There’s a misconception people have about viral contests — they believe that these contests can only be used for lead generation.

Well, I’m here to shatter that notion and tell you that our clients have been making tons of revenue during their viral contest by implementing a few key strategies.

And while you can create several different types of viral contests (like viral sweepstakes or viral leaderboards), we’ll focus on the viral leaderboard because it’s new and it’s been getting incredible results for our clients.

How To Get eCommerce Growth from Viral Contests

So what is the viral leaderboard?

It’s a type of contest where your users will climb a “leaderboard” in order to win prizes. They climb the leaderboard by getting points, namely through referring others to the contest or by following you on social media. So for example, your contestant might get 25 points for following you on Instagram.

If that’s a bit confusing, try signing up for our demo leaderboard here.

viral giveaway & leaderboard

What are the benefits of a viral leaderboard?

  • Generate cheap leads – The cost to get someone’s attention and acquire an email address is constantly increasing. Depending on the industry, you can be paying between $3-5 an email. Using contests rewards users for giving you that information as well as incentivizes them to refer others. We’ve seen leads come very cheaply with viral contests.
  • Build a larger social following – You don’t wanna be paying for fake followers. The viral leaderboard makes it easy to generate a larger social following by incentivizing the follow in exchange for extra “points” in the contest. In fact, we used a viral leaderboard contest to add 550 new YouTube subscribers, one of the hardest networks to build followers on.
  • Increase sales volume – Contests are not just for acquiring email addresses. You can also use them to drive more sales on time of entry using unique coupon offers as well as nurture those leads into customers. On average it takes 2-4 brand interactions before a purchase is considered.
  • Increase brand awareness – Nothing works better than word of mouth. Using contests is a great way to get a large amount of exposure for your brand. As entrants share your contest with friends and family they “endorsing” your brand and essentially recommend you to their friends and family to check out.
  • Build audiences for advertising (Facebook custom audiences & lookalikes) – Facebook is now one of the best marketing channels the web has to offer. If can be expensive and hard to get started though. Facebook will then go and find the people who are most alike to that list for you to then serve ads to.
eCommerce Simple But Hard

One of the first things you MUST think about when you create your leaderboard is what prize structure you want to offer. An optimized prize structure can make or break your contest.

How to use a tiered rewards system to maximize your results

It is a good idea to offer multiple ways for entrants to be rewarded. This keeps people engaged and helps keep them motivated to continue sharing your contest. There are 3 main reward types that are most common.

  • Placement rewards – This is when a contest rewards the entrants that performed the best. For example “1st place wins a $500 Swiss watch or Top 5 entrants win a $100 watch stand.” This is the CRUX of your leaderboard. Get people competing to get the top rewards.
  • Points rewards – This is when a contest rewards entrants for reaching a certain number of points. For example “unlock a 20% OFF entire store voucher when you reach 200 points.” This one is important because even if the new user is super far away from the top of the leaderboard, they’re still incentivized to get points.
  • Random draw rewards – This is a more generic reward type and this is just a winner chosen at random. Adding a random draw just gives even more incentive to your entrant to share the contest and get more points.

So now you can see there are a few different ways to get people involved in your contest. The most important part is to make your contestants feel good, give them points, reward them and congratulate them.

Setting Up Multiple Rewards

Rewards Dashboard

Frontend Rewards Display

Display Multiple Rewards

Little do they know you are warming them up for your ultimate monetization strategy.

How do you monetize your contest, effectively?

  • Offer unique coupon codes – Make your contest entrants feel special, give them a special coupon code/voucher only they have access to. Use the wording “get a promo card” or something similar.

    Then send an email with an image of a fancy card with the coupon code on it instead. This increases the perceived value of the coupon. (Make them feel like they won something special).

    We recommend giving them a smaller reward as a “point reward” — like $10 — when they reach 100 points.

    We found $10 “promo cards” work really really well VS a $10 off discount.

    Just think about it — when was the last time you threw away a gift card and when was the last time you threw away a “$10 off coupon?” You NEVER throw away gift cards!

    However, you forget about or throw away discount codes all the time.
example giveaway prize gift card
  • Remind your contestants to share to get more points – Send them a sequence of follow-up emails to get them to keep sharing the contest in order to get more points. Hit them also through social media. The more people you collect the bigger the follow-up email paycheck will be.
  • Make a super high discount for people that reach a really high number of points – For example say a user gets 100 points per referral. Give them an 80% discount if they get to 10,000 entries. Getting emails of 100 people will probably worth that amount of money. Remember at the end you will be doing a follow-up email trying to convert all these people.
  • Contest follow up email – At the end of the contest you can send out an email thanking everyone for entering, and that the winners have been drawn. Also, put together a special deal for entrants only like a custom coupon code or a “buy 1 get 1 free” deal. We wrote a blog post just on this topic here.
  • Educational email sequence – You may be selling a higher ticket item, so ease your way into the sale by sending 2-3 value-add educational emails first. You could start off with a few emails on why they need your product. Highlight that they entered the original contest for a reason, they already wanted your product. It might just take a few more convincing emails to convert them.
  • Company update emails – Now that you have the contest entrants’ emails, send them an update when you have news about your latest products.
  • Gift/purchase idea emails – If your contest was not a good fit for direct sales, suggest that they purchase for their parents/friends!
  • Holiday deals emails – If your product is seasonal, now you have a huge list to alert every time New Year, Christmas, Mother’s Day, etc comes around! Start off your high season strong with a warmed-up audience that already knows about you and your product.
  • Birthday offer emails – Since you can collect more data for a contestant to enter why not ask their DOB, so when their birthday comes up you send them a special offer. They can either claim it as a gift to themselves or share it with someone who will buy it for them 😉

For a more in-depth article on maximizing your email revenue, click here.

Making Money With Viral Contests

tl:dr — Tips on how to monetize your viral contests:

  • Use unique coupons for that contest only
  • Follow-up emails asking your contestants to share, being specific HELP
  • Choose relevant prizes to your target audience (You want to attract the right crowd)
  • Add consolation prizes (so everyone wins)
  • Increase the perceived value as much as possible (what does not cost you a lot of money but is very valuable to others). My favorite is using “$10 promo cards.”

Using viral contests is a fantastic way to generate more leads as well as sales for your online store. There are plenty of ways to convert those contest entrants into valuable customers that may live on for a long time.

Growth Hacking Tip

Tell us in the comments if you have used giveaways or contests before in your business?

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