Contest Marketing, quite simply, is a marketing method that capitalises on everyone’s desire for ‘free stuff’ in an attempt to boost your brand awareness, encourage engagement, and reach potential new audiences. Frankly, everyone loves free stuff. Whether it’s food samples at the supermarket, or access to your subscription service, free stuff is just so enticing. Contest marketing is quite prevalent in B2C businesses, especially in FMCG markets like food, drink and retail. You might think initially of McDonalds Monopoly or Amazon Prime’s free monthly Trial.
However, there are so many opportunities within professional services and B2B where you can use contest marketing to your advantage.
Your digital marketing strategy needs a whole host of lead generation tools to be successful. Whilst the mainstays of your strategy are likely to be based around SEO, PPC, content, and email, amongst others, a contest marketing strategy can make up a part of your social media focus. Social media has so many perks for lead generation, and customer experience, but as an outreach platform for contest marketing, it’s by far the most useful.
What Can Contest Marketing Do?
Contest marketing historically hasn’t been the most B2B oriented marketing strategy. That doesn’t mean however, that it hasn’t got a place. If anything it could be even more successful, because no one else is doing it. Contest marketing creates a buzz around your content, and can give your metrics and analytics a real boost. As a strategy, contest marketing can:
- Generate leads
- Establish relationships & credibility
- Drive engagement, reach, awareness & recognition
- Grow new audiences
- Gain audience insight
- Connect you with your existing customers peer network
Let’s take a look at some contest marketing ideas, what makes a great strategy initially, and how it might look in the flesh.
Deciding first and foremost what your campaign aims to achieve is the most important step. As is the case with any strategy, you need to outline where you want your campaign to take you. Do you want to build awareness, boost engagement, generate leads or sales, increase site traffic. Are you aiming to collect data or build subscribers/followers on an individual social media platform? Once you’ve outlined what it is you want to do, you can then start outlining how you’re going to do it.
To do this you need to look at who your target audience is with your contest marketing strategy? Within B2B social advertising, it is important to frame what is important to your audience. You have to consider what would encourage that customer to reach a decision to buy your product/service. What goals might they have? And how might your product or service help them meet those goals? How can your products/services amplify each individual’s audience members’ success into reaching their own goals?
Start with narrowing down your goals, and try to ascertain your audience’s goals. It’s important you pinpoint this to give your campaign some direction from the outset.
B2B Sweepstakes Contest
This method of contest marketing is essentially hosting a competition with a large group and rewarding 1 or several winners. Going into this with a customer focused lens, sharing your brand personality and identity, and a relevant story will be the key to encouraging audience participation. As aforementioned you want to help your audience reach their goals, so potentially giving away a free subscription to your service, access to your software, or something else that would help your audience reach them is the way to go!
An example of this might be hosting a photo or video contest. Hootsuite, for example, hosted a contest called “#WorkFromHome”. They encouraged users to submit a photo highlighting where and how each individual worked using only an image. They used hashtags to document everything, and encouraged everyone to share results, resulting in a significant amount of user generated content and awareness. This type of contest has the ability to bring in a significant amount of engagement, awareness, and due to the prize on offer, potentially some top funnel high quality leads.
Perhaps you’re a high growth tech start-up who is looking for exciting and innovative ideas to enter the market, just like yours did. You might host a ‘Dragons Den’ style contest where you encourage people to pitch a product or service, encouraging innovation & creativity, and rewarding winners with your resources (time/money/space etc.). This type of contest again has the ability to bring great traffic, awareness, and engagement to your brand, but might also boost your thought leadership expertise within your industry.
Free trials are another example of contest marketing that are quite widely used in some B2B and B2C markets, providing you with excellent lead generation add-on. Maybe you have a piece of software or service that you charge on a subscription basis. A free trial is a great way for users to test the water without any financial commitments. Seeing something free, can automatically make you want something more, even if you weren’t originally looking for it.
Trials are a great way to reach new audiences, and generally deliver very high quality end of funnel leads. Customers generally come out of a trial in one of two ways. Be it, I don’t want this product, or I do want this product. It’s generally quite black and white, so while you may eliminate a few leads along the way, the ones that do stick around, are generally much more sales qualified, and more likely to be converted! It’s now your sales team’s job to convince this person to pay for whatever they’ve just had for free!
Consultations & Quizzes
Perhaps you don’t have a subscription service you can offer for free, you’re a service business. Well, this still applies. You could offer free initial consultations, highlighting what your paid service might do for someone’s business goals, and giving them a little taste tester.
While the above applies for converting sales, maybe you’re just looking to gather new audience data or insight. You could create a personality quiz, trying to integrate an understanding of what your audience’s goals and objectives are. How many times have you clicked on a silly quiz called “What kind of Harry Potter character am I?”. Except, it’s not silly, you’ve clicked on it, and provided your contact details. Try and construct something similar in the B2B space that most applies to the audience. Maybe something like; “When working on a group project, I’m usually the …” or “Where’s my most suited business trip destination”. A fun way to engage people and build a database of new leads.
Fun interaction drives conversation, drives traffic, and drives engagement. All of which are significant for your overall lead generation strategy. While you need to decide what your goals and objectives are, and design a campaign that is customised to fit your target audience, a B2B contest marketing strategy can definitely deliver results.
Ensure you have a suitable prize that might help match your audience’s expectation. Make something fun and engaging enough for someone to commit their time to you. And finally offer something as a free trial if at all possible, whether in the form of a free subscription, a free consultation, or a free box of goodies. As part of a big picture social media and lead generation strategy, contest marketing, even within B2B, plays an important role!