One competition, three great marketing lessons

gold trophy award recognition winner recently ran a competition with MarketingExperiments inviting people to submit email subject line ideas to help them promote a conference.

First up, their approach is really clever because it engaged the community with their message at very little cost or effort. Entries were made through the comments section of a blog post which included the necessary legal link to the contest’s terms & conditions. I can think of few simpler ways to run an online competition.

Secondly, they received nearly 500 suggestions for their email subject line. What better way to source a huge number of great ideas to help promote the conference?

But most importantly, they learned a lot from their customers about what they think is most appealing about the conference. By crowdsourcing the entries for the competition, Copyblogger not only gave its readers an irresistible reason to participate in the online conversation, they were also conducting free research amongst high value blog visitors that might help them refine their offering.

The winning entry is a peach too. Experienced writer Christine Parizo picked up the first prize with her subject line suggestion:

“Do your landing pages pass this test?”

That’s a brilliant, tight bit of copy. The offering is clearly laid out so the reader immediately knows this is something to do with landing page testing. And, by playing on the reader’s potential fear of not having optimal landing pages or failing the test, this subject line is almost guaranteed to elicit an immediate response.

But it’s the word “this” that strikes me as really clever. Sonia Simone of Copyblogger explained that they received another nearly identical entry which read “Do your landing pages pass the test?” Using “the” instead of “this” results in the loss of much of the immediacy and specificity of Christine’s entry.

So, lots of great lessons here from Copyblogger’s approach. In summary, here are three things we can learn from this example:

  1. Online competitions needn’t be complicated to administer. Simply collecting entries via blog comments can suffice as long as the T&Cs are in place.
  2. Crowdsourcing suggestions about your product can give you instant access to a wealth of customer feedback that can help improve your offering.
  3. Sometimes it’s the finest details that can make the biggest difference, as proved by Christine’s clever use of “this” instead of “the”.