Surprisingly given the area we work in, this blog has offered little help or advice to affiliates and/or merchants who are thinking of running competitions. The main reason for that is that we do have a Webmaster’s Guide to Competitions and whilst some of the examples are in need of updating the basics are pretty much the same.

However, in September 2007 there will be some changes to how competitions are run as The Gambling Act 2005 will come into effect. From what I understand this will have little impact on free prize draws, but the main area of change is in the ‘no purchase necessary’ arena. On one hand competitions that require a person to buy something (e.g. a packet of cereal) will no longer have to offer NPN but premium rate phone lines and premium rate text competitions will have to offer free entry routes.

Anyway, that’s for another day! For now, let’s go back to the basics – why do you want to run a competition or prize draw on your site?

Competitions are promotional tools, they can help drive traffic, build databases, aid in promotions, and can also be good for PR. In some cases (co-registration) they can become a revenue stream, but again that’s for another time.

Deciding what you want to achieve with your competition is important.

For example:

1. If you want your users to take an interest in a new feature or product on your site then you can use a competition to guide them to that section (for example ask a question about that section).

2. If you’re seeking new users/sign ups you will want your competition to encourage people to register (but don’t forget about your other users too – can they enter?)

3. Are you trying to drive traffic to a merchant or sponsor’s site? If so you’ll want to maximise clicks and need to tailor your competition appropriately.

When you know what you want your competition to achieve, then you can move on to setting it up and making sure it runs as you want it too – and that will appear in the next installment.