Thursday, June 24

Q & A with Batty: Contests

Q: "I was wondering what your philosophy was about offering giveaways and "contests" as an effective means of online promotion" - Weezi

A: Well I can't say I necessarily have a philosophy that's set in stone about any online promotional strategies. I always give things a go and see where I'm at when the dust settles. With that being said, I don't just jump on the band wagon without some research first. Some of the key questions I ask myself are:

- Will this promotion reach my target audience?
- Is it presented in a way that they will understand and respond to?
- What do I hope to get out of this? (sales? views? networking connections?)
- How much will this promotion cost me? Can I afford it?
- Is there risk involved? Is it worth the risk?

When it comes to giveaways and contests these questions are a great place to start. If you're hosting it on your own blog, you can be pretty sure you're reaching your target audience if you've already built up a loyal following of your customers. If you're hosting it on someone else's blog it gets a bit trickier. Not only do you need to make sure this blog is targeting YOUR audience, you also need to make sure they are targeting A LOT of them to make it worth while. If your blog only has a following of a few hundred people, a giveaway or contest can still work really well if those followers are CORE customers that are generally interested in your products, are repeat customers, and you're bringing something new and exciting to the table for them. On the other hand, many blogs that regularly host giveaways for other people usually don't have core following. They have people who have signed up to follow the blog just to get an extra entry in a contest or two. These "followers" may never return to that sign again even though they are still counted in the thousands of followers. The lesson here is that blog follower numbers can be deceiving (this also goes for twitter followers, facebook fans, and the like). A good way to screen out the blogs who have REAL buzz from the blogs that aren't all their cracked up to be is to check out the amount of interaction that's going on. I don't mean all the comments under the giveaway posts. I mean the comments on their regular posts. Do people care what they have to say? Are people retweeting and blogging about their content? It can be tricky to find blogs that REALLY have buzz AND have zeroed in on your target audience.

When it comes down to purely a numbers game - contest and giveaways usually (from my experience and from what I've heard from others) don't bring in sales. Why would anyone run over to your shop and fill up their shopping cart if you're giving things away for free? Even if they are inclined to buy from you, they will probably wait until the contest or giveaway is over just in case they win.

Contests & giveaways do have their place though! Not only are they fun, they help you show off your generous side, AND can be a great way to get your name out there when you're looking to further your reach on the world wide web. When I first launched Batty's Bath I did a few giveaways and I had a contest to win a years worth of lip balm. These types of promotions were a great way to get the word out about my new shop FAST. It also got my products into the hands of potential customers quickly. This worked well for my business because I sell products that are consumable - meaning that people will run out of them and if they liked them, they may just come back for more. They aren't a one time, one of a kind purchase like jewelry or pottery. Which brings me to my next point - not all products & services are contest & giveaway friendly. People are offered so many things for free these days that it's nothing new to them - it usually isn't "news worth" (meaning they probably wont blog or tweet about it).

So the bottom line is that if you're strictly after sales, I would pass on the contest & giveaways... although one could argue that the promotion you get from these strategies could end up in sales down the road, you're probably better off to focus on pampering your current customers first. If you're after some "internet buzz" and something fun to get your name out to a few more people, a contest or giveaway could be the way to go.


  1. Thanx so much for the insights! You have really helped to clear up some of the mystery behind "WHY" or why not for that matter.
    I completely agree about high numbers of followers. Having many followers does not mean that you have quality in your numbers. I think the real issue is how do you attract the kind of followers that are really interested in what you are offering. Offering free "stuff" isn't in any way a guarantee of business.

    The 3 key questions are a great place to start. I see contests and giveaways all the time and it can be overwhelming.
    The key is to REALLY understand why you are doing it and what it can do to help with your blog, shoppe etc.

    You have been a big help. Thanx again!!!
    Lisa :)

  2. Can you post links to a couple giveaways that you have done that worked? Thanks for the message. I have a blog with only interested followers and twitter too, so thanks for the note.