I must confess: I’ve never given this much thought since I don’t run a lot of contests, but Small Fish Big Money makes a convincing case that e-mail newsletters are better for promoting contests than blog posts are. Is he right?
I know he is right about one thing – newsletters are more personal than blogs. With blogs, you are talking to an entire market, essentially an anonymous mass of individuals. With newsletters you are talking directly to opt-in subscribers, a more captive audience and people who have volunteered to receive your communications. While blogs also have subscribers, they are anonymous subscribers and your blog readers don’t necessarily have to subscribe to be regular readers. It’s just that subscribing makes it easier and more convenient for them to read when they want to read.
But what about contests? Should you promote them through your blog?
Personally, I’d say if you are running a contest you should use every means of communication at your disposal to promote it. That does include your blog, but I think SMBMs point in discussing the topic is to say that on-blog contests, where you run a contest solely through your blog, are risky. I’d have to agree with that.
That said, I have seen some successful on-blog contests, but those contests are generally geared toward a particular marketplace where the goal is to increase a blog’s readership. Give away a gift for the best comment on a blog post, offer a coupon or free service in exchange for the best trackback, or something of that nature. Those are good contests, but they are better contests if you have a meager readership and you are trying to increase it. If you have a large readership then you might turn off the people who are your regular readers.
Another thing to keep in mind with blog contests is that you might get people entering your contest who would never read your blog were it not for the contest. These are people who are not really a part of your target audience. They are there only for the freebie and once the contest is over, they’ll be gone. Do you really want to encourage that behavior?
Before you run a contest through your blog, think about what your goal is first. It is highly likely that your contest might best be announced through your e-mail newsletter then promoted lightly through your blog and social networks. That’s my Small Business Maverick suggestion for the day.