Online Contests Draw Website Traffic

Mike Belba explains how contests multiplied his website traffic with contests.

Online sweepstakes have been among our primary tools for promotion, and have been very successful in driving traffic to our site. More importantly, many of these visitors have turned into buying customers.

We run both weekly giveaways and a monthly giveaway on our site. Our weekly prizes have a retail value of between $20 and $40, and our monthly prizes have a retail value $40 to $75.

The difference in the contests is this. The weekly prize only requires an entry form to be filled out. But in order to qualify for the monthly prize, visitors must find the answers in our store. Due to the additional "work" involved, monthly entries run about 30% of weekly totals. But they get people to view multiple pages in our site and thus see the wide variety of products offered.

In our two months online, we have derived several benefits from offering contests:

1. Great linking opportunities. There are well over 100 sites out there that will link to any site offering contests, and many of these are very high hit sites.

2. Repeat traffic. We have become a regular bookmark much more quickly than through any other method--and when these people are ready to purchase, we will be known and remembered.

3. Referral visitors. We are amazed at the number of visitors who were referred by a friend. This is absolutely invaluable: the best source of leads, and also the least amount of work. When you can get the Internet community to promote for you, it is wonderful. Many of our visitors have even posted our site to their favorite newsgroup or discussion list, saving us a lot of time and effort--plus a referral is much more effective than a commercial post.

4. The collection of information via our entry forms has proven invaluable in developing a mailing list. Our first newsletter at the end of our first month went out to every entrant in our contests. We sent over 1500 our first month, and only received 6 removal requests. This month our letter will go out to almost 4,000 people. Our contests have given us a way to start developing community with our visitors, and a method of keeping our name in front of them on a constant basis. Again, when they are ready to buy, they will remember us.

Is it additional work? Yes, but worth it. Would I recommend it, yes, absolutely. I believe the key to effective contests is having people visit on a repeat basis. I would suggest that you perhaps allow people to enter every week, or come up with some promotional items to offer on a weekly basis in conjunction with a larger contest. Mouse pads, T shirts, whatever, anything that will entice them back to your site on a regular basis. The more they visit, the more they will remember you.

Mike Belba's online store and contest site, Washington State Wines and Specialty Gifts, is located at http://www.wawine.com. Click here to enter his current contest. This article originally appeared in the Internet Sales Discussion List--a must-read for entrepreneurs serious about doing business online.


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