Developing a strategy for a contest or sweepstakes

Contests are a tried and true way of building brand exposure and gaining precious eyeballs in today’s attention-scarce world. They’ve been around for ages, yet there are so many businesses that need to work on their strategy before they execute them. With a proper strategy developed for your contest or sweepstakes you can ensure that it will run according to plan.

Contest length

Based on our experience, contests between one to three months appear to be the sweet spot. Any longer than six to twelve months and you have a chance of losing interest. We often suggest that you accompany your contest or sweepstakes with additional social ads and/or email marketing to keep the ball rolling. The largest spikes in traffic occur at the beginning due to overall excitement and near the end as consumers opt-in for a last chance opportunity.

What kind of prize?

The general idea here is to give away something that is valuable enough for most people in your market to stand up and take notice.  For some markets this might be an item in the $150-$200 range, and for others it might be as small as $30.

The second part of the equation is to give away something that a large percentage of your market will want. Don’t make it something obscure. You want the item to be inherently valuable and also broadly desired, to maximize the reach of your contest.

Promoting the contest

Now your contest is all set up and you’re ready to take entries, where do you begin?

1. Email your list – This should be the first thing that you do, it’s direct, effective and in most cases goes directly to your consumer’s mobile device.

2. Post on your brand’s website – Have some copy on the post, with an image and a link to the contest.

3. Post on your brand’s social networks – Schedule posts in advance to save time and cross-post across all of your networks.

4. Consider paid social ads – for greater reach and exposure outside of your current followings.

Before the contest ends

Do a “last chance” post to your social media networks and an email to your list. By doing this you get another little viral loop before the contest ends. It’s nothing like the first day or two of your contest, but it’s good for some additional entries and overall engagement.

After the contest ends

Pull the random potential winner(s) for the contest, verify that they’re able to claim the prize(s), complete any legal and tax forms and award them their prize(s). It’s always great to do a follow up email or post to your list and social networks congratulating the winners as this adds to your credibility. We often ask winners to supply us with a photo so that we can include it (oftentimes a “before” photo) showing their excitement before receiving their prize. We’ve often found that once winners receive their prize they’re a little less than excited to share a photo. Of course, the last thing to do is import all email addresses gained during the contest run into your consumer database.

For more information, learn what kind of prizing to giveaway in a contest or sweepstakes, and how to ensure your contest or sweepstakes is legal. Or, read up on registration and bonding requirements, contest and sweepstakes prize fulfillment, or other contest and sweepstakes marketing services.

Still want more? Check out the following blogs focused on contest marketing:

Where Should I Promote my Contest or Sweepstakes?

Contest Marketing Program

What is a Contest?

Contest Rules – Watch Out

Contests & Sweepstakes Create Content

Want to Run an Online Contest?