How to Run Sweepstakes

Clock icon 8 min read Calendar icon Aug 10, 2023

How to Run Sweepstakes that Work for You and Your Customers


Among all the promotions available to brands and retailers, sweepstakes rank among the most popular. Done well, they offer an effective and scalable way to raise awareness, acquire new customers, increase sales, and gather invaluable customer insights.

But it takes more than luck to run successful sweepstakes.

The Mechanics of Sweepstakes

Sweepstakes are consumer promotions that let participants earn prizes for performing simple actions, like completing a form, submitting a receipt, or posting a social media image. While a traditional contest judges participants based on skill or merit, luck determines the winner in a sweepstakes. Every entrant has an equal chance to win, and it’s this simplicity that makes them a firm favorite among today’s attention-deprived consumers and the brands that run them.

However, with so many moving parts, top brands rely on dedicated sweepstakes management platforms to make the process of running them as easy as possible.

The 6 Stages of Sweepstakes Creation

Designing successful sweepstakes requires careful planning and management. Typically, this falls into six distinctive stages and is often done with the help of a sweepstakes agency.

A diagram showing the six stages of sweepstakes creation: legal, build, activation, prize procurement and fulfillment, amplification, and data analysis

Stage 1: Legal and Compliance

Successful sweepstakes require a strong legal foundation. Double-check every aspect of your promotion to ensure it adheres to relevant local, state, and federal laws or requirements. This helps to minimize your legal risks and avoid potential penalties for non-compliance.

The rules and regulations that govern sweepstakes differ from region to region. For example, in the US, your promotion must provide participants with an alternate means of entry (AMOE). Other sweepstakes laws you must consider include:

  • No purchase necessary (NPN) Laws
  • Federal sweepstakes laws
  • US State sweepstakes laws
  • Bonding and registration

Additionally, there may be platform-specific requirements to bear in mind if you decide to run your sweepstakes on social media. In general, you’ll need to include some form of acknowledgment that the platform owner doesn’t endorse, promote, or administer the promotion.

Snipp Tip

Use our sweepstakes legal checklist to make sure you don’t run afoul of any rules or regulations when developing your sweepstakes. Need more hands-on support? Our team of experts is here to help you navigate any sweepstakes law and compliance challenges you may face. Book a sweepstakes consultation.

Stage 2: Sweepstakes Program Build

Define the objectives of your sweepstakes to ensure they align with your brand values and wider strategic goals. Do you want to raise brand awareness? Increase customer engagement? Drive sales of a new product line?

Once everyone’s on the same page, you can start to build the supporting infrastructure. This includes everything from rules and entry requirements to the hosting site. You’ll also need to identify the tools and create the processes that allow you to monitor, manage, and refine your promotion as it unfolds.

If you're new to sweepstakes or need help coordinating your efforts, we recommend investing in a sweepstakes management platform or partnering with a sweepstakes marketing specialist.

Stage 3: Omnichannel Activation

Now you’re ready to launch your sweepstakes. Today’s platform-agnostic consumers like to engage and participate in different ways, and an omnichannel activation strategy allows them to enter your sweepstakes using their preferred channels – whether that's online, in-store, or through social media.

Consider your audience, budget, and the type of promotion you wish to run. We recommend:

  • Brand/promotion website
  • Brick-and-mortar stores
  • SMS
  • Email
  • Social media

Stage 4: Prize Procurement and Fulfillment

With the foundations laid, it’s time to solidify your reward procurement and fulfillment processes. Each one plays a vital role in the smooth running and execution of your sweepstakes promotion.

  • Prize procurement is the process of identifying and acquiring suitable rewards for the winner(s).
  • Prize fulfillment refers to the mechanisms you put in place to ensure the timely delivery of the reward(s). This covers the winner selection and verification processes, logistics, and delivery.

Getting these two processes right fosters goodwill and trust among your customers. It also incentivizes them to participate in future promotions. The right sweepstakes management platform makes it easier to coordinate your efforts. This includes connecting you to an exhaustive rewards catalog so you can find the ideal prize and taking the strain out of the administrative and legal requirements.

Stage 5: Amplification

This refers to the marketing channels and tactics you use to increase the reach of your promotion, boost engagement, and maximize its impact on your customers. As with sweepstakes activation, you’ll achieve the best results by embracing an omnichannel strategy. Look beyond social media to other traditional and non-traditional approaches, such as:

  • In-store signage
  • Targeted email marketing campaigns
  • Influencer marketing campaigns
  • Interactive experiences
  • Gamification

Stage 6: Data Acquisition and Analysis

For most brands, the real value of any promotion is the data you collect along the way. As people engage with your promotion, you’ll unearth a goldmine of powerful consumer insights. These help you build your CRM database, so you can...

  • Better understand customer behaviors
  • Spot trends
  • Create more personalized offers
  • Refine future promotions maximize the value of your retargeting efforts.

Take customer engagement to the next level with our modular Snipp CARE
(Customer Acquisition, Retention, and Engagement) Platform. Contact us to learn more.

7 Tips to Run Perfect Sweepstakes

Creating sweepstakes that meet your objectives requires careful planning and execution. To give you the best possible chance, we’ve listed our seven top tips for sweepstakes success.

1. Remove Unnecessary Barriers to Entry

No matter how amazing the prize is, people won’t participate in your sweepstakes if you make them jump through hoops. Make entry quick and easy across all your activation channels. For example, by asking customers to complete a simple registration form, share a link on social media, upload a receipt, or watch a video.

2. Create Urgency

Fear of missing out (FOMO) is a powerful motivator. Put a time limit on your sweepstakes to create a sense of urgency and excitement, so your promotion doesn’t outlast your customers’ interest. For the best results, offer daily rewards or powerful messages like “Last chance to enter!” on your promotion page to turn up the heat and attract more impulse entries.

3. Gamify the Experience

Maximize participation and engagement by harnessing gamification. Gamification uses traditional game mechanics to inject a dose of fun and friendly competition into your promotions. More than that, it rewards participants for completing specific actions, providing the sense of accomplishment we all crave. For example, invite customers to play a simple spin-the-wheel game for a chance to earn rewards, like 100 loyalty points or a $5 in-store voucher.

4. Offer Relevant Rewards

A great sweepstakes needs a great prize. This means different things to different people. Depending on your target demographic, they might consider VIP concert tickets a better reward than a luxury beach break or a state-of-the-art TV. 91% of customers say they’re more likely to purchase from a brand that delivers personalized offers. The key is to choose a prize that’s relevant to your audience and aligns with your brand message. Don’t be afraid to look beyond the price tag.

Snipp Tip

Increase participation and whet your customers' appetites by offering multiple small rewards and one big, grand prize.

5. Layer Your Sweepstakes

What’s better than winning one prize? Winning two! Layer your sweepstakes with an instant win or gift-with-purchase promotion to give participants additional opportunities to earn rewards. This is a great way to increase the value of your sweepstakes which, in turn, helps to drive awareness and excitement.

6. Reward Social Sharing

46% of people spend at least five hours a day on their phones. Make that work for you by rewarding participants who share your sweepstakes on social media with additional entries. It requires no effort from you and is one of the most effective ways to make your promotion go viral.

7. Use Early Results to Refine and Scale

You’ll collect plenty of customer data in the first few days of your promotion. Use these results to identify early behaviors and trends. This will help you adapt, refine, and scale your sweepstakes to meet customer and sponsor needs.

Sweepstakes Success Isn’t Luck of the Draw

A good sweepstakes campaign captures your customers’ imaginations. It offers the thrill of a big win for relatively little effort and no risk. In return, you’ll be able to foster authentic, emotional connections with your customers that drive engagement, sales, and brand loyalty. See actual sweepstakes examples here.

Need help getting started? Our sweepstakes management solutions give you the tools and expert support to create your ideal promotion. From legal and program build to activation and fulfillment, we have you covered.