Horizon Featured Article

Running Effective No Purchase Necessary Promotions

Northsail Wants to Help You Improve How You Frame Your Promotions

Everyone loves getting something for free, but sometimes having a great prize just isn't enough to build excitement for a contest or promotion. The way that you frame your promotions has an enormous impact on how much your promotion engages with your target market and encourages them to participate.

Transparency is a huge part of this, because customers will want to know that they're not getting involved in something more time consuming or demanding than they'd prefer, before they opt in.

Northsail is a strict believer in transparency, which is why we guarantee that we'll finish every project on-time, on-spec, and on-budget. If we don't think we can do that to our top-tier standards, we simply won't accept a project.

It's because of this open, honest communication that our clients know they can always trust us to meet and exceed their expectations.

One way to ensure full disclosure with your customers is by running 'No Purchase Necessary' promotions. This is where you state this portion of your guidelines clearly in your marketing materials for the promotional event. It's a great tactic for gaining attention, but No Purchase Necessary promotions do have some downsides.

Before we start talking about the pros and cons of No Purchase Necessary promotions, let's discuss this type of promotion in more detail.

What are 'No Purchase Necessary' Promotions?

We've all seen them in brick-and-mortar stores - ballot boxes stuffed full of folded or crumpled sheets of paper; usually seated firmly in front of the entrance doors or at the checkout.

Win a trip. Win merchandise. Win a free meal. These are some of the most common forms of the No Purchase Necessary promotion we see in retail today.

In truth, any promotion that doesn't require you to pay money, or make some other valuable consideration to enter, would be a No Purchase Necessary promotion. They are allowed to be skill-based contests.

Even if they aren't expressly stated, all contests and promotions in Canada that aren't skill-based must be No Purchase Necessary promotions.

Thanks to sweepstakes laws, it's illegal to charge potential customers an entry fee to participate in games of chance, raffles, or lotteries without a license in Canada, as well as many parts of the U.S. The extra costs that could be incurred by being caught running a game of chance are absolutely not worth attempting - even if the element of chance is small.

No Purchase Necessary promotions are far from a new marketing strategy. Credit card issuers have been using these types of promotions for decades. However, their familiarity with customers makes them a relatable and useful tool – as long as you use them tactfully.

Most people are used to earning rewards on purchases, so this form of marketing can garner a lot of attention quickly. However, these types of special offers can also be quite costly for your business if you aren't careful.

The History of the Credit Card & No Purchase Necessary Products

When most people think of No Purchase Necessary promotions, some people think of companies like Publishers Clearing House, or the McDonald's Monopoly game that's run yearly (you can mail in for free game pieces).

You may not realize that much of the popularization of the No Purchase Necessary promotion originates from the credit card industry.

Companies like Visa, Mastercard, American Express may be the traditional big players for credit card issuers, but now many private banks offer a credit card as well.

This has opened the way for more No Purchase Necessary promotions to branch more readily into the retail industry, as many other types of corporations apart from lenders have found ways to take advantage of this unique type of marketing strategy.

You may even recognize one of the tactics used to push credit card No Purchase Necessary promotions, like representatives that approach you at grocery stores, asking if you'd like to earn a gift card or some sort of statement credit after spending a certain amount within several months on purchases.

They may be able to give you bonus intro plan fees on a new credit card, or a lump sum that's deducted from the entire balance as long as you sign up for their credit card and remain active for a certain period of time.

Many people sign up for these because they want the financial product, or they assume they can earn the benefits the card offers, as long as they stay up-to-date on their monthly payment. Others use them as a way to improve their credit scores.

The truth of the matter is that this is a tactic credit card issuers use to get you using their card. In some cases, there may even be a monthly plan fee in the fine print of the official rules, which can lock the customer into months of fees for the whole plan duration.

When that happens, you may not be 'purchasing' something in the form of a product, but the credit card itself becomes your purchase.

The Pros

The biggest benefit of No Purchase Necessary promotions for retail businesses is the method of entry stated right in its name. Since customers don't need to make a purchase or pay an entry fee in order to participate in the promotion, it extends the potential reach of your event beyond your existing range of customers.

Typically, they just need to follow the entry method stated in the promotions rules, such as collecting game pieces, filling out an entry form of consideration (including a name, street address, and email address), to meet the eligibility requirements.

This is particularly common in In-Store Promotions, where customers will be exposed to much more marketing materials both inside and outside of stores.

Knowing that they can win a prize of some kind, without even being required to make a purchase from your store, they may be inclined to enter the promotion; simply because they can.

It's your job to make sure that once they're in the door, in-person or online, the rest of your offerings are exciting enough to continue engaging their interest.

Also, with the continuing shift of clientele into a digital marketplace landscape, you can leverage No Purchase Necessary promotions through Social Media to encourage positive word-of-mouth for your brand and extend its reach. This helps build strong Brand Loyalty.

The Cons

If you're trying to figure out how to use prizes and rewards in successful promotions, advertising the No Purchase Necessary portion of your promotion may not always be in your best interest.

Yes, promotions are a great way to Make Your Brand Stand Out, but plastering No Purchase Necessary excessively on all of your marketing materials can actually devalue your campaign.

We've discussed previously that similar to Bonus Entry Contests, making it too easy for customers to enter a contest or promotion, or giving them the opportunity to earn additional entries, can make some customers feel like there's no point in bothering to try.

Don't forget that if you're going to offer a big, lavish prize, it's a smart idea to include a skill-testing question with each entry. This prevents the entry from being ‘too easy’ to enter - especially if you're considering allowing extra entries into your promotion.

While it may only be the case in certain industries, proudly stating No Purchase Necessary on a promotion can make some types of customers leery.

With all the scams that exist in today's world, it’s easy to believe that sometimes a promotion is too good to be true, or assume that there must be some kind of 'catch' to be allowed to participate. If customers don't feel comfortable with your promotion or enticed by your award prizes, they won't want to share personal information like their email address to enter.

Only you'll be able to determine whether pushing the No Purchase Necessary portion of your promotion is a good or a bad idea for your target market.

If you do decide to make it a focal point in your marketing materials, it's crucial that you take the time to frame your promotion properly for your customer base; otherwise, you could do your brand more harm than good.

Framing is Everything

The way that your potential customers see your promotion directly impacts how excited they will be (or won't be) about your promotion. If you're including this as an online promotion as well as within your retail stores, you have to be extra mindful.

You have to be extremely careful that the method of entry doesn't have an impact on the customer's ability to win, otherwise some customers will feel slighted by the contest winners. Also, consider whether you're going to publish a list of winners. Some people may not like the idea of being named publicly.

When you're going to highlight that your promotion is No Purchase Necessary in your official rules, it's a good idea to have relevant, enticing Contest Prize Ideas.

You are allowed to charge for entries to participate in common types of skill-based promotions, like photography, writing, etc.

However, unless you're positive you will be within the legal boundaries, it's a good idea to avoid taking a risk on these types of prize promotions. The potential losses will far outweigh the gains, especially if there are alternative methods of running essentially the same type of prize promotion.

There are ways that you can encourage conversions, without getting yourself into any kind of legal trouble. For instance, while you can't charge for ballots, there's nothing wrong with offering free ballots alongside purchase of your products. They're paying for a product; you're just providing them with an entry, as a courtesy for their patronage.

Regardless of how you choose to frame your promotion, take the time to talk to some of your most loyal customers first. They can offer insight you might not otherwise receive until after you've started your No Purchase Necessary promotion. This can give you the opportunity to make some crucial tweaks before the promotion goes live.

Northsail's Newest Service is Available for Trial

With No Purchase Necessary!

Are you tired of having to consult with a developer every time that you want to add a new page to your site? Do you feel like you could manage your forms to collect client data more quickly and efficiently on your own, if you only had the tools?

'Horizon' is Northsail's newest service, and it allows you to quickly and efficiently create high-performance microsites or landing pages, without a developer's assistance.

You can also use it to incorporate promotions and customer data collection forms across any of your pages, so you can stop missing out on gathering crucial customer information.

There's no purchase necessary to sign up for a trial, so what are you waiting for? All we ask is that you take a little time to let us know what you think, once you've had a chance to try out Horizon for yourself.

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We’ll send you important updates about the early access program and your free invite when we are ready.

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