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How to use ads to get the most out of Facebook contests

6 min read

Brands & Campaigns

Are you using Facebook ads to drive users to your business’ Facebook contests or offers?

A well-run contest generates qualified, interested leads, and you want as many as you can get. This article will outline how to optimize your Facebook ads for contest engagement.

I’ll give you the five steps you need to take to optimize your Facebook ad for click through to a contest landing page. I’ll discuss the best prize options for your contest and why this really matters. I’ll get into text best practices and give you 10 examples that work. I’ll take a look at contest images that catch the eye, and discuss targeting strategies to maximize the chance of a click.

Choosing the best prize for your contest

Your contest success will likely depend on the prize. Find a happy medium between a prize so awesome it’s worth more than the leads you’re getting from it, and a prize so cheap as to be undesirable by anyone. I recommend offering gift cards, which will allow you to promote your business as a whole. Anyone interested in any of your products will engage — and only people interested in your products.

It’s tempting to offer a cash prize or unrelated product, such as an iPad. You’ll get results, especially if the goal of your contest is get a boost to your likes. But they won’t stick around after they lose. If your goal is lead generation, you’ll get results as well. But how long do you think they’ll stay subscribed to your e-mail list?

A picture is worth a thousand click-thrus

It’s essential that your Facebook ad image matches your contest image. People like congruity and continuity — it’s just more appealing to the eye. If you’re running a holiday-related contest, use images of children and family. Tap into the festive season and you’ll increase participation, as people respond emotionally and want to participate.

No matter what your contest theme is, if you’re promoting it with a Facebook ad, your image needs to be optimized for advertising. This means simple, it means portrait and it means bright colors. Avoid blues and whites (as they’ll just wash out with the color scheme of Facebook itself). Instead, choose colors that attract the eye, such as red, orange and green.

Use text that sells

Lead with the value of the gift card or something that a buyer could purchase with it. The gift card is a means to an awesome end (be it $250 for free or a patio set).

5 headlines that attract the eye:

  1. Enter to win [Dollar Value]
  2. Strapped for cash?
  3. Free gift card!
  4. Get [Percentage] off!
  5. Empty pockets?

Questions, dollar values, percentage symbols and the word “free” have had proven success in the past year. Try them out for yourself.

5 copy ideas that encourage a click:

  1. Enter to win a chance at $250. Click to learn more.
  2. Strapped for cash after the holidays? Enter to win $250.
  3. Limited time offer: Win a gift card worth $250. Click for details.
  4. Need a gift? Win $250 towards Christmas presents. Learn more here.
  5. Cold getting you down? Warm yourself with a chance at $250 free!

Include a call-to-action at the end of your body copy — something like “Enter to win,” “Click for details” or “Learn more here.”

Target smart to maximize your click-thru rate

Facebook ad targeting is what makes Facebook ads worth doing — it’s what makes the ROI make sense for small businesses. Target your Facebook ad intelligently and your contest’s CTR could be .1% or higher. Don’t target it and don’t be surprised when you’re getting .02%.

For contests, target your Facebook ad depending on your goal and audience.

For lead generation, target by lookalike audience:

  • Import a contact list of current customers, leads, or previous contest entries from your CRM or database
  • Create a lookalike audience, in which the characteristics of your original list are matched with Facebook users who have never met your business
  • Target your Facebook Ad at this audience of people similar to those you know are interested in your product, service, or offers

Targeting by lookalike audience not only increases CTR (as it’s made up of people very much like your existing customers) it also gives you a valuable, qualified list of leads more likely to convert in the future.

For likes, target by precise and broad category interests

Facebook ads can be targeted with a previously-unheard-of specificity. I’m talking targeting an ad at Facebook users who have just sold a used truck. Or targeting not only people in a relationship, but people at different stages of their relationship, or who have just gotten engaged, or who are long-distance dating.

Keep these targeting strategies in mind if it makes sense for your contest. In the meantime though, here are three Facebook Ad variations based on targeted audience.

  1. Targeting your contest ad at parents: Choose an image, and text, that parents will connect with (in this case, stress). Framing your contest’s Facebook Ad in terms of reward for hard work (do you deserve something special?) is a great technique for all businesses.
  2. Targeting your contest ad at 45-65s: One of the best parts of targeting is that simple changes in the Facebook ad can have huge repercussions in its performance. Change the picture, retarget at different age groups, and keep the copy exactly the way it is. Or keep the copy exactly the same but target different genders. Create as many ads as you want (they’re PPC, after all) and see what your audience responds best to.
  3. Targeting your contest ad by gender: Gender is one of the easiest demographics to target by. As a rule, people respond more to a model of their own gender. This is, of course, different if you’re promoting a contest for men’s body wash. If your contest is completely unrelated to gender, it’s still an interesting exercise for your business. Marketing your contest by gender allows you to, essentially A/B Test your designs, text, and landing page integration to see what’s working best.

Have you used contests to generate leads or likes? Have you had successes with Facebook ads? Start the conversation below.

James Scherer is a social media expert and blogger for Wishpond. Wishpond makes it easy to run social contests and promotions on Facebook, Twitter, websites & mobile.