How WOWSA Got Over 11,000 People to Determine the Best Swimmers of the Year
The World Open Water Swimming Association (WOWSA) Awards celebrate the remarkable accomplishments, backgrounds, lifestyles, and events of open water swimmers around the world. It honors the determination, fortitude, and spirit of adventure of those who positively impact the open water swimming community.
Started in 2008, when the 10K Marathon Swim was added to the Olympics, the awards recognize excellence in six categories: Man of the Year, Woman of the Year, Performance of the Year, Para Performance of the Year, Event of the Year, and Product/Service of the Year.
For the 2022 awards, more than 11,400 public votes were cast to help determine the winners in each category.
RankedVote spoke with Tima Vlasto, Chief Technical Officer, about how WOWSA engaged its community, enhanced its email list, and celebrated some truly phenomenal performances in the water.
WOWSA includes public voting as part of their award determination process. But, the tools they've used in the past have caused the technical team to be completely bogged down for the duration of awards season. More specifically...
- Voter confusion with unclear tools led to hundreds of support tickets
- Rigid plugin design meant voting more reflected who had the largest social media followings rather than the best performance
- Voting forms were hammered with bot and spam submissions that had to be manually cleaned from the results
For 2022's Awards, things needed to be different. Very different.
WOWSA turned to RankedVote to bring a new approach to the annual awards. First, WOWSA created an "Academy" of past winners (97 people) who would vote to determine the nominees that the public would vote upon. The Academy used ranked-choice voting for the first time to determine the top 10 nominees in each of the six categories.
Those 10 nominees were then placed in a new RankedVote contest that was open to public voting and placed on the WOWSA website. Within hours, thousands of votes were cast in every category.
For WOWSA, RankedVote had numerous structural advantages over the previous system. Most importantly...
No Longer a Popularity Contest
RankedVote's design meant the public voting would have a more meaningful result than before.
The previous system only allowed voters to vote from an individual nominee's profile page. This page could be linked to directly. As you might guess, that's what got shared on social media. The public results tended to reflect who had the largest Instagram following, not necessarily the best performance. And, many voters didn't even know who the other nominees were.
With RankedVote, all nominees were visible from the voting ballot.
On top of that, the nature of ranked-choice voting meant that merely having a devout online following would not be sufficient to win. In order to win a ranked-choice contest, nominees need a broad base of support across all voters — a much better indicator of performance.
Email List Building with Voter Registration
The Annual Awards Ceremony is the primary way that WOWSA generates awareness for the association and adds to its membership.
By using the Voter Registration feature in RankedVote, all voters were asked to put in their email addresses in order to cast a vote (but not have to create a full-fledged user account like the previous system).
This gave the voters a low-friction experience while also giving WOWSA a way to reach back out to this highly targeted and relevant group.
"We received only four support tickets, a drastic reduction from the typical 150+ tickets. That's a testament to RankedVote's efficiency and user-friendliness."Tima Vlasto
Chief Technical Officer, WOWSA
The 2022 WOWSA Awards were an unmitigated success. Amazing, dedicated swimmers got the recognition they deserved and were celebrated by the community.
With RankedVote, WOWSA also ended up with...
The new process was clear. There was no account to create. Voters just put in their email addresses and voted. That's why the number of support tickets submitted for the 2022 awards dropped by an astounding 97% — from over 150 down to just four.
Dozens of Hours Saved
On top of the time freed up from not having to respond to support tickets, the data that came in was far less problematic.
"With the previous plugin we were using, people had to log into the website and make a user. And that, for me, was a disaster to clean afterwards," said Vlasto. "You could have bots. Spam accounts. Fraud. Using RankedVote saved me from another 40 hours or so spent cleaning up our database."
Thousands of New Leads to Reach
Ultimately, WOWSA ended up with 11,000+ new emails to reach with messages about their coaching and educational programs. The first campaign that went out after voting had an above-average open rate of 27.4%.
Embed RankedVote (and Helpful Training) on Your Site
"We highly recommend upgrading to an iframe embed. This allows us to keep voters on our site and increase exposure to our advertisers. And, to fully realize RankedVote's benefits, we suggest creating an instructional video for your audience. Just as we did on our site."
— Tima Vlasto, Chief Technical Officer, WOWSA