Should Your Business Run an Online Contest or Sweepstakes?

November 15, 2016

online contest or sweepstakes marketingOnline promotions such as sweepstakes and contests are a cost-effective way to promote a business and generate online buzz.

If you’re looking to build brand awareness, increase social following, or grow an email database, online sweepstakes and contests might be the solution you’re looking for.  They’re quick to set-up, fun for your customers and consistently bring in excellent results.

Contest or Sweepstakes?

When you’re considering an online promotion, one of the first things to decide is whether you want to run an online contest or an online sweepstakes. In a contest people have to submit something — a photo, a caption, or a story — and the entries are judged to choose a winner. In a sweepstakes, it’s simply the luck of the draw. You enter your name and a winner is picked at random.

A lot of companies have great results with online contests, but they are a little more complicated to run and many people won’t take the time to create and submit a contest entry. On the other hand, an online sweepstakes is easy to enter and as a result can often generate more entries, more social shares and online buzz. Many companies looking to try an online promotion start with — and find great success — running online sweepstakes.

Here are three tried-and-true types of online sweepstakes that generate great return on investment.

1. Facebook Timeline Sweepstakes

Ideal for:

  • Small businesses and start-ups
  • Increasing awareness of your business and brand
  • Budgets under $1000

A Facebook Timeline Sweepstakes is a simple sweepstakes that you run right on your company’s Facebook Page.  It’s a great way to grow your Facebook Fans. The sweepstakes starts with a post on your wall (a graphic announcing the sweepstakes works really well). Participants just “like” the post for a chance to win.  (See case studies of Facebook Timeline Sweepstakes.)

2. Facebook “Tab” Sweepstakes

Ideal for:

  • Increasing awareness of your business and brand
  • Growing your email database
  • Increasing your Facebook Fans
  • Driving social shares and viral word of mouth
  • Budgets of $1500-$3000

A Facebook Tab Sweepstakes is a sweepstakes that has its own page or tab on your Facebook page. This type of sweepstakes takes a little longer to set-up, but it provides the opportunity to collect the name and email address of each person who enters the sweepstakes. So in addition to building your Facebook following you can also grow your email database. Having a sweepstakes on a separate tab or page also allows for some social sharing where you can invite participants to share the sweepstakes on their own Facebook wall. It’s a great way to make use of free word-of-mouth advertising!

3. Custom Sweepstakes

Ideal for:

  • Increasing awareness of your business and brand
  • Growing your email database
  • Increasing your Facebook Fans
  • Driving social shares and viral word-of-mouth
  • Full analytics tracking
  • Full customization
  • API Integration
  • Engaging participants across platforms and devices
  • Incentivized social sharing for increased word-of-mouth
  • Personalized URL (PURL) email marketing integration
  • Budgets of $6000-$50,000 

This type of custom sweepstakes is set-up on a separate website, or on a page on your existing site.  When you build a sweepstakes on its own site (or house it on an existing site) there are several things you can do that dramatically increase the number of participants. First, this kind of sweepstakes allows you to incentivize social sharing – that is, you can give people extra entries into the sweepstakes for each time they share the sweepstakes on their own social media sites. Our research has shown that entrants are highly motivated to share when it increases their chances to win. This leads to excellent word-of-mouth marketing.

Second, custom sweepstakes can be combined with a personalized URL (PURL) email marketing campaign to send to your existing email database. When a user clicks on a PURL link they’re taken to the sweepstakes with the entry form already filled out with their information. Using PURL email marketing to promote a custom sweepstakes dramatically increases the percentage of people who enter the sweepstakes.

Whether you start small with a Facebook Timeline Sweepstakes, or go all out with a custom sweepstakes, these online marketing strategies consistently see excellent results. If you’re ready to see how an online contest or sweepstakes can help your business,  contact me to book a free 30-minute consultation or email your project details to receive a quote.