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#4.06: “Clever Contests” – The Issue

Learn how to run a contest on the cheap, promote usage of your site, and get your message out to thousands of new customers.

1> Share The Work, Share The Prize
2> Facilitate Forwarding to Friends
3> The More You Ask, The More You Get
4> Get A Partner To Pick Up The Tab
5> Check It Out: Ali G In Da House

1> Share The Work, Share The Prize

When decided to use a $50,000 contest to acquire new customers, it called upon ePrize to run the show. The entire contest operation is outsourced to ePrize, from tracking entrants to navigating legal issues to paying winners. Even better, ePrize put in a pool with non-competing companies interested in running a similar sweepstakes. Prospects from each participating site enter a shared sweepstakes that is privately labeled to feature the site where they signed up. All entrants compete for a single prize. The marketer gets to offer a big prize at a fraction of the cost of running its own contest.

THE LESSON: Offer a shared contest with non-competing marketers to reduce the stress and expense to you.


2> Facilitate Forwarding to Friends put a “Tell a Friend” form right on the contest entry form — and they offered an incentive for contest entrants to spread the word about the promotion. The form is just right — it’s easy to fill out, asking only for name and email address of your friends, and it provides room to refer multiple friends. Here’s a secret: If you give people more fields to fill in, they will fill them. gets it right by offering room to refer three friends, with a field for the name and address of each friend. They go one step further and create an incentive for users to give up additional email addresses. In this case, gives contest entrants additional entries into the contest for each friend referred.

THE LESSON: Don’t wait for word-of-mouth to happen spontaneously. Make it easy and reward those that help you get the word out.

3> The More You Ask, The More You Get takes advantage of the contest entry form to cross-market its newsletters and generate new subscribers for its publications. There is no better time to get a new subscriber for your newsletters than when a prospect is already filling out a form. Offer good newsletters and people will sign up for more than one. does it the right way. Each featured newsletter contains 1) a clear title, 2) a brief description of the publication, and 3) a link to a sample newsletter. In addition, users can choose newsletter format (AOL, HTML, or text) and access the company’s privacy policy.

THE LESSON: Get the most out of your forms by including more than one offer. You get bigger lists; the customer gets bigger benefits.

4> Get A Partner To Pick Up The Tab

Contests attract a lot of fresh web traffic — why not share that traffic with a sponsor who will cover some of your costs? cut its costs by selling a sponsorship of the contest to E-Loan. E-Loan got their logo in several places on the contest web page, and they were given a place to sign people up for their newsletter. By cross-promoting their partner, runs the contest for a fraction of the cost, gets its message out to new customers, takes advantage of the platform to promote its newsletters — and then gets someone else to foot the bill.

THE LESSON: The web is all about cooperation. Team up to get more marketing for less money.

5> Check It Out: Ali G In Da House

Tune in to HBO’s “Da Ali G Show” to see your editor Andy Sernovitz interviewed (sort of) about venture capital in New York City. Look for the “Politics” episode with Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump.


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