Consumer Promotions

How to Use Contests to Boost Business

When building and growing a business, finding new customers is usually the hardest component to nail. Aside from the traditional traffic sources like Google and marketing strategies such as SEO and social media, how can you add another dimension to your user engagement and boost conversion rates?

The answer may actually be simply contests. Consumers love receiving free prizes, so running a contest to give something away can actually do wonders for your brand and sales. To further solidify the value of a contest, Hubspot conducted a study that found competitions to increase audience size by an average of 34%. Furthermore, one third of contest entrants sign up for email updates from the brand or business organising the contest.

Using social media is a fantastic way of garnering interest in your contest. It is however important that you set up and run your contest smoothly and efficiently to enjoy the best results. This article will serve as a guide on how to run a successful social media contest.

Define and assess your objectives

It’s important to know why you are running a contest and what your business is looking to get out of it. Is it for brand awareness, lead generation, referrals, subscribers, or sales? These are just some of the many objectives you may have. Ensuring you have a clear picture of your outcome will help you design the most appropriate contest and measure the results to determine its success.

Consider the logistics

The actual running of a contest can get quite messy if you do not take the time to plan it accordingly. It is vital to the success of your contest that you:

  • Find a suitable contest mechanism,
  • Determine what information you need to collect from entrants,
  • Plan your communication and entry processes, and
  • Ensure you follow all rules and guidelines for the platform (e.g. Facebook has strict rules you must adhere to).

Determining the prize and how it will be given to the eventual winner is also an important component. Will it be shipped? Will there be an in-person delivery with a photo?

Another important aspect to consider is budget. You need to budget for the prize, but also for the promotional activity that will need to occur in order to get your contest out there. Finding appropriate sources for promotion is crucial to the success of your competition. You might consider using Facebook advertising, or perhaps look to reach out to influential bloggers to help raise awareness.

User experience is also something that should not be neglected. Make sure that users find it easy to enter your competition so that they provide the necessary information and take the relevant actions you require them to take.


Once your contest is prepped and ready, it’s time to test it from end to end. Ensure that everything works as bugs will only cause problems and affect your brand’s reputation. When you’re happy with it, flick the switch and start to promote! Follow up the influencers and bloggers in your industry, and run some advertising to direct people to your contest.

Sometimes the day and time of your launch can affect the level of engagement you have at the beginning of your contest. Think of when your Facebook followers are engaging the most – would Saturday night be a good time to launch, or are they often more active on weeknights?

Follow up

During the contest, be vigilant but not spammy with reminders for people to enter. Create a sense of time pressure for contestants, and keep following up on your influencers to help you continue spreading the word. It’s important to not overdo this, however. A weekly e-mail and one or two social media updates a day should do the trick.

Keep an eye on which forms of following up are proving more successful so that you can use the wording and medium for better results.

Selecting a winner

When the competition is over, it’s time to select a winner. Based on the brief provided to entrants, select your winner and ensure you notify them when you had promised. Announce the winner on your social media page to verify the legitimacy of the contest and generate interest in a potential future contest.

Finally, contact the winner personally and arrange for their prize to be delivered.

After it’s all done, remember to debrief from the contest and collate key learnings, results, and determine how successful it was. Each contest you run will provide new lessons and make the next one even easier and more successful.

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Brooke Symington

Brooke Symington

Promotional Compliance Manager at Edge Pri
Brooke, our walking talking promotional compliance guru is always up to date with the latest in promotional compliance, which is forever changing and may seem like a series of keeping up with the Kardashians... however Brooke takes it in her stride and continues to be ahead of the pack. With a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts/Media & Communications behind her, as well as more than 5 years' experience in the promotions and compliance space, Brooke has found her niche at Edge.
Brooke Symington

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