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contest marketing

How to Use Contest Marketing to Grow Your Business (17 Tips & Examples)

Written By: author image Stacey Corrin
author image Stacey Corrin
Stacey has been writing about WordPress and digital marketing for over 10 years and on other topics for much longer. Alongside this, she's fascinated with web design, user experience, and SEO.
     Reviewed By: John Turner
reviewer image John Turner
John Turner is the co-founder of RafflePress. He has over 20+ years of business and development experience and his plugins have been downloaded over 25 million times.

Do you want to grow your business with contest marketing?

Contest marketing is a content marketing strategy that uses giveaways, online contests, or sweepstakes to boost brand awareness and reach your target audience. You can then drive traffic to your website and turn visitors into leads and potential customers.

This article will share the best contest marketing examples, tips, and strategies to grow your business. We’ll cover everything from planning and creating your contest to analyzing your results at the end.

Planning Your Contest

Planning your contest marketing strategy is just as important as its execution. You’ll iron out each part of your contest at this stage, so it’s easier to run and manage. 

1. Set Clear Contest Goals

define your goals

Before creating and marketing your contest, it’s essential to identify your goals. Doing so will help you monitor your success and analyze your results when the contest is over. 

What do you want to accomplish from running a contest?

For example, you can run a giveaway to:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Grow your email list
  • Collect user-generated content (UGC)
  • Promote products and services
  • Drive traffic to your website

Once you know what you want to achieve, it will be easier to align the rest of your contest to those goals.

2. Define Your Audience Carefully

define your target audience

After setting your goals, turn your attention to the type of contest participants you want to attract. It’s easy to create a contest for anyone and everyone, but those leads are useless if they don’t align with your business.

Those leads will likely have no interest in your brand – all they want is the chance to win a prize. After they enter the contest, low-quality leads will leave and probably won’t ever return.

You should research your target audience instead, which you can do by:

  • Identifying their interests, likes, and dislikes
  • Discovering which social media platforms they use
  • Understand the brands they already like

Marketers call this type of research creating a buyer persona, and it’s fundamental for any digital marketing campaign. Check out this guide from OptinMonster on creating a buyer persona for help getting started.

3. Align Your Contest with Your Goals and Audience

After carefully researching, you should know what your goals are and who your target audience is. Now go back to your goals and ensure they align with your audience.

For example, having a contest marketing goal of growing your Facebook page won’t yield valuable leads if your audience isn’t active on that platform. Similarly, you can’t expect to boost car sales if your audience is only interested in motorcycles.

Re-evaluate your goals until they fit what you want to achieve and the issues your audience wants to solve. Only then can you move on with the rest of your plan and make it successful.

4. Choose a Highly Relevant Prize

The next step in your contest marketing plan is choosing a giveaway prize your audience genuinely wants to win.

If your prize isn’t desirable to your target audience, they won’t make any effort to enter. Moreover, if the prize isn’t exciting enough, your audience won’t share it.

Consider the following aspects when choosing a prize for your contest:

  • What gets your target audience excited?
  • What content does your audience share?
  • Is the prize relevant to your brand?

Check out this case study from Smash Balloon. They chose to give away a MacBook Air for Black Friday, a high-value product they knew their audience would get excited over and relevant to their brand. 

smash balloon contest marketing prize

Bottom line: pick a prize worth sharing that adds value to your audience’s lives.

Creating Your Contest

The next section of your contest marketing strategy involves executing your campaign. That’s where you’ll put your contest together, fine-tune your entry methods, and publish your contest online.

5. Use a Powerful Contest Tool

Creating a successful contest is much easier if you use the right tools. Many contest tools are available, but they often have a steep learning curve or are difficult for beginners to use. 

We suggest choosing a lightweight giveaway tool that works seamlessly with your website’s content management system. You can use your website to host your giveaway, ensuring you generate website traffic while meeting your other contest marketing goals.

For WordPress websites, RafflePress is the best solution.

best WordPress contest marketing plugin rafflepress

RafflePress is the best WordPress giveaway tool on the market. It lets you create any type of contest without starting from scratch.

You can choose from several premade giveaway templates that align with popular marketing goals, including:

  • Grow your email list
  • Grow your Facebook page
  • Grow your Twitter followers
  • Grow your YouTube subscribers
  • Grow your Instagram followers
  • Viral refer-a-friend
  • Pre-launch campaign
  • And more

Then you can customize your giveaway with the visual drag-and-drop giveaway builder. It requires no coding to use; simply drag, drop and perfect your giveaway design with a few clicks.

rafflepress drag and drop giveaway builder

Additionally, RafflePress offers various one-click entry methods that make it easy for users to participate. Each action qualifies users to enter to win your grand prize. Plus, the more actions they take, the more chances they get to win.

Click Actions to choose your raffle entry methods

Here’s a step-by-step guide on creating an online contest with RafflePress for WordPress-based contests.

6. Make Entering Easy with 1-Click

No one wants to jump through hoops to enter a giveaway. Would you enter a contest that takes more than a few minutes to qualify?

Attention spans are brief online. Your contest should be easy to enter, enabling users to enter quickly and then go about their day as usual.

Luckily RafflePress offers tons of giveaway entry options that only take a single click. Even better, each entry option aligns with the most popular giveaway goals:

  • Follow and share on social media
  • Join an email newsletter
  • Subscribe to podcast and RSS
  • Follow on Twitch
  • Submit a photo
  • Answer a question
  • Complete a poll or survey
  • Leave a comment
  • Write a blog post
  • Refer a friend

You can even create your own unique entry method.

In this contest marketing example, WPForms tailored RafflePress’s entry options to fit their contest goals.

WPForms facebook group giveaway

They wanted to promote their Facebook group, so they used the “Visit a Facebook page” action to ask users to join their Facebook group. They got over 11,000 new group members as a result.

7. Display Crystal Clear Contest Rules

No contest is complete without a robust set of rules. The rules you set for your giveaway will help users understand the tasks they need to complete to qualify. It will also weed out any time-wasters, ensuring you only attract high-quality leads.

Here are some points to outline in your giveaway rules:

  • Minimum age requirements
  • Locations your giveaway covers
  • How users can enter
  • End date and time for entries
  • How you’ll draw a winner

You should also consider the giveaway rules for different social media platforms.

For instance, according to Facebook’s contest rules, you cannot ask participants to like and share your giveaway. Moreover, most platforms require a disclosure stating they are not affiliated with or endorse the giveaway.

You should display your giveaway rules clearly alongside your initial announcement or inside your giveaway app.

RafflePress users can use the built-in giveaway rules template to generate rules with a  few clicks. Simply answer a few easy questions, and it will automatically make the rules for you.

Easily generate contest rules in seconds

You can then edit your rules to fit your brand and display them right inside your contest app for users to read before entering.

8. Create a Contest Landing Page

The next part of your contest marketing plan is crucial: making it live. If you want your giveaway to make an impact from day 1, you need to publish it in a distraction-free format that’s easy to share.

The most effective way to publish your giveaway in WordPress is on a giveaway landing page

Landing pages focus on what you want visitors to do next instead of distracting them with tons of information. They also allow you to simply copy a link and share the contest online, helping you direct targeted traffic to your giveaway page and attract even more high-quality leads.

There are several ways to create a contest landing page in WordPress.

You can use RafflePress’s built-in giveaway landing page feature to publish your contest widget on an attractive, distraction-free page.

RafflePress giveaway landing page

Or you can use a landing page builder like SeedProd, to create a custom landing page without code. SeedProd integrates directly with RafflePress, allowing you to add many more elements to boost leads, including:

  • Reviews and testimonials for valuable social proof
  • Countdown timers to create urgency
  • Images and videos to boost engagement
  • Optin forms to collect email addresses and grow your list
  • And much more
SeedProd giveaway landing page design

You can follow this step-by-step guide to create a landing page with SeedProd.

Marketing Your Contest

Your contest marketing plan should focus on how you’ll promote your giveaway next. You can’t expect to attract quality leads without promoting your giveaway online.

Here are several ways to market your contest and reach your target audience.

9. Announce Your Contest via Email

Your email list is a valuable resource for promoting your contest. The people on your list are already interested in your brand and want to hear from you, so they’re likely to enter your giveaway if you ask.

Anker uses email as a way to promote their contest giveaway

Send an announcement to your list when your giveaway goes live, asking them to enter. You can also ask your list to share the contest with friends or on social media to spread the word.

10. Send Push Notification Reminders

Another way to promote your giveaway is to use push notifications. After website visitors sign up to receive push notifications from your site, you can send promotional messages that appear in their web browser.

This is an excellent way to reach people interested in your brand after leaving your website. They’ll see the message wherever they are online, allowing you to draw them back to your site to take action.

push notifications for contest marketing

For example, you can send a push notification when your contest goes live, during the contest to build momentum, and right before the contest ends as a last-chance reminder.

Creating push notifications is super easy with a tool like PushEngage. It lets you set up push notifications without code and offers many powerful features to help you reach and grow your audience, including:

  • Segmentation
  • Customizable optins
  • Drip campaigns
  • And more.

Follow this guide to create push notifications with PushEngage.

11. Add a Floating Bar to Your Website

Your website likely attracts plenty of traffic from search engines, making it an excellent resource for people learning about your brand. But those visitors probably won’t know about your contest unless you point them in the right direction. 

With a tool like OptinMonster, you can add an eye-catching notification bar to the top of your site, promoting your giveaway. You can add a call-to-action link to your giveaway page, inviting visitors to enter for a chance to win.

You can also use several features to grab attention, such as countdown timers, call-to-action buttons, and eye-catching graphics.

contest marketing floating bar

There are many other ways to use OptinMonster to send traffic to your giveaway page, including:

  • Lightbox popups
  • Exit-intent popups
  • Slide-ins
  • Welcome mats
  • Spin-the-wheel captains
  • And more.
giveaway popup for contest marketing

You can also use intelligent targeting to show your campaign to the right people at the right time. Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating a notification bar with OptinMonster.

12. Promote Your Contest on Social Media

One of the easiest ways to market your contest is with social media. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube have billions of users sharing tons of content every second.

The key to social media contest promotion is to make your posts interesting enough for people to notice, click, and share. Think about which content formats work best on each platform, then plan your promotional material accordingly.

contest promotion on instagram

For instance, Facebook users react positively to video content, so create a short video announcing and promoting your contest. Alternatively, you can create a step-by-step photo tutorial on how to enter for Pinterest or an eye-catching GIF for Twitter.

Design your social media campaign to run before, during, and after your contest. Doing so allows you to build excitement before the contest goes live and over your contest duration to maximize your reach.

13. Use Influencer Marketing to Promote Your Contest

Influencer marketing is another way to maximize your contest marketing efforts. Influencers already have an established social media audience that you can tap into to promote your giveaway.

  • Start by identifying influencers who align with your brand and have a relevant audience.
  • Interact with the content they share by liking, commenting, and sharing.
  • Offer insights and valuable information to start conversations with the influencer.
  • Engage with the influencer’s followers.
influencer contest marketing

It takes time to build a relationship with influencers, but it’s a mutually rewarding tactic if you put in the effort. Once your relationship is established, you can work with influencers to promote your giveaway to their fans and followers.

14. Submit Your Contest to Giveaway Promotion Websites

It’s easy to overlook the next contest marketing tactic, but it’s a valuable source of potential leads. There are more people than you’d expect looking for contests to enter, and many flock to sweepstakes websites to find the best opportunities.

Check out this round-up of the best contest directories to find websites to submit your contest. Adding your giveaway to those websites can source leads you may have otherwise missed. 

Follow Up Contest Marketing

Contest marketing doesn’t stop when your giveaway is over. You can do several things after your contest ends to continue to promote your business and draw in new leads.

15. Announce the Winner

First, don’t forget to announce the winner of your contest. Not only does this help notify the winner of the good news, but it also allows you to use the momentum to promote your brand one last time.

You can announce your winner through email and, while doing so, invite participants to enter your next contest.

announce giveaway winner email

You should also announce your giveaway winner on social media. Anyone looking at your social media feed will see that you run giveaways and may follow you to learn about your next campaign.

facebook announce giveaway winner

16. Offer Time-Bound Sales to Participants

When your giveaway ends, it’s time to start nurturing your new leads and turning them into paying customers. One of the best ways to do that is to offer limited sales and discounts. You can even offer a discount as a consolation prize to users who didn’t win.

The idea behind making your sales and discounts time-bound is it creates a sense of urgency. People are more likely to act now if they know they’ll miss out by waiting.

offer discounts to content participants

This is also an excellent time to use any user-generated content from past contests. Show potential customers what they’ll miss by sharing photos and videos of happy customers using your products and services.

17. Analyze Your Results

The final stage in your contest marketing strategy is tracking, measuring, and analyzing your results. You won’t know which tactics work best unless you have data to compare.

​​By tracking specific metrics during and after your contest, you’ll learn which types of content, online platforms, prizes, and marketing messages resonate most with your ideal customers. You can then learn from that data to get better results for your next contest.

You can track your contest metrics for free using Google Analytics. And if you want to make better sense of your data, we suggest using MonsterInsights.

monsterinsights google analytics plugin for WordPress

MonsterInsights lets you set up Google Analytics in WordPress with a few clicks. It doesn’t require copying and pasting code and includes no complicated setup processes.

It also delivers easy-to-understand reports about your key website metrics to your WordPress dashboard, including:

  • Giveaway landing page traffic
  • Website clicks
  • Bounce rates
  • Top referrals
  • And more

You can also use RafflePress’s powerful entries report to learn which giveaway actions were the most popular among participants. With that information, you can choose similar entry options for your next giveaway to maximize your success.

rafflepress giveaway entries report

There you have it!

We hope this article helped you learn how to use contest marketing to grow your business.

Check out how Agile’ grew their clients’ email list by 52% with RafflePress, which you’re here.

If you liked this article, please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for RafflePress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

author avatar
Stacey Corrin Writer
Stacey has been writing about WordPress and digital marketing for over 10 years and on other topics for much longer. Alongside this, she's fascinated with web design, user experience, and SEO.

Disclosure: Our content is reader-supported. This means if you click on some of our links, then we may earn a commission. We only recommend products that we believe will add value to our readers.

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