When it comes to generating results from online marketing, small businesses are always looking for a better way to cash in.
But while tools like social media and email marketing have provided a winning ticket for some—plenty of small businesses still face setbacks when it comes to growing their audience or generating engagement online.
This is especially true on Facebook. With more competition for attention and less real estate in fans’ News Feeds, small businesses have had to think outside the box when figuring out how to keep their social communities active and engaged.
Thinking outside the box
Erin Hoffman, Director of E-Commerce for Door County Coffee & Tea Co., knows firsthand how valuable “thinking outside the box” can be—especially when it comes to growing her audience on Facebook.
In June, Erin came up with an idea to run an exclusive contest for Door County Coffee Facebook fans.
Looking to attract new fans and grow her audience, Erin created a Facebook sweepstakes where fans could enter to win a free gift basket by entering their email address.
It was a prize she knew her customers would love and hoped it would generate the type of attention she was looking for.
Hitting the Jackpot: 1,100 new fans and 500 email subscribers
The initial response to the sweepstakes was a good one.
In just a few weeks, Door County Coffee saw more than 350 people enter to win, adding 247 new fans, and 140 new email contacts.
But that was just the start. Having gotten such great feedback from her campaign, Erin decided to run another—this time, offering a free month of coffee to the lucky winner.
“Our second contest was even more successful than the first,” Erin recalls. “In less than three weeks we added 600 new fans, many of these people were completely new to our business.”
Over the course of five months, Erin ran a total of three sweepstakes. The total payoff: 1,100 new fans and 500 new email contacts.
How to brew your own success with a Facebook sweepstakes
So, how can your business win big with a Facebook sweepstakes? Let’s take a look at how Door County Coffee did it.
1. Set a goal
The first step in any successful campaign is setting a goal.
What is it you hope to accomplish? How will you measure your success?
For Erin, the goal was simple: attract new fans and email signups to drive more results from her online marketing.
From there, she could build an entire sweepstakes around that goal.
2. Figure out what to offer
As much as people may enjoy the excitement of being entered into a sweepstakes, no one is going to care about your contest unless you’re offering something worth winning.
For Erin, the choice of what to offer was easy—coffee … and lots of it. For her first sweepstakes she offered a gift basket full of her finest brews, for her second, a whole month’s worth of free java, and for the third, a holiday gift pack with all of their favorite holiday flavors.
“We like to create offers that coincide with what our customers are looking for,” Erin explains. “In the summer we saw a huge bump in ice coffee, so we created an offer around that. In the fall, we know people are looking forward to our seasonal flavors, so that’s what we decided to offer.”
If your plan is to use the sweepstakes to clear out last season’s inventory, it’s unlikely your sweepstakes is going to generate much buzz. Instead, pay attention to what customers are looking forward to and create an offer around that.
3. Create an offer and landing page
Being able to create a professional-looking offer and landing page is the secret to a successful Facebook sweepstakes.
It’s also the only way to run a contest on Facebook without violating Facebook’s Terms of Service.
With Constant Contact, Erin is able to create a landing page for those who were not already fans, asking them to click “Like” to be able to enter the sweepstakes. She was then able to create a reveal page, where fans could enter the contest by submitting their email address.
“It has been the difference between running a contest that makes an impression and one that actually allows us to attract new fans,” Erin explains. “Now, we have a whole new audience to communicate with and we know people are actually seeing our stuff.”
4. Promote the sweepstakes
Part of what makes a sweepstakes so valuable is that it can generate a lot of buzz amongst fans. (A free month of coffee is something people will want to tell their friends about!)
But in order to generate that type of buzz, you need to get the word out early.
“We always kick it off with email and use the contest as the primary message in our newsletter that month,” Erin explains. “It’s allowed us to convert subscribers to fans and vice versa.”
Set it and forget it won’t work for your sweepstakes. Even after you’ve created the campaign and sent out your first email, you’ll want to continue to post about the sweepstakes on Facebook—just make sure you don’t overwhelm your audience.
“We do about 75% fun and entertaining stuff and 25% sales and promotion,” Erin explains. “We try to find a good balance—we want fans to enjoy hearing from us.”
5. Announce the winner and track your results
OK, you did it. You came up with a great offer, created a sweepstakes to catch the attention and imaginations of your fans and email contacts, now it’s time to announce the winner.
After announcing the winner and delivering their prize, take the time to see how you did.
With Constant Contact, you’ll have access to valuable reporting metrics like: audience growth, conversions, click-throughs, and social shares. These metrics can be used to judge the ROI of your campaign and will give you helpful insights of what’s worked and what could be improved.
“It’s helped us make better decisions about what’s working and what we should try next,” Erin explains. “Do an analysis of all your reports—that’s what’s worked for us.”
The benefits of any successful campaign will be short lived if you don’t continue to engage your fanbase.
You know you hit the jackpot when you see more fans engaging with your stuff on Facebook and more people reading and acting on your email newsletters. Don’t let that success go to waste.
Build on that success by offering an online experience customers will want to engage with. That will be the real winning ticket for your online marketing.
Have any questions about running a sweepstakes? Post them in the comments below.