The Award manager’s guide to amazing entry experiences

by | Nov 9, 2020 | Articles

Experience is everything. Your awards program entrants should enjoy your entry experience and have a positive interaction with your brand and your program. Why? Because a user-friendly and personalised awards experience can increase submissions, improve submission quality and set your program apart.

In other words, it’s not only better for them. It’s also better for you.

But how can you make sure you’re offering an amazing experience? Here is our complete guide to help you delight your entrants and grow your program. 

Provide easy and secure registration 

Let’s start with the very first interaction with your program – login and registration. Is it easy? Is it secure? 

We could talk all day about the advantages of an online registration and awards program, but even if you have a paper form, it’s important to remove any obstacles to access. Can entrants receive it by mail or download it from a website? Whether it’s a paper or online entry form, make sure it is accessible for any interested entrant.

If you run your awards program online, take a look at the process. Is it easy to login or do your entrants have to click from website to website? If you have an IT team, talk to them about ways to streamline the process for your entrants. 

In Award Force, for example, we have one central hub for all program users––whether they are program managers, entrants or judges. There are options to provide single sign-on authentication (SSO), a SAML integration that allows your applicants to log in through another system, or social media sign-in––and all backed with GDPR and CCPA-compliant protections.

Easy entrant access

Provide a user-friendly entry form

The bulk of your entrants’ experience with your program will be filling out your entry form. It’s the most important part of the process and will help your judges determine the most outstanding entrants.  

It’s vital that you provide a user-friendly entry form that uses best practice design principles.

If the entry form is complicated or confusing, you’re likely to experience high volume support calls and emails and lower entry completion rates. It can also affect the quality of the entries you receive.

Here are several best practices to incorporate into your entry form design: 

Keep it minimal

Keep the entry form manageable for your entrants. For example, if it is long and asks for a lot of information, consider breaking it up into sections. And, let your entrants know in advance what information will be required.

At Award Force, we offer an easy and powerful entry form builder that gives you the power to configure your entry form with categories and tabs to easily divide up the form. Our clear, minimal layout helps entrants easily click through and complete the entry form. 

Keep it relevant

Only ask questions that are needed for your judges to evaluate an entry. If the entrant has to answer pages of questions that don’t apply to them, they will feel frustrated and overwhelmed.

Consider working with your judges in advance to plan the questions and fields needed in your entry form. Only ask what is absolutely needed, saving time for both your judges and entrants.

At Award Force, we also offer you a way to go a step further and create conditional fields in your entry form so you can hide or show fields based on the information the entrant has already provided.

Award Force conditional fields

Make it stress-free

If your entrant has to complete the entry form in one sitting, let them know in advance and make sure they have all the information required before they start the entry process.

Award Force also goes a step further here, providing peace of mind with an auto-save feature that will save your entrants’ work in progress automatically, cutting down on lost work and allowing them to pause and come back to the entry form any time, which will help increase the quality of their submission. We also allow all types and sizes of file uploads, giving you the control to collect exactly what you need from each entrant. 

Provide data security

Since you are collecting data, it’s important to protect that data and your users. Check to make sure you’re compliant with GDPR and CCPA standards if you have participants in Europe or California. And communicate with your entrants to let them know you are protecting their data.

Award Force, for example, uses best practice security measures to protect you, your company, your judges + entrants, and their personal data.

Create a branded experience 

Your entry form offers your entrants direct interaction with your brand, so you should make sure you offer a positive brand experience that builds affinity with your brand and program. 

Highlight your brand by adding your logo, relevant pictures and video to your entry form where possible to provide a branded submission experience. 

And don’t forget your awards program sponsors! Spotlight their logos and program involvement wherever applicable.

In Award Force, for example, you can theme the entry form to match your brand and create a consistent experience for your entrants. You can style menus, headers, footers, buttons, PDFs, and more with a responsive design. You can add your own logo or your sponsors across the entry form interface.

Award Force clean design

Provide guidance along the way 

If your entry form is complex or confusing, it can increase support calls and emails. But, with helpful, contextual content provided with the entry form, you can reduce that need for help and increase submitted entries. 

Think about how you can help your entrants. What questions are they likely to ask? Create FAQs to help answer common questions. Create a help document that can walk them through the process with how-tos and helpful hints. Or perhaps you provide a video or webinar walkthrough of the entry form to better prepare your entrants.

If your entry form software allows it, provide contextual content right on the entry form. We offer this in Award Force, and awards managers use it often to add text, images or videos to help entrants along the way, right on the platform.

Entry form help and guidance

Be in touch, regularly  

Communicate regularly with your program entrants by sending program updates and reminders. This can be a great way to keep your program top of mind and to keep your entrants engaged.

Award Force provides you with a way to send personalised emails to all or select entrants directly from the platform, ideal for sending reminders to finish an entry or remind them of payment, for example.

Give your entrants the option to follow-up

If you’d like to keep your entrants engaged after their entry is submitted, provide engagement opportunities.

This could be a way for them to check the status of their entry without having to call you, for example. In Award Force, we provide a way for entrants to log-in at the same portal to check status or edit their entry form (if you allow it). 

An amazing awards experience for program growth

Creating a delightful entry experience is not impossible. With the right tools, you can offer a user-friendly entry form that will delight your entrants and grow your program.

A modern and easy user experience will create an affinity for your awards program that lasts long after the submission period.

Want to learn how you can offer an amazing entry experience with Award Force? Watch our demo videos, take a self-guided tour or book a call to learn more 

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