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How long should you run a competition for? Well, how long is a piece of string? Twice as long as half its length. OK, sorry for the dad joke, but deciding how long to run your competition for is basically a how long is a piece of string question. The jury’s out on the perfect competition length and besides, every audience is unique, so what’s ‘perfect’ for one business or industry may not be perfect for yours. It depends on the string, I mean, competition.

With that said, there are a few factors that can help you get started deciding how long you should run your competition for…

The value of your prize.

A more valuable prize needs a longer competition

If you’re giving away a $5 keychain, keeping your competition open for three months is not going to keep your audience engaged. Giving away a pre-loved YSL handbag in mint condition, however, will definitely keep your audience engaged for longer.

A higher value prize – remember not just higher dollar value, but valuable to your specific audience – keeps your entrants engaged and patiently waiting to be announced as the winner for a lot longer than a lower value prize.

How easy it is to enter.

Complicated entry methods need more time

For more complicated entry methods, you need to give your audience enough time to complete their entry. If you’re thinking of running a survey or a game of chance that requires a perfectly timed photo, cleverly crafted caption or 1,000 word essay; a 24 hour flash giveaway won’t give your audience enough time to put their entry together and submit it, so you’ll receive little to no entries.

A quick like or comment on the other hand is easy to do and you can amass more entries in a shorter amount of time.

Your competition or giveaway goal.

Give yourself enough time to achieve your goal

Want to know why I bang on about your competition goal in virtually every single blog post I write?! Because it’s the single most important part of your competition.

If your goal is to collect 20,000 email addresses ahead of your kickstarter campaign launch and you open your competition for two weeks; you’re going to need over 1,400 email addresses a day, so you best have a bloody good promotion plan in place to pull it off…

Achieving your competition goal means the time, effort and money you’ve invested in your giveaway is returned, so give your competition breathing room to achieve it.

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OK, so what’s the ideal length for a competition, then?

If you just skim read the whole article, saw this heading and skipped ahead, tut tut. Like we said at the beginning, the jury’s out on a definitive competition length and in any case your audience, business and product or service is unique and may buck the trends.

Everyone needs a starting point though, so with your prize, entry method and goal in mind, here are some trends we’ve noticed to help give you a starting point.

  • Unless you’re running a flash giveaway, you really should be looking at a minimum of two weeks duration
  • Entries tend to tail off in the middle of a competition, so bear that in mind for longer competitions
  • Three months is usually the shelf life for competitions before people get tired of seeing the giveaway and want to know if they’ve won already
  • If you’re planning to run a competition longer than three months, consider breaking it up into monthly competitions or run more than one over the period. Perfect opportunity to squeeze in some A/B testing…
  • As you’d imagine, entries tend to spike when you’re actively promoting your competition, so if you’re running a longer competition, make sure you have a solid promotion plan in place to keep those entries coming in.

The best way to decide how long to run a competition…

You’re not going to like this, but the only way you’re going to know how long you should run a competition for your business, your audience and your service or product is to actually run a competition. Track and measure everything (hello Google Analytics) and test, test then test some more.

OK, so it may not have been the definitive answer you came here looking for, but if you carefully consider your prize value, complexity of your entry method, overall competition goal, aim for between two weeks and three months then test, track and measure what worked for your competition, you’ll have the perfect competition duration tailor-made for your business in no time.

Obviously, years of practice gives us an unfair advantage at picking the Goldilocks duration for your giveaway that’s juuuuust right, so if you need a helping hand, why not book in a FREE strategy session with one of our giveaway gurus?