Cincinnati's CrowdSpark makes online contest creation easy, affordable

Online contests allow businesses and brands to find new customers, increase awareness and engage with followers through social media.

"This is a really a fast-growing space used to create media exposure to engagement," says Cincinnati entrepreneur Elizabeth Edwards, founder of the Cincinnati Innovates business competition.

But paying someone to create a custom contest can get pricey, and there's not much guarantee you'll get the results you want. So Edwards launched a new web product, CrowdSpark, designed to make contest creation more effective and accessible for businesses on tight budgets.

"A custom-designed platform and a management platform could cost $15,000 to create," she says. "Instead of paying a web developer to create a contest, for as little as $250 you could create your own."

Developers can also use CrowdSpark so that they can spend less time on code, and more time on creating a great contest, Edwards adds.

"We make it easy and economical to create and run those contests," she says.

Edwards is using CrowdSpark, now in Beta, to run the ongoing Cincinnati Innovates Contest, which wraps up July 15.

"I've learned a lot in the last four years of running Cincinnati Innovates, which has become of the most successful regional online contests in the world," she says. "But one of the things I learned not to do is spend a lot of money to get the results you want."

CrowdSpark offers social media plug-ins, analytics, contest entry forms, custom legal rules, tech support and options to create a custom domain and accept paid entries. There will also be a best practices guide focusing on creating and managing contests.

It costs between $250 and $2,000 to start using CrowdSpark, depending on the options it includes. Hosting fees range from $100 to $200 each month the contest runs.

By Feoshia Henderson
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