I love seeing the phrase “enter for a chance …” and feeling like I just hit the lottery when I win something. If you’re anything like me, you jump at the opportunity to get something for free, and you’re not afraid to give your name and email address away for a chance to get it. But, do you really know what you’re getting yourself into?
Brands love when consumers enter their contests or sweepstakes. They give away some sort of prize, and in return receive valuable consumer information and/or engagement. It’s a win-win.
When you win something from either a contest or sweepstakes, it might feel like you won the lottery, but it’s actually far from it. In fact, it’s actually illegal for brands to conduct lotteries. Sweepstakes and contests are both derivatives of a lottery but, are both legal and can be highly effective at building a consumer database, driving short-term sales, promoting a new product, generating true engagement, and more.
We recently partnered with US Sweepstakes and Fulfillment Company for a two-part OXY sweepstakes and contest program. Once we had a really good idea of what we wanted to achieve, US Sweeps was instrumental in helping us execute the program. For anyone looking to conduct either a sweepstakes or contest, below is some information to help you get started and an explanation of differences between both types of promotions.
First, it’s important to understand what the goal of conducting a sweepstakes or contest would be. Is a brand looking to quickly build a database of leads or is it looking for the start of a truly engaging relationship? If it’s the former, a sweepstakes is probably the right choice for achieving the brand’s goal. With a sweepstakes there will inevitably be people looking for an easy freebie. For a brand looking to start a deeper, more fruitful relationship, a contest may be the most appropriate option. Regardless of which one you choose, there are tricky nuances to both.
To create a contest or sweepstakes, you need to build (or rather subtract) from a lottery. A lottery is a promotion consisting of all three of the following:
In all 50 states, under US Federal law, brands are prohibited from conducting lotteries. Eliminate one of the three elements and you’re in the clear.
A sweepstakes eliminates all aspects of consideration and has the following qualities:
- A free method of entry – typically through social media or other digital channel – and an alternative method of entry, which is usually by mail
- All entries are put into a random drawing of chance and the winner receives a prize
- Brands cannot ask participants to go to extreme lengths to become eligible to win a prize (e.g., visit 20 stores for a chance to win)
A contest eliminates all aspects of chance and includes the following:
- Winners are considered and selected by judges based on the performance of a skill or other judging criteria (e.g., submit a video, write an essay, etc.)
- Entry fees and/or purchase are allowed in most states
- No guessing or luck allowed
- Winners receive a prize
For both sweepstakes and contests, perhaps the most important part in developing them is writing and implementing the official rules. These represent the agreement between the brand and participants. The official rules need to clearly articulate how to participate in the promotion and detail the parameters for participation. Official rules serve as the decision maker should an issue arise, must be easily available to all participants, and should not be altered after the promotion starts.
Simple, right? Consumers enter, you give away sweet prizes, and then consumers love you.
So, be like me and give out your information; send an email with your name and phone number to email@example.com. Together we can kick off your brand’s next sweepstakes or contest.