Fostering a sense of community with your target audience and customers isn’t just a nice thought. It’s an excellent business strategy that can yield amazing results.
You can start community building both in person and online, and through consistent efforts, you’ll be able to move the needle toward achieving big business goals.
Simply put, the return on investment (ROI) of building community via marketing is evident. Some of the most notable stats proving this include the following:
- Customers spend 19 percent more once they join an online community associated with a company.
- A staggering 85 percent of marketers say having a branded online community would improve the customer journey and increase trust.
- For internal and external communities, the average ROI is 6,469 percent.
One of the best ways to build these communities is through giveaway contests, which fits perfectly into your community marketing strategy.
What Is Community Marketing?
This term refers to your strategy of engaging with audiences via conversation. Typically, community marketing efforts aim to connect your brand with existing customers and prospects in order to foster loyalty, but it also brings others within your target audience together.
Community marketers also strive to connect existing customers with prospects, as well as get prospects to engage with other prospects. Another excellent result of this strategy is gathering insights to improve the overall customer experience and inform product development.
This method yields plenty of advantages that help your entire organization.
Community Marketing Benefits
Building communities with your prospects and customers requires plenty of consistent effort, but that investment of time and resources pays off big time in the following ways.
You Open the Door for Good PR.
Public relations and community marketing have the same goal in mind – drive brand awareness. In fact, community marketing is an active method for generating excellent PR opportunities.
Former Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassée described how PR differs from advertising in the perfect way. He said, “Advertising is saying you’re good. PR is getting someone else to say you’re good.”
And with community marketing, you can ask your followers to do something good to reflect well on both your brand and your community. For example, encourage community members to volunteer or raise funds for a charity.
You Foster Loyalty.
Part of community marketing is giving your customers a space to express themselves. When they have that channel, they can embrace continual engagement with your organization and with others who are interacting with your company as well.
Some of your most vocal customers may even take the reins of becoming a brand evangelist. They’ll actively tell others about your products and services because they’re excited about how much value you provided for them in their experience.
You Can Earn User-Generated Content (UGC).
We all know how awesome user-generated content is. It helps provide social proof for prospects, opens engaging conversations among community members, delivers insights into how your customers think, expands the potential social reach of your content, and accomplishes so much more.
Through community marketing initiatives, you can stoke conversations, which might encourage some members to create content about your brand and your products and services.
Content that speaks favorably about your company that doesn’t cost you directly? Sounds good to me.
You Can Listen and Learn.
Sure, this is an obvious benefit, but it’s worth noting. You should be providing forums where your customers can deliver feedback on your products and services or even share new ideas about changes you can make.
This is essentially a scalable suggestion box that you can gather data from. In turn, you can use this data to shape the products and services you sell, tailor your messaging to be more engaging, and improve the customer experience.
Bottom line: With strong community marketing, you can take notes on how your customers think and feel, then use that information to continually delight them.
Types of Community Marketing
In its most basic terms, community marketing consists of two different types.
First, there’s the organic approach. This type requires zero effort from your team. Basically, organic community marketing occurs when your customers and other audience members create their own groups to talk about your company.
Then, there’s sponsored community marketing, which involves your company promoting conversations by providing an official platform. For example, you can create subreddits or start LinkedIn groups that are centered on you.
No matter where you are in your community building efforts, you can execute one of the most common tactics – hosting giveaway contests.
What Is a Giveaway Contest?
We all know what a giveaway is. In its simplest definition, giveaways are contests you host to, you guessed it, give away some awesome incentives to your audience, like free products.
This tactic is great for community building because it creates an incentivized channel for a wider audience to come to you, especially if the barrier for entry is low, like simply asking social media users to follow your page and tag friends in the comments section.
But you don’t just want to give away free stuff to passive observers who ultimately won’t translate to qualified leads. You want to be strategic in how you host giveaway contests.
For your contest marketing to be effective, you need to follow a few simple best practices.
Best Practices for Hosting Giveaway Contests
To build an engaged community and generate top quality leads through contest marketing, you need to plan ahead. With a strategy in mind, you can ensure a positive ROI of your giveaway.
Follow these best practices as you plan and host giveaways.
Define Your Ideal Participants.
If you’re aiming to get everyone involved in your contest, you need to take a step back. Let’s face it, you’re working within a budget. And casting that wide of a net can be costly and fail to target the right people.
The bottom line is that you’re aiming to engage with prospects who can lead to a sale. This is why you should understand exactly who you want to participate.
Once you know who you’re targeting, you can create qualifying questions. These help determine if entries coming in align with your ideal customers and can show you exactly where they are in the buying process.
Offer the Right Prize.
You should know what your ideal participants are looking for. This way, you can find high value products or services that you can offer to get them excited to participate.
Determining what to give away can seem overwhelming. After all, if you don’t provide something that is super exciting, nobody will participate.
When you align your prize with your company’s products or services, you’re getting a good gauge on what participants have an interest in buying from you.
Develop a Detailed Process.
Like every marketing initiative, your giveaway contests have a lot of moving parts. The typical giveaway looks like this:
- Based on research, you select what prizes to give away.
- You create promotional materials to generate awareness of the contest.
- As entries come in, you manage the information to ensure you can use it to continue engaging with entrants.
- After the contest ends, your team sends tailored follow-up messaging.
- You look at metrics to determine what content was most engaging, what platform got a high amount of engagement, which promotional materials earned the most attention, and more.
As you can see, this whole process requires a lot of resources and people. But when you have a solid process in place, with defined roles for your team, the contest can be executed efficiently.
Giveaway Contest Ideas
There are plenty of different ways to host giveaway contests, which fall under a few different categories.
- Website based: These involve placing a form on your site to drive participants to become leads.
- Social media based: Entries are submitted via social media platforms of your choosing, which can help drive the size of your following.
- Email and SMS based: For these contests, you can leverage your existing email list to directly contact them both via email and text messaging.
There are so many excellent ways to host contests in these three categories. Let’s review a few that can fit into your business.
Social Media Giveaway Ideas
- Run a contest for the best photos submitted via social media, which is fun, engaging, and can produce UGC.
- Create a campaign-specific hashtags, where you can track and measure engagement associated with your giveaway.
- Post a prompt that encourages users to share your contest information with others on their profile.
Email Giveaway Ideas
- Send an email blast with a coupon relevant to your audience once they register for the giveaway.
- Share contest information to your newsletter subscribers to get them excited to participate.
- Encourage recipients to forward email messages with contest information to those in their network.
Website Giveaway Ideas
- Include targeted CTAs on high impact pages that take readers to a relevant giveaway submission form.
- Add a countdown timer to high traffic pages with information about your giveaway contest and the impending deadline for registration.
- Incorporate visuals that highlight the true value of the giveaway, like a graphic listing the amount of money you can save by winning or a photo of the prize.
The Best Examples of Giveaway Contests
Need some inspiration? Check out how these three companies nailed their giveaways.
LEGO Space Contest
Known for creativity and an enthusiastic fan base, LEGO conducted an amazing giveaway contest that actually gave their audience the chance to win by building a space themed model.
This contest was hosted on their LEGO Ideas website, which is where users submit ideas for the company to create new products and sets.
They promoted it through their social media presence, including Twitter.
This is an excellent way to gather customer feedback that later informs LEGO of new product releases that their audience wants. Plus, they received a lot of user-generated content they can share.
Domino's Fan Experience Contest
As the national pizza chain continues to improve their brand and bounce back after years of bad reputation, they engaged their happy customers in a fun way.
The contest was simple: Fans post pictures of themselves with pizza to prove the extent of their super fan status. That's it, and the prize perfectly matched the super fan's wants – a trip to the Domino's world headquarters.
While the tour of their headquarters was the grand prize for only 10 participants, the second tier prize was a $10,000 check for the top 50 winners. That's a huge incentive!
They used the campaign hashtag #pieceofthepiecontest to track, monitor, and engage with participants. Overall, this is a great example of boosting brand loyalty while fueling UGC.
Running Warehouse Freebies
This is a great example of recurring giveaways. As a well established company, Running Warehouse aims at offering the best of the best for fellow running enthusiasts, while also improving the shopping experience.
To keep their audience engaged with their brand, they will host Freebie Fridays, giving away popular running shoes on their social media profiles.
Each giveaway, they will feature a product, highlight the value of it, then provide directions for people to participate. They direct participants to all of the contest rules on their blog.
This sparks loyalty and continuous engagement because avid runners want to participate every week. It's not surprising to see their following has exceeded 36,000 users.
Are Giveaway Contests Right for You?
As you can see, the advantages of running targeted community marketing strategies that include contest marketing tactics can be bountiful.
But before jumping in, you need to do your research and make sure contests will actually generate high quality leads and expand brand awareness to the right audiences.
Giveaway contests might not fit into your budget or goals. But if they do, you have a big opportunity on your hands. What are you waiting for?