Omni-Channel Marketing Campaign

All about a winning web contest

In 2019, a Dialog Insight customer showed us that a contest can still be relevant, in a way that it is unique, brings great value to the participant, but above all, if it is personalized. If you are interested in finding out more about this case, I invite you to visit this page for full details

Despite the success stories you may hear, the fact remains that contests are not popular in the minds of many marketing experts, but why?

The best-known contests are those that run on social media, such as Facebook and Instagram. ”Tag three friends and get a chance to win an iPhone!”. We’ve all seen them, and many of us have even participated. 

It is this type of contest that is the most criticized in the marketing community. For many of them, this effort only brings people who participate for the free aspect of it, for the freeby. 

Raise your hand if you have an email address dedicated to SPAM or less important email? For those times when you are asked to subscribe to a newsletter or to participate in a contest. Many people do it, it’s no secret anymore. From this perspective, one of the aspects that are most criticized for this type of tactic is the very rapid loss of commitment of the people involved, and also a low conversion rate to purchase on the company’s offers.

But you can’t complain about the craze that contests have on people. After all, it targets very basic aspects of human nature. The contest:

  • Is based on the concept of free: by giving free stuff, it increases our oxytocin level and makes us happy. That’s why people like to participate!
  • It often creates a sense of urgency to persuade people to act. All this to satisfy our need for instant gratification.
  • It exploits our strong desire to win, which is naturally found in humans.

We must instead take advantage of the excitement that competition can have, and tell ourselves that we must change our perception of its results, but above all, we must prepare ourselves well before it is put in place. 



Approach the contest differently

Most brands launch contests with the idea that they will get more customers. People with a strong interest in buying, whom they will be able to canvass with promotional messages quickly. They don’t necessarily see it as a tactic that targets the top of the sales funnel, to increase the visibility of the brand and what it offers. That’s the way to think about it, though. 

The second problem is that contests are often isolated tactics that serve an immediate acquisition objective, rarely linked to the company’s more global strategies. This trend needs to be addressed, and contest needs to be planned within a calendar of marketing activities that will add value to each other. 

Now that we’ve talked about what not to do when planning a contest, how can you ensure its success?

Here are some aspects to think about:

  • Establish the initial objectives of your contest, with a view toward visibility rather than customer acquisition.
  • Evaluate what should happen to these contacts once they enter your contest.
  • Plan ways to qualify the people who participate, to better understand who they are, what they like, and what they want. You will then be able to use this data to better communicate with them.
  • Plan the rest of the funnel, without skipping any steps.

To help you set up your next contest, we suggest you follow the following steps. I will also take this opportunity to mention that Dialog Insight offers a complete functionality to manage contests, from the registration process to emailing and drawing of the winner(s). 

The Tourisme Chaudière Appalaches contest: a resounding success

The marketing team at Tourisme Chaudière Appalaches trusted the Dialog Insight platform to set up a very special personalized contest. 

Each participant was invited to put together a tailor-made weekend, according to their interests, in terms of accommodation, activities and food. Every week, one lucky person won that weekend to experience it for real. 

The results exceeded expectations! 

  • 3.4 visits per person instead of 2, which was the initial objective
  • More than 30,000 unique visitors to the web page

Discover the project here

Steps for a contest strategy

1. Define your objective and audience

Basic concept? Certainly! Nothing new here. Still, knowing why you are creating a contest is essential and should never be lost sight of. Here are some objectives that are frequently associated with contests:

  • Generate more traffic to your site
  • Generate buzz around your brand or for new product launches
  • Increase your email database
  • Develop relationships with your existing customers / provide value to customers
  • Increase levels of engagement on social networks
  • Get user-generated content
  • Get an overview of popular products
  • Reengage less active contacts

Obviously, an objective must be aligned with those of the company, and be part of your communication and marketing plans. 

2. Generate ideas about possible contests

It’s time to get your creativity out. Giving things for free is fun, but try to use a concept that will be out of the ordinary for your contacts. Something that will make them work a little bit for the prize and also pay off for you. Here are a few categories that might inspire more tangible ideas, who knows!

Type of contest


3. Allocate resources and budget

Once you have a better idea of the concept and scope of your contest, it’s time to allocate the resources needed to put it in place and build the budget needed to make it a success.

4. Build your calendar

If you plan to do more than one contest in your year, we suggest you place them in a well-organized marketing calendar. I really liked this article which shows how, from January to December, contests can have a real connection between each other and make sense for the marketing strategy. 

5. Know the legal rules surrounding contests (important!)

Some provinces, states, and countries clearly limit how contests can be held. Before you start anything, make sure you follow the rules, if they are present and apply to you.

6. Develop the promotion and distribution strategy

Setting up a contest is the easy part. The challenge is to make people see it! Although contests will naturally enjoy greater engagement compared to content that is more promotional, you still have to work hard to make sure that people who don’t know your brand see it. Here are a few ideas of tactics to help you increase the visibility of your contests:

  • Add a banner to your website: Place a banner on your homepage, with clear CTAs, and a direct link to your competition homepage. Show your prize and how to participate.
  • Send an email: Send emails to your customers to let them know their chances of winning. They are the most likely to participate first, and they will most likely share with their friends.
  • Promote the contest on social networks: Share your contest on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and any other social network you are on.
  • Encourage your followers to share it, and assign extra chances when they do.
  • Create ads online: Create targeted ads on Facebook, Instagram or even YouTube.
  • Publicize your contest in print media: If you always use print materials, promote your contest in this way. Use printed flyers with QR codes directly related to your contest.
  • Use influencers or partners to help them share it, or involve them in some way if possible.

7. Define the KPI’s and success metrics

To be a good marketer and get the best possible results, you need to track and monitor your key performance indicators (KPIs).

Start by establishing the success metrics that matter to you, based on the original objective. This could be a number of pages visited, total or per participant entries, shares, new contacts acquired, etc. Then, monitor your contest in real-time to improve it, and keep an eye out for feedback from those who participate. 

Don’t forget to establish the tools you will use to take the pulse of these results as your contest goes online. 



Different contests, different benefits

As mentioned, there are several types of contests to be put in place. To help you choose the one(s) that best suits your business, here are the benefits of some of them. 

Event-related contests focus on specific events that take place throughout the year, such as holidays or special events. Halloween, Valentine’s Day, and days with cultural significance (popular movie releases, Black Friday, etc.) are good opportunities to hold event-based contests.

Surveys allow you to present several options for the customer to choose from. It’s a great way to get information by asking simple multiple-choice questions that customers answer in their quest for a price. This type of contest can be combined with a “pick a prize” option where participants choose from a list of prizes they want to receive, which is a good market research tool.

Questionnaire contests give your audience the opportunity to answer questions, have some fun and possibly win a prize. People like to feel smart and accomplished, so make sure you have a mix of easy and hard questions to get them involved. You can even use this type of contest to find out how much your customers know about specific issues related to your brand.

Photo/video contests encourage the public to post their own photos to participate in a contest and are particularly effective in promoting user-generated content. In the age of Instagram, contests like this have the potential to truly expand your brand footprint.



11 tips to follow to be effective 

Finally, we give you some guidelines to follow to ensure the effectiveness of your contests. 

1. Keep it simple

It is not the contest with the most options that get the best results. The participant must be able to easily understand the registration methodology. Contests sometimes have so many stages that it becomes impossible to understand what needs to be done. Make sure you keep it simple and put yourself in the shoes of your potential participants.

2- More complete form
Unlike the registration form for your newsletter, the contest registration process allows you to request more information. Don’t get me wrong, you shouldn’t ask too much if you want to get good results. If you have the opportunity, why not test several forms before launching your campaign?

3- Registration via Facebook
Offering the possibility for users to register via their Facebook profile is a good method to facilitate registration. However, our recent experience does not allow us to confirm whether the time required for the installation is worth it. In the Dialog Insight tool, less than 1% of participants use this feature to register. Is it a data security issue? Maybe!

4- Sharing with friends (Facebook, Twitter, email)
To expand the scope of your contests, make sure you include all the sharing features available to you. The more your contacts talk about your contest, the more exposure you will get. If you choose to send emails, here are two essential tips:

  • The sender’s address for the transmitted message must be your name and email address to ensure a higher delivery rate. Use the name of the referrer friend in the subject and the introduction text.
  • Sending to friends are messages with a very high spam complaint rate. Since your reputation is based on the IP address you send to and this button affects it, it would be prudent to use a different IP address so as not to diminish the delivery of your other sendings.

Dialog Insight also easily manages the function of sharing to a friend, with a procedure developed exactly for this kind of project. 

5- Additional chances
It’s a great way to get people to participate more. However, we must be very careful. First of all, if you want to offer additional chances on referrals of friends, calculate the chances on friends who register. That way, you make sure you get real addresses. An in-store clue or a promotional code on a product are also examples of contests that engage people through multiple channels and invite them to get more involved. You then attract people to your store.

6- Flash games
If you decide to make a little flash game that will give points, you have to consider additional costs for its development and integration in the process. We also strongly suggest that you offer a no-contest subscription option to increase the number of contacts interested in the game.

7- Captcha
In the form of an image containing letters, this small tool is necessary for setting up a contest. It happened in the past that a customer made a contest without this image and ended up with a robot that entered addresses. We had to clean up the database before we made the winner draw. This is for your database security, to confirm that the registration was not made by a robot.

8- Sending messages
Use the confirmation message to do the first cleanup of your database. If your message does not reach its destination, remove the address from your lists. In addition, invite people to interact with your message because the more clicks you get on your messages, the better they will be accepted by the anti-spam filters.

9- Structure of your database
Whether your goal is to acquire prospects or simply to build loyalty, you will want to be able to use the data collected in your next marketing campaigns. You should align the data structure of your contest with the one you usually use. For example, if you are segmenting by region using postal codes, you need to retrieve this information in the same format.

10- Draw
Think about the structure of your information to facilitate your draw. For some contests, we had to spend several hours retrieving data from different sources in order to calculate the odds of each participant.


11- Marketing campaign (distribution and prize)
This is the most important point of all. You need to get people to your contest so they can participate. We suggest that you focus most of your budget on your marketing campaign distribution, and a little on the prize. A nice contest without participants will not bring you many results!



We hope that you will use more contests in your marketing strategy and that this article will have inspired you with ideas to varied them from what we normally see. Please contact us for a demo of the Dialog Insight product, and specifically to learn more about our contest feature.