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How can running a contest impact your online business

If you're an online business owner looking to run a contest for your business, you probably already know the power of marketing on the internet. Online contests can be a particularly effective marketing tool. With contests, you can find ways to keep old customers and gain new ones while collecting information and advertising your products and services. If your contest goes viral, you can reach more people than you ever imagined. All of this effort is a means to increase brand loyalty and make your business a more visible presence in the marketplace.

Keeping current customers

While some people can make the mistake of thinking that online contests are only designed to gain new customers, they can also help keep current ones. Contests are a great way to draw the attention of an established customer base, and remind them of why they were initially interested in shopping for your company's products or services. When thinking of marketing contest ideas, choose prizes that can appeal to both current and new customers to get across that you appreciate your existing customer base. Engaging current customers with contests can also be a way to reward them for their loyalty, which can increase their satisfaction with your business.

Gaining new customers

If you link to your website for contest updates, you may see a surge in your website's traffic. More traffic on your website means more eyes on your products, which can translate into more business. While this is happening, you can familiarize your prospects with your company's brand, including fonts, color schemes and writing style. Even Facebook contests for small businesses can lead back to your website, since Facebook's guidelines require that you keep contest running and notifications off of walls, timelines, pages, messages and chat. In this way, you can take Facebook's rules and turn them into a creative means to drive traffic to your online business. Keep in mind that all Facebook contests for small businesses must follow the guidelines set forth by the website.

Collecting information

One of the main reasons why ecommerce businesses run contests is to collect information like names, phone numbers, addresses and email addresses. Other associated demographic information can be collected as people sign up for contests and compete for prizes. It's an easy way to figure out just who your customer base is, and you simply have to think of appropriate marketing contest ideas to have this information delivered to you. Running a contest means that there will be a multitude of opportunities to collect information -- entries, updates, voting, winner announcement and showcases are just a few chances to collect more data so you can target your future marketing accordingly.

Advertise your products or services

It might be tempting to offer the latest big ticket items that are sure winners during the holiday season as prizes, but you might be better offering products or services from your own store as incentives to enter your contests. While those big ticket items will get you a lot of entries, they advertise themselves more than your business. Use your contest to your advantage by offering your own products or services as a prize. This way, you can put more of your wares out into the population, and it might increase word of mouth. Contests can be another reason to create a press release, which can give you another avenue to advertise your business.

Going viral

People like free stuff. People who are used to paying for those free things -- like customers -- like it even more. If your prizes are substantial or present some sort of value, word about your contest is sure to spread like wildfire. Getting your contest seen and talked about by as many people as possible is your goal. Various social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have organic ways to spread the word about your contests. When thinking of Facebook contest ideas for business, offer incentives for people to share or retweet your contest, so you can increase the chances that the people reading those shares or retweets will pass the word along as well. Going viral means that your campaign will take on a life of its own and create buzz -- your prospects will be advertising your business for you. As long as you keep the marketing interesting and valuable, a viral campaign can mean free advertisement, and almost instantly offset the costs of prizes offered.

Brand loyalty

The name of any contest game is to create customers out of contestants, increase website traffic from prospects, and to build awareness of your brand. Many different kinds of Facebook contest ideas for business can achieve this, but there are certain types of contests that are more engaging than others. For example, video contests tend to have a better track record with obtaining and keeping customers because of their engaging quality. Whether contestants are making videos, or prospects are voting for them, the interactive quality makes customers and prospects feel like they are part of your company. Consider this as another way to make customers more loyal to your particular brand.

+ Jannelle Pierce