What I Learned From Running the Ranksense SEO Launch Contest

November 6, 2008 - Written by Gyutae Park  

The Ranksense SEO Launch Contest was a big success where everyone involved benefited in some way. The Ranksense team recruited new affiliates and made more sales, my readers won some amazing prizes (including an all-expenses paid vacation to the Dominican Republic), and I received a lot of new exposure and subscribers to Winning the Web.

Let’s break down the results of the contest…

In the time frame of the SEO Launch Contest (October 1 – November 2, 2008)…

  • The contest post had 1,631 total page views, which only translates to about 49 per day. Not spectacular and I’ll explain why later in this post.
  • I generated 37 leads and sales to the Ranksense software as an affiliate and my sub-affiliates generated 45 leads and sales. What does this mean for me? Around $200 in recurring commissions (i.e. I get paid monthly as long as my referrals continue using Ranksense). The payout isn’t as much as I expected from a big event like this, but I’ll take it.
  • 70 new subscribers to the Winning the Web email newsletter from the contest page. Again, this is solid but isn’t great considering that my previous huge contest yielded over 500 new subscribers.

Overall, I’m satisfied with the results since running the contest literally cost me nothing. Hamlet Batista, owner of Ranksense, provided all of the awesome (and expensive) prizes and paid for all of the advertising costs – including reviews on John Chow and Shoemoney. I supported Hamlet by organizing and masterminding the contest and ensuring that it ran smoothly. I acted as an evangelist for the Ranksense product and even wrote a couple related posts that made it to the front page of Sphinn (What SEO Software Means For the SEO Community and What Does Sphinn Think About SEO Tools & Software?).

The contest was a great learning experience that helped to increase awareness for Winning the Web. Below are some of my key learnings and takeaways from the promotion.

It’s better to be known for something

Hamlet approached me in September asking me to work with him in setting up an affiliate contest for Ranksense. He liked what I did in my previous contests (especially this one) and thought I was the man to create another buzz-worthy contest. He provided the prizes and I did the rest to promote Ranksense and Winning the Web.

Apparently, it seems that I’ve developed a reputation as “the contest guy” over the past year that I’ve been blogging here. Just recently, John Motson of DNXpert and Joe Tech separately emailed me letting me know that they’re starting new contests inspired by my own efforts. I feel honored to be a contest inspiration.. Ha. 😛

Anyway, being the contest “guru” has helped me to realize that it’s always better to be known for something than to follow everyone else and fit in. No matter how stupid or insignificant it is, it’s always more advantageous to be the best at something than to be mediocre. There’s some food for thought. We could use a circus clown blogger in our niche..  maybe a new career for someone?

Always leverage bigger companies – they’re willing to work with you

The Ranksense SEO contest goes to show that you don’t necessarily need money to run a successful contest promotion. In my case, Ranksense paid for everything – including over $14,000 in prizes and over $1,000 in advertising. Sure, I put up a lot of my own cash in previous contests, but you could easily work with larger companies with deep pockets to help you out. Companies need bloggers to generate buzz and to reach their audiences through trusted figures in the industry. They gladly pay for that and you should always look to leverage their needs for your own benefit.

Don’t be afraid to approach companies and ask them about how you can work together for mutual gain. Just look at Tyler Cruz… he’s worked with Market Leverage to run 4 contests already and the referrals earn him over $4,000 per month!

Promoting an affiliate marketing competition is hard

When I was in the planning stages of the Ranksense contest, I thought nothing of the affiliate marketing component. With the insane high-ticketed prizes, I was sure that the contest would generate buzz and go viral in the SEO and Internet marketing community. Little did I know that affiliate marketing contests are extremely difficult to promote. Why? Because no one wants to talk about the actual contest, they just want to win! The biggest problem I had in getting the word out about my contest was that everyone would talk about Ranksense (to get more referrals) but they wouldn’t talk about or promote the contest (since competition is bad). There’s no reason for people to mention it and it actually hurts their chances of winning by doing so.

The lesson I learned here is that you shouldn’t run an affiliate marketing competition of any sort unless your blog already has a large audience or unless you have a big budget devoted to advertising. The viral marketing potential is naturally low so you have to promote it through your own efforts.

Free trials by themselves aren’t enticing enough

Ranksense offers a free trial to test out the software, but it requires a credit card number to sign up for an account. Believe it or not, this was actually a large barrier to sign ups as many people didn’t want to risk getting charged for something they weren’t going to use. John Chow even offered a free review to a lucky reader who signed up under his affiliate link, but many people were still turned off by the credit card requirement.

What I learned through this observation is that free trials by themselves aren’t enticing enough to attract new customers. People aren’t going to download something for free if they aren’t really interested in it. The credit card barrier proves this point. In your own marketing efforts, remember that generating interest comes before offering any free incentives.

Contests are losing their luster

Earlier this year, I started a few contests and the reception was huge. Hundreds of people participated and the results were enormous. However, these days everyone and their mothers seem to be holding blog contests and contests have lost their luster as a result. No one wants to spend their entire week trying to win prizes from the same old contests copied on thousands of blogs.

I’m going to continue running contests here on Winning the Web – there’s no doubt about it. However, I sense that most people are tired of the same overused promotions and are looking for something new to get involved in. It takes something a lot more unique and creative to get attention these days and that’s what I’ll strive to do.

For everyone who participated, I hope you enjoyed the contest and I hope that you can take a few lessons away from it as I’ve done. Was there anything else that you learned that wasn’t mentioned in this post? I’d love to hear about. Leave a comment!

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Posted in Articles, Contests, Internet Marketing
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18 Responses to “What I Learned From Running the Ranksense SEO Launch Contest”

ZK@Internet Marketing Blog on November 6th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

I would have expected better results for your blog from this contest, but I admire your honesty on this 🙂

Gyutae Park on November 13th, 2008

The results aren’t bad but they could have been better for sure. Of course, I’m going to tell you all how it is though.

wisdom on November 8th, 2008

Good discussion of what you got out of having this latest contest. I think this type of contest you had was difficult to pull off.

Gyutae Park on November 13th, 2008

Very difficult to get the word of mouth marketing going. I wouldn’t advise anyone to start an affiliate marketing competition unless they already had a broad reach.

SEO Stuart on November 9th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Great post Gyutae, it’s nice to see what can be learn’t by paticipating in a campaign like this. I agree that being known for something yourself is a whole lot better than just following the crowd and thus not really having any individual respect.

Gyutae Park on November 13th, 2008

Thanks Stuart. I’ve found that it’s usually much easier to be recognized as a specialist than a jack of all trades. Possibly something to think about when planning your branding strategy.

Zurpit on November 9th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Im surprised to see such low results. The prizes were amazing and it looked like they put a lot of money into it

Ann Arbor Web Design on November 10th, 2008

Thanks for sharing your experience. Even if it may not seem to have performed according to expectation, overall not bad i think.

Frank on November 10th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

“37 leads and sales” – Nice results. Hope you do better in the future.

sven on November 11th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Contests are always a fun way to win on both sides, but a contest where you aim to create conversions can be a tough one, and now that you have spotted that it’s about time to think of a new one 🙂

Robert MacEwan on November 11th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

Not huge numbers for sure, however each person helped out in business is good karma… right? OK, just kidding. Second cup of coffee is kicking in.

Remember not to ignore those of use that only use XP or Vista through VMWare or similar. My MacBook Air has both XP and Vista along with Ubuntu 🙂 showing that, perhaps not on such a grand scale as the Win* crowd, we need to be targeted too.

I’m following you on Twitter after stumbling across an article here. Where would I have found the promoting of this contest prior to it ending?

HDTV on November 13th, 2008

Congrats on some good results. Sure, you won’t retire off $200/month, but hey, recurring revenue is the best kind. A few more contests like that and the $$ will be looking nice.

Gachinpo Feed on November 15th, 2008

Joining SEO contests is good. I’ve never been to any SEO contests before but I’m looking forward for some in the future.

teraom on November 17th, 2008 Subscribed to comments via email

contests are still doing good. It takes less pain and has easy promotion options. wat else do you need?

pravakar on April 11th, 2010 Subscribed to comments via email

Thanks for sharing your achievement.

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