Posted in: Digital marketingLast update: 29/09/21
It feels like the holidays are just around the corner, and we’re about to start seeing the first promos, contests, and ad campaigns. When we see it, your audience does too. So, there needs to be a way to make your promo contest stand out this holiday season. While we can’t give you stellar visuals or tell you precisely what to offer, we can highlight six common threads for successful contests that will make your life easier and your sales a little healthier.
Narrow your audience
You likely have a solid customer base throughout the year, with many different people buying from your shop. While that’s always good news, you might want to focus on your most valuable shoppers for holiday promos and contests. Consider how you make the most revenue from contests and narrow your messaging and content to that audience.
For example, if promos are how you reach new shoppers, tie them heavily to social. You may want to snag an influencer relationship or run the contest through hashtags on social media. If your holiday sales bump tends to come from existing repeat customers, consider offering a “secret” contest for subscribers or people with an active account.
We like tailoring contests to a specific audience because it helps you frame the entire effort. Not only does it impact your channels and messaging, but you can use the smaller scope to adjust the timing of your materials. Targeting loyal email subscribers should give you historical data around the best days and times to send a promo email. A younger audience may mean you get more traction later at night — allowing you to address your ads to the night owls out there — or on specific channels.
Define the audience first and then look for the best contest and promotional opportunities based on those shoppers. It can help you avoid a lot of extra work and less successful ad spending.
Craft themes and visuals early
You’ll want to define that audience ASAP so you can get to work on crafting your visuals. You want to get started now, even if you’ve got months until your year-end promotion or contest. Preparing visual and other content long ahead of time allows you to make decisions based on an existing body of work. You’ve got the chance to create multiple ads for A/B testing, different banners for top audiences, or even a series of emails that build scarcity around sales and contests.
Best of all, early work makes it easier to adapt if you need it. News, fashion trends, the downfall of your go-to influencer, shipping delays on certain products, and many other things can disrupt a campaign. The more you have together ahead of time, the easier it is to adjust content or create something new. It could be as simple as replacing an image in an ad or updating text instead of creating an entirely new campaign in a day.
If you’re a smaller eCommerce store, creating content now also helps you manage the customer service request influx that comes with many promos and contests. You can ensure that your contest rules page loads correctly and train chatbots to deliver it. Or, you can spend more time in your CRM answering emails at that contest-specific email address. This is what you do so that the contest can stand out internally, giving you and your team more time to ensure the event goes smoothly.
Add a relevant extra
It feels like the year-end holiday season comes with an endless supply of promos, deals, and savings days. Many of these focus on specific themes, such as giving gifts to others. Use those themes as a guide to sweeten your offer and stay relevant.
One of the easiest options you can add is to give shoppers and contest winners access to free gift wrapping. Whether they’re entering for themselves or a loved one, wrapping can keep people in the mood and help your audience feel like the promo takes care of them.
Gift wrapping and similar options also make your promo contest more versatile. If I enter your contest and win a gift that comes wrapped, I can immediately have you send that to a friend. You’ve just handled a present for me, making my life easier — especially if I’m worried about shipping speeds because now I don’t need you to ship the item to me, and then I ship it to my friend.
Making my life easier also makes me like your store more. That’ll make me and other shoppers more inclined to visit again when we need something you offer or if we need a gift.
Give gifts to you and me
Keeping with our gift-giving theme, remember that many of us will shop for ourselves while we’re buying holiday gifts. That gives you two audiences to target for your promo contest. Consider tying your promo to that concept. Here are some options for what that could mean:
- Contest winners get one product for themselves and a gift for someone else
- Every purchase gives shoppers an extra entry
- Every purchase with a gift wrap option enters the shoppers to win a product for themselves
- Every purchase where the billing and shipping address is different enters them into your promo an extra time
Embrace the spirit around your chosen holiday. Look for opportunities to connect the contest and prizes to that spirit. Making someone’s shopping easier while potentially netting a gift for themselves is a great way to stand out from the crowd. Plus, it gives your PPC ads and social posts a little extra “oomph” to grab attention and motivation.
Remove those restrictions
From a sales and business standpoint, we want promos and contests to boost revenue and overall profit. That can lead many of us to restrict offers or add terms and conditions. These elements potentially limit prize distribution, but they can also limit your added revenue.
A promo or contest that feels honest can create a significant benefit for your site. Christmas-related contests, for example, can increase traffic, engagement, and sales by up to nearly 300%. Keep your eyes on that prize and drop the dollar amount, specific product, or other barriers to entry.
In the same vein, you want as many people involved as possible. One of the best ways to increase engagement goes hand-in-hand with removing restrictions: make promotions shareable. Give everyone a chance to participate by creating shareable content. Give people with store accounts the ability to share a code for extra entry or set team goals for some rewards.
Sharing allows you to reinforce the positive relationship someone has with your brand — such as shared values, charity work, or the emotions you evoke. Your audience can use the content to frame themselves in this light or get friends together for a good cause. Make it easy to participate and share so your audience spreads the word for you, maximizing your marketing spend and the promo’s overall ROI.
Return to the big three
Many years ago, someone shared with us three things contests and promotions need in their messaging and content to be successful:
- Thank current customers
- Encourage participation
- Reward during and after the contest
Those are your big three must-haves because they ensure that your audience enjoys and uses your contest. Start by thanking the people who already shop with you. Send emails and information letting them know about the contest. Help them put giveaways, discounts, shopping days, and other contest elements on their calendars.
Second, you want to make it easy for people to come and take part. Encourage people by highlighting the contest and stating that you’re doing this because their business means so much. Show appreciation and consider adding giveaways for loyal shoppers above and beyond the main promotions. Remember that your audience is looking for something fun but might be stressed or overwhelmed. Encourage people and give them a reason to participate.
Do you want to start organizing your Holiday season promotion? Visit our Winter Holiday Season page and you will find ideas, templates, demos, and examples to improve your digital marketing!
Finally, review your contest plans and see where you can reward loyal customers and active participants. Can you sweeten the deal for repeat buyers? Are you offering a deal that will apply to shoppers across multiple holidays? In many cases, you can link participation to creating a rewards account. Then, after the contest giveaway ends, send people a coupon or chance for something new. Keep them engaged and happy.
Holiday contests, and those throughout the year, perform well when people want to participate and feel invited. Thankfully, that’s easy to do and can net you some extra sales. Now, add your favorite tip or campaign below to help your fellow marketers and eCommerce experts have an even better year-end.
Jake RheudeDirector of Marketing for Red Stag Fulfillment, an ecommerce fulfillment warehouse that was born out of ecommerce. He has years of experience in ecommerce and business development. In his free time, Jake enjoys reading about business and sharing his own experience with others.
Publication date: 2021-09-29