Contest Case Study, Part 1

May 9, 2013 , 64 Comments

A few days ago, I launched my first “proper” online contest.

I had done a couple of very simple contests before, where I would compile entrants manually and pick winners via random numbers, but this was the first time I created a contest using a dedicated software to do so and with more bells and whistles I’d ever been able to add before.

In this post, I’ll show you all the results I got from running the contest and break down all the lessons I’ve learned from it. Be warned, though: what you’ll read below is probably not what you’re expecting…

The Contest

If you missed it, here’s a quick overview of what the contest was about:

The prizes up for grabs were:

Anyone could enter the contest and would receive 1 point (or 1 entry) if they opted in with their name and email address and confirmed their email address. In addition, every entrant received a unique sharing link and could earn an additional 10 entries for every person they referred to the contest.

This is all handled by Contest Domination, the platform I used for the contest.

The Numbers

Here are the final stats, after the 5 day contest’s conclusion:


The first row shows the total numbers. The second row shows direct visits and the third row shows “viral” visits: the visits generated through users sharing the contest link and referring more visitors. Here are the key takeaways:

The Numbers Are (Mostly) Low

I noticed that the open rate and CTR of the email I sent for the contest were slightly lower than average. This surprised me, as I assumed that “win something!” would get above-average attention.

The “virality” of the contest was pretty good, on the other hand. Roughly 1,200 visitors generating roughly 600 referral visits is a good result, even though it’s far from a viral “snowball” effect that would be the best case scenario for a contest like this.

The Conversion Numbers Are Extremely Low

Where it all falls apart is the conversion rates: for a focused landing page, 8.62% is an abysmal conversion rate, no matter the traffic source. And 27.2% for direct traffic (e.g. email traffic) is equally shocking. As a comparison, if I send this traffic to a regular squeeze page or a webinar signup page, I’d expect a 50% conversion rate at the very least, with 80%+ not being out of the question.

Ultimately, I gained 52 new leads from the contest. In my business, I’ll get about this many leads if I just sit and wait for two days, without any contests or launches going on.

Clearly, this contest was not a great success, but we shan’t let that keep us from a valuable learning experience.

What Went Wrong?

As mentioned above, the virality of the contest was decent. Of the people that signed up, many actively shared the contest via social media. Here’s a twitter snapshot:

Good Twitter Activity During the Contest
Good Twitter Activity During the Contest

We have to ask ourselves: what makes someone click on a link that says “win WordPress plugins and a Kindle”, but then decide not to enter the contest, once they see the landing page? The message on the landing page is essentially the same as the one in the link: “enter here to win WordPress plugin and a Kindle.”

What was it that compelled them to click, but not to enter?

Here’s what the landing page looked like:


The focal point of the landing page is the video, which auto-plays on page load. It is a relatively short video, selling the merits of the two plugins and explaining how the contest works.

It’s possible that something was wrong with the page. I noticed that the YouTube stats for the video showed only 17 views, throughout the contest. This seems very strange, but even if the video failed to play (and it worked in all of my tests), I’d still expect higher conversion rates.

If two or three lines of text are enough to convince 50% of visitors to sign up for a regular freebie on a squeeze page, why isn’t the same true for a contest like this?

At this point, I can only speculate, but here are some ideas.

“I won’t win anyway…”

When you sign up for a free report or something similar, you receive it instantly and there’s no doubt that you’ll receive it. With the contest, there’s a possible factor of the “what’s the point, I won’t win anyway!” objection coming into play.

I believe this might be the crucial point: when someone clicks on the contest link, they don’t know anything about the likelihood of winning. When they see the landing page, they still don’t know anything about it, but they form a hypothesis, in their head.

In the case of my contest, that might go something like this: “there are only five prizes up for grabs? I bet millions of people have already entered this contest, so there’s no chance I’ll win.”

Possible remedies for this are:

More Value

The likelihood of winning and the value of winning are weighed against each other, for a contest. If the chances are far lower, but the value far greater, you might still enter (see: lottery, where you’ll never win, but if you did, you’d win big).

So, perhaps giving away something worth multiple thousand Dollars would help?


The main issue with this is that the prizes are a way of filtering leads. Sure, you can give away a Macbook, a car or a house, but then you’ll simply attract everyone to your contest. I chose to give away WordPress plugins and a Kindle, because those are prizes that appeal to my specific target demographic. If I get leads from people who want a new Macbook, but don’t own an online business and don’t read, they’re basically useless leads, to me.

More Prizes

The other side of the balance can be addressed with the volume of prizes. What if there weren’t only 5 prizes, but 500? Or 5,000?

A large volume of prizes would eliminate the “I’m not going to win anyway” objection.


With a large volume of prizes, there’s a new value problem. I can’t afford to give away hundreds or thousands of prizes, unless the cost to me is very low. But if the cost to me is low, the value o the prize is probably low and no one wants to win junk. To make this work, you’d have to find something that’s low-cost for you, but high value for your visitors.

Opt-In Combo

What if you combined a free report and a contest?

This might be a way of combining better opt-in rates (as seen on typical squeeze pages) with the viral factor of the contest.


The main issue here is that you have to create a good freebie to go along with the prizes you’re giving away. A potential problem could also be that the message gets diluted,  if you’re advertising the opt-in and the contest at the same time. Visitors might get confused about what exactly they’re signing up for, making the campaign less effective, overall.

In addition, creating two incentives and using Sharely on the thank-you page of your opt-in is a much easier way to generate a similar viral sharing effect. The contest option would have to have a significant edge over this combination, to be worth it.

Better Landing Page?

wp-contest-2-sMaybe my landing page just sucked. That is possible and it’s also a bit of an embarrassment, since I’m supposed to be good at this kind of thing. Then again, no one’s ever become good at something without being bad at it, first.

I’m not sure about the two-column layout, which is the standard Contest Domination layout and maybe I should have removed the logo from the top left. Also, I briefly changed the image on the right side (to the one next to this text, right here). The idea was to display the prizes in a more tangible way.

I couldn’t see any difference in conversions, though. It was a pretty futile attempt anyway, because unless I could do a proper split test, the results would always be questionable. So, dear Contest Domination: add split testing, pretty please?*

I’m Big on Twitter

The most notable positive result I got from the contest was an increase in social media followers. My Twitter followers went from 962 to 1,048 and my Facebook page went from 779 to 829 likes, during the course of the contest.

So yeah… I’m a big deal, now.


This contest didn’t perform very well, but that didn’t come as a big surprise to me.

Sure, I expected higher conversion rates and I hoped for a better result. But pretty much everything I’ve ever accomplished started  with an early attempt that failed. What the results from this case study show me is that I’m not good at running profitable contests… yet.

My plan is to run at least another two contests, changing a few variables each time. As long as I keep the cost of the contests in check, it’s something worth experimenting with, to see if I can figure this thing out.

As usual, I’ll be reporting what I learn here, so you can avoid my costly mistakes.

As for this particular post, here’s what I’d like you to keep in mind: I have a history of trying things, failing at them and then keeping at them until I succeed. In this post, I’ve laid bare my entire thought process that happened after this initial failure. Even if you don’t care about contests, I can guarantee you that this way of thinking is useful for your own business venture.

Thoughts, questions, feedback? Leave a comment below and I’ll be happy to reply.

Shane's Signature

*Lack of split testing is the only thing I an criticize about the software, so far. I definitely can’t blame Contest Domination, since the software did what it’s supposed to do and was very easy to use, as well.

About ​Shane Melaugh

I'm the founder of ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes and over the last years, I've created and marketed a dozen different software, information and SaaS products. Apart from running my business, I spend most of my time reading, learning, developing skills and helping other people develop theirs. On ActiveGrowth, I want to help you become a better entrepreneur and product creator. Read more about my story here.

​Related Articles

  • Try using a different “enter contest” button instead of the one used by so many “scam” squeeze pages. It would definitely put me off if I didn’t know you better.

    Kind Regards


    • Yeah, the button isn’t the best. Don’t know if there’s a way to replace the standard button in Contest Domination, though.


  • … says “Estate agent jobs direct”. LOL

    Another option could be to visualize the likelihood to win. Stats like: “As of now, you just need to get 2 people to sign up to be on top of the list of chances”… This exact example is of course not too elegant, but I hope you get my point.


    • I changed the name as I always do with keyword names. :)

      I love that idea. What I’m thinking now is that you’d need a system that’s always rigged to your advantage. Something that might even change the number of possible winners as the contest goes and always shows the likelihood in the most positive way possible.


      • Johnn Four says:

        That’s a neat idea. Gamify the contest so people can try to skew the odds more in their favour of winning.

    • That is a pretty neat idea.

      I think that if you could show people visually what their chances were, you would increase your sign up rate. By how much, I am not sure.

      It would definitely be something very cool to try out next time.

      Also, great breakdown of the contest Shane. I was thinking about doing a contest, but you have made me think about it a bit more seriously.



  • Shane, I appreciate your candid and honest evaluation of your experience. Far too often people are led to believe that EVERYTHING WORKS PERFECTLY! We know that isn’t the case. But you’ve taken the time to measure and to analyze your results — and then to go public with the details. Thanks!


    • You’re very welcome, Jeff. I’m glad you appreciate it!


  • Hi Shane,

    Something else that might not be appealing is the viral request. Asking for someone to put in other people’s emails without asking them first if that’s okay is an issue. It’s one thing for me to opt-in to a contest and share in my FB or Twitter feed; it’s another to add in my friends/colleagues emails.

    As I recall, adding other emails was optional – which is fine. But it can leave a bad feeling. Maybe this is a generational thing too – Gen Y or Millenials may not think twice about this, while Gen X and older wouldn’t even consider sharing info without permission to do so.

    Thanks for sharing your results. I very much appreciate your input on what you’re trying out and showing the case studies.



    • Hi Sherri,

      There’s no incentive to add other people’s emails at any point. The idea is that every entrant gets a unique link and is encouraged to share that link on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

      It’s only through this unique link that the system can track which people have referred further people to the contest. Just wanted to clarify that.


  • Hey Shane! Thank you so much for sharing your results and thought process. I’m in the process of setting up my first contest through Contest Burner and found this case study to be very insightful. I’ll be happy to share my results as well (maybe via a blog post with a link back to yours)… it might take a few tries but I’m willing to bet we can make these things super profitable with a few little tweaks :)

    Thanks again!


    • Thanks, Dawn!
      I’d love to learn about the results you get. Be sure to send me a link when you publish those results. :)


  • I am one of those who expects not to win and so wouldn’t bother entering. I think more prizes might attract me – free plugins would definitely appeal (more so than a Kindle actually).
    I appreciate you sharing your ‘failure’ here – very helpful.


    • Thanks for your input, Meryl! I’ll keep this in mind for my next contest.


  • Shane, I appreciate all the details you provided on exactly how your contest turned out and why. Now I’m eager to see what results you get next time—and what you change to get better conversions.



    • Thanks, Mary!

      I’m curious to see if I can crack this nut as well.


  • Brian Potter says:

    “I can’t afford to give away hundreds or thousands of prizes, unless the cost to me is very low. But if the cost to me is low, the value of the prize is probably low and no one wants to win junk.”

    However, in my humble opinion the prizes need to be of a product that is good enough and of value enough to attract entrants to participate in the competition. I am by no means saying that your products are of no value Shane but I am not sure that as yet they are the greatest thing since sliced bread… perhaps a better result might have been achieved if Hybrid Connect had been included for instance.
    If the perceived value is low, together with the “I never win anything” factor chances of people taking part are jeopardized.
    Just my two pennyworth.


    • That’s definitely a potential issue. The products are awesome, trust me, but I don’t have much time to “sell” the products to people who don’t already know about them.

      That’s one advantage of prizes like Kindle, iPad, Macbook etc.: most people already have a formed opinion about them (usually: “want!”).


  • Shane, I actually peeked at your stats when I saw you kick off the contest and was also surprised to see such low results. Our network average is around a 40-45% conversion rate with 20-35% of total leads coming from referral.

    The biggest thing I’ve noticed for these kinds of contests is that the value has to be big enough to pass the “why should I *really* care” test. The perceived value, and prospect of winning (number of prizes) are the two most important factors in influencing conversions and overall success of the campaign.

    RE: A/B testing, we know this is a highly valuable feature so it’s definitely on the product roadmap already :)


    • Thanks for chiming in, Travis! I was about to send you the link to this post when I saw your comment. :)

      I’ll definitely experiment with the prizes, for the next contest. It will be interesting to see if I can find a more potent mix of value and volume.

      And yeah, if you add A/B testing, that will rock. :)


      • Ian MacMillan says:

        OK, you did it in a rush and the Enter button looks a bit spammy, but….. just adding an hour of coaching over Skype to the prizes would have probably cracked it. Oh, and maybe sending a reminder or two to contestants reminding them to share would have helped.

  • Can’t tell you reasoning why others didn’t enter, but I already bought your plug-in and I don’t want a kindle. Sure I’d probably take a kindle if someone just handed it to me, but it isn’t something I’d put forth any effort to obtain. So overall the contest just didn’t excite me enough to enter. So would something more expensive have excited me? Perhaps, but not necessarily. Something I want would have. What would I want? Perhaps something like a once a week, one on one coaching session for a month with a guarantee this wouldn’t be a mediocre coaching session with an attempt at an upsell at the end. What does your audience really want/need, get excited about?


    • This is actually a valid point, we find that 9 times out of 10.. Experiences > Products/Services when it comes to prize types.


      • That’s a very interesting point, Travis! I’ll have to keep that in mind, for next time.

    • Thanks for your input, Fred!

      That’s a very valid point, of course. You have to strike that delicate balance with the prizes, IMO: it has to be something your target audience wants, but it should be something EVERYONE wants.

      I like the idea of coaching sessions. Those could make for some good prizes, I think.


      • Seriously.. doing coaching will help a lot to get your audience excited and engaged. Proof is in these comments alone.

  • Hey Shane! Great contest, I didn’t win :( …anyway, some thoughts:

    1. What about “above the fold”? I mean, of course, the opt-in form. You said that that contest page is the standard ContestDomination view, but shouldn’t the opt-in form be to the right of the image video instead of below? And “Enter to win” below instead of being to the right?

    2. Maybe the video being too long or too slow paced? I know it was like 3 minutes, but sometimes people just don’t watch…because the video is too slow paced. I usually love your videos and always watch them because I know the value of them, but that one was particularly not your best video…Why not trying your next contest with a better video, like the ones you usually do (the logo, the white screen…) and making them more emotionally engaging, like telling people right away “What these plugins will do for your business and why you crazily need them…otherwise you will end up like this (add the painful reality)”. For example, I also love Derek Halpern’s videos (socialtriggers) and you will see right away why you want to keep watching.

    3. Why not adding very brief testimonials of people that have success with your products? Social proof, right?

    As always, I continually learn from every single post that you make. And for that…thank you! Thanks for sharing with us your secrets and hopefully we can give you some feedback.

    Have a great day!


    • Thank you for your detailed feedback, Luis! I really appreciate that!

      The whole contest was done in a bit of a rush, to be honest. I had the idea to do it and wanted to get it done right away, so about two hours later, I sent out the email. The video could definitely have used more polish and I’ll put more work into my next one.

      Social proof would also have been very good, on this page. Why didn’t I think of that? :)


  • I get annoyed with auto play video because it plays when I’m not expecting anything and I didn’t ask for it, so I shut it off immediately. I wonder if it doesn’t register as a play, if people do that.


    • Thanks for your comment, Ana!

      I don’t know if there’s an option to NOT auto-play the video. I see where you’re coming from, though.

      From testing I’ve done in the past, it looks like auto-play videos usually perform better than manual play ones, even though they do annoy some people.


      • Just un-check the box right below the YouTube video and it won’t autoplay. But you’re right **generally** speaking auto play converts better.

      • Ah, there it is. I guess it shows that I put the contest together in only a couple of hours. :)

  • Hi Shane

    Just my 2p. I looked at the contest, at your video and at the prizes and thought: I already have a kindle and both of the plugins. So, obviously didn’t enter.

    I think on balance a kindle fire would have been a more tempting prize. I already have a tablet, but a kindle fire? Worth entering for.

    I’m also a bit discerning about what I share with my social media buddies. G+ is my social media of choice for marketing shares, rather than facebook or twitter.

    Anyway, hope that gives you a bit of insight. It’s meant as constructive.

    That competition software looks good! Yours?


    • Hi Fiona,

      Thanks for your comment! And thanks for being a customer!

      I’ll have to see if I can come up with something that no one on my list has yet, for the next contest. That could be tricky but finding something like that would definitely help.

      The contest software is (sadly) not mine. Travis (see further up in the comments) is the guy who owns that company. He shared his story on a recent podcast, as well.


  • Shane,

    The email I received from you after entering the contest was coming from “Contest App” and not from your name. I wanted to win so I looked carefully to find it:) However, you might want to consider changing that(if you can). Would be interesting to see how many people enter the contest but didn’t confirm the email.


    • Hi Chad,

      Thanks for your comment!

      I did want to send the confirmation email from my usual mailing list and with my name. I couldn’t get the technical side of that to work though and I didn’t want to delay the contest.

      That’s something I’ll try to get sorted for next time.


  • Shane,

    I remember being surprised by the short run of your contest. A few days does not seem sufficient to allow a build-up that could be considered viral.

    Also, I believe Travis has a point about the prizes. I would certainly have mentioned the hardware first, anyway, to attract people like me.

    There are a number of these contest platforms. A study may show that some are better suited to some types of contests, than others.



    • Thanks, Maurice!

      You’re probably right about the time. I’ll try running the next one for longer, to see how that affects the outcome.


  • Shane,
    I can get over the “I won’t win anyway…” thing.

    But consider that in order for me to get lots of contest points, what you are asking me to do is advertise to my friends and family that I’m still into the whole “internet marketing” thing when I like or share.

    “You still trying to do that internet stuff?” I can already hear them asking me.

    So when I weigh the “pain point” of having to deal with that, against the odds of winning even if I go on what is almost an affiliate marketing campaign for your contest, well… I guess I’ve got better things to do.

    I’m just letting you know what flashed through my brain the instant you started the contest. FYI.

    In fact, in my opinion, these “viral” techniques won’t last, I predict. Consumers are getting smarter and smarter. Whenever I see some “valuable” content blocked by a LIKE button, I leave. Seriously, how can I like something I haven’t seen yet???

    Anyway, coming from me, an ideal customer of yours, a guy who buys all your stuff, I’m not surprised at your contest results. I can’t explain why, but I’m not surprised.

    But now that I think about it, if the prize was a couple hours of coaching with you, or a year of SE Cockpit, I would be really tempted. But I probably still wouldn’t play.




    • Thanks for the insights, Michael!

      If telling your friends and family about what you do is a pain point, that’s an entirely different issue… I know what you mean, of course. Trust me, I was there.

      That’s something you have to be able to separate yourself from. At least for me, that’s how it was. Even before I had an iota of success: if you’re my friend, you have to respect what I’m trying to do. You have to deal with the discomfort that it causes you.

      Because that’s what it mostly is, I hope you realize: people who don’t reach for the stars are made to feel uncomfortable by those who do.

      A quote comes to mind: “Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.”

      These lines were once really important to me and I hope they can have a similar effect on you.


    • Jillian P says:

      My thoughts were very like Michaels, signed up but when it came to having to promote on social networks didn’t take it any further.

      Maybe your fans are just not the sort of people likely to go for this sort of competition, or not to as high a degree as other gooroos fans?


  • Shane,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and details about the contest, very interesting.

    Perhaps mobile came into play here too considering how many folks open emails from their mobile devices? I opened and entered your contest through my laptop. How was the mobile experience/results if you have any data points on that side of the equation?

    Keep up the great work!

    Regards, Dean


    • That’s a good question. I didn’t test the process on a mobile device. I kind of trust/assume that it would work fine on mobile, but I’ll have to test that, next time.


      • The template is totally responsive so it should look like it belongs on all mobile devices. (We even give you a link that turns the FB installed version into a mobile friendly link.. which sadly has to be a work around since FB apps don’t work on mobile out of the box).

  • I had similar results from the first “contest” I had. (Actually, a giveaway of that sort is more properly called a “sweepstakes” since it does not involve any test of skill). I gave away over $500 in physical prizes, and got about 40 new subscribers to my newsletter.

    I found that half of my list has never opened my newsletter, so I went and cleaned the list last week.

    I got more action out of a much smaller prize, but that was before I bought Contest Domination (on your recommendation), so I think that my future sweepstakes will involve less effort, even if not better results. This time, I’m giving away a violin. Next time, probably something smaller, but to more that one winner, along with the announcement of frequent, short giveaways.

    Plus, my opt-in page definitely sucks, so I’ll be doing some work on that.

    Like you, I don’t want *everybody* to sign up for my newsletter, so I deliberately choose prizes that would only appeal to someone who would be likely to get something of value from my newsletter, e.g., a violin or viola student (or teacher).


    • Thanks for sharing your experience, Howard!

      Tinkering with different prizes is probably one of the most important points to make this work. I’m actually looking forward to trying a few different things, now.


  • A very quick, very off-the-cuff reply: of late, I have been subscribed to numerous IM people. Some of these – like yourself – I consider bona-fide and worthy of interest. The “I won’t win anyway” was a big factor in not participating. On the other hand, it won’t stop me opening your e-mails either, as they usually have something of interest. Ultimately, I think you don’t need the contest, and might be better just continuing doing what you do well. Or perhaps some sort of quiz/survey would have been of more value to both of us. Fred Cannon makes a point which I can relate to. On a side note which is not unrelated, I’m going to send you a negative feedback about one of your products which you might find interesting.


    • Thanks for the input, Michael!

      You can send feedback through our helpdesk, to make sure we get it.


  • Here’s where I see the problem…and it’s the same problem I had when I ordered Contest Domination. It’s so basic that the reason is easily missed, yet it is right under your nose.

    How you enter, what you have to do to enter is just not clear. I couldn’t understand what I needed to do to enter. Yes, I knew I needed to give my name and email address, but then what? It wasn’t clear that was that was needed. It wasn’t clear that it was simply a competition where you entered your details and that was it.

    It also wasn’t clear that you get one entry for your entry and a big whopping 10 entries for EVERY single person that entered from your link.

    Seriously, it might sound silly, but when I first researched CD, I couldn’t figure out what was expected of people when they entered a competition. It took me ages to figure it out.

    My guess, is less than 20% of people who saw the competition figured it out.

    One other thing about the low shares. I didn’t share because lots of my contacts wouldn’t be interested in those WP plugins.


    • Thanks for the feedback, Mike!

      That’s some very valuable input. I’ll have to think of ways to make the whole process clearer, next time. Especially the fact that you get 10 points per referral and what that means for your chances… I think that needs to be made crystal clear.


  • Interesting results, I signed up as soon as I got your e-mail. Knowing I’m already on your list, I didn’t expect to get any junk. I also didn’t bother watching the video since the content was clear from your e-mail I received.


    • Thanks, John! Trust factor is a big issue. The referred visitors will always convert at a lower rate because of that, but getting a better conversion rate off of the email traffic is an important factor in getting the ball rolling, as well.


  • Hi Shane

    Thanks for sharing! I think perhaps the most important takeaway from this is that in real life, things are not always as easy as they are portrayed in the marketing, and success is more about persistence and hard work …and failure …and more persistence and hard work, than ‘shiny objects’.

    You are one of a rare breed of marketers who are driven by honesty and integrity and a desire to help others, rather than pretence (Aka BS) and greed.

    My suggestions (From someone who hasn’t even run a lolly scramble :)

    – Run the competition over a longer time-frame.
    – Promote it more often. Like when buying something, prospects might need to see the offer several times before ‘biting the bullet’. I don’t see why a competition would be any different.
    – I think the ‘opt-in Combo’ would definitely be worth a try. I don’t see the message being ‘diluted’ as long as the freebie was a product desirable to your niche. It could be pitched along the line of “Everyone Who Enters Is A Winner! (The top prize of a Bugatti Veyron would just be the icing on the cake! …Now that IS a shiny object! :)

    I too look forward to the results of the followup!

    All the best,



  • Hey Shane,

    For Your Information, I already own your two products and the third one the Kindle does not interest me. Not enough value to share my lists not that I have any to begin with. I was in wait, see and laggard mode. Points were no value for me. I’m interested in the results of the contest and appreciate you sharing them. As always you did a wonderful job! I can barely keep up now! I wonder how many others already own your products?

    Fred Tappan


  • Thanks so much for sharing your results Shane…. I too purchased Contest Domination, launched a contest and failed miserably…. I was about to request a refund but reading this article has empowered me to keep trying….

    It is really nice to see the experts experiencing failures too (not that I want you to fail- if you know what I mean) Your honesty and openness is amazing Thanks.

    On the subject of prizes, I too had your plugins and was not interested in a Kindle – what would have excited me would be your time, either coaching or for you to design a landing page for me, since your products and reputation make you an expert in that area…

    Look forward to the results of your next contest.



  • Shane, imagine that instead of broadcasting one of these “contests” (lotteries, really) on your social networks and to your email contacts, you ran through your neighborhood, knocking on doors, approaching neighbors and acquaintances on the street, telling them about what they might win if they just emulated exactly what you’re doing, in adjacent neighborhoods? Might they not look at you strangely? Doesn’t there seem to be an air of desperation around such actions. And to what end? To gain optins of people who don’t know or care about you, but just want to get something for free. You want good prospects on your list. Most people who join these contests are leaches, not prospects. They’ll bloat your list and suck you dry. The other way to look at it: the people who enter initially are your clients and hot prospects. The people they’re approaching through social media or email, who actually respond, aren’t even cold prospects. They know nothing about you. They’re just trying to win something and you’re the vehicle. So now you’ve got them on a list. Big deal. They’ll never open your emails.

    I’m of the school that believes that my products have value and therefore should be sold or bartered, but NEVER given away. I might discount them down to half price, (perceived wholesale) but never so low that it devalues the product in the prospects’ eyes. Furthermore, I much prefer earning opt-ins rather than pimping them… by offering a set discount on products for every social platform like, share or post and for every optin resulting from an email of a referral link. To this end, it pays to be frank with the entrants: “I want more people to buy my products. Help me introduce my products to your contacts and you’ll earn discounts on other things you want to buy from me, either immediately or in the future” The referral link goes to video landing page designed specifically for these newcomers. It first introduces you and your products, builds trust and an aura of quality, and incidentally lets them know that your company policy is to reward purchasers who promote your products by providing discounts. There’s no hype, no urgency, no carnival atmosphere.

    There are good plugins out there that permit you to run discount promotions as opposed to ‘contests’. Take the high road.


    • That’s a strange way of framing it…
      A contest is simply a promotion strategy, like many others. I don’t see any problem with it.

      The “they just want free stuff” issue is one that needs to be addressed, of course. That’s where a wise choice in prizes comes into play.

      As with any online campaign involving leads, you have a lead generation source and there should be a follow-up sequence that does some filtering and sorting for you. You’ll never get 100% “useful” leads, even if those leads are customers. But if you put systems in place to “process” the leads (terrible word, but I can’t think of a better one), the business works.


  • Shane before you do this sort of thing (giveaways, contests or sweeps)again talk to me. Your goal was to gain something from this but in truth you missed a lot of opportunities here. I’m not shy to ask you for advice when it comes to SEO, blogging as a whole or internet marketing so please don’t be shy to ask me for help with giveaways. I think I owe you one for all the help you have given me this last year.


  • Another thing to consider is to let them know what they’ll receive as a member of your email list. I know I would join your list for the gadget reviews even without a contest. Without a description of what they’re signing up for the cost-benefit judgment may err on the side of cost, since they’re enlisting in an unknown email marketing list with only a small chance of getting a prize. But if they knew the value of being on your list the chance of winning a prize becomes a bonus that tips the scale to benefits.


  • Get a sponsored prize. We were able to give away a car donated by a dealership because the offline competition was able to drive foot traffic to the car showroom. They also got nationwide publicity out of it.



    • Nice! I’ll definitely look for sponsors, on the next one. I’d love to give away a car, but that might be aiming a bit too high. :D


  • Hi Shane,

    I would echo Mike’s thoughts on this. My immediate response was “what’s the catch/what do I have to do”? After watching the video, and looking for an answer on the page I realised that it was just about collation of email addresses. I entered the content because I didn’t feel like I had anything to lose – you already had my email address – but I didn’t feel compelled to share.

    Regarding virality, it’s a bit backwards but my initial thought on this is that perhaps getting the entrant to do something would work better than them not doing anything at all?? Examples of this might be, sharing your favourite quote, posting an image of your home office, sharing your top 3 keys to success online..etc. A contest like this would encourage people to stay engaged to view other responses, share the link with friends. Ideally the action would be of interest to the contest entrant but also provide useful information for you. Is it possible that we’ve been conditioned to not really expect anything of value for free?!


    • @Nicola — I like the way you think! I can also see how I might be able to apply your “task assignment” suggestion to my upcoming giveaway. I might do a an A/B test with two identical prizes with two subsequent giveaways, even though that puts an extra uncontrolled variable (different time) into the mix.


  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

    ​Develop the Ultimate Entrepreneurial Superpower: Productivity!

    ​Countless "wantrepreneurs" fail to achieve their business goals - not because of a lack of knowledge, but because of a lack of productive, effective implementation. Don't be one of them.