It seems many marketers are running some sort of contest to engage their fans and generate more leads and create buzz about their brands. Online sweepstakes are one way that is great at achieving these goals.

So what exactly are online sweepstakes campaigns?

Sweepstakes offer prizes as a reward for participation. Things such as discount vouchers, merchandize, offers and giveaways. You can run campaigns either on your website or on social channels like Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat. When it comes to running an effective sweepstake campaign, many marketers face a huge challenge and make rookie mistakes:

  • Assuming that by just giving away a prize it will incentivize the audience to participate in the campaign
  • Making the process of entering the campaign difficult or confusing to the audience
  • Offering a prize that is not right for the target market or the timing for running the campaign is not right
  • Creating and executing a poor marketing plan to promote their campaign
  • Setting unrealistic goals for the campaign

Running a successful sweepstakes campaign is not always easy. However, if you take necessary steps and plan the campaign well, you can achieve your goals. In this article, I will show you 6 tips on how to run an effective online sweepstakes campaign and avoid mistakes.

  1. Set realistic goals– The first and the most important step of running a successful sweepstakes campaign is to create goals for why you want to run a campaign and what is the outcome you are looking for. Also your goals have to be realistic. If your goal is too big, say, achieve 10,000 entries for your campaign on Facebook in 2 weeks but do not have a budget to create a campaign for it or a marketing plan for it, then it is highly unlikely that your campaign will reach that number. Here is a great story by HubSpot on how they had to pull the plug on one of their marketing campaigns.
  1. Plan, plan, plan– Once you have the goal set for your campaign, the next step is to sit down with your team and plan your campaign. Depending on your company’s value proposition, your budget and your goals for the campaign, make a strategic plan on:
  • Where to run the campaign– The platform where you want to run your campaign should align with your goals. For example: if you want more website traffic and generate registrations, then it’s a good idea to run it on your website and promote the campaign on social channels.
  • When to run it– It’s always better to run a campaign close to an event that ties with your campaign. For example, AOL partnered with us to create a Christmas Song Madness campaign where users could vote for their favorite Christmas song. This campaign resulted in over 1.8 million page views within 3-4 weeks.Tips to run an effective online sweepstakes contest- woo your audience
  • How long you should run it for– Duration of the campaign matters a lot for running a successful sweepstakes campaign. It should neither be for a long period of time or a very short period of time. Usually 2-4 weeks is a good time to run a campaign. It is neither short for your marketing efforts for your users to get to know your campaign nor it is long enough so it drags on.
  • What should be the prize or the giveaway: This is extremely important to plan and you have to be very strategic about your prizes and giveaways. Just assuming the fact that you are giving away any prize would entice users to take part in your campaign can backfire. Ask questions like: Does the prize or the giveaway add any value to my audience? Or does it relate to my business or help my brand to increase its value and awareness in any way?
  1. Keep it simple: Marketers often make it confusing or difficult for their audience to take part in their campaigns. Either registration forms ask too many questions or its just too long. Keep it simple and ask for relevant information. For example, you can ask for more information such as shipping address or phone number once the campaign is over and the winner is declared. Here is an example of a simple and elegant sweepstakes campaign by Dressbarn where they just ask for 2-3 details.
  1. Promote, Promote, Promote: What do you do once you have created a campaign? Would you just sit and let your audience search for it on their own? No! Promoting your campaign is as essential as creating the campaign. Set your promotion budget and how you want to advertise your sweepstakes campaign. For example, do you want to promote it on blogs? Or do you want to run Facebook ads? It is also important to put social hooks to your campaign so your audience can share their results and promote your campaign. A good strategy to keep in mind is to contact influencers that can help you promote your campaign. This can really boost your promotion for sweepstakes campaign
  1. Follow ups are must: Once you have launched and promoted your campaign, the next important step is to follow up with your contestants. Send follow up emails and converse with them on social networking sited like Facebook and Twitter to answer any of their questions and get feedbacks to improve your campaign. Send at least one email per week, one reminder on Facebook per day and two-three reminder tweets per day. This adds more credibility to your campaign and increases the chances of your contestants taking the next steps.
  1. Promote the winner: Promote the winner of your campaign. Write a blog post about them or write a post on your social media channels about their journey and experience of taking part in your campaign. Make them realize that the campaign was also for their benefit and you appreciate their participation. This add a personal touch with your audience and also adds value to your brand and your next campaign.


I would just say to put yourself in the shoes of your audience and see how you would want to see the campaign and what value the sweepstakes will provide you as a consumer. Keep it as simple as possible and make it fun and interactive for your audience so will keep take part in your campaign and also promote it. These 6 steps are important for marketers to keep in mind in order to run a successful online sweepstakes campaign.

Vinay Chand and Craig Zingerline contributed to this post. This post was originally published on the Votion Blog.