Using Contests to Boost Your Website Traffic

Contests have always been synonymous with radio stations.  My first time on the radio was when I was the correct caller to win a Lee Greenwood cassette in high school.  Picking it up was my first visit to a radio station.  Leaving with that, you would have thought I had won a new car.  There wasn’t much skill involved; I was simply the correct caller.  But there is something about the feeling of being singled out and given something free that entices all of us to engage in contests.

I believe that mindset is still present when people enter online contests.  However, there seem to be fewer online contests across many radio station websites I visit.  Is it because stations do not have anything to give away, or is there a lack of interest in creating contests?  Hopefully, it’s not a lack of interest.

Online contests are a great way to keep visitors returning to your website to engage with your station brand experience.  Frequently touching your station builds loyalty and can turn the average visitor into a fan.  Tracking those visitor numbers provides valuable data to show existing and potential online advertisers.  So, contests can be a powerful tool for meeting your online marketing goals and increasing your online revenue.

Here are some best practices to keep in mind for your website contests.

Always Have at Least One Active Contest

The radio websites I visit with no active contests give me the impression that the radio station isn’t very active.  Does your midday show have a listen-to-win contest at a specific time every day?  That should be listed on your contests page.  Does the morning show accept birthdays and give a random person a birthday cake from the local bakery?  This is technically a contest that can be listed as well.

If your radio station is giving anything away on-air, online, or over social media, include details on your contests page.  It’s where would expect to find online details about whatever they heard on the radio.  It can also set a listening appointment for someone who didn’t know the midday show was giving away lunch each day at 11.  Don’t think that all online contests must have a signup form.  It’s ok if they are information-only.

If you simply have no contests happening at your radio station, then be sure to remove the link to the contests page from your main menu.  It’s better not to have a contests page than an empty one.

Build Contests Around Sponsors When Possible

Ideally, every contest will have a paying sponsor attached.  Contests help sponsors because their brand is mentioned each time the contest is promoted.  This can provide much wider exposure than their typical social media following or purchasing an ad schedule from you.  They will also likely be providing the prize or part of it, increasing the exposure for those product brands.

Your first instinct may be to get paid for clients’ involvement in your contests.  But consider the other benefits the right client may bring to your station.  The station might benefit more from the sponsor promoting the contest on its social media channels.  This could mean substantially more website traffic and increased social media followers, which you can then monetize in other ways for longer periods.  Some national ad agencies will only advertise on your website if you had X number of unique visitors last month.  So, finding the right client with these benefits can surpass the value they would be paying to be a part of your contest promotion.

Include Reasons for Entrants to Return/Register Often

Since we’re focused on increasing our website traffic, build in reasons for your visitors to return to the contest page daily.  This could be a key phrase that changes daily for an on-air entry, having a different prize each day, or allowing visitors to register once hourly or daily.  Either way, build in an opportunity for your listeners to return often for an increased chance at winning.  Promote that fact so they will return more often and increase your page views.

We do not recommend making your contests with open registration, allowing people to flood your entries consistently.  This kind of repeating traffic will not help your SEO efforts as much as the entrant returning hourly or daily.

Limit your Contest Questions

You can have a fantastic prize, but if the entry is a long questionnaire, expect only a few people to follow through with the entry.  If you get lots of traffic to your page and they immediately leave when they see the questions, it can negatively affect your SEO efforts because your average visitor time spent on the site will drop.

Limit your entry questions to only what is required to identify the winner.  It’s better to make it easy for visitors to enter and then collect further information from them after they have won.

We’ve seen many successful contests only ask for a name and e-mail or name and phone number.

Provide a Way for Entrants to Sign Up for your Newsletter

While accepting names and e-mails in a contest form, it can be customary to provide a checkbox for the entrant to sign up for your station newsletter.  If you can do this, take advantage of it.  Increasing newsletter subscribers ensure you can put your content in front of more people regularly.

Properly Define the Contest Rules

Proper contest rules can be defined by section: the contest dates, the prize or prizes, sponsor information, eligibility criteria, how to enter, how winners will be selected and notified, releases, and letting winners know where their name might appear once they’ve won.   Nolo.com has a great guide here: https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/rules-for-running-an-online-contest.html.

It’s also very important to include details if you plan to share the list of entries with anyone outside the radio station.  Sharing entry information without indicating that you’re doing so can violate someone’s privacy rights.  So, we highly discourage sharing the information unless there is a form field that allows the entrant to opt-out of having their information shared.

There’s no need to create a rules page for every contest if the rules can be covered on your general contest rules page.  If you don’t have a general contest rules page, there are dozens of places you can look online to help you get started with one.  Here’s a link to our demo site rules page.  Never copy/paste a rules page from somewhere without getting proper legal counsel.

When drafting your contest rules, ensure they comply with laws and regulations. Each state has its own rules and regulations. For example, if your prize exceeds $500 in Rhode Island, you must register your contest with the state.

Properly Promote Your Contests

Contests will help your sponsor clients, but keep in mind that they also serve to increase your website traffic.  So, promote them often on-air, over social media channels, and in your e-mail newsletters.  Also, ensure they are also prominent on your website homepage.

It’s a great idea to build excitement about a contest by using your skills to tease the benefits of entering.  Instead of simply listing the contest name and providing a link, use a call to action that prompts an immediate response.  For example, instead of “Click to Enter our 10K Giveaway”, grab the visitor with something more compelling like, “What would you do if we handed you $10,000?  Click here.”

Another way of promoting your contest is by creating a FOMO or fear of missing out effect.  This is one of the most popular methods in marketing to spike people’s interest.  For example, “Your neighbor just might be the one who wins our $10,000.  But not if you enter more times than they do.”

Ensure that your sponsors have a plan to promote the contest on their social media channels and in their newsletters as well.

Also, plan to promote the winners once each contest is complete.  Many times, this step is missed since the contest is over.  Posting names and photos of your contest winners in blog posts and over social media is a great way to show your online audience how engaged with them you are.  The people who lost might try harder to win next time.  Your winners will likely share the post with their social followers, many of whom might experience the station for the first time and follow you for a chance to win next time.

Properly Track Visitors

Throughout this piece, we have explained how contests can drive your website traffic, giving you valuable data to share with advertisers so that they can purchase ad space or more contests on your station website.  There is no valuable data, though, unless you are tracking it.  Monitor your analytics throughout the contest to see how your promotion is performing.  Google Analytics is the best tool for this.

If people are visiting the page but not signing up, perhaps the form is too long or complicated.  If there are no visitors, perhaps the contest’s calls to action or other promotions need a tweak.  Monitoring your analytics throughout the process can help you with this contest and others in the future because you’ll start to see patterns in what interests your audience the most.

Wrapping Up

A contest may not be the most obvious way to generate traffic to your website, but the results may surprise you.  Just be sure to invest time and effort into making your contests more engaging.  The more engaging your contests are, the more traffic they will bring.

Need a platform that will effectively allow you to provide engaging contests.  Reach out to us.

Jim Sherwood serves as the chief creative, brand strategist, lead developer, meticulous project manager, and station collaborator for all Skyrocket Radio sites and projects. Jim is a 30+ year radio veteran with a resume spanning several small, medium, and large markets including roles as Digital Content Manager, Program Director, Production Manager, and Morning Show Host.