Photo Contest Drives More Than 1,000 Leads for Hospital

A cutest baby photo contest grows hospital’s email database by more than 4,000 users and drives more than 16,000 votes


The Johnson City Press, a 26,000-circulation newspaper in Johnson City, Tenn., has a history of running successful photo contests. They knew cutest baby contests are always a big success, so they wanted to find a sponsor who could benefit from the opportunity.

Mountain States Health Alliance, a local medical center, had worked with the Johnson City Press in the past. The hospital was hopeful this photo contest would help them grow their email database, increase exposure for the brand and develop leads for future marketing campaigns.

Long before launching the Picture Perfect Baby Contest, the newspaper met with Mountain States Health Alliance to determine their campaign goals. It’s really important for them to have a consumer needs analysis (CNA) meeting to understand what the client really wants and decide on the best ways to achieve their goal.

Based on the CNA, the newspaper learned the hospital was looking to grow their email database of new customers, so they were sure to an email opt-in to the registration page.

In addition to the email growth, it was really important for Mountain States Health Alliance to identify potential new clients. A cutest baby contest presents the perfect opportunity to target families in your community.

With two survey questions, the Johnson City Press was not only able to identify users expecting a new baby, but also to provide a list of contacts who wanted information about their children’s healthcare.

The paper has found photo contests increase engagement by having a submission period and a separate voting period, so they ran each period for about three weeks. While users could only make one submission, they were allowed to cast one vote each day. This brought users back to their site day after day and gave users extra time to solicit votes from friends and family.

Promotion is key to maximizing engagement in the contest. The Johnson City Press leveraged their core media with print ads in the newspaper and ads on their website, but the real driver of participation was email. The team sent a contest email to their registered user database of 13,500 people, and this sparked the majority of the contest engagement.

After the contest ended, while the top three winners each received a cash prize, all of the top 12 entrants had their pictures published in the newspaper.

The contest received 600 entries, more than 16,000 votes were cast, and the Johnson City Press was able to secure $3,000 in revenue.

But the real success came in results for the advertiser. The email opt-in brought in more than 7,200 new addresses for the hospital’s database. They discovered 1,195 users who anticipate having a baby within the next two years, and 596 entrants were interested in learning more about their child’s healthcare.

The Mountain States Health Alliance was happy with the results of the contest. They said they are eager to begin using the data for future targeted marketing campaigns and to work with the Johnson City Press in the future.

Matt Coen is president and co-founder of Second Street, a Saint Louis-based provider of private-label online promotions platforms for media companies.