Contest Marketing: What Is It and How Does It Improve Brand Awareness?

This article is about how to create a viral video contest. In this article, we'll discuss what a viral video contest is and how it works. Plus the key success factors for viral video contests and how to leverage them to your advantage.

contest marketing what is it how does it improve brand awareness blog post title
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Contest marketing is a powerful way to drive brand awareness and attract new customers. Social media contests are actually one of the fastest ways that new products and growing brands are able to increase brand awareness among their audience.

Here’s how to use contest marketing to increase visibility for your brand as you attract new participants to your contest and turn them into customers.


  • What is brand awareness?
  • How do brands create brand awareness online?
  • How does contest marketing help brand awareness?

What Is Brand Awareness?

Brand awareness describes the degree of consumer familiarity with a product by its name. Brand awareness happens as the public is exposed to the product and is educated of the qualities that distinguish the brand from its competition.

How Brands Build Brand Awareness Online

Here are some of the typical ways that brands build, create, and establish brand awareness online:

  1. Guest blogging for other sites
  2. Increase their organic social media presence
  3. Create a distinct voice for their brand
  4. Create branded video and podcast content
  5. Publish guides, case studies, and white papers
  6. Partner with other brands
  7. Use native advertising to distribute sponsored content

While these methods can help to get the word out about your brand, sweepstakes and contests will help take things to the next level. That is because instead of doing inbound marketing, you are deploying your most loyal customers to spread the word about your brand for you.


How Contest Marketing Drives Brand Awareness

Products and services that have a high level of brand awareness are likely to be the most popular brands among consumers. As a result, brands that enjoy high visibility generate more sales. Consumers want to buy from brands they are familiar with over an unfamiliar brand.

Contest marketing is a form of promotion that can lead to a great deal of discussion among consumers regarding the products and services they like to use. By using contest marketing to introduce your brand to consumers, you can learn how to shape favorable experiences for customers that will attract them to your brand. Contests leverage brand recognition to drive brand awareness by helping your customers to associate your brand with positive customer experiences.

Real-time customer attrition, sales data, user feedback and reviews, and a source of leads that continues even after the contest ends are the other benefits that brands enjoy from successful contest marketing.


3 Types of Contest Marketing to Increase Brand Awareness

Here are the types of contest marketing that brands should consider for increasing brand awareness and sales.

Gamified Contests

Gamified contests are especially great at driving brand awareness especially if a brand pairs with a game franchise that already has a large audience. Two examples of contest marketing involving gamification include Tim Horton’s Roll Up the Rim contest and the infamous McDonald’s Monopoly contest.

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Both of these game experiences were designed to drive sales primarily, but the gamification of the sales experienced helped the game become an attraction of its own to customers driving brand awareness as consumers shared these contests with their friends.

Influencer Contests

Influencer contests are a strategy that is typically used by TikTok influencers, Twitch streamers, and YouTubers to help increase brand awareness. Typically, these creators are doing the social media contests in partnerships with brands.

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As a result, your brand can use a social media giveaway to drive brand awareness by tapping into a social media influencer’s ready-made audience via a specific channel. This type of contest marketing makes it possible to control the outcome of those promotions by setting target engagement goals for the influencer relationship.


UGC Contest Marketing

User-generated content (UGC) contests rely heavily on user participation in order to make a great contest. If your goal is to increase brand awareness for your brand, then contest marketing where you have contest participants engage with or provide feedback about your brand as the contest entry.

By creating branded and highly shareable content that requires some effort from participants to create, you can be assured that your campaign will get plenty of shares, helping to spread the word about your brand and increase reach and trustworthiness. However, keep in mind that UGC content requires explicit permission from participants in order for brands to use it in their marketing.

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Who Should Use Contest Marketing for Brand Awareness?

If you are trying to decide whether to run a contest for brand awareness, you should be able to yes to at least one of these statements:

  • Consumers have a general knowledge of what your business is known for.
  • A social media user already knows your post will be funny when they see it in their feed.
  • Some consumers already choose your brand specifically over the competitors, even if the competitor’s option is cheaper.
  • Your brand or branded terms can be found by typing it into the search engines.

If you can confirm this, then it’s okay for you to run a contest for your brand. Effective contest marketing helps amplify your results from your brand awareness campaign, not initiate it. Here you can see some specific examples of good brand awareness.

Here are some examples of companies that regularly run social media contests and surveys and enjoy a high level of brand awareness:

  • Coca Cola
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Visa
  • Nike
  • Google
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Design your contest marketing to reflect your brand personality. Your contest show off a defined brand that includes a mission, voice, and values, along with a delivery method that matches your audience. Contest marketing isn’t only important for brand awareness, it’s also designed to build customer loyalty that will attract more customers to your brand through referral marketing. Consistently running contests will help you stay connected to your existing customers while building brand awareness.


7 Steps to Building a Contest for Brand Awareness

If you’re trying to decide how to build a brand awareness contest campaign, you should know that it starts with planning. Untargeted contest marketing campaigns do nothing but waste your budget.

So how do you maximize the success of your brand awareness contest marketing campaign? Here are the steps that you need to take in order to ensure that your brand awareness contest is successful:

  1. Know Your Audience. Understand who your customer is. Make sure that you go over your buyer personas, such that you define a custom audience made up of age, location, salary, disposable income, job title, industry, and more.
  2. Target Specific Channels. You can easily filter where your paid contest advertising is shown so that you do not waste ad spend. If these individuals enter your contest, become participants, and even some make purchases from your brand, then you’ll know that your optimization efforts are working as far as getting you sales.
  3. Track Brand Awareness KPIs. For brand awareness, you should track social media and customer experience KPIs that indicate consumer sentiment regarding your social media contest. Make sure that you are also targeting the social media platforms that your audience uses the most. There’s no need to make sure that you’re everywhere if your audience is primarily on a few social media platforms.
  4. Find a Contest co-Sponsor. Contest co-sponsors help your brand increase brand awareness while allowing you to tap into their audience to expand your audience reach. A co-sponsor should complement your brand and audience, not compete with it. By working with an influencer or partner for a contest, you’ll also be able to leverage the authority and trust factor that the co-sponsor’s brand already enjoys.
  5. Use Content Marketing for Contest Promo. Creating content for your contest is an easy way to show your brand’s personality. Whether you create branded content for contest advertising or create a UGC contest, content marketing will help you better use social media contests increase your brand awareness.
  6. Utilize Social Listening. Sentiment analysis is a machine learning method to “listen” to the conversations that uses are having online. By tracking consumer sentiment during your contest, you can find out what consumers are saying about your brand. This will allow you to determine if the contest is improving your brand’s reputation and whether the word is spreading and your reach is increasing.
  7. Follow Up With Contest Participants. From the participants who enter your contest, a good percentage of them will be non-winners who enjoyed your contest and would be happy to provide feedback. Follow up with email subscribers by email. Start conversations about your contest with your social media followers. Send follow messages to existing customers to request feedback about the contest experience.

Key Takeaways for Contest Brand Awareness Campaigns

Now that you know the benefits of contest marketing for brand awareness, here are some key takeaways about how to do contest marketing effectively:

  • Contest marketing can be a one-off test but to do it successfully it needs to be a long term component of your brand awareness strategy.
  • Effective contest marketing requires planning and integration with your martech stack, especially if you will run multiple contests ongoing to increase your brand reach.
  • Contest marketing is a key component of achieving business goals for many top brands to help to maintain their brand reputation. If you want to maximize your results and build your online reputation, integrate content marketing with your contest marketing.
  • Use a prize prize fulfillment company. It’s essential that you manage the process of delivering the prizes in order to maintain the trust of your audience. Even non-winners will pay attention to the winner announcement and prize delivery.
  • Use web forms for contest entry, survey your contest participants, and collect data about them. Then use it to optimize your audience if you are using paid advertising to promote your contest.
  • Known brands benefit most from contest marketing and should use contests with new products and services. Don’t use contest marketing to launch unknown brands without a well-known brand as a Contest co-Sponsor.
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Brand awareness helps you stand out from the competition, improves customer loyalty, and can even reduce your customer acquisition long term. If you want to maximize your results from your brand awareness marketing efforts without a ton of extra work, run contest campaigns for brand awareness.

Next Steps

If you’re looking to increase brand awareness through contest marketing you’ll track metrics such as CTR and reach. Most importantly, you want to consider how you can optimize your content marketing so that it appeals to your target audience to maximize participant.

More importantly, you want to make sure that your martech stack makes it possible for you to consistently monitor and optimize your contest in real-time to your audience’s interests and behaviors. By doing this successfully, your contest should attract many participants and increase brand awareness in your audience.

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