More Than Just a Random Drawing

by Susan Donahue


Many Web sites have sweepstakes on them to attract more visitors. Typically, they are random drawing sweepstakes in which visitors enter their names and addresses into a form, the Webmaster collects all the entries, and then the Webmaster performs a random drawing to choose the winner.

What are some options if you want a sweepstakes or contest promotion on your Web site, but you want to be able to offer your visitors more fun and excitement than just entering their names and addresses into a form?

You might consider using some of the following:

  • Contests
    • Recipes

    • Photos

    • Essays
  • Instant-win Games

  • Trivia Games

  • Scavenger Hunts

Contests

Contests are different than sweepstakes in that each individual entry is judged based on certain criteria. The winner is chosen based on those criteria -- not randomly "drawn out of a hat." There are many different ways you can set up a contest on your Web site. Depending on how much time and effort you want to expend to maintain your contest, you can either set up a simple contest or a more complex one.

Simple contest -- A simple recipe, photo, or essay contest would encompass having your entrants submit their entry according to certain criteria that you specify. You could require a recipe for a certain kind of food, or require that a photo or essay be about a particular topic you choose. After all of the entries have been submitted, you would be responsible for judging which one you liked best (that met all of the entry requirements, of course), and announce them as the winner.

Complex contest -- That same recipe, photo, or essay contest could be set up so that all of the entries are posted on your Web site, and your site visitors would then be able to vote for the one they like. However, sometimes posting ALL of the entries is not feasible depending on the volume of entries that you receive. In those cases, you must state some predetermining requirements so you can choose the best of the entries, or "finalists," and then post the finalist entries for which your visitors can vote.

Recipe, photo, or essay contests are typically the most popular choices of Webmasters.

Instant-win Games

Because there are so few instant-win games available online, they tend to create a lot of excitement, they are very popular with Web site visitors, they are remembered more long-term by consumers, and they have more "word-of-mouth" advertising punch.

Adding an instant-win game to your site is not easy, though. If you have the programming resources in-house, you can create your own instant-win game. If you do not have in-house resources to create your own instant-win game, you might want to consider hiring a good Web development company to create one for you.

Trivia Games

People enjoy answering challenging questions, and with the new popularity of TV shows such as "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," trivia games on the Web are becoming increasingly more popular.

If you have the programming resources in-house, you can create your own trivia game. If you do not have in-house resources to create your own trivia game, you might want to consider having a good Web development company host and maintain a trivia game for you, such as eQuiz!

Since adding the trivia game, I've doubled the number of visitors to my Web site!

Scavenger Hunts

If you want your site visitors to "wander" or "browse" through more pages at your Web site, you might want to consider setting up a scavenger hunt. You could have visitors search for a certain icon or graphic that you've hidden on one of your pages, and when the visitor clicks on it, a form pops up so they can enter their information into the drawing. You could change the location of the icon or graphic periodically, to deter visitors from bookmarking that page in an attempt to make it easy for future entries. You could also have them collect the page locations of more than one icon or graphic, and submit all locations into a single entry form accessible from your main page. There are many ways you can set up a scavenger hunt.

Setting up a sweepstakes or contest on your Web site is a good way to attract visitors to your Web site. We think the popularity of more interactive promotions such as trivia games, instant-win games, and scavenger hunts is increasing, and makes it so visitors will return to your Web site in order to play or enter more often. If you've considered adding a more interactive element on your Web site to offer to your visitors, you might want to try offering one of these fun, exciting types of games!


Susan Donahue publishes Winning Ways, a monthly sweepstakes newsletter, filled with hunts, tips, and hundreds of sweepstakes to enter every month. You can reach her at winningways @onlinesweeps.com.

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