How To Use Contests to Promote Your Site

By | July 22, 2011

In online marketing, one of the oft-ignored strategies to create a buzz around your site is actually a bit old-fashioned. Some people might even consider it to be out of date.

It’s the contest. While many online contests may seem corny or even tacky, you’d be surprised at just how effective they can be at driving traffic to your site – and if you have a site worth checking out, you may be surprised at how many people stay at your site.

But running a contest isn’t simply about declaring a prize and watching the money roll in. It should be strategic, and it should be done in a trustworthy way. In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at the art of the online contests and explain how it can be done right in order to generate traffic and additional revenue for your web presence.

First Things First: Get the Right Audience

Let’s say you have a website about gaming. An Xbox 360 would be a perfectly appropriate prize and incentive for people to check out your site – and not only that, but you’d actually attract people to your site who are already interested in gaming. Sticking to your niche when you pick the prize is crucial. Sure, money is always a great prize because of its versatility, but you can often add value to a prize when you know your target audience especially values a certain item.

It wouldn’t be wise, for example, to launch a contest around an obscure prize like a framed historical photo if your blog is all about personal finance. The two categories just don’t match together. But if you have a food blog and write about recipes all day, gift certificates to a local restaurant is far more enticing. Heck, when you deliver the right prizes to the right people, you’ll find that the prize money just stretches that much further.

Getting People to Notice

Of course, getting people to your site in order to enter the contest is a challenge in and of itself. “A contest sounds great,” you might think, “but if I could get a lot of people to enter, I wouldn’t have the traffic problems I have.” It’s a valid point. So in order to launch a successful contest, you’ve got to make sure that plenty of eyes see it.

How?  Just brainstorm and think of the various ways you could promote your contest. Social media. Facebook. Twitter.  Submit a story to the local paper.  Ask another blogger with a popular blog to mention the contest.  Split profits with someone who has a well-read newsletter for a mention of the contest in their newsletter. Once you get those wheels cranking, you’ll find there are plenty of ideas just waiting to be exploited.

Making the Effects of the Contest Last

Let’s say that you followed through on what we’ve already written here and were able to get a lot of interest to your website through a contest for a certain prize. Great. What next? Well, you shouldn’t start a contest unless you have an end-goal in mind, something that will make the effects of the contest buzz last a while in terms of your website’s traffic.

How can you do this? One of the easiest strategies to employ is to focus on how people can enter the contest. Consider this: radio stations often make you listen for a long time before you hear a secret word for a contest. Why is this? Because the contest isn’t only generating buzz, but it’s generating listeners – you’re listening to the station to enter the contest!

If you have an online store, have people enter the contest by making a purchase – even a small purchase. You might be surprised at how many more people will be willing to part with their money if there’s a little excitement and mystery involved with the purchase.

Building a Web Presence

Holding a contest, of course, is just one strategy of many to create a buzz around your website. If you’re new to the world of online marketing but want to get a head start, you can check out the domains and sites listed here at and see which might have the most potential to be your big hit. And if you want to flip an old domain and start from scratch, you’ll also find it’s easy to list your own site and start fresh with a new site and a new marketing campaign.