A customer smiles at her computer after entering a business' free online giveaway.

Boosting Your Business With Promotions

Updated July 1, 2018 . AmFam Team

Engaging with your customers, outside of the buying process, is a great way to retain their business. Use these tips for running giveaways, contests and other promotions to boost your company’s image.

Use promotions to get measurable results for your business, sales and reputation.

Social media makes it easier — and more economical — to engage customers than ever before. But calling attention to your brand amid all of the competing tweets and posts isn’t easy for a lot of businesses — maybe even yours. If you’re stumped for new ideas, we’ve got you covered: A contest or online giveaway can be the marketing strategy to set your business apart.

Online promotions give potential customers a chance to learn about your company in an entertaining way. “They are great for building brand and product awareness, increasing your social media fan base, and gathering insights,” says Cle Andrea Hayden, chief digital strategist at Inked Digital Marketing Agency in Chicago.

The key to a business promotion is keeping the end goal in mind. Here are some best practices to help you get there.

Determine the specifics. Know the difference between a business contest and a business giveaway. “A giveaway or sweepstakes is a promotion in which winners are chosen at random,” says Hayden. A contest, on the other hand, requires skill to win. Either way, consult an attorney to flesh out the terms and conditions.

Create a cohesive branding effort. Make sure that Landing pages, e-mails, and corresponding elements of the campaign tell one story. “Being mindful of the copy, highlighting images and using inclusive catchphrases such as ‘participate today for your chance to win big’, shows a seamless effort,” says Hayden. To help you pull it off, hire a third-party online sweepstakes developer such as OfferPop or WooBox (Opens in a new tab).

Market like a pro. “Consider using an e-mail newsletter to announce the effort as well as paid advertising on social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter,” advises Hayden. Don’t forget to announce your winners in the same vein, which can provide even more publicity for your business.

Pick the right reward. The prize should align with both your business and your audience. Hayden tells the story of a small beauty brand that executed flawlessly: “The company had 500 samples to give away on Facebook in one hour,” she says. “The business developed a data-capture form asking the customer’s name, e-mail and mailing address. Not only did the brand see a lift in its Facebook subscribers, they also grew their e-mail database. This is the perfect opportunity to create awareness to a great product or service, and leverage it!”

Keep the sign-up simple. The most effective business contests do a few things well. The barrier to entry is relatively low, taking only two to three steps. “A good way to determine if you’re asking too much is to ask team members for their opinion,” says Hayden. In addition, if you’re collecting data, only ask for the most important intel, otherwise, the drop-off rate will skyrocket.

Choose the right moment. “Timing helps set the tone of your initiative,” she says. While you want to give participants enough time to follow the instructions, businesses should also create a sense of urgency to get people moving. “Also, think about how well this activation ties into your overall marketing and communications plan.” As the year comes to a close, if you have a product that’s a good tie-in to the holidays, think strategically about how to make your efforts align.

With so many brands on social media, it can be challenging to get potential customers to listen to you. With effective, free online giveaways and contests, you give your target audience a reason to pay attention.

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