6 Questions To Help You Decide How Long to Run Your Promotion


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It’s tricky to figure out how long your digital promotion should be in market — and truth be told there isn’t a lot of concrete advice out there.

The problem is there’s no simple answer, no one size fits all golden promotion length. The ideal run time for your promotion depends on a variety of factors.

When we started talking about this around the office we realized we’d learned a thing or two about ideal run times in our 17 years in the biz. So we compiled that knowledge into 6 questions to help you figure out how long to run your promotion:

1) Is Your Promotion Gamified?
It seems obvious but if your promotion is fun and interactive, it’ll have legs for much longer than a hit & run promotion. You can extend the length of your promotion from 4-6 weeks to 8-10 weeks if it’s gamified.

While some may argue that promotions should be short to create a sense of urgency, gamified promotions are different. They rely on consumers’ competitive nature to drive engagement — not scarcity. They create a sense of urgency within the game. And that means you can run your promotion for longer without compromising the level of consumer engagement.

2) Will it be Promoted In-Store?
Promoting in-store lets you reach more consumers and keep your promotion fresh in their minds. Your store serves as a media channel, promoting your promotion to every shopper.

That means you can extend the duration of your promotion — you can even run it as long as 2-3 months. If you’re not promoting in-store, 4-8 weeks is the sweet spot.

3) Does Your Promotion Feature an Advergame?
Advergames are designed to be addictively fun. If your promotion features an advergame you can extend the run time significantly. We’ve had consumers continue to play advergames for years after the promotion ended!

Plus if you’re targeting female shoppers advergames are especially effective — women aged 18-50 are the most active casual gamers.

4) What’s the Prizing Structure?
The longer the time between entering the contest and finding out if you won, the less urgent the contest feels. So if you’re only offering a grand prize draw, keep your contest short. You don’t want people to lose interest.

Prizes that are awarded daily make the promotion feel more urgent — and encourage people to interact with your promotion repetitively. These kinds of promotions can last for much longer than promotions that only feature a grand prize.

5) Is Your Promotion a User Generated Contest?
User Generated Contests can run for longer if you break your contest into two stages: submission and voting. With this structure you can easily run your promotion for 10 weeks. You just need to make sure you have media scheduled for the whole duration. People need to know about the voting phase or your promotion won’t work!

6) What Does Your Media Plan Look Like?
Your promotion run time depends on your media schedule. You need to have enough media coverage to last the entire promotion. So think about how long your ads are going to appear and set your promotion run time accordingly. You can also stagger ads across multiple publishers to extend the duration of your promotion.

At the end of the day it comes down to the type of promotion you are running, how you plan to promote it, and whether it’s engaging enough to generate repeat plays.

Not sure how to promote your promotion?
Download our tip sheet: PROMOTING YOUR PROMOTION

John Findlay
John is a founding partner of the digital engagement agency, Launchfire (est. 1999). In his too-many years in the business he's developed gamified digital engagement strategies & promotions for a mighty impressive list of leading marketers.


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