I came across a campaign website for Lakehead University and at the very top of the website is the call-to-action, ‘Enter to win an Apple MacBook.’ At first glance all it appears that I need to do is supply an e-mail address. Upon submitting, I needed to provide more personal information like birth date, address, phone number, etc. I think that most people would be willing to provide this information to win such a great prize, so I continued in the process.
The next page of the form was a little bit confusing. I was now being asked to select what program I am interested in. Wait a minute! Wasn’t I just entering a contest to win an Apple MacBook? Why do they need this and why do they want to know what school I am attending currently? I promptly left the form. Upon further investigation of the contest rules, which by the way are convoluted and wordy, it was identified that you had to actually apply and be accepted in an undergraduate program at Lakehead University to win the prize. Here is the excerpt from the contest rules page:
In fact, in order to be eligible for this prize, the prize winner must have applied to and been accepted into one of Lakehead University’s academic undergraduate programs, and fulfill all other requirements for entrance and enrollment in the University.
On the surface, this contest seems to be just that… a contest. But at its core it is a recruitment tool, and a poor one at that. The reason I view this as an ineffective recruitment tool is that its portrayed as a contest. Yes, some may enter the contest with the intent of applying, but I imagine a majority will enter to with the MacBook. When starting with the form, the focus that people will have is on the contest, not applying.
When developing web forms, understanding the goal(s) is very important. You must have clear goals for the form and I believe these goals need to also be clear to your visitors. In this case, it is obvious that they have two goals: 1) lead generation through the contest entries and 2) recruitment. Unfortunately, the second goal is not very clear to visitors.
The bottom line: I am disappointed in Lakehead University for trying to deceive visitors (intentionally or unintentionally) by not making their second goal more clear. Let this be a lesson to us all; have clear goals and communicate your goals clearly.
What are your thoughts on this contest? Did Lakehead University make a mistake or is this an acceptable practice? Please share your thoughts.