Entry Forms: The Worst Marketing Fail Since Weight Loss Banner Ads

What’s more ineffective and annoying than a weight loss banner ad? Unauthenticated entry forms.

Don’t know what unauthenticated entry forms are? Then keep reading because you’re 100% using them.

Before you remind us that every one of our 30+ Campaign templates has an entry form - notably our “Entry Form” campaign - hear us out.

Entry forms are good in theory. Need information about your fans? Get them to fill out a form. It’s even better if you trade an incentive for their information because then they might actually take the time to complete it.

But just like any good superhero, they can’t act alone. If they do, they’re nothing more than Venom in Spiderman's spandex. Here’s why.

5 Reasons Why Entry Forms Are The Worst

1) Too Much Work, Not Enough Data

Ever visited a medical clinic to see a doctor on your lunch break - sick, exhausted and impatient - only to be handed a germ-laden, laminated clipboard requesting your biological autobiography before you see someone?

We all know what you wanted to do with that clipboard. Because we’re all aware that even if we could describe our complex state with some form fields, it would change by the time we reached the end.

Not only are forms an excellent way to irritate your fans, they’re terrible at collecting valuable information about an ever-changing, uber-intricate human being. Avoid the bad marketer plague by abandoning them entirely.

2) Vulnerable to Cheaters and Bots

Cheating was easy before social media identities. You could hide behind an anonymous screen name, do what you wanted and never get caught.

All a home-wrecking troll has to do to ruin the sanctity of your beautiful campaign is open up incognito, turn on an IP-switcher and start clicking.

We’re not saying it’s your fault that they voted on that entry day and night behind your back. You’re just too trusting and naive about these life-ruiners. We can help you.

3) Outdated or Junk Contacts (Emails)

What’s full of numerals, bad puns and 10 years of regret? That email you always use to enter contests.

We all have one. “sexythang69@hotmail.com” “dogloverdave33@yahoo.ca” “emy_blue92@gmail.com” - those god awful emails we never check, inboxes bursting with hordes of spam from long forgotten sweepstakes.

As marketers, these are poison. They’ll trash your email open rates. They’ll cost you thousands in expensive, irrelevant ads. They’re the cockroaches of inbound leads - ugly, hard to find, and borderline impossible to eliminate.

Your anonymous entry form is a wide open door for these creeps to crawl into your precious CRM. Slam it shut!

4) No Relationships Between Fans

How do you find the “cool kids” that influence all your other customers to buy your product? If you lined them all up separately, it would be difficult to tell good from great. Sometimes our biggest advocates don’t even buy our product - so how can you know who’s at the apex of a cluster of profitable customers?

Emails do not come out of nowhere. They are linked to humans; people with friends and families that listen to what they say in real life and impact the choices of those around them. Simple spreadsheets of emails and names do not reveal the relationships between your customers and are thus a massive missed opportunity.

You must map the social graph of your fans to find and reach the influential ones.

5) One Time (Anonymous) Connection

There's a time and a place for fun, no-strings, one-time, anonymous connections. Your inbound lead strategy is not one.

When you present fans with an entry form, you’re only collecting a snapshot of their identity in that moment. Phone numbers change. VISA cards get lost and replaced. People wake up one day and realize that Lil’ Jon really isn’t that talented.

If you want an accurate representation of your fans, you must form a living connection with them. An entry form may be a good place to start, but you’ll need to check in and constantly update their profile to reflect their current interests, behaviours and contact information.

How to Fix Entry Forms (and Prevent Cheaters) Forever

Convinced that (unverified) entry forms suck yet? Good.

(If you said no, please email me now. I’m concerned for your wellbeing.)

How do we solve this problem? How do we prevent the cheaters, enrich our fan profiles and reveal connections between fans? Many well-meaning marketers have tried and failed.

Captcha. IP and cookie trackers. Skill testing questions that make you drag “BEDMAS” out of your Grade 6 memory. These are just a few of the countless attempts marketers have made to prevent cheaters and fakes from poisoning their precious pool of leads.

As quickly as you can engineer a bot-prevention mechanism, someone’s made a smarter bot.

But you know what’s hard to fake? The entire decade(s) of daily activities that built your virtual identity.

Like it or not, your Facebook profile is a digital version of yourself. Even if you’re not an avid poster - what you click, what you like and who you interact with, all leave little traces of your identity within your (private) profile.

As a marketer seeking quality leads, you ask fans permission to tap into this virtual identity. It’s arguably a better representation of a person’s authentic self than their passport. And you can access it with just a single click on “I accept”.

Social login is not just a buzzword. Authenticating fan profiles by connecting with their Facebook account (ID) is an extremely useful way of establishing meaningful, long-lasting connections with fans.

You can still have an entry form. You can still ask them to confirm their information. But when you combine social data with explicitly typed data, you finally achieve a perfect picture of your audience.

The Only Time an Unauthenticated Entry Form is Useful

Just like when your friend asks if you can tell they’ve gained weight, sometimes bad things (like lying) can be appropriate in select situations.

The only time where unauthenticated entry forms are useful is when you’re using a tablet in a public place and can physically verify that a real human is entering your contest. Especially if you can loom over them and remind them that they’re going to use that email address to notify you if they win.

You can’t use social login at a mall kiosk because no one will ever log into Facebook on a public device because it’s unsafe and cumbersome. I mean, how many people actually know their Facebook password? Shoutout to automatic password managers.

Even if they did, all future entrants on your tablet would likely be implicitly logged in, which would override your previous entrants’ information. You’d get back to the office and be awfully upset that your one-and-only fan profile for Jane Doe was updated 400 times that day.

So, unless you have a trained staff inviting participants to enter your contest on a communal tablet, don’t use anonymous entry forms. Ever.

What Now?

Need help setting up your contest with an authenticated entry form? Contact us and we’ll show you how Campaigns with social login earn you quality, enriched and constantly-updated fan profiles. We promise you’ll be up and running before Christmas!

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