Digital sweepstakes and contests are in a position similar to that of email marketing several years ago: with the advent of automated platforms, many small and mid-level e-mail marketers decided to save money and use those seemingly cheaper platforms.
Pick a template, slap in some call-to-action copy, a product image, hit a button and go!
Yet. Even today, the most successful marketers still spend the time and resources necessary to build truly customized email and eCRM campaigns.
Why? Why haven’t the cut-and-paste, punch-a-button solutions entirely taken over?
Here’s why: Because the most successful marketers are also the most successful brands, and to build a truly compelling brand experience with customers, it’s not enough to rely on tools that don’t deliver an outstanding level of creativity and customization.
Today, the same holds true for digital sweepstakes and contests. There are any number of Cloud-based platforms for creating and launching a sweeps or contest, but there are hidden costs — in opportunity, R.O.I., consumer perceptions and even in real dollars – involved for your brand.
Those Cloud-based solutions are contributing to a flood of “sweeps spam” that makes it harder and harder to stand out, unless you’ve got an activation program or offer that’s actually engaging and exciting for the consumer.
Any marketer who wants to get the most impact and R.O.I. out of a digital, mobile or social sweepstakes or contest needs to take a long look at the very actual benefits that come with doing a built-to-order, truly-branded sweepstakes, contest or game:
A “truly branded” digital sweeps or contest is built around your brand from the ground up, in terms of targeting, context, entry or playthrough mechanisms, creative and even prizing.
As the old adage goes, “everything communicates,” and a contest or sweeps is like any other form of marketing communication: it should immerse your target audience in a true brand experience that builds on everything else in your marketing/messaging portfolio, and has a level of innovation and outright surprise-and-delight that builds buzz and loyalty.
In terms of actual response, not to mention your Klout scores or other effectiveness metrics, a custom-built program will typically deliver outstanding response, especially if paired with the right targeting tools; our own TRIGGER platform, for example, sees conversion rates of 30% and more…versus an industry average of 8%.
Why? Thanks to a congruence of great creative, compelling offers and prizes, and a full-featured digital delivery platform that’s intelligent and reactive enough to drive better results. Are we cheerleading ourselves a little here? Do the results stack up? Yes, and yes again.
Platform-based sweepstakes often won’t permit a marketer to include content and tools that enhance engagement : some can’t embed video, for example. But video is a powerful conversion tool, so a marketer loses out on using it to connect with the audience via that platform.
3. Back-End Efficiency:
Those platform-based tools also often don’t handle the critical back-end aspects of a campaign. At least, not without upcharges. Do they supply real-time optimization and re-targeting? What about trenchant analysis of results? Are coupon verification or anti-fraud features baked into the “basic” platform?
Don’t even ask about insurance and indemnification, or whether they’re able to make informed on-the-spot campaign corrections when situations arise that warrant a quick, judgment-driven response.
4. The Real Costs:
Maybe most importantly, the cost advantages of these platforms start to wither once you begin to inject any creative customization or useful analytics or integration features. Not to mention the costs in work-hours involved, hours that can ramp up significantly.
Plus, there are opportunity costs in using low-end Cloud-style solutions. The biggest? It’s how a marketer isn’t getting the most bang for their buck out of one of the most valuable opportunities available: when a consumer is interacting with your contest or giveaway.
That’s an opportunity to do more than just drive an opt-in or a coupon download. Just take a look through our own work; we’re obviously believers in that.
Any sweepstakes or contest is a unique chance to relate something memorable about your brand, and let that very carefully-targeted consumer be on the receiving end of a message, prize offer or meme-worthy contest that was obviously crafted as part of a story that’s intrinsic to your brand, a story that really speaks to their desires…and brings them back to your brand long after the promotion is over.