channels performed the best. 
  • Average time visitors spent on your site after clicking on the promotional link. 
  • New vs. returning visitors on your website. 

You can also add conversion rate if your goal is both to boost traffic to your website and improve sales. Bounce and exit rates can provide additional insights. They indicate how well website visitors interact with the content used in your contest. 

3. Define the Rules of the Contest

The rules help attract the participants that are genuinely interested in participating. These rules depend on the following factors:

  • The type of the contest (UGC-based contests, voting promotions, survey promotions, trivia contests, location-based contests).
  • The duration of the contest.
  • Eligibility (age, location limits, and other requirements).
  • Entry methods (based on the contest type).

If it’s your first contest, don’t make the rules overly complicated. For instance, you can make your contest accessible only to your email subscribers, like in the example below:

contest official rules

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For your first contest, aim at making your contest easy to enter. It’s especially important if your small business doesn’t have a big audience yet. 

Then, it’s time to post your official contest rules on the website. You can create a separate landing or a blog page, which you can link to from your social media accounts. 

Keep in mind: when drafting the contest rules, make sure they comply with laws and regulations. Let’s take online gambling, for example. It is legal in the United States, but there’s a set of rules that control it. Each state has its own rules and regulations. For instance, in Rhode Island, if your prize exceeds $500, you need to register your promotion with the state.  

4. Pick a Prize

The prize is the reason why people enter your contest. It should generate buzz and excite your audience. When the award is appealing, it increases your contest’s chances for success. 

How do you pick the right prize?

First, think about your target audience and their needs. Is this prize worth the time for your followers? Which purpose does it serve? And most importantly, does it bring you closer to your audience? Try to choose a prize that targets your ideal buyer. 

The prize should also be specific to your business and represent it as a brand. For small businesses with limited budgets, it’s better to use their product or offer a lucrative discount. 

Keep in mind the law regulations that we discussed in the previous section—the prize should comply with the local and federal laws and be socially acceptable. If the prize comes from the sponsors, you should also mention it in the contest entry rules. 

If you find it hard to pick a prize, you can always ask your audience. Create a quick survey (on social media or via email) asking your subscribers what they would like to receive as a reward. You can also study your customer purchase patterns to determine popular and high-demand products. 

5. Create Content for Contest Promotion

Content is a critical component to help you reach the right audience with your contest. Content also plays a crucial role in driving engagement and attracting more participants. 

Of course, you can post a simple picture featuring your prize along with a short contest description and a link to a landing page with rules, like in the example below:

Content for Contest Promotion instagram example

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Or, you could go the extra mile and create content that would engage more people to participate and, as a result, drive more visitors to your website. 

One of the leading marketing trends in 2021 is creating easy-to-consume content. Such content focuses on delivering maximum value while considering a short attention span of a modern audience. 

Easy-to-consume content includes videos, images, short clips, and other visual content types. Since most people are visual learners, such content is easier for them to process and register. 

So, apart from sharing a picture of the prize on your social media, feature short clips and add testimonials to your content strategy. Also, be consistent: spice up the interest in your contest by posting regular updates and using hashtags to broaden your reach. 

6. Choose a Contest Management Platform

As you’ve probably already noticed, running a contest is far more complicated than it seems. If you want your contest to bring the traffic you expect, you should find the means to track its performance from start to finish. 

A contest management platform can help you effortlessly manage your processes. With its help, you can:

  • Capture customer data
  • Analyze user profiles
  • Manage submissions
  • Track KPIs 

In most contest management platforms, you can also monitor some of the metrics predetermined by your goal. In our case, it is the number of participants, number of clicks, likes and shares, and traffic sources. 

A contest management platform will also come in handy if you plan on doing giveaways and sweepstakes in your marketing strategy. Such platforms offer a wide variety of contest options for any business. 

For instance, with Woorise, you can run any type of social media giveaway, YouTube contests, referral contests, and so on. 

Woorise giveaways and contests templates

All you have to do is choose a template for the type of contest you want to run, add information, and start engaging potential participants. 

7. Pick the Channels to Promote Your Contest

Driving more traffic to your website means targeting a bigger audience through various channels. Optimizing your blog for SEO could help but you can’t rely only on organic search. In this case the chances of people finding you on Google are extremely low. 

That’s why you need to target several channels to promote your contest. The most popular channels include social media, landing pages, email, and online ads. 

Social media

As we mentioned earlier, most contests take place on social media. But you still can use social media platforms to drive traffic to your website by placing a link to your contest in your bio section or include in your content, like in the example below:

instagram contest example

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The brand has created the announcement on social media and added the website link to the contest rules. This way, it reaches a broader audience and generates more traffic to its website. 

Website landing page

You can use a landing page as a target destination to attract new visitors and grow your website traffic. 

A landing page can contain full information about the contest, including a submission form. Or, it can be a simple page with rules and eligibility requirements, like in HubSpot’s example below:

video contest official rules

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You can use the link to this landing page and upload it to other channels for contest promotion, such as social media or online ads. 

Email

Email is another channel you can use to promote your contest. Try to include a link to your contest as a CTA to generate more website visits. 

You can also briefly describe the rules of the contest to give a sneak peek of what’s in store for your subscribers:

contest email promotion example

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Don’t forget to entice potential participants with a lucrative prize and give a hint at the benefits it can bring. 

Online ads

One more solid option to promote your contest and get more unique visitors is doing so via online ads. 

Here, you have various options: social media ads, native ads, and search ads can do the job. Just make sure you use appealing content to catch your audience’s attention and get it to interact with your content. However, consider your budget and resources—online ads can become quite costly for a small business.  

5 Tips for a Contest that Boosts Traffic to Your Website

In theory, a contest can help you generate website traffic. In practice, a lot depends on how engaging you make it. 

So, as we promised, here are five tips on how to boost your contest’s engagement and attract more participants. 

1. Choose the Right Hashtags

A good contest is impossible without hashtags. The role of a hashtag in a contest is threefold:

  • Creating brand recognition.
  • Linking your contest with the content generated by the participants.
  • Reaching a wider audience.

The majority of contests use a hashtag as a means to track participant submissions. Usually, the hashtag is branded or associated with a specific brand. You can see an example of a branded hashtag in the image below:

realme hashtags contest

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Realme, a Chinese smartphone manufacturer, uses the brand’s name in combination with other relevant phrases to launch a contest for its fans. This hashtag is also used to keep track of all user-generated content. 

If the goal of your contest is to generate traffic, then you also need a hashtag that will help you cast your net wide. In this case, use your branded hashtag together with one that has good performance. For instance, #contest or #competition are universal and are both quite popular:

Hashtagify contest hashtag

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Hashtagify competition hashtag

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Make sure you choose hashtags that are relevant to your audience. After all, you want to generate high-quality traffic with your contest. 

2. Partner with an Influencer

Another great way for targeting a bigger audience with your contest is through a partnership with an influencer. Online creators and celebrities have a significant influence over their fans, who trust their recommendations. 

Contests often feature influencers. Here’s an example of HBO teaming up with Alex Rodriguez, a famous baseball player, to promote a new movie coming on HBO Max. 

contest influencer partner

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Of course, as a small business, you aren’t likely to get a partnership with mega influencers and large celebrities. But you don’t need to involve popular names simply because their audience is too diverse. 

Instead, look for macro and micro influencers in your industry with followers that reflect your target audience. This way, you’ll be able to generate more relevant traffic to your website and more qualified leads. 

3. Give More Chances to Win with Daily Prizes

Typically, a contest has only one winner, which differentiates it from a giveaway. But if you want more website visitors and higher engagement, you can break down your contest into several stages and assign a prize to each of them. 

Take Falken Tire’s contest as an example. The brand has created a weekly contest, and each day has its own special prize:

contest prize idea

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As a result, such a contest will have not one but several winners. Following the tactics employed by Falken Tire, you too can post different links to contest rules every day, and generate more traffic to your website. Besides, giving more opportunities to win will strengthen the relationship with your audience. 

4. Boost Interest in Your Giveaway with Testimonials

If your small business is a newcomer in its industry, you can generate more interest in your contest with the testimonials from the winners of the previous contests.

For instance, Wavespas posted a quote from the winner of the brand’s previous contest:

testimonial example for giveaway

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If you’re new to your niche but already have experience with contests, you can do the same. Also, make sure to complement this technique with the right hashtags to attract more participants.

5. Create the FOMO Effect

The FOMO, or fear of missing out, effect is one of the most popular methods in marketing to spike people’s interest in something. You might have seen it a lot in email marketing and product promotions. 

You can also create the FOMO effect to promote your contest, like in the example below:

FOMO contest example

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Compile a few posts and Instagram Stories for social media to create the fear of missing out and agitate your audience to participate in your contest. Try to disperse these posts consistently throughout your contest’s timeline to keep reminding your followers about a chance to win a prize. 

Over to You

A contest may not be the most obvious way to generate traffic to your website, but the results may pleasantly surprise you. Besides, it’s very affordable for a small business to run a contest. And, it’s another opportunity to promote your brand and product. 

That’s all in theory, of course. In reality, you need to work a lot to make your contest an effective tool that brings more website visitors. Let’s recap what we covered today:

  • Start by analyzing your goal. Why do you need more traffic? Do you have the resources to launch a contest? What other goals do you want to target?
  • Decide on the metrics. You need to know how you will measure your contest’s KPIs. 
  • Create the rules. They should be in line with federal and state regulations. 
  • Choose a prize. It should speak to your audience’s needs. 
  • Create content for your contest. Aim for creating easy-to-consume engaging content. 
  • Choose a contest management platform. It will help you track your contest from start to finish. 
  • Pick the channels to promote your contest. The most popular options include social media, a landing page, email, and online ads. 

Also, invest some time and effort into making your contest more engaging. Choose relevant hashtags, partner with an influencer, give daily prizes, generate more interest with testimonials, and don’t forget about the FOMO effect. The more engaging your contest is, the more traffic it will bring. 

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