Running an online contest is great for business growth. It builds excitement around your brand, furthers its reach, and increases conversions. Contests are useful because they offer your audience something you know they want. You can use that desire and buzz not only to achieve your marketing goals but to create a contest that goes viral.

When a contest goes viral, people spread it across social media and online platforms where it gains a ton of recognition.

If you want to create an online contest that goes viral, here are five ways to get started.

1. Narrow Your Goals

Imagine creating a contest without a clear goal in mind. Not only will you lose sight of what to track analytically, but you won’t see a huge increase in conversions. This is because you aren’t narrowing your focus and putting your efforts into one or two places, so it’s impossible to decide what to do next. As a result, you create a campaign that’s unorganized and has no next step.

There may be a ton of objectives you have in mind for your contest but stick to one or two. Having only a couple of goals narrows your focus and makes it easier to achieve success. You spread yourself too thin by trying to accomplish several things with one campaign.

Think about what you want to accomplish with your contest. You can create it with the intent to build brand awareness, drive traffic to your website, grow your email list, increase social media followers, and much more.

Your goals affect every step you take going forward, so it’s important to build your contest around them to see results.

2. Simplify the Entry Process

If it’s a pain for users to enter your giveaway, they won’t bother with it. Part of providing a smooth user experience is moving people down the conversion funnel according to where they are. If they’re at the very top, they aren’t ready to commit to a purchase. Any little complication will cause them to abandon your site and never return. So, you need to simplify the process of entering the contest.

How do you do this? First, minimize the number of fields in your entry form. Recent studies show that, when a form is too complicated to fill out, 81 percent of users abandon it. People don’t want to waste time entering their information if the process takes too long or asks for too much at first. Use no more than four form fields.

You can further simplify the entry process by using one-step email signups. Instead of making users sign up for your contest and your email list separately, you can automatically add them to your list when they enter your contest. That way, you simultaneously increase email subscribers and contest entries, so users don’t have to take the same action twice.

Don’t forget to make your event easy to enter for mobile users. There are currently 3 billion people worldwide who own a mobile device, and you can’t afford to miss out on such a broad audience. Additionally, 79 percent of these people use their phones for social media — which is where you’ll promote your event alongside your on-site landing page.

3. Create Rules that Align with Your Goals

What if you could make those who enter do the hard work for you, so your contest reaches its goals faster? You can create rules that align with your campaign objectives, so you see growth and conversions at a quicker pace.

For example, let’s say your goal is to increase your social media following. You could create a rule that requires users to follow your social media accounts if they want to enter. You could also require them to tag a friend, so more people know about the contest, and you build brand awareness.

Thinking ahead is crucial for your contest to go viral. You need to proactively think about what actions are going to take it to the next level so you can plan accordingly. Always create a clean looking image for your event on social media. Research shows that tweets that include images are 150 percent more likely to get shared. Couple that factor with the concept of giving something away for free, and it’s easy to see how your giveaway can quickly go viral.

4. Pick the Right Prize

No one’s going to enter your event if the prize isn’t worth their time. Viral contests become viral partly because they present an enticing offer. That’s why it’s crucial to carefully pick a prize that your audience desperately wants to win. The more excitement they feel about it, the likelier they are to enter.

If you don’t already know what your audience would want to win, it’s time to conduct research. Create buyer personas of your target market that tell you about their demographics, buying behaviors, pain points, and more. The more information you collect, the easier it’ll be to come up with a suitable prize.

The contest prize doesn’t necessarily have to be something that exists just for pleasure or excitement. You can offer products and services that make your audience’s lives easier or provide practicality. It depends on what your audience wants and what helps them the most.

5. Promote, Promote, Promote

No contest goes viral by itself. People worked to spread the word and market it to the right audience. If you don’t proactively promote your giveaway, it won’t gain the recognition it deserves, and you won’t see a difference in conversions.

For the best results, strategize your contest’s promotion. Create a plan that puts it in front of many eyes across several platforms. Email, social media, and your website are the main channels you should use to promote your contest.

Use exit-intent popups to promote your contest to new visitors on your website or create a separate blog post with the details on how to enter. Marketing automation schedules social media posts so you can automatically publish reminder posts.

Over to You

Creating a viral contest takes a lot of work, but with proper strategizing in place, you’ll see a boost in conversions. How will you spread your contest like wildfire?

Read more: Run Viral Contests and Grow Your Email List