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Last updated on May 18, 2023

online contests and giveaways

Wondering how to run a contest and giveaway campaign like a pro?

Running a contest or holding a giveaway is an amazing marketing strategy, especially when the holiday season is coming up. 

It’s an easy and quick way to generate engagement, grow your social media following, get more traffic to your website and most importantly, generate leads and customers for your business. 

That said, holding an online contest is not as easy as buying an iPad, posting it on Facebook and waiting for your sales to increase. It’s also not paying a random Instagram influencer to post a selfie.

At the end of the day, you want to get the right people signing up for your giveaway (i.e. your target audience).

In this article, I’m going to show you how to run contests and giveaways like a pro so that you actually reach your marketing goals.

Why run an online contest or giveaway campaign?

As I mentioned earlier, it’s a great way to get marketing results quickly and accomplish other goals such as:

  • Generating new social media followers
  • Boosting engagement with existing followers
  • Getting more traffic to your website
  • Growing your email list
  • Producing more leads and sales

Contests and giveaways are interactive by nature, and people love them. There’s an element of scarcity involved, some uncertainty and an opportunity to win something people want or need. 

By promoting your business and the products/services you offer, you create curiosity among people to check out your profile or your site to see what else you have. 

But in order to get the right eyeballs, you have to be extremely clear about your objectives, build a contest that supports these objectives and offer the right prize that helps promote your giveaway campaign extensively.

Step 1: Determine your objective

Before posting your next contest on Facebook, it’s important to take the time to establish your objectives first.

The contest objectives should be in line with your overall marketing strategy, which should be aligned with your business goals.

So first, what do you want to achieve in the coming quarter?

Now that you’re clear on that, you can set up the goal of the individual campaign.

Here are some goals you can choose from for your contest marketing strategy:

  • Generate sales for a new product/ specific bundle
  • Gather user-generated content
  • Increase traffic to your website for online purchases
  • Test market response to a certain product category/price point
  • Grow email subscribers
  • Re-engage disengaged/passive customers

Whatever the goal is, you can build a campaign to reach that goal. All you need is a little imagination.

Step 2: Know your numbers

Knowing your numbers is a quintessential aspect of any promotion. Heck, any marketing activity.

The last thing you want is to spend time and money on a campaign, only to realise you’re making a loss on every new lead or every new customer.

Here are the basic marketing metrics to know before you run a campaign:

  • Average Customer Lifetime Value (helps you figure out the maximum cost you can spend to acquire a new lead)
  • Average Sales Cycle Length (the amount of time from your first touch with a prospect to closing the deal)
  • Cost of goods (cost of materials, labour, shipping etc. directly used to create the good)

Once you have the numbers, you have a better idea of what activity will be best for your bottom line and what you can do to give you the results you desire.

Step 3: Decide on a relevant prize

The prize you offer, of course, is part of the cost. It is also one of the most important elements that determine the success of your giveaway campaign. 

Because it is the tangible thing your customers get by participating in your contest.

Ideally, your prize should be brand-related, as well as something that your target audience wants.

For example, one of the easiest ways to offer a good prize is to use your own business’s products or services, like this example.

Also, don’t forget to showcase the value! It’s a way to prove to them that whatever they’re about to participate in is valuable.

Target’s contest campaign landing page to collect user information

If you’re a B2B company thinking  “Sure it works for B2C. It won’t work for me.”

Let me change your mind.

Scenario 1: Giveaway-Style Campaign

Say you’re a corporate gifts company. You want to run an end of year Christmas giveaway.

You must be thinking “But how am I going to give away what would normally be a $1,000 order, to every single person that opts in?”

You’re right, you don’t have to. 

Your giveaway could be 10 free tshirts with every 10 tshirts ordered. That’s still a pretty sweet deal.

I also want you to think of it in terms of the customers’ entire lifetime value with you. $500 now for $1,000 repeated orders every few months, their D&Ds, retreats, staff appreciation etc. 

The idea is to be creative and play around with the numbers.

Scenario 2: Contest-Style Campaign

Or maybe you offer cleaning services and you decide to run a contest as your marketing campaign.

It could be a like-share-tag contest on Facebook. Where contestants like your post, share the post on their wall and tag 3 of their associates. Their colleagues can do the same. That’s engagement.

What this does is that now their friends will see you, their colleague’s friends will be seeing you. That’s awareness. 

Also, you know that everyone tagged is in the corporate space looking for your solution. 

You can then follow up with these people with a messenger bot to grow your list. Plus, they’re added into your Facebook custom audience for retargeting for future ads. This is preparation for your next conversion campaign.

Isn’t that great?

Want some ideas on how to run your next campaign? Talk to us. We can help you. FOR FREE. Really.

Step 4: Design your contest / giveaway campaign

By now, you know what you want to achieve and you’ve also decided on a prize. It’s time to start putting together the campaign for your contest or giveaway. There are different types of contests/giveaways, such as:

  • Photo/Video contest
  • “Pick your favourite” contest
  • Like, share, tag contest
  • Writing, essay/ reason why you should win contest
  • Refer-a-friend contest
  • Challenges (whoever has the best results using your product wins)
  • And, of course, giveaways, which are similar across platforms

In order to run a successful contest or giveaway, make sure you have the mechanics all set up.

Here are some useful contest tools you can use for your campaign

A popular solution is Shortstack. This tool allows you to create contests, giveaways, quizzes as well as landing pages for your interaction with customers. 

Its capabilities include: drip emails, lead collection tools, landing page templates, among others

Shortstack comes with Platform Management & Account Services, Emails, Contest Management, Landing Page Creation, Analytics & Data Management functinos

If you want more than a social contest tool, Wishpond will do the trick. It is a marketing automation platform that even helps you with planning the basics of your campaigns.


Outgrow is another option to consider. Not only does it allow you to run giveaways and social media contests, but you can also create calculators, chatbots, pulls and more.

Its simple drag and drop editor makes it super easy and even comes with a tracking tool.

Outgrow’s interactive content helps make your campaign more professional and enticing.

Here are the most important elements to include in your contest post/page:

  • A headline that catches people’s attention
  • Your prize
  • A clear and visible Call-to-action
  • Entry details
  • Contest rules
  • Other contest details (Eg. time frame, how winners will be chosen, how they will be notified etc)

Step 5: Promote it everywhere

In order to get the best response and results for your campaign, make sure to promote it everywhere. The more (qualified) people join, the better. 

Here’s what you’ll need to promote your contest

  • Landing page (if necessary)
  • Send an email blast to your list to let them know about your contest (you’ll probably see the highest email open rates ever!)
  • Promote your contest across all sociala channels
  • Have it plastered on your website, include blog banners or even write a blog post about it
  • Create an ad campaign: If you want it to have the best results, you’ll have to invest to reach a much wider, targeted audience. 


Contests and giveaways can be an extremely powerful tactic to include in your marketing strategy. 

Whether it’s getting more leads, more engagements, re-engagements, more traffic, more sales, or other objectives, a giveaway campaign or contest could help in your marketing strategy.

Anyway, follow these 5 steps and you’re on your way to a high-performing campaign.

Oh yes, remember that contests and giveaways shouldn’t be the only thing you do!