UPDATED SEPTEMBER 2019

Choosing the entry method for your competition can be tricky – it’s the competition equivalent of standing in the supermarket aisle wondering which brand of shampoo you should choose. Sadly, just like with shampoo, you usually just go with the one you know, the one that everyone uses and recommends. I don’t know what brand this is when it comes to shampoos, but in the competition world, it’s usually the good old ‘like us on Facebook to win’.

Let me tell you now: Facebook like competitions are boring, they’re overdone and there are so many other exciting and rewarding entry methods you can explore for your competition – entry methods that will get real results for your business, beyond the vanity metrics of Facebook likes.

So let me show you the world…

… OF ENTRY METHODS

Whilst this list is designed to be comprehensive, the author (that’s me) is human and can be forgetful, so if there’s an entry method you’re toying with using and would like to see reviewed below, please comment below or email me and we’ll update our ultimate guide to entry methods.

Answer a question to enter/win.

Up first is answering a question to enter or win. This could involve asking entrants to answer a multiple choice question, first to answer correctly, having to answer a question to which there’s only one correct answer or an open-ended question from which you’ll pick a winner to name just a few question-related entry methods.

PROS:

  • If the question is easy, you could get a lot of entrants, which means building a big audience
  • Questions are a great way to avoid ‘bot’ entries
  • If you’re asking for longer responses rather than multiple choice, you could collect great user-generated content for your marketing
  • Some competition software can select a winner from comments on a Facebook post that contain the correct answer, saving you hours trawling through comments
  • Answer a question competitions give you a great opportunity to get creative – they could have to complete a scavenger hunt across your site to find the answer, or write a poem about your business.

CONS:

  • You will need to be specific with your winner/entry criteria when asking for skilled, longer answers. Are you looking for creativity, accuracy, humour? Provide some hints as to what you want to see
  • When running a first correct answer is the winner style competition, it will end very quickly, but doesn’t need a licence as it becomes a game of skill
  • If you’re planning to pick from a pool of correct answers, you will need a licence for a game of chance.

Caption this photo to enter/win.

A great way to drive engagement, either via your website or social media, asking your audience to caption a photo to enter your competition can also provide an insight into your audience’s personalities, sense of humour and likes or dislikes.

PROS:

  • Super engaging and encourages conversation amongst entrants
  • Great way to drive traffic to your social pages or website as entrants return to see who has commented or liked their caption
  • Recognisable format that doesn’t require a lot of instructions
  • Fairly easy to run, especially on social media and can be a lot of fun
  • You might also receive some good material to use for marketing.

CONS:

  • Judgement criteria need to be set in advance so you (and your entrants) know what you’re looking for from a winning caption
  • Whilst this entry method can provide some great quote snippets, it doesn’t create as much user-generated content as other methods
  • You may get inappropriate entries, so you will need to keep a close eye on entries and flag or delete offensive comments
  • Competitions like these can quickly attract a lot of entries, so if you’re running it on social media, try to keep captions to one post for easy judging once the competition has closed.

PRO TIP: keep an eye on the entries coming in whilst your competition is live and start saving, highlighting, downloading or flagging your favourite entries as and when they come in. When your competition is closed and it’s time to draw a winner, you’ll already have a shortlist to pick from!

Comment to enter/comment to win.

Of all the competition and giveaway entry methods on social media, comment to win is probably my favourite. Here’s why…

PROS:

  • Running a comment to win competition not only allows you to run a game of skill as opposed to chance, saving time and money applying for licences…
  • But it also gives you the chance to collect user-generated content, ideas and feedback from your real-life ideal demographic
  • Not only that, but comment competitions are far more engaging than simply asking people to like your post/page
  • Facebook thinks so too and rewards content that sees quality comments and engagement in the algorithm stakes
  • People are also more likely to come back and visit your page to see if anyone has replied to their comment and even give you a follow to keep track of the competition.

CONS:

  • You do need to keep a close eye on comments to make sure they’re valid and appropriate and it can be time-consuming to monitor and reply to every comment
  • Bear in mind that games of skill or comment to win competitions can see lower entry numbers (but higher quality entrants) as this entry method requires more ‘effort’ to enter
  • Don’t be lazy and ask people to comment ‘done’ or ‘me’ or ‘win’ – it’s boring, unimaginative, unengaging for your users and worst of all, Facebook will punish spammy posts like this, so you could actually end up harming your chances of your posts being seen after the competition.

PRO TIP: keep comment to enter competition entries to one single post if you want to use a tool to select a winner.

Complete a form to enter/win.

This entry method is a hybrid of surveys and enter your email to win style competitions. To enter, your audience must complete a short form either via a tab on your social media pages, a third-party landing page or a competition page on your website.

PROS:

  • A simple and familiar entry method for entrants – recognition means trust and trust means entries
  • Keeping your form quick and easy to complete mean more entries
  • Your email platform, third party apps and plugins should all have the functionality to create a form you can embed on social media tabs and on your website
  • Collecting entries via form makes it really easy to collate data, export as a CSV file and pick a winner
  • Some apps even have a ‘pick a winner’ function that will choose one form entry at random
  • There’s a huge potential for future marketing and database segmentation opportunities.

CONS:

  • Make sure you’re asking for useful data that will actually help your business grow – for example, if you’re weighing up whether to offer free delivery or gift with purchase, ask entrants via this form
  • Some people do use ‘bots’ to enter form competitions so if you have a generic prize you may find lots of duplicate and fake entries
  • Long forms and difficult questions can put entrants off, so don’t ask for irrelevant information – for example their address, you’ll collect that if/when they place an order.

Complete a survey to enter/win.

A little more advanced than the previous entry method, this method requires entrants to complete a survey containing multiple questions in order to enter. This can be hosted externally via a third party app or plugin or embedded on your site.

PROS:

  • A useful way to collect valuable information, feedback and conduct market research on your target audience
  • If the survey is short and sweet and your prize worth the effort, you should get a good response rate
  • As with voting competitions, you might not need to offer an incentive to get people to complete a survey if you have an engaged audience
  • If written, created and built correctly, your surveys can also act as funnels, segmenting your audience so you know which offers and content to send to each respondent to help them and drive sales.

CONS:

  • You will need to specify how the winner will be judged and chosen (for example at random or based on a specific answer) in the survey introduction and ideally in your Terms and Conditions too
  • Surveys are not easy to design and write, that’s why professional survey writers exist to ensure you get quality data from your survey; so if you get stuck, ask for help or get a pro to design it for you
  • Your survey may still require a competition permit or licence, so ensure you do your research.

PRO TIP: make your survey a game of chance by picking one survey respondent at random from the total pool of respondents, or a game of skill if you add in a qualifying question on which you’ll base your decision.

Follow us to enter/follow us to win.

Follow to win competitions are mostly used on Instagram (and Twitter if that’s your thing) and, like Facebook page like competitions, can be a pain in the arse to pick a winner for. They are, however, a great way to build a following on Instagram if you’re just starting out and you’re strategic about how you run your competition.

PROS:

  • If people follow you, they have a higher chance of seeing your future updates, which may lead to click-throughs to your website and even enquiries or sales. Again though, we’re slaves to the algorithm on Instagram, so just because someone follows you, it doesn’t mean they’ll see your future content
  • It’s a great way to build an audience and works well when paired with a comment on our post to enter competition.
  • They’re super easy and recognisable, even the laziest technophobe could figure it out.

CONS:

  • It’s difficult to track who followed you during the competition period on most platforms, as the time/date of follow isn’t recorded in your follower list so you don’t truly know who just followed you organically or who followed you specifically to enter your competition.
  • Again, with follow competitions, beyond them having a higher chance of seeing your updates, it’s pretty much just vanity metrics.
  • What’s the point? How do you plan to use/convert/woo those followers after you’ve invested time, money and effort getting them to follow?

PRO TIP: instead of making the entry method of your competition specifically following to win, try making it commenting and see how many followers you naturally gain as people choose to follow you rather than being forced to follow you for an entry.

The ones who choose to follow you usually stick around after the competition and are a lot more engaged too – bonus!

Guessing games.

Remember when you were a kid and you saw a ‘guess the number of jelly beans in a jar’ competition? This is the modern take on an old favourite. Jelly beans optional.

PROS:

  • Some brands have seen huge success with this, especially when run regularly as the audience comes back time and again
  • The nostalgic feel appeals to many and it’s great leveller as there’s no way to cheat or game the system (well, none that we know…)
  • Technically it’s a game of skill, so a licence wouldn’t be required, saving you both time and money
  • If you sell a product that fits in a jar, a ‘guess the number of products in the jar’ could be an awesome gimmick – especially if you give away the jar full of goodies as your prize.

CONS:

  • Guessing games that involve a simple number guess aren’t likely to produce a huge amount of engagement
  • This type of competition may be more difficult to execute on social media as opposed to in the flesh (as guessing is much harder)
  • You’ll need to make sure you have clear entry criteria as well as what happens if there are two similar entries or exact guesses – be aware that how you determine the winner in this case may have an impact on whether you need a licence or not.

Instant win competitions.

This entry method is popular for bricks and mortar stores as well as if you attend expos or in-person events. The winner performs an action and gets an immediate reward – for example picks a fortune cookie at random, inside which is a prize instead of a nonsensical fortune.

PROS:

  • The instant gratification of knowing if you’re a winner straight away is attractive for some, encouraging them to enter
  • Instant win competitions are a great way to reward customers, both new and old – by offering a range of prizes such as discounts, gifts and perks even if they don’t win the main prize
  • This entry method works really well for an in-store, after purchase incentive, encouraging sales so they get to enter there and then
  • In person, instant win competitions can be really engaging, as people get really excited when someone wins, often cheering and congratulating the winner and spurring others to enter.

CONS:

  • Licensing is slightly more complicated for instant win competitions, so make sure you read up on your obligations and licence costs before diving in with this entry method
  • If you’re only offering one prize, you will need to bear in mind your competition could be over in a second if the first person to try is the lucky winner! Consider offering a range of prizes to keep entrants engaged after the star prize has been won
  • You may need specialist equipment (think safe cracking instant win style competitions) or expensive collateral (those fortune cookies would be tasty, but expensive…) so keep your budget in mind.

Last comment wins.

This entry method obviously works better on social media and involves creating a post where entrants can comment. The winner will be the last one to comment at a specified day and time – details of which you could choose to keep secret to keep your audience on their toes – or you could reveal in the T&Cs and entry instructions.

PROS:

  • People can see that they are directly competing which can be a great motivator to enter and keep engaging with your post
  • It can be a good chance to collect user-generated content if you ask for relevant and creative comments or answers to questions
  • It should be fairly easy to police, you’ll just have to keep an eye to make sure it doesn’t get out of hand or nasty
  • No licence is needed as getting the last comment in before the competition closes is a game of skill.

CONS:

  • Some people are put off by the strongly open competitive element which means you’ll narrow down your audience
  • The content generated might not be top quality as people may post nonsense if your rules don’t specify what the last comment has to be
  • If you keep the close date and time a closely guarded secret, there’s less motivation or impending deadline to drive action, however, if you publish the close date and time, people may not enter until the last second, so it’s a careful balance to make sure you get the entry numbers you’re hoping for.

Like us to enter/like to win competitions.

This entry method is the safe, I-couldn’t-be-bothered option of competition entry methods. To gain an entry into your competition, your audience need to like your Facebook page or like a specific post.

Sure, it might mean you get 100x the likes of your regular posts or grow your page following, but how are you going to turn those likes into sales?

Likes don’t pay bills y’all.

PROS:

  • Quick and easy for people to enter
  • If they like your page to enter, your posts will then be visible to them after the competition for future marketing opportunities – in theory
  • Great way to get your numbers up if you’re starting out
  • A popular and familiar entry method your entrants will recognise but not necessarily be inspired by or motivated to enter.

CONS:

  • There’s not a huge amount of value in like to win competitions beyond ‘vanity metrics’, if you don’t use that new audience to market to
  • Though liking your page means they should then see your future posts, in reality, the big bad algorithm will decide who sees what, how often and when; so even though they like your page, they may never see your posts again
  • People can also choose to like but ‘unfollow’ on Facebook which means they like your page for the entry, but choose not to see your future messages in their feed by unfollowing you and you’ll be none the wiser
  • Let’s face it, like to win competitions are boring as batshit.

The biggest downside of running a like to win competition where entrants must like your page to enter, is collecting all of those entries together at the end of the competition to pick a winner.

At the time of writing, if you head into your page settings and click ‘People and other Pages’ you can see a list of people that like your page and the date they liked it – but there’s no export option, so it’s a manual copy and paste into a spreadsheet to pick your winner. Lot of work for a few extra page likes, don’t you think?

FACEBOOK REACTIONS

If you’re running a ‘like to win’ competition on Facebook make sure you make it extremely clear what constitutes an entry. Is it a like on your page or a like on a post? If it’s a like on a post, explain clearly what reaction they need to select to enter – are you going to allow all reactions to enter or just likes? If someone really wants to win and enthusiastically clicks the LOVE button in the hope it pulls more weight with you, are you going to disallow that entry? What about if someone gives the angry or sad reaction?

Definitely something to be mindful of when using post likes as your method of entry.

Make a purchase to enter/win.

The obvious benefit of purchase to enter competitions, is that you’re earning money for each entry. Whilst it sounds like a no brainer for a competition entry method, there are a few downsides…

PROS:

  • The obvious advantage is you’ll be receiving money! If you allow multiple entries for your competition and your audience can earn an entry for each purchase they make, you could see multiple purchases per customer during the competition too
  • This entry method ensures you’re building an audience of people who are definitely interested in what you have to sell, after all, they committed to purchase in order to get an entry
  • Excellent opportunities to encourage repeat purchases and lifetime clients post-competition too
  • Offering an incentive or prize is a great way to thank people for making a purchase and supporting your business.

CONS:

  • This entry method usually sees a much lower entry rate than other methods as the barrier to entry is higher
  • If you’re just launching a brand and don’t have a big audience, it’s going to be an uphill battle convincing them to purchase when they have no brand awareness of you or your business
  • Purchase to enter will require a licence as it’s a game of chance
  • The competition may not play any part in influencing people to buy, they may have always intended to purchase, making it potentially difficult to measure ROI as a direct result of the competition
  • Don’t underestimate the sneakiness of humans, some people purchase one item, but enter multiples times, or may submit a refund as soon as the competition is over.

Mention us to enter/win.

Asking your entrants to mention you or your brand on social media to enter is a much easier way of tracking entries and a lot more fun to see what people have to say about your brand in their comments too.

PROS:

  • It’s much easier to track mentions in comparison to likes on pretty much all social platforms
  • This entry method gives you exposure across a platform and potentially gets you in front of new audiences
  • Could be used for user-generated content but could quickly turn into spam so be aware and keep an eye on your entries
  • It doesn’t have to be @mentions for your audience to enter, they could use your brand specific #hashtags instead
  • If you run it as a game of skill, where you pick your favourite entry based on the skill they’ve shown in their entry, it allows you to pick your winner based merit, meaning you get to choose who to award the prize to instead of picking a winner at random.

CONS:

  • As your audience are mentioning you in their posts, you’ll have little to no control over the content of the posts and no ability to remove your mention or hashtag from the photo
  • Mentions are less engaging than some other entry methods that create a two way conversation and can sometimes be spammy
  • Some people need to be told exactly what to do/say/write so guidance or recommendations for the mention may be needed.

PRO TIP: it’s against Instagram’s contest rules to tag someone in a photo they are not in – so don’t ask entrants to tag you in their images on instagram or you could land yourself in hot water…

Pin to enter/win.

I LOVE Pinterest personally, but I’ve found it hard to crack for business, mostly because I’m too busy writing guides like these instead of pinning content! I know a lot of people who have had great success marketing their business on Pinterest and it’s definitely worth a look as a competition entry method.

PROS:

  • Great for building your presence on Pinterest, or getting more visibility through entrants sharing your pins
  • People can also comment on pins, which means you can see questions or discussions around your business, product or service
  • There is a huge potential to encourage direct sales from your Pinterest account with the Instagram-style bio and link permitted and with the popularity of the platform worldwide, it’s a great way to spread to new global audiences.

CONS:

  • Unless they’re pinning your products, the main value in this entry method is in potentially growing numbers if they like your pins and decide to follow you rather than a huge focus on sales
  • It can be a little difficult, scratch that, it’s quite possibly the most difficult of all entry methods discussed so far, to track entries so you may need to use a paid competition app like Shortstack to help you manage your pin to win competition.

PRO TIP: be mindful of Pinterest’s contest rules around giving entrants a range of pins to choose to repin and only allowing one entry per person. You can read the competition rules for Pinterest and all other social platforms in this post here.

Play to enter/win.

For a chance to enter your competition, you can ask your audience to play a game. The best examples of this type of competition we’ve seen involve leaderboards that encourage entrants to continually defend their position or give others the opportunity to take the lead.

PROS:

  • If based on a game of skill, no licence will be needed
  • As mentioned above, you could run a leaderboard to encourage healthy competition and engagement amongst your audience
  • The scope with this is so wide, you can offer a simple game such as screenshotting a ‘pin the tail on the donkey’ type game or a standalone app or programme that requires a download
  • Potential to go viral if it’s a really catchy game.

CONS:

  • The cost of developing the game may be prohibitive, especially if it’s a complicated or detailed game that requires specialist development
  • It will need to be both simple and engaging to get people to enter
  • Games are fun and a unique way of collecting entries, therefore likely to get a lot of entries, but think carefully about the quality of entries you’re attracting – the goal of the competition isn’t to give people a fun game to play, it’s to collect entries to help you launch or grow your business in the long term
  • You’ll need to work out a mechanic to collect peoples’ details before or after playing in order to enter them into the competition.

Post a review to enter/win.

Reviews are an awesome way to tell a business you love what they do. They help businesses show other potential customers how great they are and help customers make a decision on whether to buy from a business or not. Speaking of reviews, you’ve already left us an awesome review on Facebook or Google, right?!

PROS:

  • Incentivising customers to give testimonials and feedback is a powerful way to encourage action and reward customers at the same time
  • No one likes a useless review, something like ‘the pillow was too hard’ for a hotel isn’t really a constructive review for anyone now, is it? So people might be more considerate in their reviews if they feel it’ll give them a better chance of winning
  • Great way to build up a reserve of user-generated content
  • Most importantly, this entry method gives you all the feels reading all those lovely reviews!

CONS:

  • Even if you’re incentivising your audience to enter and review with a wonderful prize, there’s no guarantee they will be positive reviews
  • If all reviews have an equal chance of winning and you’re picking a winner at random from all of the reviews submitted, you’ll need a licence for your competition, which can get costly
  • Although it can speed up the review process by offering an incentive, it might not the best use of a competition for your business – especially if you have an engaged and happy client database who would be happy to leave you a shining review without a prize.

Refer a friend competitions.

Let’s get something straight first up: referring a friend is very, very different from tagging a friend and sharing to a friend’s timeline – both of which are prohibited on Facebook. Refer a friend is where you send the competition details to a friend via a permitted channel.

PROS:

  • Great way to expand your client base and your reach, as your audience should reach out to a similar demographic leading to targeted new potential customers
  • Refer a friend competitions are pretty easy to implement as the entrants do the hard work!
  • There are many third party apps and programmes that include refer a friend mechanisms – sometimes pairing it up with a unique code that can track whether the referred friend has entered or not.

CONS:

  • This entry method definitely needs a ‘warmer’ audience who are already in love with your brand (or at least like it quite a bit) as their loyalty will be higher to their friends than to your business, so they’ll need to see the value in giving you their friends’ details or forwarding
  • Refer a friend competitions do have a bit of a spammy or annoying reputation, so they can have a lower entry rate than other methods as people do get frustrated with them.

PRO TIP: refer a friend mechanisms are best used with warm audiences who are already familiar with your brand and are happy to share your business with their friends in exchange for an entry. If you are going out to a cold audience, encourage referrals by using this entry method to award bonus entries in conjunction with another entry method for the main competition.

Register/signup to enter.

Asking your audience to register or sign up to enter is similar to the submit your email entry method. This simply asks your audience to sign up for a specific mailing list/download etc or register for an event, product or service.

PROS:

  • As entrants have to complete a form, it’s very easy to monitor this type of competition and keep your entries in one place
  • Competitions like these are a great way to start or build your email list – just make sure you segment or tag your entrants for when it comes time to pick your winner
  • If you’re asking your audience to sign up or register for a specific reason, it’s a great way to build a targeted audience – for example registering their interest for a webinar on a particular subject indicates they’re interested in that specific subject
  • This entry method usually gets a good response if the prize is worth it and what they’re signing up to provides them with value.

CONS:

  • You will need to be explicit in stating what they are signing up for as well as giving them an option to unsubscribe
  • On the subject of subscriptions, there’s no guarantee they’ll stay on your list once the winner has been announced if you’re not careful about who you attract to enter your competition in the first place
  • People are reluctant to hand over their email address, so make sure what you’re offering is valuable.

Submit a photo or video.

Submit a photo or video competitions, alongside comment to enter, are the most popular types of user generated content competitions. This entry method requires entrants to take a photo or video of themselves using your product or service or completing a challenge, for example.

PROS:

  • Fantastic content is generated by people who take it to the next level in the hopes of taking home the prize
  • There is a possibility that your competition could go viral if people share their entries to their own networks – and especially if you combine submitting their videos or photos with getting the public to vote for their favourite submission
  • No licence is needed as it’s a game of skill if you pick the winner based on the skill their entry shows
  • Collecting photos or video entries means your marketing material is sorted for at least the next few weeks
  • Finally, seeing content from other users or peers acts as powerful social proof to endorse your business.

CONS:

  • These competitions can be slow to take off as people wait to gauge the quality of entries before submitting their own entries
  • Video and photo competitions may see lower entry rates than other methods due to the effort involved, so make the prize worth it
  • Again you need a clear set of criteria the video/photo will be judged by to help people submit entries that meet what you’re looking for.

PRO TIP: make sure your T&Cs cover rights to use your audience’s entries for marketing purposes. Not sure how to work it? Grab our template, we’ve already paid the lawyer to do it for you!

Submit your email address to enter/win.

One of the most popular ways to grow your customer base is to run an ‘enter your email to win’ style competition. Usually hosted on a dedicated landing page or on a competition landing page on your website, submit your email competitions are one of our favourite entry methods of all.

PROS:

  • The biggest advantage of collecting email addresses is that they’re really valuable for future marketing efforts
  • With a couple of strategic automations and well-timed emails, you can convert your competition entrants into paying customers
  • With the growth of enter your email to win competitions, they’re an entry method that’s easily recognised and trusted by your target audience and incredibly easy to export your list and pick a winner
  • The reason we love submit your email address to enter competitions over social media competitions is that you then own the email address and the right to contact them as opposed to borrowing the right to talk to them on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.

CONS:

  • If you’re anything like me, your email inbox is sacred and you don’t go handing your email address out to just anyone, so the prize on offer must be worth handing over their email for.
  • Depending on how you set up your email entry collection, you may need to fiddle around with code or pay for a third party plugin such as Zapier to connect your entry form with your email provider so the emails automatically transfer over.

PRO TIP: on that note, try creating your email form in your email provider. For example Mailchimp has ‘Mailchimp Subscribe’ which helps you create a simple landing page via which you can collect names and emails for your competition. If you choose to embed your form on your website landing page or you’re using a third party competition app, be aware you may need paste in a chunk of code, so ensure you have access to the back end of your website and know what you’re doing with basic html code.

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Take a quiz to enter/win.

Slightly different from a game or a survey, quizzes can be an excellent tool to segment your audience and present personalised results and resources based on the answers they give during the quiz.

PROS:

  • Fantastic for getting to know your target audience and more indepth than a play a game to enter competition but not quite as lengthy or off-putting as a survey
  • Entrants may get more out of it too, as they are presented with results to help them solve a problem after answering the questions
  • There are plenty of out of the box tools and programmes that can help you create quizzes so it can be a quick and easy task
  • Could potentially be used as a tool to segment your audience, for example who is more interested in the spotty design over the striped design, tips and tricks or in-depth how tos or webinars over videos.

CONS:

  • Difficult to get the balance of asking for information vs being fun and not too lengthy as people will lose interest
  • Ensure you offer a good prize or incentive to take the quiz to hold peoples’ interest long enough to get to the end of the quiz
  • Work out whether your entry method will be judged on skill (e.g. an answer to a question) or chance (e.g. entering your email at the end) as this impacts licensing.

Tell us in X words or less…

Love them or hate them, tell us in X words or less (usually 25 words or less) competitions are a really useful little tool for your competition toolkit.

PROS:

  • Tell us in X words competitions are qualitative, or games of skill so it means you don’t need to apply for licences (woohoo!)
  • Being a game of skill, it also means you get to pick your winner instead of leaving it to chance
  • People can get really creative and submit poems, acrostics, limericks and even songs all in a bid to stand out and be crowned winner
  • These types of competition entry methods are great for collecting user generated content or finding out what your audience really thinks of your products/services
  • Finally, in keeping your entries to 25 words (for example) or less, it makes it quicker for you to sort through your entries instead of reading essay-length submissions.

CONS:

  • As it’s a game of skill and effort is involved, tell us in X words or less competitions generally have a lower entry rate than games of chance, but generate more quality entries
  • As mentioned above, it’s pretty time consuming to sift through your entries to shortlist your potential winners, but you do get to chose a winner who is truly deserving of the prize and – hopefully – sidestep any prize pigs too
  • It’s advisable to have a pre-decided set of criteria for judging entries; for example, most creative entry wins, the slogan the judges believe best sum up our company values wins etc.

Tweet or retweet to enter/win.

Twitter may not as popular here in Australia as it is in the rest of the world, but it’s still a place to connect with your potential ideal entrants and with follows, likes, retweets, comments and mentioning.

PROS:

  • Running a tweet or retweet to enter competition spreads your message through the Twittersphere potentially reaching new audiences and gathering new followers along the way.
  • Leverage hashtags as much as you can on this platform – but be sure to keep them relevant and specific to your target audience/industry
  • Asking your audience to tweet their entry or answer your entry question could be a great way to collect user-generated content as opposed to retweet which would just be duplicating your original message.

CONS:

  • Some people see sharing details of a competition they’ve entered as reducing their chance of winning and are reluctant to retweet. Humans can be weird.
  • Equally weird is people having dedicated accounts to enter competitions, so whilst you think your message is being seen across Twitter, it’s actually echoing around in an account with no followers
  • Unless you create a way to track the tweets/retweets (e.g. with a hashtag or specific mention) it can be a headache to collect entries together to pick your winner
  • Retweeting means you need to be careful of Twitter’s competition rules and avoid people retweeting spammy content.

PRO TIP: pair this with a game of skill, asking entrants to create a unique entry based on skill to avoid having to apply for licences.

Vote to enter/win.

Get valuable feedback direct from your target audience by asking them to vote. They could vote between pre-set options you present to them, such as choosing between three proposed names for a new product; or they could vote between user-generated entries such as photo entries.

PROS:

  • A great entry method to gauge peoples’ opinions, for example on new products or services (think of it like market research)
  • Much more engaging than simply filling in a form
  • By asking them to vote, entrants feel involved and invested in the process, which means when the new product they voted on is released, there’s a higher chance they’ll purchase, or when the entrant they voted for wins, they’ll interact with them and congratulate them, creating engagement amongst your audience.

CONS:

  • Purely casting a vote still counts as a game of chance, so a licence is needed… unless you ask them why they made that choice and pick a winner based on the reason(s) they give
  • This entry method is not the best method for engaging entrants in a meaningful or in-depth way
  • Opinions/votes could be asked for without offering an incentive, if people feel engaged and invested enough to offer their opinion.

PRO TIP: average voting not as your main entry method, but as a second round incentive after you’ve shortlisted your favourite entries, for example. There are many apps out there that will help you run a voting mechanism via your website or social media.

So which entry method will you choose?

Hopefully, by reading through this guide and weighing up the pros and cons, you’ve come to a decision on which entry method will best fit your competition (or at least have a shortlist of your favourites).

IF YOU’RE STILL STRUGGLING TO DECIDE:

  • Think about what you want to achieve with your competition – do you want more followers or to collect emails? Your goal will help you determine the entry method that will help you achieve it
  • Think about the type and quality of entries you want to receive – do you want photos or essay-length answers? Choose an entry method that will give you the type of material you’re looking for
  • Do you want to run a game of chance or a game of skill? Do you want to pick your winner based on the quality of their entry or by chance? Be aware that games of skill don’t require licences but involve more effort, therefore receive less entries; whereas games of chance receive more entries but may require a licence
  • Think about your target audience, are they on Instagram, or are they more likely to be found on Pinterest – pick an entry method that matches up to how your audience will be most likely to enter
  • Keep your budget in mind too – not everyone can afford to hire a professional survey writer, or fork out for custom game development, so pick an entry method well within your budget.

There is life beyond like to win competitions and when you see your audience converting to customers, it’s worth every second you spend taking the time to carefully decide which entry method is right for you, your business and your competition.

If you still can’t choose between enter your email or guess how many jelly beans in the jar, why not book in a session with one of our giveaway gurus to chat through your options and find the perfect entry method for your competition?

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