Crate & Barrel Ultimate Wedding Contest – How it Could Be Better

A friend of mine asked me to Tweet about a contest his coworker had entered. The guy and his fiancée are vying for the “Ultimate Wedding” from Crate & Barrel. I was happy to vote, which I did, but during the process, I noticed a few things that C&B could do in order to make this contest a little more effective and “engaging.” (pun intended)

 

Voting

Personally, I am all in favor of contests that depend on user votes to determine a winner. It seems fairer, and it relies on entrants to utilize their own social networks to draw people to their entries. But here’s the thing that Crate & Barrel flubbed up: voting is a multistep process. In order to cast my vote, I not only had to enter my email address, but also create and verify a password, as well as click on a link in a confirmation email just to vote. As for the voting itself, there’s a big fat (& pink) “Vote for this Entry” button in the middle of the page, but the actual number of votes is not very prevalent for some reason.

The votes will only get you so far, as the top 50 vote earners will be advance to the final round, which is then judged, presumably by Crate & Barrel’s PR team. Voting will still weigh in, though, as the top 10 vote earners will receive some points, which count 20% toward the final score. (I think C&B left a digit out of their T’s&C’s, BTW: Entry’s Ranking in public voting (20%) as follows: 1st–10th place in public voting will receive points; 10th–20th place will receive 6 points; 20th–30th place will receive 4 points; and the remaining 20 Finalists will receive 0 points.)

Entries | Crate and Barrel's Ultimate Wedding Contest

Entries

So there are a few things that could use improvement here. First, the entries themselves are a single shot of each couple along with 3 big blocks of information. These are “Our Love Story” “Three important details about our Ultimate Wedding.” and “Our everyday dream day.” I’m not sure what that last one means, exactly, but I imagine something more akin to “Our Perfect Day” might be a better way to phrase that question in order for these couples to express themselves. Maybe that is just the copywriter in me being picky, but it just sounds awkward. Also, in order to enter, you have to be registered at Crate & Barrel and have at least 50 items totalling $2000 or more.

Also, if you wanted to go on the site and search for a friend, you’d be SOL because you can only sort the entries by “Random” “Recent” “Top Votes” or “Hot Right Now” (whatever that means). Another interesting aspect of the profile is that directly above the number of votes for each couple is the number of visitors each has had. Not surprisingly, the ratio of visits to votes is about 10:1. My theory is that if the voting process didn’t require a sign up, there would be a lot more votes. Just saying. I’d love to tell you how many entries you’d be up against, but the only way to figure that out is by counting manually, and I can’t count past 100. We’ll just say there are over 100.

The Prize

Following the trend of ambiguity, the grand prize here is a $100,000 Dream Wedding, with a full wedding consultation from Jo Gartin. Sounds pretty great, right? Well, I hope you’re prepared to have the wedding at a time that works best for Crate & Barrel. You might get $100K towards a dream wedding, but something tells me it will be more of Crate & Barrel’s dream than yours.

“The date of the wedding is conditioned on the Wedding Coordinator’s availability and the Sponsor’s promotional calendar, and the Wedding Coordinator will decide upon numerous elements of the wedding without input from the Grand Prize Winner.”

The good thing is that there are some pretty awesome prizes for the runners up. The top 18 entrants all receive prizes, including $7500, $2000, and $1000 Crate & Barrel gift cards. Not bad, really.

What Could Be Better

Here’s a run down of the things I would change if I was running this contest:

  • Make voting easier – one click, one vote. Also, do away with the view count. No one needs to know that.
  • Create a searchable index for the entrants.
  • Give the winner more control over their own wedding.
  • Let entrants have a little more control over the information on their profile.
  • Make the path to entry easier. (i.e., no $2000.00 / 50 line item registry needed)

There are a few other things, but I’m not going to be too nit-picky. I like seeing companies do contests like this, but I just hope they remember that they should be used as a way to help engage their target market and not exploit them. There is still time to enter this contest, so if you and your fiancee are feeling up to the challenge, now’s a good time to enter. Otherwise, feel free to cast your vote for your favorite candidate. I suggest Rob and Kristen.

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16 Comments
  • Katie
    Posted at 01:07h, 07 February

    Interesting post, and good points. I agree with the search functionality issue, by the way. And I agree with giving the couple a bit more control over their wedding. But, I’m befuddled by a couple of others.

    1. Single click, single vote is much easier to cheat at, isn’t it? yes, people can create multiple email addresses and vote, but the point of the contest seems to be to allow only legitimate votes from friends of the couple. Making it a multi-click process then becomes a function of how much you want the couple to win, as opposed to being able to use a proxy server, a cookie cleaner, and just click all day long :).

    2. Re: the registry creation requirement. What do you think Crate and Barrel is doing this for? Just to give away $100K? They are obviously trying to get engaged couples to register with them. My fiance and I are registered ourselves for the contest, and what happens is that you don’t have to fulfill all the requirements right away — in fact you can create your contest entry without even adding a single item to your registry. I guess they thought that if, within 2 months, people don’t have a certain number of items in their registry, then they have no intention of aactually wanting to be a CB couple. We felt the same way, but in putting items into our registry to meet requirements, we ended up realizing that there were things we wanted anyway 🙂

    3. Vote for us at http://www.ultimateweddingcontest.com/entries/23433

    Thanks!

  • Jordan Behan
    Posted at 23:08h, 08 February

    Hey Jeremy,

    I’m Jordan from Strutta.com, the contest platform that the Crate and Barrel contest is built upon. We worked with Crate’s agency to put the contest together, and we are all very proud of how it came together. That said, the points you made above are quite valid, and both ourselves and our client agree with you on some of them.

    To the issue of voting, Katie is exactly right. Keeping a balance between usability and fairness is always a challenge, and the verification process is still the only suitable way to confirm the humanity of the voter. Beyond that, there are a number of other criteria we monitor to ensure that all votes are legitimate, and we make corrections whenever foul play is afoot.

    I just wanted to reach out and thank you for the feedback. We are constantly making improvements to our technology, and it is exactly this kind of feedback that drives those changes. You sound like you have great instincts about how to run a successful contest, and so I hope you’ll have a look at our product and see if it’s up to the task of handling a promotion for Ignite or one of your clients.

    With thanks,

    Jordan Behan
    Director of Marketing
    Strutta.com

  • Jeremy S. Griffin
    Posted at 14:45h, 09 February

    Hi Katie,
    Thanks for your comments. To your note about the “gaming” of the voting, there are definitely ways to monitor votes coming in and where they are coming from, I wouldn’t say it is absolutely necessary to put a registration step in there. My guess is that it is a way to collect emails, but I am not completely sure of that.

    And as to your second point, you are totally right, this is a way for C&B to sell more stuff. It’s marketing, after all. I just think it is excessive. A lot of contests are “no purchase necessary” but this one seems to be “purchase encouraged.”

    As for your third point– voted! Good luck! 🙂

  • Jeremy S. Griffin
    Posted at 14:49h, 09 February

    Jordan,
    Thanks for reaching out. I’ll take a look at Strutta. And trust me, we’ve done enough contests to know that there are always challenges. Nonetheless, I think contests are a great way to engage your audience and get some attention. Keep up the good work and thanks again for considering my thoughts here.

  • Angela
    Posted at 23:30h, 10 February

    I definitely agree! This is why I cannot get anyone to vote for me. 🙁 I wouldn’t want to vote either. But, if you are up for it, please vote for me too! (You can vote for multiple couples!) http://www.ultimateweddingcontest.com/entries/22086

  • Elizabeth
    Posted at 08:19h, 11 February

    I noticed the same flaws. Looks like they did away with the view counter today! That made me happy, because I was frustrated with the count being so high, but my actual votes being so few. That said, please cast a vote for me! 🙂 Thanks!

    http://www.ultimateweddingcontest.com/entries/26059

  • Jeremy S. Griffin
    Posted at 18:41h, 15 February

    Good to know they are paying attention.

  • Ed Urbaniak
    Posted at 16:04h, 23 February

    Hi Jeremy,

    Your points are right on. About the “error” I wrote crate and barrel and they referred me to the people hosting the contest. They replied that they’d look into it. That was several days ago and the error is still there.

    PS: Our voting link: http://www.ultimateweddingcontest.com/entries/30924

  • Jeremy S. Griffin
    Posted at 19:37h, 02 March

    What was the error you were running into, Ed?

  • ciara26
    Posted at 06:17h, 13 March

    Hey a lot of my friends had a hard time putting in their e-mail. I think that they should make voting easier also!
    P.S. Vote for us also our link is
    http://www.ultimateweddingcontest.com/entries?sort=time#37143

  • Lauren Ross
    Posted at 19:46h, 24 March

    I love your blog, and I love that the Director of Marketing from Strutta.com actually took the time to write a response. Sometimes when there is a contest with a large company the feedback from them is low…just shows that they do care and want it to be better next year. Thanks!

    I also wanted to write to have you check out our entry. Our story is simple, but sweet…and we are so in love.
    http://www.ultimateweddingcontest.com/entries#39237

  • jhardytgif
    Posted at 17:38h, 30 March

    I totally agree with this post. We’ve had a ton of people say they’ve visited the site. Many of them managed to find our entry http://www.ultimateweddingcontest.com/entries/40565?sort=popularity but many of them were totally baffled by the voting process. Some reported 20-30 minute delays in receiving the email, while some are still waiting more than a day later to get one. The younger generation seems to have fewer problems, but any of our “more mature” family member have had to be guided practically by hand.

    Also, what prevent people from creating 100 gmail and yahoo accounts and tipping the scale?

    Our post has been featured on a ton of blogs and a few newspaper articles (print as well as online). The hits from these have been over 15,000 but we don’t even have 2,000 votes yet.

    All that being said, it is very generous of C&B to do this!

    http://www.ultimateweddingcontest.com/entries/40565?sort=popularity

    Jason

  • Cape123
    Posted at 16:31h, 18 February

    I know someone in this and the voting process had made it a pain for people to vote for them if they aren’t on Facebook- so they don’t. Too bad, but maybe that’s the point. Meanwhile, lots of these people are very good Crate and Barrel customers and buying many of their friends’ children their wedding gifts there. Not the greatest PR for Crate and Barrel – in this day and age people want ease of use. Also, it would be nice if non computer people could vote when they go to buy a gift for the couple at a Crate and Barrel store – alas, many of the older generation are just not computer users and so they cannot vote for grandchildren, nieces or nephews. I do think one vote per e-mail address is good.

  • Cape123
    Posted at 16:31h, 18 February

    I know someone in this and the voting process had made it a pain for people to vote for them if they aren’t on Facebook- so they don’t. Too bad, but maybe that’s the point. Meanwhile, lots of these people are very good Crate and Barrel customers and buying many of their friends’ children their wedding gifts there. Not the greatest PR for Crate and Barrel – in this day and age people want ease of use. Also, it would be nice if non computer people could vote when they go to buy a gift for the couple at a Crate and Barrel store – alas, many of the older generation are just not computer users and so they cannot vote for grandchildren, nieces or nephews. I do think one vote per e-mail address is good.

  • Love At First Wink
    Posted at 18:09h, 26 February

    We’ve entered this year! Please help us out and vote! http://www.ultimateweddingcontest.com/entry/104050

  • Love At First Wink
    Posted at 18:09h, 26 February

    We’ve entered this year! Please help us out and vote! http://www.ultimateweddingcontest.com/entry/104050

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