6 Tips to Help Your Business Run a Contest Online


Have you been thinking about launching an online contest but don’t know where to start? If done correctly, contests are a great way for businesses to market their products and attract potential consumers, but you’ll need a plan before jumping in. Check out the steps below to successfully run a contest online.

Identify Contest Goals and Target Audience

You can’t do anything without a plan. What are you hoping to accomplish with your contest? Do you want to capture more email addresses for potential customers? Are you trying to drive traffic to your website? The contest’s goals should be as specific as possible in order to more easily measure its success.

Your target audience should almost always be the demographic for your products since they’ll be more likely to turn into customers. Knowing the geographic location of your target audience helps if you later decide to promote your contest using Facebook ads or other geo-targeted strategies.

Determine Contest Method and Prize

Decide how you will run your contest. Will you accept applications online, via social media, or ask for paper submissions? If your audience appreciates a direct and easy way to enter, Submittable’s customizable digital forms are a great choice.

Next, choose a prize that will get people excited to enter your contest and, ideally, is also a good representation of your brand. For example, if you’re a shoe manufacturer, choose a pair of your shoes as your prize, rather than, say, a laptop or phone. The latter prizes might get more entrants, but they won’t necessarily be interested in your product or convert to customers.

Create a Promotion Plan

A contest won’t be successful without promotion, so consider how you’ll get the word out with tools like social media, emails to current customers, or networking events. Give the contest a short, descriptive title with your prize and company’s name in it, and add a call to entry in every advertisement (“Enter to Win a Video Game from Video Game Store”). Whenever possible, try to include a picture of the grand prize to entice more consumers. If you’ve set an end date for the contest, include it; it will put pressure on consumers to enter as soon as they can.

Test Your Contest

Ask a few people you trust to give the contest a test run and work out the bugs before you publish it to the public. Does the method of entry work? Is it clear what information is needed to enter? Does the advertisement look appealing to someone unfamiliar with the company? Once you’ve perfected the details, you’re ready to launch.

Analyze the Results

This is where you’ll see how effective your choices were. Conduct as much analysis as you can during the contest and be flexible in your advertising based on the results. Be sure to look at your website’s Google Analytics page (if you have one) to see if/when traffic spiked. If you find that a Twitter ad worked particularly well, use another one before the contest ends. It may take a few tries to get all aspects of a contest right, so take note of what works and implement it next time.

Connect With Participants

After the contest is over, notify the winner and congratulate them on social media. This allows you to wrap up the contest for the public while still being able to talk about it one last time. Send a thank-you email to your participants and invite them to enter your next contest. You may want to include a small discount coupon for their participation. Do your best to convert entrants into loyal customers, but don’t abuse the fact that you now have their email addresses.


A company has a lot to gain by running a contest online. In addition to attracting new consumers, it can boost brand awareness and provide an opportunity to interact with current customers. Don’t be afraid to give it a try.