3…2…1 your contest is officially complete.

You know who the winner is, and judging by the lengthy list of new leads in your database your contest was a great success.

But to tell you the truth, your real work has just begun.

What good is a list of new leads if you don’t know how to convert them into paying customers?

Turns out 65% of businesses admit they don’t have lead nurturing systems in place.

Simply sending an email isn’t going to cut it either. You need multiple follow-up strategies to ensure you’re gaining true value from your contest.

It’s time to find out the 5 crucial follow-ups you need once your contest is finished.

1. The Follow-Up Email Offer

Let’s start out simple. Once you’ve announced the winner of your contest you need to send out an email to thank all participants for entering, and communicate how much you value them. This is pretty obvious.

But don’t think that the sole purpose of this email is to say thank you. Your thank you email needs to keep your leads engaged (otherwise a “thank you” email is the same as “goodbye”).

Whether it be sending new leads to your website or to check out something relevant to your contest, your email needs to include a call-to-action. An email without a call-to-action is simply a wasted opportunity.

Actionable Follow-up Strategy:

Attach a discount code or coupon to your consolation emails.

  • This type of offer is a great practice to convert leads into paying customers. By providing them with a purchase incentive you are encouraging them to buy from you down the line (and comforting them after their loss).
  • Set a time limit on your coupon or discount to create urgency and ensure that your new lead doesn’t forget about you.

2. The Follow-Up Content Email

Not every follow-up email needs to be coupon or discount related. In certain situations, you may want to further educate leads and that may be what they’re interested in most.

Send leads an email with a link to a different portion of your website or a landing page with gated content. You’ve already gotten their email address from their contest submission, so ensure your page doesn’t ask for it again.

Actionable Follow-up Strategy:

Send an email prompting your new leads to download gated content related to your contest prize. Be sure you’re asking them for information beyond their email. The more personal info you gain from leads the better you can provide them with targeted, personalized content or product information down the line (which will increase click-throughs, opens, and final sales).

3. Create an Email Segment With All Contest Participants

Hopefully (if you’ve read my “5 Most Heart Wrenching Contest Mistakes We See All the Time” article) you ran a sweepstakes in which participants entered to win a specific product from your business.

This gives us really valuable lead information: all of your contest entrants like the product or service you set as a prize.

This allows you the opportunity to place all of those who did not win into a new email segment. From here you can specifically target them with emails in the future related to either the product they entered to win or one like it.

If you already have a newsletter subscriber list, simply creating a new segment ensures you’re sending these warm leads related information in the future.

Actionable Follow-up Strategy:

Let’s say you just ran a contest which gave people the chance to win a dedicated 2 hour consultation with you on Facebook marketing, something normally valued at $250. Everybody who entered to win that prize is clearly interested in Facebook marketing, so segment them accordingly.

If you’re curious of how to set up a segment in Mailchimp, check out their great guide (or ConstantContact’s).

4. Create a Custom Audience on Facebook

If you’ve generated over 100 leads through your contest, a custom audience on Facebook is a great way to reach these individuals again in the future.

They’re aware of your brand and who you are, so a Facebook ad targeted at them will be likely to grab their attention amongst the noise of their News Feed.

So what exactly is a custom audience?

It sounds like fancy Facebook lingo but its doable for any Facebook marketer.

A custom audience allows you to reach those leads that you already know. You can upload all of the email addresses you obtained from your contest (as long as you drove at least 100) and deliver Facebook ads specifically to these participants.

custom audience

Actionable Follow-up Strategy:

Put out an ad to all past participants that did not win, right before your next contest. You can then tailor the ad directly to these individuals. You may say something like “We know you really wanted that “prize”. Lucky for you, you get another chance” with a link to your new contest.

To do this, go in to your Ads manager, click Audiences, Create Audience and decide how to import your list. A custom audience is a valuable way to specifically target past participants. Don’t overlook it as a way to reach out and grab the attention of leads when they’re least expecting it.

5. Create a Lookalike Audience on Facebook

Facebook is a great tool for reaching past participants, but it can also help you to reach new audiences as well.

A lookalike audience is the perfect way to find like-minded individuals to enter your next contest. Once again, if you have more than 100 entrants’ emails you can easily create an audience on Facebook targeting those who don’t know about your business.

A lookalike audience uses an algorithm to reach out to people likely interested in your business or contest because they’re similar to those leads in your list. In simple terms, if your leads wanted to enter your contest why wouldn’t those who are just like them?

A lookalike audience can be created under the custom Audiences portion of your Ads manager. You can select one country at a time and then base your lookalike audience off of “Similarity” or “Greater Reach.”

  • Similarity – optimizes the audience based off the top 1% of people in that country that are the most similar
  • Greater Reach – Includes the top 5% of people in that country similar to the original audience (but less precise matching)

Actionable Follow-up Strategy:

Create a lookalike audience based on your existing contest leads. Aim to capture this new group of individuals with ads directly targeted at them as an audience. Your goal should be to get them intrigued and interested in entering your next contest or at least thinking about your brand.

Why Bother?

Once your contest is complete, your goal should be to build relationships with your leads and nurture them further down your sales funnel. Get them engaging with your content and your brand.

There are no simple rules when it comes to following up after a contest.

Well actually there is one – be creative.

The 5 options mentioned above are just examples of what we have seen our clients do over the past few years.

Try them out and discover what works for you and your brand.

Never look to sell contest participants right away. Build these leads into an engaged audience and eventually you will be rewarded with brand advocates sharing your contests, entering your contests and spreading positive word of mouth for your business.


What methods have you tried to follow up with contest participants? Have you had success using any of the above strategies? I would love to hear your experiences in the comments section below!