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Pay attention to me: do gimmicks really work in digital marketing?

Jan14Part of the challenge of digital marketing is that competitors are trying to master it too. No matter how high the number, if you have the same amount of followers, email addresses or page views as your next closest enemy, are you really at a digital marketing advantage?

Creativity in marketing is often the thing that sets businesses apart. While breaking away from traditional advertising pursuits is certainly necessary for business success, marketers should be wary of promotional equivalents to “look at me” signs.

Take a glance at the good and bad of three popular digital marketing gimmicks:

Giveaways. Deciding to give away a product or service, or to sponsor a giveaway with other companies making the donations, can be an excellent way to get new people to your site. The problem of course is that some people enter any giveaway they see – whether they have any interest or not in the companies behind it. You may find that a high level of participation in a giveaway will end in a low conversion rate. To make the most of a giveaway, make it mandatory to submit an email address (and expressly mention that you plan to use it for promotional reasons) and then follow up after the giveaway ends with a great discount or deal.

Contests. A contest will likely result in a higher number of quality followers or contacts than a giveaway because the level of effort is higher on the part of the entrants. Instead of simply “liking” a Facebook page or typing in an email address, people who enter a contest usually need to take it a step further. Perhaps you want to facilitate a holiday photo contest, or even an essay contest for Mother’s Day. Those who want to enter for the prize (provided by your company) have to care enough to make the extra initiative to complete the requested task. The downside of contests is that they are also more work for those who host it. Rules, eligibility and shipping details are all the responsibility of the contest host and can be a headache if not handled correctly.

Viral content. Whether material will get overwhelming online attention, or “go viral,” cannot be predicted. Take the now-famous David after Dentist video on YouTube or more recently, the One Man Dances like No One is Watching video. In both cases, neither of the video’s participants tried to get the millions of views they ended up garnering – it just happened. Companies that try to manufacture viral attention, like the Dollar Shave Club (over 12 million views) or Geico’s often-reenacted Hump Day video (over 18 million views online alone), can see success – clearly. What companies need to consider though before aiming for a viral post or video is whether such a thing would really enhance the business reputation or enhance sales. Everyone loves a funny or amazing online tidbit, but it does not always translate to a sale.

In the long run, any quick-fix solution to digital marketing will not add as much value as building up your online credibility and following over time. Still, the right gimmick may be the right choice based on your company marketing strategy.

What gimmicks have worked for you?

Image via Flickr on Creative Commons

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

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Megan Totka

Megan Totka is a freelance writer, business expert and consultant. She was the marketing & editorial director at for over a decade. As a business expert, she specializes in reporting the latest business news, helpful tips and reliable resources, as well as providing business advice. She has significant experience with the topic of business marketing, and has spent several years exploring topics like copywriting, content marketing, list building, social media and any hot topics to help businesses run their business successfully. When she's not writing articles to educate businesses on the vast importance of building up their web presence, she likes to keep her finger on the pulse of the latest small business products, services, apps and other reviews. With a strong suit for managing business partnerships and developing partner relations, she often cultivates topics around the partnerships she's established by reviewing and highlighting what makes each business unique. She prides herself on keeping up with the diverse variety of services each business specializes in to spotlight new offerings.

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