We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: customers LOVE sales and free stuff. So it makes sense that running a contest or sweepstakes is a great marketing trick to draw in shoppers.
It’s not incredibly difficult, and the payoff can be massive. If you want to expand the reach of your brand, draw in sales, and build customer loyalty, then perhaps it’s time to try your hand at running a contest or sweepstakes on your parts website.
If you’ve never done it before, don’t worry—that’s what we’re here for. We’ll walk you through the steps of figuring out if a contest or sweepstakes event is right for you, how to set one up, and the best ideas to draw in the most customers.
Preparing for a contest or sweepstakes event:
If this is your first time, a little forward thinking and preparation will improve results. This includes figuring out the terms of your contest, what prizes you’re offering, and how, exactly, your parts website will benefit from the event.
Step 1: Decide how this event will help your bottom line.
What are you hoping to get out of the event? A boost in sales? Increased awareness of your parts store? More contacts on your email list to help your future promotional emails reach more people?
If your parts website is associated with your brick and mortar dealership, your end goal might be increased cross-platform sales and awareness. You can use this as a chance to encourage online customers to visit the dealership, or train dealership customers to buy from your online inventory if they need a special order or have a DIY project in mind.
You can have more than one end goal, but it helps to focus your efforts on one or two things. The focus will help you decide what kind of contest to run, how customers can participate, and what prizes to offer.
Step 2: Decide how customers will be able to enter the contest/sweepstakes.
Depending on the end goal you chose for step #1, decide what you want from your customers to best reach that goal.
For example, if you want to use this as a chance to build your emailing list, then it makes sense that gathering new email addresses will be part of the equation. Perhaps customers can enter the sweepstakes simply by giving you their email address (and a winner will be chosen from the new contacts at random), or you plan to contact winning customers via email address.
If you want to improve awareness of your parts website, then having customers interact with you on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram is a better way to go.
And, of course, if you’re aiming for a general sales boost, then contest of sweepstakes entries can depend on your customer spending money.
Step 3: Decide what kind of contest/sweepstakes you will run.
Knowing what you need will help you decide how, exactly, you want to run your contest or sweepstakes. Check the list of ideas below and see which one is the best fit for your goals.
You can also choose to run a specific "theme," if there's nearby holiday. Your Father's Day promotions can be DIY-themed, for example.
Step 4: Decide on the prize, and how many winners there will be.
What your customers are excited for: the prize. It needs to be enticing enough to have shoppers participate, but not so expensive that you spend more on the prize than you gain during the event.
Again, the prize can be related to your end goal. A “sales boost” goal is a great chance to give away a gift card or high percent discount for your parts website. Tickets to a car show, expo, or other exciting event works excellently for brand promotion, since the customer will mentally associate your dealership with their wonderful experience.
Do you want a grand prize, followed by 2nd and 3rd place runner ups? Or five winners of the same prize? It’s up to you to decide. Something like a basic coupon code makes for a good consolation prize.
There are a thousand possibilities for prize, but here are a few ideas:
- Parts website credit or high-value discount
- Gift cards (your dealership, a restaurant)
- Gas card
- DIY toolbox
- Tickets to a car show, car museum, conference/expo
- Dealership discounts/freebies (free car washes for a year, free oil change)
- Vehicle upgrades (sound system, Bluetooth kit, GPS navigation)
Step 5: Set up a way to track your results.
Instead of assuming your contest went well, it’s best if you have some way to tell exactly how close you got to your goal. This will help you plan for the next contest/sweepstakes you run and make tweaks to improve your results.
You don’t need to use anything fancy, but at the very least, make sure you write down key stats before your contest and after. How many email subscribers did you have before? How many after? What were your daily sales before and after? How many net Facebook or Twitter followers did you gain?
If you don’t see results even close to what you expected, that’s fine. It just means that you’ll need to switch gears and change your strategy next time you run a contest or sweepstakes event.
Best Contest and Sweepstakes ideas:
Have customers complete simple tasks to enter the sweepstakes and have a chance to win a free prize. Sweepstakes can draw in more customers by the overall number, since it doesn’t require much work for them to enter.
- Customers gain 1 entry for every $20 spent (or some other dollar amount)
- Customers gain an entry for subscribing to your emailing list.
- Customers gain entries for liking you on Facebook, following you on Twitter, and other social media accounts (this can be easily set up in a website like Rafflecopter).
Put together a short, fun questionnaire for customers to interact with. It’s up to you whether winners are randomly chosen from people with correct answers, or if everyone gets an entry just for participating.
- Put together a quiz about your brand(s).
- Put together a quiz about your parts website. This is a great place to introduce your team, build customer trust, and showcase the parts you have on sale.
A contest is a great way to have customers actually interact with you and your brand if they want a chance at winning. Compared to a sweepstakes, the number of participants might be lower since customers have to do more in order to enter.
- Have customers caption a photo that you post to Facebook
- Photo contest: Have customers submit their own photos of them next to their vehicle, them at your dealership, etc.
- Have customers write a short paragraph (1-2 sentences) about why they buy OEM or why they love a certain vehicle brand.
Of course, you can set up a mix of any of these ideas, and there are more possibilities out there. For your first contest/sweepstakes, it might be best to keep it simple and make sure it’s something you can handle. As you practice and get used to it, don’t be afraid to use your imagination and try something new!