How to Convert Contest Entrants into Customers

As reported in an earlier post, my company will soon be launching the “Green Home” contest — an online lead-generation promotion for Portland-area environmentally-conscious home improvement companies.

We’re going to be delivering thousands of leads to the contest sponsors, and I was looking for “out of the box” ideas on how to turn those entrants into customers. So I posted the question on LinkedIn (see it here if you are a LinkedIn member).

Among the answers was this insight from Mike Seidle, who runs the internet marketing firm Indy Associates. Here’s what he has to say about follow-up techniques:

Doesn’t matter what the method of contacting the consumer is, the conversion rate is always a function of the offer you make after you generate the lead. We just did a contest that generated 78,000 leads. Soft offers worked (get a free catalog, try ___ for 30 days at no cost, free fertilizer application, etc…) , hard offers didn’t (SAVE 10%, $100 OFF, GET A FREE TRIP!). Funny thing is sellers don’t like soft offers because they see a risk of higher cost. Reality is that you get lower ROI on hard offers because they don’t convert as well.

It seems counter-intuitive at first — once you’ve got a whole bunch of qualified leads, why can’t you just sell ’em something. But I’m guessing that although these people, by definition, are interested, they’re not yet ready to buy. The contest is a promising first date, but it’s not time to get married yet.

Check out Mike’s blog here.



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