5 Little-known Brainy Tactics for Successful Contests & Sweepstakes

Do you run contests but your results are…duh?

Do you want to capture more emails with just a single campaign?

Contests, sweepstakes and giveaways in social media can be a great source to fuel your email list.

In this article I’ll share 5 tips for maximizing the effectiveness of your lead-gen campaigns through viral game mechanics.

We know that these work. And we believe in these so much that we even built all of them in to our own contest platform.

The kicker is that there is no need to spend more or be pushy.

Why collect emails as contest entries?

Social media can be effective, but it’s a rented land, so there are insecurities and unexpected situations that you need to be prepared to deal with.

For example the Facebook organic reach has never been so low, and we just lost the Like-gate.

However, your email list is one commodity that you own, and it can go hand-in-hand with your social media efforts.

Just think about advertising to your email list on Facebook. Or emailing your fans whose email addresses you captured with Facebook contests.

Here’s a Facebook contest to capture the email addresses of your subscribers.

Here’s a Facebook contest to capture the email addresses of your subscribers.

So here are 5 advanced techniques to attract more newsletter subscribers to your contests and sweepstakes.

#1. Draw multiple, lower-value prizes

What do you think, what’s more attractive as a contest prize? A car or one of 10 test-drives?

Well, according to this research multiple, smaller value prizes can be more attractive than a single, high-value prize.

The best is if the two are combined: a higher value prize with multiple, lower value prizes.

Before we knew the science behind this we saw an example with one of our customers at Antavo. The company offered a car as a prize for their sweepstakes, but only 198 people entered.

In another case 3 simple chocolate hampers attracted thousands of subscribers.

Why?

People weigh their chances. Most people think they would never win a car because so many would participate for such a valuable grand prize. Therefore, they feel their chances of winning minimal and decide not to enter.

Takeaway: Instead of offering a single, expensive grand prize, offer multiple, lower value prizes. It’s a bonus if you offer a higher value prize too.

The best contests have multiple, lower value prizes.

The best contests have multiple, lower value prizes.

#2. Combine voting with a jury round

“Enter with a selfie with your doggy! The selfie with the most votes wins!”

What do you think about this call-to-action at a contest?

At first sight it seems okay, but if you think more about what it really means, you will see that it’s not ideal. Here is why.

The conditions are intimidating.

See, in order to win the prize your subscriber needs to collect the most votes. If a subscriber has a cute puppy but not many friends who’d vote, he would collect relatively few votes. This makes him lose interest right at the beginning. Not to mention the sour feeling afterwards.

The best way is to involve a round of e.g. 15 entrants where people can qualify by collecting votes.

Then you either randomly pick the winners, or choose them with a jury round.

You can still give an audience’s choice prize.

Takeaway: To preserve interest and avoid disappointment have a semi-round in your contest. People can qualify by collecting votes, and a jury makes the final decision.

A jury round is involved to get winners in this video contest.

A jury round is involved to get winners in this video contest.

#3. Incentivize voting

If you only focus on motivating entrants to share their email address by offering a prize, you’re missing out on a big source of leads—your voters.

To capture voter leads, add a layer to your contest that asks voters to register with their emails in exchange for being entered into a related prize drawing.

To top this you can add another level. Those people who vote every day (and grow engagement between themselves and you) can increase their chances of winning.

Takeaway: To encourage participation and collect more email leads, draw a prize among voters too.

Incentivize voting with drawing a prize among them. Voters are just as valuable to you as entrants.

Incentivize voting with drawing a prize among them. Voters are just as valuable to you as entrants.

#4. Separate voting and entry rounds

Would you ever want to take part in a running race where the next runner has a one-mile advantage?

Well, neither would I. I will not run just to shame myself for being the last one!

See, this is why people won’t enter your contests if you don’t pay attention to a tiny but very important detail: timing.

With contests that require people to upload something (a picture, video, music or a story) you need to have separate uploading and voting periods.

If these periods overlap too much, or if they are exactly at the same time you might miss entrants who don’t enter because others already collected many votes.

Takeaway: To gain more subscribers – and avoid concerns about entering your contest – have a separate uploading and voting periods. So when the time comes, everyone will start with the same chances.

If there are separate uploading and voting periods, everyone has the same chances and the contest is considered fair. Entering will be more attractive, and you can capture more email addresses.

If there are separate uploading and voting periods, everyone has the same chances and the contest is considered fair. Entering will be more attractive, and you can capture more email addresses.

#5. Give bonus points to get social shares and referrals

“Thanks for entering! Now share this with your friends!”

Do you think this call-to-action works?

Not really.

I see marketers often making the mistake of putting sharing icons wherever they can. For example just after someone enters a sweepstakes.

But why would anyone share a sweepstakes, if it only means decreasing his or her own chances of winning the prize? If you ask for shares without other incentives, people will just not share.

Simple as that.

The right solution is to offer increased chances after sharing and for invited friends who enter. It’s a win-win both for you and the subscribers.

You can grant points both after sharing, and having friends subscribe. (Of course you need to have the technical background that can handle tracing referrals.)

Takeaway: To help your sweepstakes spread, offer a carrot on a stick. People can receive bonus points after sharing and for invited friends who enter.

Sharing is caring. But sharing that is beneficial for you is even better!

Sharing is caring. But sharing that is beneficial for you is even better!

What makes a successful contest?

Viral game mechanics and the right incentives are great techniques to get more subscribers to your contests.

More contest subscribers mean more email subscribers, and that is a step forward to sustainable marketing.

These techniques are not difficult to implement.

You just need a bit conscious thinking and an understandable copy.

5 Little-known Brainy Tactics for Successful Contests & Sweepstakes by
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Zsuzsa Kecsmar

Zsuzsa is CMO and co-founder of Antavo, a marketing tool to create sweepstakes, contests and giveaways to Facebook, mobile and web. Connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn!
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  • http://jasonhjh.com/ Jason HJH

    That is spot-on Zsuzsa! I’ve told my clients repeatedly about #5 – it just doesn’t make sense to ask participants to join without providing an incentive – in fact it’s quite thoughtless.

    Looking forward to more actionable tips like these – I could try #2

    • http://www.antavo.com/ Zsuzsa Kecsmar

      I am glad you liked it!

      I hope your clients get the importance of #5! We built incentivised sharing to the Antavo platform as a default setting, and most of our customers won’t change them, that is great!

      A jury round is especially powerful if done with recognisable people from the industry!

  • http://www.shayannaveed.com Shayan Naveed

    These are some amazing tips and tricks. Worst is when business owners can’t even think of a decent prize or set of prizes. I wouldn’t even enter it. Will share this with my client but I doubt I have the technical expertise to implement 3rd party apps to create contests like this.

    Any ideas for non-3rd party app contests?

    • http://www.antavo.com/ Zsuzsa Kecsmar

      Hi Shayan, all the tips mentioned above can be implemented with Antavo, the platform to build such 3rd party apps! https://antavo.com Sign up, we have a 7-day free trial, and it’s very easy to use.

  • Melisa

    I wouldn’t call these tactics “brainy”, but witty
    enough. As for real brainy thing, try cv writing service