Contests and competitions: 3 Reasons To Host Your First Online Contest

Everyone loves to feel like a winner. More than that, people simply love to take part in a friendly competition.

I bet you’ve shouted answers at the TV when watching a game show (uh, hello, they can’t hear you!) even when you’re cozied up on the couch all alone.

{Don’t worry, it will be our little secret ;0)}

And those brain teasers and quizes on Facebook? Maybe you didn’t want to look like a geek and share them, but you DID secretly take part, didn’t you? {My rockstar name is Gin Roman}.

Pat Flynn recently shared a blog post with some insights into the psychology of encouraging people to share their answers on your blog post or video (watch the ketchup in a pop bottle video, it’s pretty cool!)… but what I’m getting at is there are reasons people and businesses are always asking questions and holding contests on their websites, blogs and social networks.

Do you have any idea what the reasons are?

(No peeking! Post your answer in the comments below… then continue reading!)


Cat cartoon - prize winner with cake - Everyone Loves to Feel Like a Winner

Here are 3 reasons you might want to run a contest or sweeptakes on your website, blog or social network.


1.  Contests help to create brand awareness.

If you’re launching a new product or service, or just starting a new company, a contest can be a fun way to get people to notice you and to share about your business. After all, it’s better than tooting your own horn, and the added excitement of a chance to win a prize means you have a better chance of getting them to circulate the information (which gets more eyeballs on your name or product).

Tip: Use a contest that encourages multiple ways to share, and allows participants to share more often to gain more contest entries.

Two examples of highly shareable contests are Rafflecopter and Gleam.

  • Gleam. Below is an example of the Gleam contest app I used for a music event I helped to promote. There are lots of sharing options and different ways to enter that encourage participants to come back daily for more contest entries. This particular contest is open to Canadian residents (an option available for the premium priced app). Feel free to test out and enter the contest until the closing date of May 7th, 2015.


Example of the Gleam contest app

Example of the Gleam contest app promoting a music event with various sharing and contest entry options. Contests can be used to promote brand awareness and for list-building.


Contest prizes for Leah Kalamakis' Freelance to Freedom Project 1-year anniversary

Example of contest prizes for Leah Kalamakis’ Freelance to Freedom Project 1-year anniversary. Leah used Rafflecopter to run her contest on her blog.


2. Contests are a great way to grow your email list.

Even if you are just starting out, you probably can find a few prizes that your ideal customer or target market would find valuable and appealing.

You’ve probably heard the saying “the money is in the list” and contrary to some online myths, email marketing is not dead. It’s a highly targeted way to nurture an authentic relationship with potential customers while providing them with interesting and valuable content. At some point, you’ll make them an offer for your coaching, online course, live training, or physical products, and because you have kept in touch (top of mind awareness) and developed a relationship, they are more likely to trust you and to buy from you.

Tip: Be sure that your prize relates to your brand.

Otherwise you’ll have people signing up just to win the cool free prize, but they are really not your target market so they end up taking up space on your email list (maybe costing you more money) and they are likely to unsubscribe once the sweepstakes draw is over.

For example, a podiatrist might be tempted to run a contest with an iPad as the prize because they feel like they would get more entries, and they have seen other business owners offering similar prizes. However, they would be better offering a gift card to a shoe store along with a free foot exam because it is in alignment with their services, and the free consultation would bring a possible new client into the office.


3. Get more engagement on your blog post or social network status updates.

Why is it important to get more comments, likes, shares, and retweets?

  • It gets you more visibility for your brand (already covered in #1 above).
  • Increases traffic to your website (which search engines like and you bet better ranking in an online search… in geek speak, it’s good for SEO)
  • Social networks reward you for lots of activity and engagement (because after all, social media has become a popularity contest, so popular posts get shown more often in the newsfeeds).


For some examples of Facebook contests and how to use them properly (and some free tools and resources too), watch my interview with Donna Hamer as she shares her expertise on running legal, fair and fun contests to build a thriving email list on Facebook.


When it comes to running a contest or sweepstakes on your website, blog or social media channels, remember to:

  • Always read the terms of service if you are running a contest on social media or your website/blog.
  • Check to see if there are any state/province or national gaming regulations that you have to abide by. (For example, your state might require a gaming licence only if the prize on offer is greater than $200 in value).
  • Use a contest app (such as Woobox, Rafflecopter, or Gleam) to:
    • keep it fair
    • save you time and effort in designing, running AND sharing the contest
    • increase visibility and share more easily
    • collect emails and grow your list


Why not give your visitors a chance to do something fun? Offer them a challenge via email, run a  Facebook competition (sweepstakes), or host a contest on your blog. People will enjoy participating and vying for the prize, and you’ll have the benefit of generating more traffic to your website, getting more engagement on your social network, or growing your email list to keep in touch with potential clients in the future.


Have you had success running a contest?  Or have you used any sweepstakes apps that you’d recommend? Share your answers in the comments below?


Cat cartoon image source: Deposit photos


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