The Ultimate Guide to Running Effective Sweepstakes

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Sweepstakes and contests are powerful marketing tools for engaging your customers and introducing your brand, product or service to new audiences. Sweepstakes entrants interact with your brand and provide data to your business in exchange for a chance to win a prize.

Unlike most marketing campaigns there is direct interaction from the user, including the collection of information; this makes sweepstakes the most effective lead generation tool available.

In addition to basic data collection, your sweepstakes can integrate actions across multiple channels, requiring user interaction, curating content and helping to spread your marketing message via social media.


Defining Business Objectives and Sweepstakes Goals

Creating a sweepstakes is easy; creating a sweepstakes that will produce meaningful results takes a bit more planning. Before you begin creating and designing your promotion you need to identify what your business objectives are and set goals that that will help you reach those objectives. While your business objectives may be focused on attracting new customers or broadening the reach of your website’s content the goals for your promotion should be more specific.

When planning your sweepstakes you should consider specific, measurable goals that will help you to achieve your larger business objectives. These goals can then be translated into actions for entrants to complete and be included in your promotion. Each of these goals should have success metrics that you can use to evaluate your successes.

Business objectives
  • Attract new customers
  • Evaluate customer satisfaction
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Grow your social media presence
Measurable Goals
  • Grow your email newsletter list
  • Collect user feedback about a product
  • Attract new Facebook Fans
  • Gain mentions on Twitter

Be careful not to overdo the number or types of goals that you want to achieve within a single promotion. Having a list of ten goals will complicate the sweepstakes and likely serve as a barrier to entry for some of your potential participants. In general, you want to have one, focused goal that your promotion is geared toward. You can then also have ancillary goals that you can consider ‘nice to have’ but, if not reached, don’t negatively impact your evaluation of the promotion’s success.


Selecting the Perfect Prize

This is one area where many businesses falter a bit when running sweepstakes for their brands. When selecting a prize the most important factor to consider is the audience that you are trying to reach, rather than selecting the prize with the broadest appeal. While it may be common practice to choose an item such as cash or a tablet, the universal, generic nature of these prizes can often result in attracting a large number of entrants that are unqualified or uninterested in your brand.

What long term business objective is this audience going to help you achieve?

In order to identify a prize that will attract your target audience try to answer the question: What long term business objective is this audience going to help you achieve (i.e. to make a purchase in your online store, visit a brick and mortar location of your business, actively engage with your brand on social media, become a regular consumer of the content on your website)? Your prize should be appealing to everyone in your target audience while holding little enticement for those who are unlikely to help you meet your longer term business objectives.

Type of business
  • Local restaurant
  • Technology blog
  • Sports retail website
  • Airfare website
Suggested prizes
  • Free meals at your establishment
  • Computer hardware
  • This year’s hot new driver
  • Frequent flier miles
Who the prize appeals to
  • Local residents that may become regular customers
  • Tech aficionados who understand the benefits of the hardware
  • Golf enthusiasts that are interested in upgrading their equipment
  • Travelers that fly often and place a high value miles and points


Creating Entry Requirements & Engagement Actions

Once you’ve decided on a prize and have identified specific, measurable goals for your sweepstakes, it’s time to build an entry form. Remember to keep it simple to decrease the barrier to entry for potential participants.

While it may seem easy and logical to require all participants to provide details such as their name, mailing address or date of birth first ask yourself how and if you are going to use that information. Unless you plan on sending marketing collateral or flyers to all of your entrants via standard mail maybe you don’t really need their mailing address.

Increase participation rates by only requiring actionable data.

Create an entry requirement that will allow you to achieve your campaign’s goal. If your goal is to grow your email subscriber list require all entrants to opt into your newsletter list. For campaigns that are focused on building an audience on a social network, require that all entrants follow your brand before they can enter the promotion.

Beware of requirements that exclude a portion of your audience.

When adding any required action to a sweepstakes be sure to take into account whether that action may dissuade or prevent potential participants from entering your promotion. For instance, if you require that all entrants are following you on Instagram, any user that does not have and is not interested in creating an Instagram account is going to be ineligible to participate.


Ancillary Actions & Goals

While your required actions should be limited and simple to ensure that you are maximizing the number of users that will participate you also have the option to include ‘Bonus’ actions for users. These actions are optional and award users that complete the entry with additional chances to win the sweepstakes.
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Bonus entries allow your entrants to pick and choose how, where and when they hear from you. By providing options for following you on social networks like Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook the entrant can select which channels they want to engage with you on. This empowerment of the entrant will also decrease the chance that they will un-follow you once the promotion has ended.

Reward entrants for spreading the word

Enabling a Refer A Friend option for your sweepstakes can also help you to meet multiple goals simultaneously. This feature awards entrants when users enter the promotion via a unique link that the entrant has shared. This allows your promotion to be advertised for you by your entrants, adding legitimacy and increasing awareness throughout your entrants’ social circles, which are likely to contain potential entrants with similar interests.
Refer a friend sweepstakes
Similarly, you can reward users for any type of promotional activity, such as Tweeting a specific message or hashtag, ‘Liking’ an Instagram video or photo, or ‘Liking’ a page, post, website or media via Facebook. While you want to keep your requirements simple, within your Bonus entries it can be beneficial to be creative.


1

Create

Specify entry requirements including demographic data, email sign-ups and social media interaction.

2

Design

Design your entry form with custom images, colors and fonts or choose from a variety of templates and themes.

3

Promote

Increase awareness through the Giveaways Network and award bonus entries for sharing the promotion via Refer A Friend.

4

Analyze

Access all of your promotion's entries with real-time reports. Export spreadsheets with your data at any time.

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