Sweeping New Customers Under the Rug: The Trouble with Sweepstakes and Contests


The lure of sweepstakes and contests is strong. Not only are they shareable, meaning customers and potential customers spread the word about your brand, they also allow you to capture email addresses for future promotions. Pair the raw potential of sweepstakes and contests with the increasing ease with which you can run them with tools like OfferPop and it’s easy to see why companies large and small alike regularly run such promotions. However, there are a few issues with using sweepstakes and contests.

Downsides to Sweepstakes & Contests

SailThru recently released some unsettling statistics regarding these types of promotions:

  • Newsletter subscribers who have been acquired via a contest have a 52% higher 30-day opt-out rate compared to those who signed up via other paid channels. Thus, you’re not going to reach as many new customers as you thought you would with your post-sweepstakes promotions.
  • Contest entrants are also 63% less likely to make a purchase – which is ultimately the end goal of any contest.
  • The value of an email acquired via a contest is only 37% the value of an email from other channels ($1.14 vs $3.07).

Contest Best Practices

This is not to say that you should never run a contest, but there are a few guidelines you should stick to if you do decide that to use this tactic:

  • Clearly Define Your Goals: If your main goals are to drive immediate sales and build a list of lasting customers, a contest is probably not the best route. However, if you’re trying to build awareness, either of your brand as a whole or a specific product/line, sweepstakes and contests can be great options.
  • Ask for the Share: Getting your customers to share the contest on social media is key. This allows your brand to get in front of as many fresh eyes as possible. There are even some tools that allow you to provide extra entries per share, increasing the likelihood that entrants will do so.
  • Give Them a Reason To Stay: Once the contest is over, you’ll likely see a great deal of drop off on your newsletter list. However, there are steps you can take to retain these subscribers. Consider sending an email as soon as a sweepstakes subscriber signs up, thanking them and giving them a brief into to your company, spotlighting your unique selling proposition. A week or two later, send out an exclusive email deal. When they make a connection to your company and see that they can get value from your emails they will be more likely to stick around!

The Bottom Line

Many business owners set themselves up for failure with contests and sweepstakes, getting their hopes up at the possibilities they offer and inevitably feeling the disappointment that follows. However, if you go in with realistic goals and expectations, contests can be a viable part of your marketing strategy. You can’t expect everyone who enters to become a customer, or even to remain a subscriber, but increasing awareness and retaining a subset of entrants is an attainable goal!

Sweeping New Customers Under the Rug: The Trouble with Sweepstakes and Contests
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Sweeping New Customers Under the Rug: The Trouble with Sweepstakes and Contests
Sweepstakes and contests are alluring, but will they help you accomplish your goals or just be a waste of resources?

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