How Do You Run a Contest That Is Profitable?

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If you are planning to run a contest or giveaway, you need to take steps to ensure that your contest campaign is designed to achieve your goals.

Here is how to make sure that you run a contest that is profitable, step by step.


  • What is a contest campaign?
  • Where to run a social media contest?
  • Why are contest metrics important?

How Do You Ensure a Successful Contest?

The main goal of a contest is to generate brand awareness, leads, and sales. If these goals are not achieved, then you should rethink your approach to contests.

Often we’ve found that this is the result of companies not using martech tools or contest administration services.

DIY contests tend to perform poorly because the in-house marketing team does not have the experience or access to the data needed to optimize contest campaigns to attract participants.

As a platform for sweepstakes, contests, and raffles, we have all of the resources that you need to become successful at running giveaways for your brand.

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What Key Elements Do Successful Contest Marketing Campaigns Have?

These are the top 7 components for a successful contest campaign:

  1. Well-defined Target Audience
  2. Established Campaign KPIs
  3. Budget With Room to Accomodate Changes
  4. Launch Marketing (contest marketing prior to the start of the campaign)
  5. Contest Marketing That Engages (follow-up messages, discounts, coupons)
  6. Valuable, Unique Prize
  7. Reasonable Barrier to Entry (to maintain contest entry quality)

These are important to consider before you run a contest so that your contest is designed for success from the start.

What Is a Contest?

A contest is a strategically organized promotion that is designed to promote a specific company marketing goal. Generally, contests are used to reward loyal customers or employees as a ‘Thank You’ from the brand or to generate buzz for a new product or service

Contests involve judging entries based on a set of criteria set forth in the contest rules. Contest entries typically involve creating some type of user-generated content (UGC) that involves engaging with the brand.

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This UGC can involve a combination of media is but not limited to photos, videos, essays, and other intellectual property. Contest participants are required to sign liability releases in order for brands to reuse this UGC for marketing purposes.

1. Choose the Right Social Media Networks for Your Contest

Now that you’ve decided that you want to run a contest, it’s time to decide where you want to host it:

Any of these platforms can be the main entry page for your contest. Also if you want to run a social media contest, you can still have a website contest entry form while advertising the contest on social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn.

All of these are good options.

Make sure to select a winner on each platform. That will get your customers or employees to participate more when there are multiple contest prizes being given away.

Also consider the fact that people are more likely to visit social media than they are to come to your website, especially if the purpose of your contest is to celebrate the launch of a new product.

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2. Start With an Appropriate Contest Budget

Unlike other types of marketing, contests are not something that you should just test the waters on before you go on all in.

With contests, customer experience is everything. As a result, make sure that you start with an appropriate budget for your contest.

Make sure to leave room in your budget for changes after you obtain contest marketing quotes.

There are a number of advantages to following this approach:

  • First, you get a chance to wow your audience and identify who your loyal customers are.
  • Second, you give enough of your budget to the contest marketing platform to allow it to gather the data to help you understand how to achieve the long term objectives of your campaigns and to make better marketing decisions.
  • Third, you’ll be working with a contest administrator and have access to historical contest campaign data and their campaign design experience.


3. Choose the Right Contest Prize

The right contest prize attracts more participants to your contest. To attract the right participants that can turn into customers, it needs to be related to and appropriate for your brand.

» MORE:   4 Tips to Make Your Sweepstakes or Contest Appealing to New Participants

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Running a contest that just gives away free money and trips to Tahiti doesn’t really speak to your audience if you sell modern furniture.

Instead, offering them a home renovation as a prize would make much more sense.

If you plan to give away a physical product as the prize for your contest, make sure that you include photos of it in the advertising throughout your promotion.

Strong visuals are the key to getting participants to engage with your promotion.

4. Choose the Right Contest Analytics & Tracking Tools

Conversion tracking matters a lot when it comes to contest marketing and all of the major brands can afford it, so why not get access to the latest tracking tools?

Without them, your contest campaigns are unlikely to produce a profit. Not only do campaigns with advanced tracking turned on get better results, brands are able to scale them up faster and invite co-sponsors.

Sales data and follower growth data are two of the many elements of social proof that it takes to attract a co-sponsor to work with you on a contest.

So if you want to start scaling up your contests then you need to start making sure to carefully track the results that you get.


5. Define Contest Metrics: Contest KPIs and Goals

Contest KPIs and goals need to be shared with your contest administration company so that they can properly design your promotion to meet those goals.

They can then also use historical data to define realistic assumptions for the performance of your campaign and advise you accordingly.

Why do contest metrics matter? Once you know the outcome of your contest campaign, you can use the data generated by the campaign to improve your overall marketing strategy.

In addition, you might also uncover ways to tweak future contests.

For example, if the data indicated that 47% of your contest entries can from Instagram but only 2% came from LinkedIn, you might decide that you want to eliminate LinkedIn from your multichannel contest marketing strategy.

6. Draft Clear, Concise Contest Rules

All contests are required to have official rules. However, it’s a good idea to make sure that your contest rules are as clear and concise as possible.

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You don’t want to create any confusion while you run your contest. Depending on who the contest is made available to, the rules vary from state to state.

You want to have a contest administrator draft your contest rules and review them to ensure that whatever you do falls within the legal regulations.

Furthermore, you also want to work with a digital marketing lawyer to ensure that your contest rules comply with all federal, state, and local laws and that your promotion is compliant with social media platform Terms of Service (TOS).

7. Follow-up: Data Attribution

Understanding attribution models and how they can be applied to your content campaign.

With access to real-time data as contest entries are submitted and participants engage with your social media profiles, you’ll have plenty of information thanks to an extended research period.

It’s crucial to consider all of the touchpoints that your contest creates with your brand so that you can focus on the parts of the funnel that matter the most.

The end goal? You are able to accurately identify all of your potential customers. This is a major benefit of running ongoing contests.


Next Steps

The search for the next big source of traffic often keeps marketers from acknowledging that they could do a lot more to scale up their contest campaigns exponentially.

Furthermore, you will also get a lot more benefit from contest marketing if you build up an annual contest marketing plan with a solid foundation based on careful and thorough planning.

Read these articles next:

  1. What Should Contest Official Rules Include in 2022?
  2. Contest Marketing Best Practices for a Successful Promotion
  3. What Are the Differences Between Sweepstakes and Contests?
  4. What Do Contest Administrators Do?

This planning happens first, followed by many optimization and promotional marketing steps.

These are the full steps that are required for your brand to see continued success from contests.

By combining the above best practices with optimization, these micro-wins help to save on your marketing budget and improve contest ROI over time.

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