Running an online contest is a highly effective way to create new leads. You get more eyes on your content, more opportunities to sell your services and products, and a greater chance to establish a loyal following. The more visits to your site, the better, right? Online contests and giveaways that require referrals are easily the quickest and most efficient way to get more people to your site.
The problem is the internet, along with the people on it, is both a blessing and a curse. Good hearted people can send you amazing new clients, and trolls can flood your site with bots and fake emails, also known as fraud. So, how do you detect and minimize fraud in online contests? Fear not. We’re here to help.
KickoffLabs has helped run thousands of online contests by now, and we believe by this point we have seen it all. If you are giving anything away for “free,” odds are one or more people are going to ty to cheat their way to the win. If you are giving away something of great value, say an iPad or a $500 gift card, you can expect even more potential cheaters. How do they cheat? A number of ways.
- People will enter multiple times under different email addresses or phone numbers
- People will attempt to earn points for completing activities they did not actually complete
- People will “refer” themselves under different email addresses while claiming they have referred someone else.
- People will attempt to block the contest by flooding it with so many entries other people cannot enter
There is seemingly no end to the lengths some people will go to in order to get free stuff. And here you are hoping to give away some free stuff! But only to legitimate followers and customers, of course. Your goal in an online contest is to reach your target audience, not simply to get people to play a game and win something. Keep that in mind, and you can beat the cheaters at their own game.
How to Minimize Fraud in Online Contests
The trick to minimizing fraud is to circumvent the cheaters. You simply need to put safeguards in place to both ward them off and to catch them in the act. This way, you make sure your giveaway goes to a worthy contestant, someone actively trying to help you promote your brand and your services and products. The whole point!
To minimize fraud, make your giveaway or prize something your loyal customers can relate to your brand. Examples would be a discount on your service, a gift or a gift card from your store, dinner with an influencer of your brand, a book related to your audience or your business, or a digital download that only works with your service. KickoffLabs has a whole post on how to pick great prizes for your online contest. Avoid giving away something of enormous value that is not directly and clearly related to your brand or business. An iPad is great, but how does that connect to your brand? Your goal is to giveaway something both valuable and specific to you.
Remember, we want more eyes on your site, on your brand, more awareness of your products and services. In essence, more of your target customers. If your prize is related to specifically targeted clients, cheaters are less likely to see it as valuable while your clients will find it tremendously valuable.
Reward Verified Actions
Another way to minimize fraud is to ensure your entrants are more engaged than simply entering an email address. You can also make sure verifiable actions earn more points toward winning than unverifiable actions. The online contests we run for our clients at KickoffLabs have these safeguards in place; our default setup scores verified actions as 3X more valuable than non-verified actions. We thrilled to help you put these safeguards into place when you run your contest through us. If you decide to go it alone, keep the difference between verifiable and unverifiable actions in mind:
- Refer a friend that verifies their email address
- Send us a link to your Instagram post about us
- Make a purchase at our store
- Simply click to share with friends in an online network
- Enter unverifiable email
- Visit a website
The key to requiring verifiable actions is to ensure your business grows in real value and your audience grows with each step your contestants take. That way, the contest is a win/win/win. You win with each verifiable action, your contestants win by engaging and benefiting from your services or products, and one lucky contestant wins the giveaway!
Have a Clear Set of Contest Rules
One great way to cut down on your chances of cheaters is to put into place a clear set of contest rules up front. Have the rules in bold letters right up front, so anyone hoping to skirt those rules is dissuaded right away. Make sure your rules are clear on what you will be doing to validate authentic entries and announce up front that you have the right to exclude anyone you suspect of fraud.
Some examples of explicit rules you may want to include:
- Duplicate entries by the same person will not be allowed
- We are the ultimate decision makers about the winners
- We reserve the right to exclude anyone we suspect of fraud
- We will be validating the entries and the scores
- We will be limiting the number of entries that come from ___
- Temporary email addresses will not be considered
If your full length, legalized language is too long to be included on the front page of your contest, be sure the most important ones are summarized and placed in bold font where all entrants can see and understand them up front.
KickoffLabs makes this whole process really easy for our customers by including default contest rules for every promotion that you can edit centrally for a campaign.
Pick a Platform that Enables Advanced Fraud Checks
Finally, as a platform designed with you in mind, KickoffLabs makes it easy to enforce your contest rules.
If you decide to use a third party platform like ours to run your campaign, make sure they offer, at the very least, these services:
- Restrict the number of entries from the same IP address
- Identify oddly similar email addresses
- Prevent entries linked to contest spam sites
- Verify specific actions
- Enable email or telephone number validation
- Allow you to manually query, flag, or allow batch entries at once to make cleanup easier
- Pick only verified entries as a winner
The above services are just a few guarantees we put into place to help you minimize fraud in your online contests. Any third party helping you should do the same.
KickoffLabs is here to help you run your online contests and keep them fun and fraud free. We are firm believers in the ability of these contests to reach more of your intended audience, and we want to help you get there. You can get started with our programs for free, or just take advantage of our many free resources available on the site!
Guide to manually detecting fraud