Should publishers use a contest to get new readers?
January 18, 2012 by Joy Curtis
In the race to grab as many new readers as possible, it’s tempting to try every new feature and every new idea on the market. Contests and giveaways aren’t exactly a new idea, but presenting them inside a digital edition is the newer, digital twist.
The question is about effectiveness. Is trading an iPad for a user’s name an effective use of resources? On the plus side, holding a contest could get readers to spread the word about your digital edition. For instance, you could say everyone who becomes a facebook fan or tweets a link to your digital edition is in the running to win an iPad. This would certainly get the link in front of new followers. You could use the contest as a means to push people into your digital edition, hiding contest rules on a page in the middle. Or if you trade a giveaway for an email address, you could save the address for more targeted campaigns in the future.
However, there are some drawbacks. If you ask contestants to tweet, post, and e-blast about your digital edition, you risk frustrating current followers with too many updates about your magazine. The biggest drawback, of course, is that while your lists might jump temporarily, contestants who were only hoping for the prize will quickly unsubscribe to your publication and void any ROI.
To be sure, a well constructed contest follows a few guidelines:
1. Make sure the prize is industry-related to increase the chances the contestants are interested in your product. (Don’t just give away an iPad.) The prize can be a free product or service of your own. Even knowledge has a dollar value which could be an acceptable prize.
2. Be hyper-vigilant about your unsbuscribes afterward to avoid spam complaints
3. Ensure the contest is designed to meet a specific goal, whether it’s to increase email lists, garner feedback or ramp up your social media presence.
4. Make sure the venue or distribution matches your goal. For example, if you want to increase your social presence, host the contest on twitter. If it’s to grab emails, embed a survey in your digital edition.
Contests and giveaways could have some value, especially if your audience focuses on consumers, but it isn’t a strong circulation strategy. For a more consistent performance, take another look at the strategies we offer regarding email campaigns, social media services, and apps. You might be surprised at what you’re missing!