How three-phase ballots maximize revenue and engagement

July 11, 2017

By Matt Coen
President and Co-Founder | Second Street

Three-phase ballots have been achieving massive results for citywide ballots, allowing for big revenue gains and easier user experiences. For example, by leveraging a multi-phase system, the Best of Texoma 2017 ballot brought in more than $250,000 in revenue, representing a 68 percent growth over the previous year.

Take a look at why three-phase ballots achieve the best results, and how to bring these results to your next citywide ballot.

 

The Nomination Phase

In this phase, voters nominate their favorite businesses in the area without any seeded entrants present. This way, you are limiting the confusion that comes with simultaneously allowing write-ins and voting. In addition, each nominated business is a possible lead, so this is a great time to find new sales opportunities.

Texoma was able to generate $7,500 in revenue by creating sales sheets dedicated to certain nominated businesses. With “Defend Your Title” sheets for last year’s winners and “Claim Your Title” for new and returning entrants, the nomination phase was the perfect time to start capitalizing on leads.

Here are the steps to run the best nomination phase possible:

1. Length of Nomination Phase— Make sure to plan a few months in advance to provide adequate time for promoting your ballot to your audience and local businesses. The nomination phase of your ballot should last between three to four weeks to allow as many users as possible to vote.

2. Picking Entrants for Ballot— Once your audience has spoken, you should initiate a three- to five-day blackout phase to decide which nominations to include in your ballot, based on votes. Luckily, because of merging algorithms, counting votes has never been easier.

3. Sell, Sell, Sell!—Now that these businesses have been selected, they will want to make sure they have the best shot at winning their category. Make sure to contact them about enhanced listings and category ad space to maximize your revenue.

 

The Voting Phase

A voting phase is similar in length to the nomination period, and should be around 3-4 weeks. This maximizes exposure and gives businesses time to market their place in the ballot to customers. Remember to send an email when voting begins, midway through voting, five days before voting ends, and the day before voting ends to get as many votes as possible.

For Texoma’s voting phase, the sales team leveraged “Vote for Me” sales sheets to give businesses the opportunity to boost their vote totals. In addition, they incorporated a sweepstakes for voters, which had been proven to increase participation by up to 300 percent. Through a two-sided approach, Texoma generated $47,000 in revenue from this phase.

 

The Winners Phase

The winners phase is incredibly important to ensure the future success of your ballot. By offering more ad space and making your ballot participants feel appreciated, you establish sustainable relationships to propel your success into future iterations of the ballot.

Texoma made sure to approach all winners to sell spots in the winners’ digital and print sections. In addition, they went above and beyond to run a Best of Texoma Gala, where all of the winners were invited to attend. From print and digital ads to event sponsors and ticket sales, this phase generated a massive $202,000 in revenue for the paper.

Here are the steps to execute the best winner’s phase as possible:

1. Blackout Period—Once voting ends, another three- to five-day blackout period is necessary to sell thank-you ads and prepare your winner’s announcements. These advertisements can appear either in a special section for your publication, on your website, or even on-air.

2. Announcing Winners—Once the blackout period is over, it is time to officially announce your winners. Launch your winners’ directory and send an email to your audience to reveal the results.

3. Show Your Appreciation—In addition to your email announcement, there are several things you can do to make your participants feel appreciated. Send plaques to the ballot winners and throw a party to celebrate those who participated in the event. Don’t forget, it’s never too early to sign up businesses in advance for category ads.

Utilizing the three-phase system maximizes revenue opportunities and makes your audience happy. By following these steps, you are setting your ballot up for success and laying the foundation for even bigger ballot achievements in the future.

matt@secondstreet.com

 

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