Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Promoting Your Website through a Sweepstakes

by Linda Horricks

This article discusses a mechanism to increase traffic by offering an incentive to visitors through a sweepstakes. A sweepstakes does not replace other marketing efforts but can be an effective and inexpensive way of increasing visitor traffic if done properly.

One of the benefits for those sites that offer a give-away is that they can take advantage of free advertising. There are a number of websites that cater to sweepstakes enthusiasts and provide a directory list of sites that offer sweepstakes and contests. These directories are updated daily and are continually looking for additional content to maintain their own visitors' interest. Many of them provide the ability for a visitor to enter the details of a new sweepstakes and the link will be incorporated in the main directory list often as quickly as the next day. The largest of these sweepstakes directories get many thousands of visitors daily so there is the potential for a lot of referral traffic.

When it comes to selecting a prize the larger the value, the more interest your sweepstakes will generate. It's possible however, to run a promotion on a small budget and it is not uncommon for smaller websites or blogs to offer prizes of books or DVDs that are in the $25 range. If you are on a budget, you should start small and if your initial sweepstakes is successful, you can increase the prize value the next time and see if the traffic is proportionally increased.

You should keep the prize relevant to the interest range of your target audience. A cash give-away is attractive to everyone and will get you a lot of hit and run traffic. A visitor who clicks through to your website, registers for your sweepstakes and disappears without paying attention to the rest of the site is not the kind of traffic you want. If the theme of your website is cooking, for example, a cook book or kitchen gadget will ensure that you attract only those visitors who are likely to be interested in what you are offering through your site.

It's important to think about how you are going to present your sweepstakes entry form on your website and what information you are going to ask your visitors to enter. Usually the minimum information you'll need is an email address so you can contact the winner. In general, the less information you ask for, the more entries you'll get and the more time you'll give your visitor to explore your site rather an preoccupying them with filling in a form. As for the form itself, it should be included in a content page rather than being on a page by itself. If it's on its own page, a link from a sweepstakes directory will be directly to the sweepstakes entry page and the visitor will see only the form and no other content. If the form is included on the main page of your site, say just below the fold, a visitor will be required to scan the content of your main page and scroll down before the form is visible. This will increase the possibility of generating interest in your site beyond just the sweepstakes.

So what can you expect in the way of traffic volume and how much will it cost? It's difficult to answer this question accurately but it's realistic to assume you will get somewhere from a hundred to a few hundred visitors from a single sweepstakes directory if you are offering a small prize. If you are listed in multiple sweepstakes directories, these numbers will be compounded. To take an example; a sweepstakes with a $40 prize that attracts a total of 800 visitors translates to a cost of $0.05 per visitor. This is very inexpensive by any measure.

If this is something you are considering for the first time, I suggest that you start by looking at other websites that are running sweepstakes to see how they incorporate them into their content. This will give you some ideas of what would best suit your site. Start small to limit your liability. Once you have found an effective formula you can try increasing the prize value or simply stay with what works if you are happy with the results.

An honest and carefully run sweepstakes is an excellent way to drive traffic to a website or blog. It needs to be promoted in order to be effective but if the website and the prize are good quality, there should be no problem having it listed in the major sweepstakes directories. If you can get listed in three or four of the big directories, that is very likely all the promotion you'll need.

About the Author

Linda Horricks is a sweepstakes enthusiast and the owner of the website Contestgirl at http://www.contestgirl.com