Contest Marketing Best Practices for a Successful Promotion

contest marketing best practices for a successful promotion blog post title
Here is a list of our current affiliate partners and how we earn money

Contest marketing when done effectively helps you connect with your followers and convert that engagement to sales.

Successful contests begin with knowing how to use the right techniques, tips, and advice to stay ahead.

If you want your next campaign to be a success or just interested in knowing what the best practices are for contest marketing, then take a look at these tips.


  • What must contest official rules include?
  • How are contests different from sweepstakes?
  • What are the rules for social media contests?


Why Are Contests Effective?

Contest marketing is extremely effective for promoting and accelerating the growth of your business. Customers love the chance to win a free prize and awesome prizes make for a really strong incentive to enter a contest.

In addition, contests and giveaways are a great way to keep your repeat customers engaged while improving customer experience.

Sweepstakes, contests, and giveaways are promotions that marketers run when they want to build brand awareness or attract leads and sales on a large scale.

How Are Contests Different From Sweepstakes?

Contests are different from sweepstakes in that the prize isn’t awarded to winners selected randomly.

Contest entries are judged according to skill and specific criteria set forth in the contest Official Rules. As a result, only your most loyal and engaged fans are likely to enter a contest.

Contest entries generally require a submission of user-generated content (UGC), such as a photo, video, or written content along with the entrant’s personal information.

These games of skill are designed to be effective at achieving marketing goals while ensuring that they comply with all applicable promotion laws in terms of consideration.

Contests Must Comply With All U.S. Contest Laws

Do No Purchase Necessary Laws also apply to contests? The short answer is no. “No purchase necessary” disclaimer is not required for contests.

» MORE:   D2C Brands Can Build Brand Personality With Sweepstakes and Giveaways

The Lottery Law, or No Purchase Necessary rule, applies to sweepstakes in order to prevent illegal lotteries. Sweepstakes promotions are not allowed to ask customers to make a purchase in exchange for sweepstakes entries or provide considerations.

Contest winners are selected by judges based on skill. This is why you can ask contest participants to purchase a product or perform a skill.

Free Ad Maker for Social Media and Video Advertising

Create awesome ads for your sweepstakes or contest in seconds with the Adobe Express free ad maker. Customize your advertising by including trending images, high impact fonts, and high quality design assets. Create your ads now.


Ask contest entrants to take a photograph of your brand’s products or write a review as a contest entry.

Outside of a contest promotion, asking participants to create these types of UGC would be deemed as consideration.

The contest Official Rules should clearly define how contest winners are selected. Explain the judging criteria for contest entries and make sure that your contest is fully compliant with all applicable laws.

Get quotes for contest administration and legal compliance here.

Contest Official Rules

Contest Official Rules should include:

  • Start and End Dates
  • No purchase necessary
  • Prize Details
  • Eligibility Requirements
  • Judging, Contest Entry Criteria
  • Winner Selection

Read the full details here:

Legal compliance is one of the most important aspects in following the best practices to run a contest. As a result, you always should consult contest legal advice to ensure compliance with federal, state, and local contest laws.

Subscribe Now:

Social Media Contests and TOS Guidelines

All brands must comply with TOS of the social media platforms where they run their social media contests promotions.

If you run a contest on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, YouTube or others, each social media network has their own set of guidelines for contest promotions:

» MORE:   How Successful Social Media Contests Create New Opportunities for Your Brand

View all here: What Are the Rules for Social Media Contests?

  • Rules For Twitter Contests
  • Rules For Pinterest Contests
  • Rules For Facebook Contests
  • Rules For Instagram Contests
  • Rules For TikTok Contests
  • Rules For YouTube Contests

What Are the Types of Contests?

Contests that generate UGC are ideal. You can use UGC & contest marketing to achieve many goals including promoting new products, increasing audience reach, boosting sales.

Here are a few quick examples of contests to run.

Run Photo and Video Contests Featuring Customers Engaging With Your Brand

A photo or video contest featuring customers engaging with your brand is the most popular type of contest to run.

All photo or video contests are highly effective for engaging customers. In addition to reaching your followers, brand awareness and word-of-mouth marketing will go even farther as your contest participants share their contest entries with friends and family and invite them to participate.


Long-form Writing Contests

These are common in the educational industry, much like customer feedback contests, writing contests can gain you UGC that you can repurpose in your marketing.

For contest entries, you can ask customers to do brand storytelling.

How did they find your company? What was the customer’s first impressions of your brand? All of these are great moments for brand storytelling contest entries.

You can also ask customers to write long-form testimonials and product reviews as contest entries that you can repurpose later in your marketing.

Photo Caption Contests and Low Barrier to Entry Contests

In a photo caption contest, you can provide a photo and ask customers to come up with a funny caption for it. Consider a lower barrier to entry contest like this, especially if you are running a contest for the first time.

This will allow you to gauge your audience’s interest in a contest that requires participants to put significant effort into their contest entries.

» MORE:   Assisted Conversions From Giveaways and Sweepstakes ROI Explained

Entering traditional, best photo and video contests can get expensive for participants. So make sure that you have them on board before you run one.

You may find, from testing this, that sweepstakes are a better type of promotion for your brand if contests result in low engagement versus a sweepstakes.

Customer Feedback Contest

If you need some ideas for your brand, a customer feedback contest can provide you with the insights that you’re looking for.

These types of contests work well with any type of social media strategy. Customer feedback contests are an ideal contest type to run across your social media networks.

In addition to asking customers what they think of your brand, you can invite them to share their ideas for new products or improvements. Even doing something as simple as asking them why they entered your contest can yield a wealth of information.

Refer-a-friend Contests

Refer-a-friend contests are designed to award contests for referring the most people. They are useful if you want to attract as many people as possible to your contest.

Referral contests tend to attract less targeted audiences and people who are not necessarily interested in your brand.

By adding an instant win game, along with discounts and coupons that are specific to each new person referred, you can generate leads fast.

Next Steps

Before you design your contest, you should know that there are agencies available to assist you with full contest administration and planning. Here you can get quotes for services to manage every component of your contest from:

  • Legal compliance
  • Contest official rules
  • Judging
  • Administration

Looking for a contest company to help you with your next promotion? Sweepsify helps you find top sweepstakes and contest companies in seconds. Create your free Premium account now to get started.