10 Tips, Tactics For Online Promotion Success

With 42.5 million people entering online contests annually and 24% of the U.S. online audience playing branded social games monthly, interactive promotions are becoming the hottest way marketers connect with customers today. But, this is not a category to enter into lightly. Here are some tips to help you create successful campaigns.

1. Understand Your Goals. There are many different types of promotions and the only way to know which one will work best is to know what your metrics should be. Are you looking to drive a product trial? Capture customer data? Create branded engagement? And, what numbers do you want associated with those actions.

2. Understand Your Audience. Seventy-three percent of online teens use social networking sites, so if you are after that demographic, you should integrate those sites in your promotions. Meanwhile a recent Yahoo study shows that anonymity leads to deeper emotional connections for women online, so if engagement with like-minded women is key, consider anonymity features. In other words, to achieve the best results, you want your interactive promotion to easily fit into your audience's normal online behavior.



3. Understand The Types of Promotions. You can't determine which type of promotion is right for you if you don't understand the benefits of each. For example, user-generated content promotions are the best way to evangelize your fans and give your influencers a stage; whereas sweepstakes deliver the best chance of collecting demographic data.

4. Include Buzz-Building and Share-It Features. Twenty-five percent of contest entrants share their submissions across their social networks and 73% of people who participate in loyalty programs actively recommend products. If you make it easy for your audience to share the promotion, they will. You should also consider banner ads and promotions on your web site and sites frequented by your target audience to drive action.

5. Don't Forget About Mobile. We are accessing brands more frequently though smartphones, iPads and tablets and than ever before and 16.7 million mobile users regularly check-in through location-based-services. Be sure to include some form of mobile access to your promotion. But, again, consider your audience. If your target demographic has been slow to adopt smartphones, consider a Text-To-Win campaign versus a more complex mobile web platform.

6. Include a Call-to-Action. Thirty-six percent of sweepstakes entrants opt-in for more brand information. If you aren't giving them the means to learn more about you, you are missing an opportunity to attract new customers.

7. Know the Law. In March, the FTC released the top consumer complaints for 2010, and 5% of the total complaints were about brands not following or understanding outlined rules and regulations. Be aware of the laws surrounding games of chance, state requirements, judging criteria, privacy protections, intellectual property rights, and regulated industries.

8. Think Multiculturally. The Hispanic population in the U.S. topped 50 million in March. By creating multi-language and multi-cultural campaigns, you can personally connect with a large segment of customers.

9. Think Borderless Boundaries. Just as languages and populations shift within single countries, the web gives you the opportunity to create global promotions that can expand your brand's reach. Just be sure to consider cultural and legal differences from country to country.

10. Say What You Mean and Mean What You Say. If you tell your contestants you will award a prize or prizes, do it. The fastest way to destroy the goodwill contests and interactive promotions create is to not deliver the goods.

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