Have you seen someone running an online challenge and used your marketing brain to realize they were strategically growing their audience and getting customers?
That happened to us a few months ago, so we ran our own challenge to see what the fuss was about. Let’s just say things went really well. Our challenge brought in 8 figures in revenue and we realized you needed to be using them too.
Online challenges work because they align with why digital marketing exists in the first place.
Digital marketing helps you acquire new customers, build lists, and position your brand. It also helps your customer avatars consume your content and actually get results (before they even hire you or buy your products!). We love digital marketing because it creates highly engaged and super loyal customers that buy from you over and over again.
And online challenges is a great addition to the digital marketing world.
With online challenges, you can achieve all of these marketing objectives in one shot. But, ONLY if the challenge is well-designed and well-executed.
Benefits of Online Challenges
What is a well-designed challenge?
As the Founder of 100X Academy and expert challenge creator Pedro Adao has found a well-designed challenge serves as:
A free lead magnet An entry-point offerA resource to perfectly position a webinarA part of an email sequenceOr a way to send the hottest traffic to your sales page
“Two and a half years ago I was unknown in the marketing world, yet here I am able to share this with you today. You have no idea what’s on the other side of this framework.” explains Pedro who now helps businesses, like us, launch highly successful challenges.
He’s watched and led different industries through challenges that all get the same results. More engagement, more leads, and more customers.
We know digital marketing is effective, but why do challenges work so well?
Why are Challenges So Effective?
Last year Pedro decided to give his $3,000 challenge away for free. He realized that while helping his challenge participants with free content, they were giving him free data. It was a win-win situation where everybody was able to come out of the challenge with something they didn’t have before.
With 19,000 participants he was able to gather data that told him what he needed to know about his audience and how he could use it to build challenges, offers, and campaigns in the future. “Using that information, I was able to get $111,855 in gross sales.”
Sometimes challenges are all about making money upfront, but as Pedro found, other times they can be used as an investment opportunity. He invested his time into the free challenge and in return was able to get to know his customer avatar better than before.
Pedro’s tip for running free challenges is to give your participants a small upsell and then use some of that money toward paid ads for future challenges. Using this model, Pedro was able to make $2 million in his last challenge.
A well-designed and executed challenge shows your customer avatar 2 very important things:
How much you careHow much you know
Here’s exactly how to do that.
How to Create Your First Online Challenge
We’re going to show you Pedro’s 7 essentials for creating an online challenge, based on questions you’ll ask yourself about your challenge. But, before we get into those questions let’s make sure that you have the foundation of what a great online challenge is.
A challenge needs all 5 of these parts to be successful:
Time-Bound Event (5–90 days)Focused on ONE primary outcomeProspects agree and commit to taking action at the beginningDeliver live, daily actionable trainingIssue daily wins that give them momentum
The goal of your challenge is to take cold audiences and turn them into highly-engaged customers. To do that, you need to know why you’re running your challenge in the first place.
The 7 Essential Challenge Design Decisions
Every challenge starts with these 7 decisions. Each decision essentially builds out your challenge, so by the time you answer the last question you just need to implement. Let’s start with the first question, why are you even running this challenge?
#1: Why are you running this challenge?
There can be different incentives to run a challenge. Like we talked about before, Pedro was able to run a challenge just to collect data on his audience. Using that data, he was able to create another challenge that brought in 6-figures of revenue. Yet, Pedro’s also launched challenges, and helped businesses with their challenges, that have focused on making money.
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to why you’re running your challenge. It’s just about what makes the most sense for your business goals right now. Align your challenge with those goals and use it to amplify your outcome.
Here are a few reasons you could run a challenge:
Learn about your market with surveys and dataGather social proof that shows your services/products get resultsCreate testimonials from happy challenge participantsMake money by leading into your high-ticket offer
Once you’ve figured out why you’re running your challenge, the next step is to figure out what you’re going to sell.
#2: What are you selling on the back of the challenge?
Even if you’re just collecting data for this challenge, you can still put your participants through an email series that brings them to your high-ticket offer (or an entry-point offer). The key to selling in your challenge is to only have ONE offer. Just like a sales page, you don’t want to confuse your audience.
As Pedro puts it, you want to create an offer that’s such a win for your participants that they feel like they couldn’t possibly lose out on this opportunity.
Depending on how much this offer is, you’ll present it in different ways:
If your offer is $2,995 or below, use a sales pageIf your offer is $3,000+ have an application that goes to a sales call
Through Pedro’s experience, he’s found that $995 seems to be a hot price point for offers (but of course this can vary by niche). Now that you know why you’re running your challenge and what you’re going to offer, it’s time to figure out your big idea.
#3: What’s the big idea?
CEO of DigitalMarketer Ryan Deiss talks about big ideas a lot. Big ideas create movements and movements are exactly what you want your business to be known for. That’s when you’ve created such a profound relationship with your audience that their identity is tied to your company.
The key to creating your big idea is to figure out what problem you’re solving. Based on the problem, you’ll piece together your big promise. What happens after someone takes your challenge?
Here are Pedro’s big idea tips:
Make it cool and something they wantTackle the biggest obstacle or problem your customers believe they haveThe goal has to be believableGo for a measurable outcome
Big ideas help your messaging. They show your audience how well you know them and what they need right now. That’s when we can bring in the Customer Avatar Worksheet.
#4: Who is the challenge for?
When it comes to figuring out who your challenge is for, we have the perfect resource for you. The Customer Avatar Worksheet is a DigitalMarketer signature method for learning all the right details about your customer avatar. As you piece together your challenge, use the customer avatar worksheet for your messaging and to figure out the pain points you can solve for your participants.
The goals, challenges, and paint points section of this worksheet are going to be *extremely* helpful in figuring out how to run a challenge that gets the attention of your customer avatar. As you start to write the copy for your challenge, take a look at the Possible Objections section so you can ease your prospective participants’ hesitations to join.
Now it’s time for the logistics like duration, free or paid model, and of course, a name.
#5: How long does your challenge need to be to deliver the promise?
Pedro suggests running a challenge for 5-90 days. What you’re looking for is the amount of time it will take your participants to reach the big promise outcome that you promised. That’s why you want your goal to be believable. If you tell your audience that you’ll help them build an 8-figure business in 5 days, it’s going to be pretty hard to get them to believe that.
But, if you tell your audience you’ll help them get lower CPA on Facebook in 90-days—that’s believable. Make sure to take into account how long your customer avatar would want to participate in a challenge.
#6: Is your challenge free or is it paid?
As Pedro’s experience running challenges has taught him, “There are pros and cons to free and paid challenges.” They both work well and it all comes back to your initial goal for your challenge. Why are you running it in the first place?
If you want to collect data on your audience like Pedro did, you could run a free challenge so you can get as many participants as possible. The more participants, the more data you can get.
If you want to use the challenge to make money on your newest service offering, using the challenge as an entry-point offer can help with increasing conversions from participants.
#7: What’s the challenge name?
Last but not least, it’s time to name your challenge. As much as you want to be super creative with your challenge name, the reality of sticking to what’s clear over clever in marketing applies here too. Luckily Pedro has some naming and tagline pro tips.
Use these answers to put together a challenge name that explains:
How long is the challenge?How much is the challenge?What’s the payoff of the challenge?Who’s the challenge for?
Below we’ve highlighted some examples of online challenges that you can use as inspiration.
Examples of Online Challenges
Roland Frasier ran a challenge titled, Ethical Profits in Crisis: Laser Target 5 “Zero Cash Down” Acquisitions in 5 Days or Less. This title describes how long the challenge is, what the payoff of the challenge is, and who the challenge is for. Without reading further into the landing page, you already have a pretty good idea as to whether or not this challenge is something you’re interested in.
The EPIC Challenge cost $55 and lasted for 5 days with 75-minute live and highly-interactive online workshops that explained how to find 5 potential M&A’s anywhere in the world.
Here’s a free challenge that Pedro ran last year called The Seven Day 2020 Convergence Challenge. The big idea? “Discover How To Unlock and Unleash The Redemptive Power Of Convergence In Your Life In 7 Days Or Less .”
Just like Roland’s EPIC Challenge, Pedro calls out exactly who this challenge would be for in his title and subtitle. Anyone interested in convergence is going to hop on this train—while anyone who isn’t his customer avatar will know it’s not for them.
In November 2020, DigitalMarketer hosted the 21 for 21’ Challenge, a challenge to help our audience create a 21-step stimulus plan for 2021 with 21 growth levers. The challenge ran for 12 days and featured some of DigitalMarketer’s most popular leaders. It was a free challenge with the slogan of helping you make 201 your best year ever.
These online challenges were able to bring in thousands of leads and customers. We’re not writing about online challenges for fun here (even though we LOVE talking about marketing strategies). We’re writing about them because they’re something you need to be trying.
Online challenges are a great way to connect with your audience and give them a taste of what it’s like to work with you or buy your high-ticket offers. When it comes to the Customer Value Journey, they’re great for that initial Conversion Stage, creating lots of excitement during the Excite Stage and bringing those leads right to Ascension.
Use these 7 steps to create your first online challenge—and make sure to let us know how it goes.
Read more: digitalmarketer.com