Boosting Competition Entries and Viral Growth with Rewards Fuel

Competitions are a great way to engage your audience if you’re a consumer facing business – and particularly for food brands.

Competitions and giveaways build buzz around your products and provide a great way to partner with other food brands. They’re one of the fastest ways to grow your following on social media channels and build your email list.

There are a number of ways to run a giveaway or promotion. You can host them on your social channels or your website. You can manually gather the entries or use a third party tool. You can test a combination of promotion durations and prize values to see what works best for your brand or business. There’s a lot of variables and lots of opportunities to experiment.

In the spirit of experimentation, we’ve been looking into some tools for boosting competition entries and incentivise social sharing and viral growth. Let’s take a look at some of the options. We’ll then take a detailed look at how one particular tool boosted performance of a competition run on Eco & Beyond website.

5 Competition Boosting Tools and Plugins

You don’t need a competition app, tool or service to run your promotions. But if you’re expecting more than a handful of entries, having a tool to manage the smooth running and fair drawing of the competition will be highly valuable.

At Sapling we’ve developed our own tools and processes to help us run and draw competitions with ease. The goal of this experiment was to run a contest on Eco & Beyond website and see if using a tool would boost entries and achieve growth of our social media channels and email list.

We performed an initial search for competition boosting tools and came up with the following short list:

For more details on these and other tools for running competitions and giveaways, download our guide.

All these tools help facilitate the running of competitions and giveaways that can be embedded on social media or your website.

These tools are designed to incentivise users to complete a series of tasks to gain more entries into the contest. This might include sharing the contest on social media, answering a question or joining your newsletter.

The different entry methods can be weighted to incentivise users to do what you want them to do. For example, a simple name and email entry might give the user 1 entry. Signing up for a newsletter – a more valuable action to the contest organiser – might gain the user 5 entries. The more entries a user has, the higher their chance of winning the prize.

Let’s take a look at some of the specific details of each contest tool.

Wishpond

Wishpond provides contest solutions but is more of a fully fledged marketing tool which is reflected in its price which starts from $49 per month, billed annually.

Rafflecopter

Based on our research, Rafflecopter appears to be the most well known and most highly rated of the tools. It provides an embeddable widget for your website and provides a whole host of entry methods to incentivise growth.

They have a free plan but to have more custom control of your contests you’ll need to pay $13 per month for their basic package. To integrate with your email list the price quickly rises to $43 per month and rises to $84 per month for a completely white-labeled solution with real time analytics.

Rewards Fuel

Rewards Fuel has a very similar feature set to all of the above tools. It provides an embeddable widget and has a wide selection of contest entry methods. They have free and paid plans. They provide email service provider integration and detailed analytics.

Their most expensive plan, which gives you all the bells and whistles, is only $29.95 per month. There are no long term contracts, you can upgrade at anytime and cancel at anytime.

Heyo and Cool Tabs

Heyo and Cool Tabs both offer a range of contest styles from photo competitions to quizzes, surveys and landing pages. Both have fairly rough looking visual design which didn’t appeal as we were looking for a tool to embed on our website.

We will soon be test driving Cool Tabs as a Twitter contest drawing tool and will report back in a future post.

Our Choice

We chose to us Rewards Fuel to test a competition hosted on Eco & Beyond website. In addition to the affordable price, the thing that sold us on Rewards Fuel was the level of customisation of the embeddable widget. It’s by far the most native looking contest tool as their branding gets out of the way and let’s you use your own colours and fonts.

Read on to hear about the good and not so good parts of the experience.

The Experience of Using Rewards Fuel

Let’s start with the good stuff.

The contest ran smoothly. There were no technical issues. We scheduled the launch, busied ourselves with other pressing work and checked back from time to time to watch the entries roll in.

We configured the contest with the following entry methods:

  • Effortless Entry – 1 point
  • Facebook Like Entry – 2 point
  • Viral Share – 2 points
  • Newsletter Signup – 5 points
  • Answer a Question – 5 points

There are other entry methods but these are the channels we’re focused on growing at the moment. We also didn’t want to overwhelm users with too much choice.

The tool integrated seamlessly with our existing website design and all the entry methods worked as expected.

The Results

Here’s the results after running the contest for 3 weeks:

  • Contest views: 844
  • Unique entries: 324
  • Total entries: 1905
  • Entry rate: 42%

The number of unique entries was lower than we’ve had for previous website competitions running for a similar duration.

Most contests we run recieve 700 entries and some have received upwards of 2500. This could be done to the prize, the Rewards Fuel interface, the time of year or the fact that we didn’t run this promotion with an affiliate. Running a promotion with an affiliate or partner usually means they help promote the contest to their audience which increases reach.

The breakdown of entries across the entry methods was quite interesting. Most entrants used the effortless entry but the other entries were fairly evenly split across the remaining options.

The viral share entries look very low but that’s to do with how this method works. A user gains an additional entry for anyone else who enters the contest having clicked a viral share link. While we saw a large number of users sharing the link to our contest on social media, the results indicate that only 6 people actually entered the contest as a result.

When it came to drawing the competition, Rewards Fuel takes care of all of that for you. There’s a one click process to randomly pick a winner. You can opt to choose the winner manually if you prefer. The system even has email templates that can be sent out to the winner if you choose. We didn’t use this feature and instead reached out over email directly which I feel is a nicer touch than receiving an automated “congratulations” message.

Room For Improvement

Now for some of the less good stuff.

Before we get into that, it’s worth stressing that the tool works and delivered on the goal of boosting entries through incentives. However, there are a few areas where the tool could be improved from a contest management side of things.

The admin console UI is a bit messy. The user experience of building your contest is a bit awkward. I encountered a number of bugs in the layout builder where everything looked right in preview mode but when embedded on our website certain entry methods didn’t show up or function correctly. Fortunately these issues all resolved themselves before the contest was put live.

I wanted to be able to tweak the sharing copy for entrants using the social share method but there was no way to edit it directly. I had a brief chat with the Rewards Fuel support team who responded very quickly and were very accommodating. They came up with a work-around which was to rename the contest title since the title is used to generate the text for sharing messages. While this worked it felt like a bit of a hack.

Overall, the experience was good. The tool did what it was designed to do. The user-facing side of the tool worked and looked good due to the level of customisation available.

However, the admin interface needs a lot of love from a design and usability perspective. It feels a bit like a hobby project rather than a professional piece of software. It’s the cheapest tool of the ones listed above and it feels quite cheap behind the scenes. With a bit more investment in the UI and UX of the admin interface, this could be a great tool.

Should You Use a Content Booster Tool?

The short answer is yes.

While this competition had fewer entries than usual, the contest boosting aspect of the tool helped grow our Facebook following and our email newsletter.

If you’re already running contests on your website, the small cost of using a tool like Rewards Fuel (or any of the others) is well worth it.

In addition to growing multiple channels at the same time, these tools provide a rich source of data about who is entering the giveaway and where they come from – both geographically and digitally in terms of referral links.

These competition tools can take away a lot of the admin and management headaches. They provide more ways to enter which increases engagement both on your website and on social media.

If you run regular competitions having a tool will be helpful to keep you organised. The increased entries and audience growth definitely make the cost worth it. If you only want to run a one off, a monthly recurring fee may not work for you.

As with everything in the digital marketing world, set a goal, make a plan, test it, measure the results and then make an informed decision about future use.