7 Things that you didn't know about competition websites
There are a lot of free competition websites out there (I am sure you have noticed) and they can't all really be free, or can they? As you may or may not know I have had a lot of experience in running these sites, or working for companies that own them so I thought it would be useful to reveal some home truths and explain what is really going on.
First of all I would like to explain what I mean by competition sites. Lots of companies have free competitions in exchange for signing up to their newsletter or similar. These are fine and usually one off marketing promotions for that specific brand. I am talking about websites that are seemingly dedicated to giving stuff away for free (like Bonus Club to some degree). There is no charge, just enter your details and you might win an iPhone or a holiday. Have you ever asked yourself how this is possible with no charge whatsoever? Let me try to explain things.
You are the product.
I bet there has always been a part of you that believed that somehow you were being taken advantage of or scammed. Well yes, you are right to be suspicious, but it may not be as sinister as you might think. It is certainly true that these companies do make money, and if they aren't charging you, where is the money coming from. The answer is YOU or more accurately, your data! (your information, maybe your contact information, maybe your likes and dislikes based on your browsing history). The real truth is that this is happening on every website that you visit, competition websites just use the clever idea of offering something for free to get as many people to visit the website as possible and try to make as much money as possible. Make sense?
Data data data.
Ok so maybe the above paragraph was a little confusing, but its quite a complicated thing to explain. Put simply, it comes down to your data. How much data you hand over is now much more within our control since GDPR and you should never be forced to give any data that isn't absolutely necessary. Watch out for the tick boxes, these are what allow companies to sell your information. When was the last time you really read what it said in the tick boxes? Do you just tick them without looking? Here's a tip, don't give away anything you don't have to and read the tick boxes.
Why so many questions?
Have you ever signed up to a survey site, or a competition site that seems to ask lots of irrelevant questions? Let me guess, "who supplies you gas and electricity?" Now you are starting to understand how these sites really work. This information that is collected, genuinely is really valuable to the right buyer and the more information they can get out of you, the more money they make.
Its big business for lots of big brands.
Did you think that it was just some 2 bit company or geeky guy in a bedroom running these sites? Think again. In my time I have worked with some of the biggest brands in the UK (Really huge, I won't name them to be safe, but think of the biggest UK company you can, change your mind a few times, I guarantee you will have named at least one of the companies I have worked with) and they have whole divisions and/or call centres that are contacting customers purely on the basis of a random competition people entered months ago, sometimes even years ago.
The prizes are actually (in most cases) genuine.
One thing I always get asked is "does anyone actually win?" Well actually, there is a winner every single time, no exceptions, this is how to keep the site legal, but yes, there is a catch. This may surprise you as this is how they trick you. The prizes themselves have to be claimed. Even if you win, you won't get a brand new iPhone arriving the next day, no chance of that. You will usually receive an email (that probably goes to spam) giving you a set of instructions to complete in order to claim your free prize. Would you believe you had won, or would you just delete it thinking it was a scam?
It's the date thats the clever part.
Have you ever looked at the draw date on the competitions that you enter? Now this is where its actually quite clever. The draw date can be months, if not years in advance. This builds on the point above, are you ever likely to remember entering an online competition 2 years ago? Chances are that you won't, so you guessed it, just another way to make sure these companies make even more money, by never actually paying our any of the prizes (even though they are technically genuine. . . I know, I struggled to write that as I'm not sure 'genuine' is the right word).
You can beat the system.
Having said all of the above, I do recall one particular month at a previous job working for a competition site where someone actually claimed a £3000 cash prize. Everyone in the office was genuinely happy for the winner and it turned out to be a lovely lady that really needed it. There is hope I suppose after all.
After all said and done, competition sites do serve a purpose. They fuel call centres up and down the country and when treated in the right way they can be a bit of fun and a chance to win something with no real risk. Here are a few tips.
- Only enter information that you feel is necessary.
- Read all of the tick boxes.
- Check the draw dates.
- Keep a note of what you have entered.
If you are still keen on entering free competitions then here are some below. Most of the above does apply, but remember, if you keep organised and be careful then its just a bit of fun and you never know, you might just win.
Now a quick word about Bonus Club, I started the site to try and create a site that doesn't sell information as such and lets people have a good chance of winning some cash in an easy a non intrusive way. A Daily Cash Prize so you always know when the draw is happening. The prizes are funded by advertising so we don't have to sell peoples information (we get paid when you click an ad). We also have offers for other websites that earn us commission (the Cash Bonus section) and we then pass on a chunk of the commission to you as another way for our members to earn money. Finally a monthly prize draw. Always the last day of the month, and usually £100 Amazon Vouchers, although I hope to grow this as we get bigger. More info on Bonus Club can be found here.
If you have not done so, please check out the site, have a look around and hopefully you decide to sign up and you could be our next winner.
Thanks, for reading and I really hope you are enjoying Bonus Club. Any thoughts or suggestions are always welcome.
All the best