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How to Increase Your Online Contest’s Conversion Rate

February 27, 2017

In 2015, tbk Creative ran an online sweepstakes for Beverley Hills Home Improvements, a 41-year-old window and door dealer with four showroom locations.

Depicted Above: The Beverly Hills Home Improvements sweepstakes landing page

The Beverley Hills campaign had a sluggish start with a 2.5% conversion rate. In past campaigns, conversion rates for similar contests tbk Creative have run for clients had often been in the teens or twenties, so we knew something was amiss.

We didn’t think it was the prize—a $25,000 home makeover gets almost anyone’s attention, regardless of net worth. We also didn’t think it was the messaging—we have run similar contests that were only run on messages. However, we did have a hunch it was something about the landing page that was causing such a low conversion rate.

tbk Creative set and performed a Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) project. The project had one goal: to increase the conversion rate of the Beverley Hills contest to at least 10%. The goal may sound small, but going from a 2.5% to 10% conversion rate would represent a 300% increase.

The CRO project brought about the following five changes to the Beverley Hills contest:

  1. We removed menu navigation, leaving only the company’s phone number. We were worried people might click on one of the links and navigate off the landing page before they could fill out the form.
  2. In the form, we removed the toggle option that said “Contact method: Phone or Email.” We thought people were concerned they might receive a sales call after filling out the form.
  3. We updated the option to receive a free quotation by making the language more engaging. We knew removing the free quotation option entirely would probably show a lift in conversion, but we still wanted to keep this item in the form as it could lead to more sales over time.
  4. We moved the catchment area, which was represented by a map on the microsite, to the user terms page. We felt this map was more of a distraction than an asset to the contest.
  5. We added a new feature that provided an entrant with an additional entry if they liked Beverley Hills’ Facebook page. We felt this was an added incentive and would mutually benefit the client.

The changes were implemented and, lo and behold, the conversion rate increased to 13.5%, representing a 440% increase in conversion rate.

Mission accomplished. The client was extremely satisfied with the number of leads the contest generated (it was in the thousands), and, in the months that followed, a number of new product purchases came flowing in from contest entrants, making this sweepstakes an undeniable success.

Increasing Your Conversion Rate

With the intro story out of the way, you can see that CRO matters. Below, I provide eight recommendations that should invariably increase your own contest’s conversion rate.

1. Remove menu navigation – Many landing pages are easily created by duplicating the main website’s theme. That is, if your main website has a menu navigation along the top, it can be duplicated when your digital marketing agency creates the sweepstakes landing page.

As discovered in the Beverley Hills example above, we believe ripping out the menu navigation was one of the things that contributed to the drastic increase in conversion rate. When creating a landing page, it’s advised to discard navigation as you don’t want users—many of whom you have spent media dollars on—leaving the landing page and going to another part of your website.

Keep them focused on what they are there to do: to fill out the form and enter your contest.

2. Limit the fields – Often, increasing the number of fields on the entry form will decrease your conversion rate. To determine the number of fields to include on your form, your team will need to decide which fields are absolutely essential and which are not.

3. Be Action- & benefit-oriented – In the body of your page, where you’re describing the contest, keep the text action- and benefit-oriented. The following is a good format for writing this type of body copy:

  • Use the contest title as the headline (we’ve previously written a detailed article on creating online sweepstakes where we provide tips on how to pick a great headline)
  • Describe the give-away—for example, “Fill out this form for a chance to win $15,000 in new appliances!”
  • Describe a situation the reader might be in as a way of relating to them.
  • Describe all the benefits of entering the contest.
  • Re-iterate the call to action—this encourages users to fill out the form and enter the contest.

4. Add a Facebook or Twitter page – Ask your digital marketing agency to set up this module: when someone fills out the entry form, offer them the opportunity to ‘Like’ or ‘Follow’ your corporate Facebook and/or Twitter page in exchange for an additional entry into your contest. If you provide this module, you’ll likely increase both the conversion rate of your contest (meaning more submissions) and your social following. What a win-win situation!

5. Limit your words – There’s an old adage that goes like this: use the words you need, and not a word more! The same applies to your contest page. You want to ensure to explain the contest but not in so much language that it stops people from reading and, therefore, from participating. 

6. Keep it above the fold – The “above the fold” reference is from the newspaper world. When a newspaper is folded, the most valuable section is often above that fold. The same applies to the web; that is, whatever is seen in the first screen is the most important. On smaller devices, like mobiles, this isn’t always possible, but the intent should be the same: to have the form as high as reasonably possible on the page so it’s seamless for the user to fill it out.

7. Reward everyone – If you’re in a business that can easily provide coupons (e.g., $10 off your next purchase), we recommend that you provide such coupons to everyone entering your contest, and to inform them of such in the body of your page. When everyone knows they are a winner, it’s a cinch that more people will enter!

8. Create urgency – When you limit the number of entrants or put a time period on your contest, you create a sense of urgency or scarcity. It also encourages more people to enter right away. If you don’t want to limit the number of entrants, make it clear when the contest will end. Aside from including this date in your terms (which is important), you can also list it in the body of the main landing page. For best results, ask your digital marketing team to create a countdown clock that shows how much time is left before the contest closes.

A final tip – While these aren’t conversion rate optimization tactics, you should know these two steps to attract more users. First is quantity – As you reach certain milestones (e.g., 1,000 entrants, 10,000 entrants, etc.), post this progress on your social media page or include it as part of your email campaigns. Second is time – After certain time periods are reached (e.g., 10 days left, 5 days left, 3 days left, 12 hours left, etc.), distribute this information out through your social channels and/or email to notify your community that there’s only so much time left to enter.

In Closing

By implementing some or all of the above tactics, you will see the number of entrants in your next online sweepstakes increase.

Do you need digital marketing help with your next sweepstakes? If so, my team at tbk Creative is always around and ready to assist.