Tag Archives: referral contest

Contest Planning Configuration & Operation

What online earning platform would be complete without taking advantage of the human nature of competition?  In fact when it comes to GPT sites then there tends to be a cult like following of members that seek out and find the best held contests to compete in thereby giving the winners bragging rights while other members may seek out the most lucrative contest to pour their hard work and passion into.

Contests not only increase site activity levels but also they have been observed to make a GPT site a much more social activity turning what initially looked and felt like a group of individuals into a cooperative group sharing information in real time regarding strategy and goals. The ShiftCode GPT site script is amazingly versatile when it comes to flexibility with regard to holding tightly controlled contests.

There are two (2) types of standard contests. There is the ‘Offer Contest’ and then the ‘Referral Contest’.  Each general type of contest then also has a few different modes of operation with regard to the specific type of contest and what the winning requirements will be. We’ll discuss the Offer Contest first.

Offer contests are created, edited, and managed under the admin panel left side menu under Products > Paid to Signup > Contest selection:

Offer contests are created, edited, and managed under the admin panel left side menu under Products > Paid to Signup > Contest selection:

Referral contests are created, edited, and managed under the admin panel left side menu under Products > Referral Contest:

Referral contests are created, edited, and managed under the admin panel left side menu under Products > Referral Contest

TIP: A very useful strategy with regard to contests is to always have a contest of each type running as recurring contests.  One contest being a referral contest and another contest being an offer contest. let these be your standard baseline contests with standard prizes that won’t be a concern for the site as a whole by cutting into the site’s bottom line (budget)  once way of accomplishing this which is a strategy that I (the documentation author) use on my own GPT site.

Choose prizes that cost you little or no upfront money such as advertising banner impressions, side panel ads, member account upgrades, perks that appeal to a member’s vanity such as a custom shoutbox title and/or custom shoutbox  image that is shown alongside the member’s username when they chat. Note that I didn’t mention paid to click or paid to signup advertising as a prize because those types of advertising will require you to pay the responding members when they are shown and engaged.

Holding such low-budget baseline contests and keeping them running all the time you’ll find are a win-win for all involved. You’d be surprised at how many members consider such prizes to be valuable and the GPT site will enjoy the benefits of always having a number of members competing to complete the most offers and refer the most members.

ADVICE: Know that many people who frequent GPT sites (industry regulars) take contest activity extremely serious business. It tends to appear unseemly if any of the contest rules change after the contest has started (even if you consider it a relatively minor change) It’s best to think the whole contest through and decide on everything beforehand.  If you find out that you’ve made an error in logic with regard to the contest rules then it is much preferable to stick with your initially published rules, terms, and conditions for the contest and simply learn from the experience rather than to change anything in the midst of the contest running.

Some of the common things that come up in such instances where you may feel compelled to clarify or change your initially published contest terms might be:  Poor participation (include a clause to define what happens to the contest when it is discovered that the contest is suffering from lack of participation such as a declaration that the referral contest does not officially start until at least one member reaches a minimum of 10 (arbitrary number you insert) referrals – if no member reaches the minimum declared number of qualifying referrals by contest end then the contest will be considered void due to minimum participation requirements not being met.  If it is an offer contest then something similar can be mentioned such as minimum number of offers required to activate the contest.

Though changing the contest rules, terms or conditions in the midst of a contest is definitely NOT recommended including a statement defining your right to change contest terms in the midst of any contest is recommended.  Here is a statement that seems to cover anything that may come up: “RIGHT TO CANCEL, MODIFY OR DISQUALIFY: If for any reason the Contest is not capable of running as planned, including infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures, or any other causes which corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, or proper conduct of the Contest, site administration reserves the right at its sole discretion to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Contest. Site administration further reserves the right to disqualify any Entrant who tampers with the submission process or any other part of the Contest or Contest Site.



OFFER Contests

Offer Contests are a favorite amongst GPT site regulars



Referral contests are a great way to grow your site’s member base.  Referral contests will keep the attention of those members (usually a select few) that live for the promotion of GPT sites and gaining referrals.  The work they do usually makes up for their smaller number of members.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about this regular recurring referral contest being the only referral contest you run, only contests with prizes such as these you can afford to run all the time versus the blockbuster referral contests that I recommend you run on occasion that really get;s the referrals piling in to get on your site.

It should be mentioned here that in order to avoid referral fraud (bogus signups) from happening then there are certain minimum requirements to a referral contest that you should always have in effect for all of your referral contests.  The first requirement that’s highly recommended is to require that all referrals referred intended to qualify for the contest meet the first minimum requirement that to count they need to complete at least one offer and that the total offers combined must be at least $0.10 or 10 points (there is an area on the contest add form specifically for specifying this)   It’s really easy for a person to gain throwaway referrals that will come to your site, sign up just to count as a referral in the referral contest, and leave never to be seen again.  If your contest specifies that they must complete and offer to count then you will get a higher caliber of referrals counting towards the contest.

If your site is mainly based in the USA though accepts members from other countries then it’s customary for referral contests to the main 4 or 5 countries that are English speaking.  Also consider what countries you have many offer for and then also notice which countries are lacking a large number of offers (what use would it be to you to have new members from certain countries that have little or no offers to be completed – yes, that’s pretty much useless)  The most common countries to include in referral contests would be the USA, Canada, the UK, and Australia.  Yes, it’s ok for all of your members (from all countries) to participate in the referral contest but specify only those countries that you want to target as the only countries from which new members will count toward the contest.  yes, for normal non-contest referral activity it’s fine to allow referrals from many countries (just it’s not best for a contest environment)

Setting Up the Referral Contest

In your ShiftCode GPT Admin Panel on the lower portion of the left side ‘Products’ menu locate the ‘Referral Contest’ selection and click on it.  This is the area where you’ll be creating and managing your referral contest from.  Notice the ‘Add Contest’ selection in the upper left of the middle page area.  Assuming that you are ready to add a new referral contest (and you’ve thought things through) then click on ‘Add Contest’.  You should see a page similar to the below screenshot image:

Add a Referral Contest

Take a moment to get familiar with each selection by hovering on the blue question marks towards the right side margin (simply hover over each question mark and you’ll see a brief description of each item appear)


General Considerations While Operating Your GPT Site

Having been in the Industry for About a Decade One Tends to Pick Up Tips from Observations Over The Years.  Here is a General Collection of Truths Learned Though They Are Open to Your Own Interpretation for Your Particular Purposes:

General GPT Site Operating Wisdom:  

  • Make your site currency standard!  A biggie peeve of members is finding out that your site is using a non-standard or non-traditional conversion table.  The customary currency conversions for most all decent popular sites is 1 Points = 0.01 Cash and 1 Cash = 100.00 Points !  Adopt and don’t mess with that ratio magic ratio.
  • ALWAYS enable ‘Internal Funds’ as a form of payment for intangibles (advertising, upgrades, etc) on your GPT.  Anything that avoids you actually paying out of your pocket helps – right? The member is satisfied and you are satisfied by them choosing advertising or upgrades instead of cashing out – right?
  • Give sign-on bonuses of at least a quarter ($0.25) to newly registered members (you’ll find members will tend to never want to leave money on the table and will work to reach your minimum)  Also, it helps to issue promo codes liberally and often to spur member log-in activity.
  • Identify other GPT sites by their popularity and check out their banner advertising rates.  Find other GPTs that are fairly popular though that also have reasonable advertising rates and promote your own GPT there.  Also, you can also take another approach, you can look for other GPTs which aren’t so popular with their members and if they have reasonable banner and/or side panel ad rates then make sure you advertise there as well (chances are the members that are there along with new members just signed up will want to flock away from a dismal site as early as possible – give them your banner(s) to click on to discover you own totally cool site!)
  • Notice high referral gathering members and offer them an extra perk or two to more draw their attention that your made promoting your site more enticing for those who know how to do it right.  If your site gives normal standard members 10% for first level referrals then offer the ‘Referral Whale’ member 20-25% (or just give them a free upgrade)  You will definitely get their attention, make them feel welcomed and wanted as a VIP referrer (and you will not regret this decision)
  • Make sure that your site template provides the member’s points balance and cash balance somewhere on EVERY page of your site to avoid member frustration of trying to figure out what their balances are.  As a new site member there is nothing worse than frequenting a site where you can’t intuitively find the most crucial information easily (balances) and you have to click on ‘Account Balance’ to see it.  It’s also very inconvenient to have to remember your points balance when you are on a converter page that doesn’t show a balance anywhere.  Make a balances section either in a persistent top banner such as this:
       top display 
    Or, make a side panel display such as this:  side panel stats 
  • Don’t make the mistake of Interpreting certain affiliate network offer restrictions too literally such as ‘no cash’ and ‘points only’ to mean ‘no points converter’ (that’s not what they mean!)  Generally affiliate networks and offer wall sources that specifically allow incentivized or GPT site promotion of their offers WILL ALLOW you to run ‘points only’ offers while still featuring a point-to-cash converter on your site.
    Yes, it usually goes unmentioned but it is a generally accepted practice and implied that offers bearing the statement ‘points only’ is not interpreted so strictly as one may think while first encountering it.  In most all cases networks we’ve worked with will not take the ‘no cash’ or ‘points only’ statements strictly literally as long as their offers are mindfully promoted in a generally respectful way.  Still to be more fully in compliance with the spirit of the restrictions always ONLY run ‘points only’ or ‘no cash’ offers by rewarding completions with points only (your members may freely convert the points to cash via the converter)  Note: If you want confirmation of this allowance (nail them down to an answer) then know that most affiliate network staff will usually repeat the ‘no cash’ means NO CASH more strict interpretation (though if it’s not asked in the first place then it’s almost always not a problem)
  • Unless you have been alerted by a reliable source to a recent GPT-bot issue then I highly suggest that you set the  log-in CAPTCHA to ‘Easy’ or turn it off altogether!  Observations of human nature for site members to avoid bothering to even log in to a site with a CAPTCHA set to anything but ‘Easy’ or off completely!
    This CAPTCHA level setting is located on the right side Admin Panel under ‘Main’ > ‘Configure’:
    Screen Capture #1259 - 'paidtosite - Admin - Configure' - paidtosite_shiftcode_com_87a528863d130df7bbe167e23849bddc_conf 
    You can turn off the CAPTCHA prompt entirely from the ‘Products’ (left side admin menu) > ‘Membership’ > ‘Configure’ > ‘Security’ here:
    Screen Capture #1262 - 'paidtosite - Admin - Membership - Configure - Security' - paidtosite_shiftcode_com_87a528863d130

I would suggest leaving this setting (below) regarding new member registration checked because it’s only a one time thing when a new member is registering (once)
 Screen Capture #1261 - 'paidtosite - Admin - Membership - Configure - Security' - paidtosite_shiftcode_com_87a528863d130  

Referral Banners:

  • When adding referral banners to your site for your members to use in promoting your site never delete referral banners.  Deleting banners will tend to instantly make any promotion efforts involving those referral banners that you and your members have done up until to appear invalid because of the obvious broken image links leaving only an empty shadow of your banner with a red ‘X’ in the corner.   That means all those broken looking forum posts, referral web site listings, top site list rankings, etc. will make it appear as though your site has gone out of business or otherwise not worth the click effort.  It’s fine to add referral banners (the more selection the better) but try not to delete them.  Even if certain information on the banners is no longer valid then as long as the posts containing those banners still appear fresh and ‘whole’ then they are still beckoning potential clicks leading to your site.
  • When creating referral banners try to stick with online ad industry standard sizes.  Have at least one 468 pixel by 60 pixel banner (the most commonly used and needed for GPT referral use)  Other commonly preferred banner dimensions for GPT referral use are 728×60, 300×250, 125×125, 120×90, 120×60, and 88×31 (illustration below courtesy of Wikipedia – click on it to see the full size version)  Sticking to standard sizes also make your site look more professional:


Site Contest Wisdom Tidbits:

  • GPT referral and offer contests need not offer only cash and/or points as prizes.  It can be advantageous to continuously (or regularly on a recurring basis) run contests offering these items as prizes that don’t cost money to you but are still highly revered by many site members such as banner ad impressions, side panel ads, and well thought out member account upgrades.  Yes, when your site grows stronger in popularity and activity then running cash contests helps as well but in the beginning days then no cost contests do tend to help.
  • When running referral contests always require that contest qualifying referrals need to complete at least one offer (or some other milestone other than just the simple registration)  Having such requirements tends to discourage members that are so inclined from causing bogus multiple accounts and other shenanigans.
  • Thoroughly think out contest rules and requirements before making the contest go live and stick to those rules and requirements throughout the contest duration.  If you change the rules at all in the midst of a running contest then your risk alienating certain members while breeding unnecessary resentment.  If you found that you’ve messed up by including or omitting rules and requirements then let the contest run its full course till the end without changing the rules and requirements and consider that a lesson learned to be applied to future contests.