Q: I'm holding a contest to win a book at my blog. Anyone who comments is automatically entered that day. What's the best way to do this? Should I ask visitors to leave their e-mail addresses with their comments, or perhaps e-mail me separately with their addresses?
A: Morgan –
Contests are a great way to drive traffic to your site and expand your brand – especially during a virtual tour. Many authors ask their fans to leave comments at sites. If they register properly, most sites will give accurate emails, from which a winner is chosen. Others ask fans to email them directly, or sign their Web site guest book for the duration of their tours.
Some use microblogs for contests. One company, Hooray Quick & Easy Photo Sharing, Tweeted that it would give Twitter follower No. 500 a free product from its site. The Tweeter says that contest alone equaled several direct messages from prospective buyers.
The best way to conduct an online contest is to use a free form, similar to the one here at Ask Angela. Simply visit EmailMeForm.com, or Google "Free Web Forms" to find a service that suits your needs.
Ask them to submit their full name, snail mail and email addresses, and give them an opportunity to leave a comment. Pick a winner, but keep all of the entrants at the end. Add them to your promotional mailing list, both email and USPS. This will help you develop a fan base you can keep in touch with. Send an email to everyone, listing the winner's name, then invite everyone to your social networks.
Submission forms are clean, easy to create, use and manage, and will keep the headaches to a minimum.0