How many competitions are there running on the net at this time? 1000 maybe? Nah, 100,000 is more than likely and when they pass their closing date there will be just as many to take their place.
So, why are companies so desperate to give away free stuff just for answering a question or two? I'll tell you why...
...because it is an INCREDIBLY effective and very INEXPENSIVE way to get your company name mentioned on hundreds, if not thousands of websites, message boards, forums, blogs and conversations both in the online and offline world, not to mention the good PR it generates - that's why!
Who doesn't want their company name-dropped all over the place for what amounts to mere peanuts when compared to the costs of traditional advertising?
There are thousands of specialist competition and freebie sites whose sole purpose is to inform the rest of the internet when a new competition or freebie offer hits the internet. There are as many mailing lists, newsgroups, message boards and blogs on the same subject and YOUR company name could be plastered over all these when you add a competition giveaway to your site.
But it doesn't stop there.
If you are reading this as a webmaster then you obviously know all the major search engines look upon inbound links as being one of the main deciding factors in deciding which pages rank where in the organic search engine results. All these free, one-way inbound links pointing directly at your website are pure gold dust in terms of increasing your link popularity and thrusting you up towards the top of the search engines.
Whilst everyone else is rushing around participating in link exchange programs, renting links on websites, buying their way into search directories and more costly measures to help get the jump on their competitors, you could be flying up the rankings by giving away something as cheap as a $20 DVD once a month.
Of course, you can also make your generosity work extra hard for your business as well and really milk that competition freebie... Rather than just give one lucky visitor a chance to win something when they leave their details at your site how about some of these ideas to get a double hit from your freebie:
1) Newsletter Competition
A competition give-away to everyone who signs up with your newsletter. Draw an email address from the hat every month and announce it in the newsletter and you'll treble your subscription rate and keep them reading. Want to ensure they really read it? Ask a question about a specific aspect of the newsletter and get people to email it in and draw a winner from one of the entrants. You get more subscribers AND you ensure they're reading!
2) Newsletters again...
Add a checkbox to your competition entry page, order page etc. offering people the chance to sign up for your newsletter (making sure to offer the hook of exclusive newsletter give-aways, freebies, coupons etc. of course) and you've got a bunch of new subscribers. This is a less effective means of building your mailing list but it still works.
3) The Scavenger Hunt Competition.
Get people to browse around your website to give you the answers to a question or two you propose. Think "By how much is the Super Megatron 2000 reduced by this month"? and use these questions to direct people to your latest promotions and offers. Not only do you get all those extra visitors from blogs and comeptition sites like you wanted, but you also show these extra visitors the highlights of your site which will either encourage them to buy there and then or bookmark you for future reference rather than hitting and running.
4) The Repeat Competition Hook
Giving away different freebies in your competitions each month ensures two things. Firstly, competition addicts (of which there are many) will hit your site every month giving you a chance to market your offers to them at least once a month. Secondly, you ensure those search result boosting links continue to multiply every month...
...and so on. If there is any aspect of your website or business you feel is a real hook and worth promoting to customers then a decent competition used correctly is the perfect way to highlight it to a wide audience without spending a fortune on advertising.
But hang on, this isn't the ONLY way to use competitions to your own advantage. Another great way is to not run your own competition at all but to simply SPONSOR a competition on another site. Getting into a small competition sponsorship deal with a high traffic site in a related (but non-competiting) subject area can bring some awesome targetted traffic your way. If they archive their competition results and past sponsorships, then that's another one-way link you got into the bargain as well.
The possibilities here are endless and it's not going to cost you anything more than a few bucks each month in order to start the ball rolling.
So what are you waiting for?
Mark Falco is the webmaster and owner of DVD Rental Services and Just UK Freebies.