Are you fully leveraging the potential that sweepstakes marketing has for your business?
No marketing activity should be created and executed on-the-fly. Especially if you want it to help you reach specific social media marketing goals. Not that you can’t, or shouldn’t, pivot quickly to react to trending topics and capture the online wave if appropriate, but this is about planning your long game.
The best time to start incorporating sweepstakes into your marketing mix is when you are creating your annual marketing plan as giveaways are just one tool in your belt and should work with all the others.
These are the six steps you need to take to ensure your sweepstakes marketing is always successful.
STEP ONE: What are your marketing goals?
Similar to going on a road trip, how do you go from A to B if you don’t know where B is? Any road will get you there.
I recommend setting your social media goals at the same time as your marketing and business goals. This way, you can work backward from B, figuring out which tools you need, including sweepstakes.
What marketing tools will you be using? Will you be sending out emails? A newsletter? Creating ads? Video? Lives? Blog posts? Which channels? Hosting seminars? Attending marketing conferences? Vending? Pop-up shops? The possibilities and opportunities to connect with your target market, customers, and prospects are endless.
It’s at this point you can start to pencil in where you think sweepstakes would best fit into your marketing plan. I say pencil in because you still need to complete the following steps before firming up your plans. Creating a fluid outline allows for flexibility as you go through steps two to five.
My preference is to use physical planning tools rather than virtual, as the kinesthetic act of writing helps me plan. Similar to writers in the movie industry who use storyboards, using sticky notes allows you to move around programs and campaigns until all the pieces of the puzzle fit together. I also like to use different colors for different types of marketing actives. You can see at a glance what is scheduled for when. You can select which ones are best suited for a sweepstakes tie-in or even gaps you may want to fill with a stand-alone giveaway.
STEP TWO: What is your timeline for sweepstakes marketing?
The goals you set will determine the timeline you need to reach those goals.
Larger goals need more time. For example, you would allocate more time if you wanted to drive across the country, vs. over to the next state, or town—the same with goals.
You also need patience. You can’t be saying, “Are we there yet?” every step of the way. The marketing maxim ‘The Rule of 7’ has been around for 90+ years, and for a good reason. Prospects need to be exposed to a message an average of seven times before taking action. This rule still applies in the digital age.
Combine Step One with Step Two, and break down each goal into steps required then, calculate the timeline needed. Some may only take a week or two. Some may take a few months. You won’t know until you break it down.
Creating your social media marketing goals at the beginning of the year gives you the space you need to plan, create, execute and promote each campaign, plus you can also properly dovetail one into the other.
Once you create your annual plan, some goals may naturally extend into two, five or even ten years.
STEP THREE: What is your budget for sweepstakes marketing?
It always comes down to money. The bigger your budget, the more you can do. The keys to your success are:
- maximize the budget you do have,
- minimize your expectations.
Some of the most successful campaigns have been executed on a shoestring budget, and some of the biggest flops have cost a fortune. Spend wisely.
Once you have completed Steps One and Two, begin allocating funds to each component. Remember, sweepstakes budgeting isn’t just about the prizes. You must include funds for creation, execution, vial marketing, prizing, and fulfillment, plus agency fees if you are outsourcing.
Do not be intimidated by the potential cost. You can either take funds from another marketing program, decrease the number of annual giveaways, or make each one a bit smaller in scope.
This is why I recommend you pencil in as you plan your sweepstakes. You can rev up or rev down each campaign as required while constructing your annual marketing plan. It’s much easier to do in the initial planning stages, vs. mid-year or worse, mid-campaign.
I get asked all the time, “How do you make a sweepstake go viral?” The simple answer is, you can’t. If anyone guarantees they can get you millions of hits, run the other way.
That said, there are things you can do to increase the reach of any given post or campaign.
First, base your goals on your previous or current successes and then reach towards the next mile, not the final destination. This way, you will attain growth without disappointment or a sense of failure, especially when the campaign was a success, just not in your eyes.
Second, look at the steps you took during your last campaign to promote it. Did you send out an email? Share it on Facebook? Mention it on your podcast? Etc. Then brainstorm as to where else you can share it.
Remember ‘The Rule of 7’? One mention isn’t enough. Plan a variety of cross-platform messages driving traffic to the sweepstakes.
STEP FOUR: Do you have the resources?
Who will do the work? Are you doing it yourself, have the staff, or are hiring an agency?
Having someone dedicated to managing all your social media marketing will allow for real-time responses to comments and questions. Plus, entrants like to feel they are valued and love seeing a company respond to their comments, shares, and Stories. Ensuring you have the resources is important as it facilitates organic growth and quality engagement.
Not dedicating the resources to manage a social media sweepstakes will render it no better than plain post. Yes, you may have the engagement, but you won’t be there to ensure it virals as far as possible, nor will you spot those that may have entered incorrectly, or worse, cheated.
Be aware, big numbers aren’t everything. Although you may want a lot of followers on your social channels, it is far better to have fewer engaged fans than thousands of followers who might as well be bots if they don’t connect any further. Those engaged are the people that will not only buy your products or services, but they will also tell all their friends.
Your resources should not just cover posting the sweepstakes and monitoring it. They should cover the same aspects of the campaign as your budget: creation, execution, vial marketing, prizing, and fulfillment.
STEP FIVE: What type of sweepstakes are you going to host and how?
Once you have completed Steps One through Four, you know:
- what goals you want to reach,
- how much time you have to reach them,
- what your budget is to reach those goals,
- who will be marketing and monitoring your campaigns.
Now you have to select the types of sweepstakes that best match those criteria. In-person? Mail-in? Text? Social media? Which channel? Like and Comment? Online? Go back to your marketing plan and select what fits your plan best.
Then to manage your sweepstakes, you need to select a contest management tool. It is just too difficult to monitor entries or draw a random winner, even a simple Like and Comment Instagram giveaway without using a program. Even more difficult if you need to track entries via a hashtag.
Similar to the endless choice of marketing tools and sweepstakes, you have a myriad of choices that match every budget; Woobox, EasyPromos, Shortstack, Rafflecopter, and Gleam, are just a few of your choices.
STEP SIX: Do you ‘pull’ one sweepstakes into another?
In Do You Have a Back-End Social Media Marketing Plan? I outline the three steps marketers can take at the end of every campaign to finish what you start.
- Always announce the winner.
- Do it in more than one place.
- Use it to pull followers to enter future giveaways.
More companies are incorporating these steps at the end of each social media sweepstakes, but not enough.
If you pull a string, it follows you. If you push it, it just knots and balls. Treat your audience the same way. If you create posts that pull, each subsequent giveaway will have greater participation and engagement.
‘Pull’ allows you to prove your giveaways are legitimate, share non-sales focused posts, and give participants a reason to continue to follow you. It’s the online version radio contests. You don’t know when the cue to call in will be announced, so you keep listening for your next chance to win. If you are consistently creating informative posts, sharing industry news, tips, tricks, ideas, etc. People will stay engaged long after the social sweepstakes is over.
Now that you have a map to creating successful sweepstakes marketing, where are you going to go?