Welcome to the last guide to competitions you’ll ever need to read.
You might want to put the kettle on.

The last guide to competitions is your one-stop shop for everything competition and giveaway – from strategy to promotion and everything in between. We’ve gathered everything you’ll ever need to know about competitions and giveaways in one easily navigable place, with practical, actionable steps and takeaways plus a healthy dose of sass, sarcasm and personality.

If you’re here, I’m assuming that you already know what a competition is, why you’d want to run one and that you have indeed decided you’re going to run a competition, so enough with the intros, let’s get to the good stuff.

Spoiler alert…

Simply reading this guide will not magically get you more followers, millions of dollars in revenue or make your brand an overnight success. This guide gives you all the tools to achieve that, but you have to put in the work.

100,000 Facebook fans who don’t give a crap about you or your business are pointless. They’re never going to become paying customers and with Facebook’s algorithms, they probably won’t even see your posts. 100 highly engaged fans who buy, love and practically promote your company for you, are more valuable to your business. This guide helps you create competitions that grow your business by attracting exactly these awesome customers.

Competition strategy.

The key to a successful competition is a well-thought out strategy.

Set your competition goal.

What do you want to achieve?

Why is setting your goal the first step to running a competition? Because setting your competition goal is the single most important part of planning a competition. It’s a small decision that has a huge impact on the success of your competition.

You wouldn’t set off on a road trip without a destination (and snacks, of course!) so why run a competition without an end goal in mind? Your goal is what you want to have achieved when the competition is all wrapped up and the winner has been chosen.

Goals usually fall into one of the following categories:

  • Promoting awareness of your business, product or service
  • Growing or engaging followers, likes or comments on social media
  • Getting feedback or input from your target audience
  • Generating leads or sales

But if yours doesn’t, awesome – you’re thinking outside the box and doing what’s best for your business! Having a clear goal will not only keep you, your budget and your marketing focussed; it will also determine everything from your entry method to your prize, so the good news is that decisions will be much easier with a goal in mind.

Do it now: set your goal.

1. Grab a notebook and jot down all of the ideal outcomes you’d love to see from your competition. It might be more followers, subscribers or feedback on your latest product.

2. Group similar aims together e.g. ‘collect email addresses’ and ‘grow subscribers’ to narrow down the list.

3. Rank your ideal outcomes from least important to most important to you and your business. Your most important aim should be the primary goal of your competition.

Get accountability

Goals are pointless if you’re not held accountable. For the best chance at achieving your goal, pop into in our Competitions Creators’ Facebook group, say hi and post your goal – we’ll make sure you get shit done.

Find your ideal customer.

Who do you want to enter your giveaway?

Ultimately, you’re only going to stay in business if you make money. Your ideal customer (or avatar, buyer persona, target audience, demographic) is the person who keeps you in business by giving you their money in return for your products or services.

For this reason, you need to design and run your competition to attract your ideal customer. These ideal entrants will give you their details or follow you on social media in return for an entry, details you’ll use for marketing purposes, to turn them into paying customers over time.

Do it now: find your ideal customer

Describe your ideal customer, who are they? What do they value and what challenges do they face? What kind of personality do they have and where will you find them to get your competition in front of them?

Your ideal customer and ideal competition entrant are the same person.

Craft your competition messaging.

What do you want to say?

Clear messaging creates brand awareness, familiarity and trust. It also helps to attract your ideal client. If your company has one, your tagline, vision or mission can be a great place to start when creating your competition messaging.

Say you own an adventure travel magazine with the tagline ‘Thrillseekers wanted.’ and your goal is to build an email database of adventure travel enthusiasts to market your newly launched magazine to. You give away the ultimate thrillseeker’s adventure holiday, bungee jumping and white water rafting through Victoria Falls, Africa.

Using your tagline in your competition marketing helps you get entries from your desired audience (and not lazy couch potatoes who’ll never buy your magazine…), whilst at the same time creating brand awareness for your new venture.

Do it now: get your message straight

Grab your notebook again and scribble down some ideas for your competition messaging. If you have a tagline jot that down, if you don’t, have a think about the one message you want your competition entrants to take away from the competition to help them remember your company, what you do and how you can help them.

Work out your budget.

How much do you want to spend?

Being able to set (and stick to) a budget created in advance, is one of the HUGE benefits of using competitions over other marketing tools such as AdWords or remarketing campaigns – plus your return on investment is hella easier to see.

How much you spend is really up to you and your bank balance. The biggest cost is going to be the prize and the legals and licences, followed by advertising (if you choose to incorporate paid advertising). If you’re putting up your own product/service as the prize and you decide to run a game of skill competition with no paid ads… then really your only costs are your time and maybe the cost of postage if your prize is physical.

You could spend as little as the cost of the prize or as much as your bank balance will allow. The key is spending your budget wisely.

Do it now: create yourself a budget

List out all the costs you’ll need to cover during your competition – don’t forget to include your prize, delivery or your time if you have a service-based business, terms and conditions, licences and paid advertising.

If you need to outsource services such as competition assistance, graphic design or competition entry apps – factor these costs into your budget as they will help when calculating your return on investment.

Establish a timeline.

When are your key competition dates?

You probably already have an idea of when you want to launch your competition, but before you lock it in, let’s take a look at a typical timeline:

  • 2 weeks before launch – prepare yourself by reading this guide, prepping your marketing materials and getting your audience excited about your imminent launch…
  • 2 weeks to 3 months competition duration – from launch day to close, make sure it’s long enough your audience have time to enter, but not so long that they get sick of hearing about it.
  • 1 week to a month for winner management – this includes choosing the winner, notifying them, announcing the winner to your audience, redeeming the prize and sourcing testimonials/images. If you can’t get hold of your winner, they refuse the prize (that’s never happened by the way) or they are ineligible (happens more than you think) then you’ll need to allow time to redraw and contact new winners.
  • Time to followup with your new audience – you have all these new followers/subscribers/sales, make sure you have time to nurture them!

Competition timing is a balance between giving yourself enough preparation time, giving your competition time to gain momentum, but stopping before competition fatigue hits your audience as well as leaving yourself enough time to manage the winner make the most of the results from your competition.

Do it now: set your key dates

Time to create a provisional schedule. Don’t panic, we’re not setting anything in stone just yet.

1. Start with your ideal launch date.

2. Add in at least 2 weeks before launch to prepare your competition and get your audience excited.

3. Work out your competition duration.

4. Allow at least a week after your competition closes to wrap up your competition.

Don’t stress about all of the other dates yet, we’ll get to that in the promotion section.

Decide your prize.

What do you want to give away?

Some would argue the most important part of a competition is the prize. In a way I would agree; if you don’t have a strong prize you’re not going to get many entries. On the other hand, a modest prize suddenly becomes incredibly appealing with the right marketing and promotion. In truth, it’s about offering a relevant and valuable prize for your audience – not necessarily dollar value, but perceived value.

When starting out or growing your business, keep the focus on your own product or service; creating awareness for your brand and amassing a following of people interested in what you do or sell. You can always create a package based around your business and include other brands in there, but make sure yours is the star attraction!

Do it now: decide your prize

Again, this doesn’t have to be set in stone, but jot down a few prize ideas and circle, asterisk, highlight or post-it the hell out of your favourite ideas.

Just make sure they meet the good prize criteria above.

Work out your entry method.

How will people enter your competition?

There are hundreds of different entry methods, which is both a blessing and a curse. The key is choosing the entry method that best fits your competition and business, this depends on a whole bunch of things:

  • What you want to achieve by running your competition.
  • The type of entries you want (e.g. long-form answers or likes).
  • Whether you want to run a game of chance or game of skill.
  • How many entries you want to get (more difficult entry process means fewer entries).
  • Who your target audience is.
  • To some extent, your budget too (can you afford to develop a game for the entry process?!)

There is no one-size-fits-all answer, but don’t worry, I’m not the kind of person to leave you hanging to make the decision all by yourself. Check out the flowchart below for a quick decision or our [complete list of competition entry methods – coming soon!], for a thorough review of each competition entry method.

Do it now: decide your entry method

1. Remind yourself of your competition goal.

2. Shortlist your favourite entry methods.

3. Check your entry methods are compatible with your goal, target audience and budget and cross off any that aren’t.

5. Narrow it down to just one entry method – multiple entry methods mean less entries and more work for you collating entries.

Creating your competition.

The hard work’s done, this is the fun part – making your competition idea a reality!

Decide where to host your competition.

Where will people enter your competition?

Now you’ve decided your entry method, you need to decide where you will host your competition – where people will actually enter the competition.

The two main contenders are on your website or via social media. Obviously, if you’re running a ‘like to win’ competition, hosting your competition on social media is a no brainer, but if you’re looking to collect emails you could use a [competition app – coming soon] on your social channels or set up an entry form on your website.

Where possible I would always encourage you to host your competition on your website as you ‘own’ the data (as opposed to the social media platform ‘owning’ the likes and follows), you’re not at the mercy of unpredictable algorithm changes, you’ll see SEO benefits from the extra traffic and increase awareness of your brand whilst they browse your website.

Do it now: decide where to host your competition

It’s time to decide. Weighing up your goal, your entry method, where you’re more likely to find your target audience and whether you’ll need an app, decide where you’re going to host your competition.

Add any addition programme or app costs to your budget.

Set up the entry page/post.

This is where they’ll actually enter

Now it’s time to create your entry page if hosting on your website, or entry post if hosting on social media. Like the ultimate life partner, you want your entry page or post to have both brains and brawn, good looks and substance. Whether you’ve decided to host your competition on social media or on your website, your entry page/post is going to need:

  • An engaging image – preferably of the prize you’re giving away. Social posts with the words ‘competition’, ‘giveaway’ or ‘win’ on the image tend to convert higher, stopping thumbs as they scroll through busy news feeds
  • Convincing copy that encourages them to enter your competition (what’s in it for them, even if they don’t win?)
  • Clear and dummy-proof instructions on how to enter (including an entry form if required)
  • A summary of your key terms and conditions and a link to the full T&Cs

Design is a key element to successful engagement and conversion. If your ‘enter now’ is a tiny line of text right at the bottom of your landing page or your entry post copy is confusing and all over the place, it’s going to put potential entrants off. Getting people to your entry page is half the battle – the other half is convincing them to enter once they’re there.

Do it now: create your entry page

Don’t hang around, this is the centrepiece of your competition, so get it done now – or at the very least, drafted out on a piece of paper/in a notebook/on the back of a napkin. Whatever floats your boat.

Design your marketing material.

How are you going to promote your competition?

Now that you have somewhere for your entrants to enter, it’s time to create some promotional and marketing material to help get them there! When creating your marketing material, use your company’s usual tone of voice and keep your messaging consistent. For example, if you usually use a little humour and sarcasm (ahem), don’t be all stuffy and official in your competition posts, as boring doesn’t fit your brand and it’ll confuse your entrants. Similarly, stick to your regular branding – colours, fonts and styles and please, for heaven’s sake, use spell check!

Types of marketing material you might want to consider for your competition:

  • A landing page on your website (even if you’re hosting on social media) with all of your competition info
  • Countdown to launch/teaser posts and countdown to close posts:

  • Social media posts reminding people your competition is open, what they can win and where to enter
  • A banner for your website’s homepage linking to the entry page/post
  • Blog posts to give your competition a shout out and point readers to your entry page
  • Guest posts to publish on partner blogs to drive traffic to your competition
  • Copy and images for your email newsletters to encourage subscribers to enter
  • A strong image and convincing copy for any ads you decide to run
  • Videos to post to social media to encourage entries – if a picture says a thousand words then videos would surely say a million
  • A thank you post for your social media/your email list to thank everyone for their entries and let them know the competition is closed.
  • Winner announcement post to let your audience know who the lucky winner is. You’ll be surprised how awesome your audience will be in joining you to congratulate the winner which is also great engagement for your posts/account!
  • After your competition you might want to do a bit of a roundup of your favourite entries or a shoutout to any ‘runners up’.

Do it now: prepare your marketing materials

Even if you want to read the rest of this guide before committing to anything, just spend 10 minutes creating a list of marketing materials you’ll need before your competition launches.

Try and be as specific as possible to help you manage your time and workload – for example 3 blog posts, 12 social media posts, 1 banner (800 x 500px) etc.

Create your marketing material before you launch, seriously, you’ll thank yourself (and me) later.

Create a promotion schedule.

… And stick to it!

You’ve done the hard work and created all of the necessary content for your competition, now it’s time to make sure your adoring fans, competition entrants and future customers actually see it. It’s time to make a promotion schedule. Your schedule is going to be your best friend during your competition; so you know exactly what to post and when and more importantly, maximise competition entries. Personally, I print mine out and stick it on the wall so I never miss a post or an opportunity to get entries to my competitions or my clients’ competitions!

Do it now: schedule your competition content

1. Grab this [content planner – coming soon] grab a piece of paper or open up a new spreadsheet and whip up a quick calendar.

2. Get the key dates you set in the timeline section and pencil those in.

3. Now find the list of all your marketing material you just made in the section above and start to pencil in the obvious ones – for example countdown to launch and countdown to close.

4. The rest of the marketing material (videos, posts, emails etc) can be scheduled at regular intervals to keep momentum going during the competition. I recommend posting at least once a week, depending on your competition duration.

Keeping it legal.

Don’t even think about skipping this section. Yes it’s dull, but also essential!

Obey social media rules.

Or risk getting kicked off. Permanently.

If I had a dollar for every time I heard ‘yeah but everybody does it’, specifically in relation to tagging and sharing competitions on Facebook, I would be a very rich lady. I sure as hell wouldn’t be writing this from my pokey office, I’d be on a private yacht… but most likely still writing this guide. I frickin’ LOVE competitions, in case you hadn’t guessed.

If you think you’ll be fine because you’ve seen some huge clothing brand do it, think again. Who do you think Facebook will shut down to make an example of? The huge brand who spends hundreds of thousands in advertising on a weekly basis and has millions of followers who would be very pissed off if their favourite page was shut down… or your page with 1,000 likes and a tiny ad spend? Yup, you guessed it – little old you.

Here’s an in-depth look at the rules for each social media platform and below is a super quick summary of Facebook and Instagram as these are the platforms I receive the most questions about.

Facebook

  • Link to your rules/terms and conditions in your post.
  • Get your licences.
  • Include the sentence “This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.” in your post.
  • Do not ask people to tag and/or share your competition to enter or to get extra entries. I repeat. NO TAGGING, NO SHARING.

Instagram

  • Link to your rules/terms and conditions in your post.
  • Get your licences.
  • Do not ask people to tag themselves in photos they’re not in.
  • Include the sentence “This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram.” somewhere in your post.

To be clear, you CAN ask people to tag friends in the comments and/or repost your competition post to enter or get extra entries.

Do it now: check you obey the rules

Click here to read our quick reference guide and make sure your competition doesn’t break any of the rules for the channel you’re hosting or advertising your competition on.

If you like to live dangerously and plan to deliberately and knowingly break the rules to run a competition, good luck. You’re on your own!

Write your terms and conditions.

Also known as competition rules

The next step is to protect your business with watertight terms and conditions, or T&Cs. I know what you’re thinking – ‘yeah yeah, but do I need terms and conditions, though?’. In response, let me ask you this – ‘but do you really want to be able to cover your arse if anything goes wrong, though?’.

Let’s say you’re giving away consulting package worth $3,400AUD and you don’t have T&Cs. If your winner decides they’d rather have the cash value, what protection do you have? Little to none. You might just find yourself forking over cash for something that was just going to cost you your time.

From extensive experience, a good set of T&Cs usually includes:

  • Who your competition is and isn’t open to
  • When your competition starts and ends
  • What your audience have to do to enter
  • How many entries they are allowed
  • Exactly what the prize includes (and doesn’t include)
  • When, how and where you will draw the winner
  • When and how the winner will be announced
  • How long the winner has to claim the prize
  • Any specific T&Cs relating to the redemption of the prize
  • Liability releases (see above)
  • Your contact details
  • The licence numbers for your competition (see below)

Do it now: create your T&Cs

I promise it’s not as painful as it sounds and will be well worth it in the long run, not only because they protect your business from difficult winners but because done properly once means that next time you’ve got a template to start from.

Apply for relevant licences.

From all applicable state governments

Permits, licences and social media rules are the most common questions we receive. The government websites are a maze of redirects and double negatives, so I don’t blame people for getting confused.

The need for a licence depends on:

  • Whether you run a game of chance or a game of skill
  • Which states your competition is open to (not where you business is based – a common misconception)
  • The value of your prize

The long and short of it is this: a game of chance (winner picked at random) open to NSW residents, currently needs a licence regardless of prize value (note that this may be changing in 2018). If your prize value exceeds $3,000 and is open to ACT and/or NT you’ll need to apply for a licence in these states (NT will waive the requirement if you have a valid licence from another state). If your prize value is over $5,000 and open to SA, you will need a licence here. If you’re running a game of skill (winner picked based on the quality of their entry) then you won’t need a licence in any state. Currently, games of skill or chance open to QLD, VIC, WA and TAS do not need licences in these states.

All of the above information is taken from each state government’s website, but you should also check for yourself on a regular basis in case the rules change:

NSW: Liquor and Gaming NSW
ACT: Gambling and Racing Commission
SA: Consumer and Business Services
NT: Northern Territory Government
QLD: Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation (scroll to Category 4)
WA: Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries
TAS: Department of Treasury and Finance 

In our spirit of making your life easier, based on the facts found on each state government website above, we’ve put together a handy little flow chart to help you work out whether you need a licence for your competition or not:

NSW licensing update

In August 2017, the Office of Liquor and Gaming NSW announced that after a year long consultation with stakeholders (don’t worry, I petitioned on your behalf!), that the limit for requiring a licence for a game of chance will be increased to $10,000. This is excellent news for small business owners who currently need to apply for a licence regardless of the value of their prize. The changes are set to come into effect some time in 2018, so in the mean time you still need to apply for those licences until the legislation is passed.

Do it now: work out if you need a licence

If you’re still unsure as to whether you need a licence, get in touch and I will point you in the right direction. I would rather provide a link to an application page than see you get in trouble because you haven’t applied for the right licences.

Competition launch.

Today’s the day!

Check you’re ready.

Just before you launch…

By now, you should have nailed the following things about your competition:

There are just a couple more things to take care of before you can go live with your competition.

Do it now: test your entry page

Aside from checking you’ve completed all of the above, you need to make sure your entrants are actually going to be able to enter your competition.

1. Log out of everything and test your page as a potential entrant and make sure you can see the page with no bugs and you can complete your entry with no issues.

2. Once that’s tested, check the entry registered in the back end and you collected all the vital information for their entry. You may also want to get your friends or family to test it too and make sure everything works correctly.

Benchmark your current stats.

Before you hit launch

The final thing you need to do before you go live, is benchmark your current stats. This is your yardstick, a point against which to measure your progress so you can calculate exactly how many likes/follows/tags/mentions/emails etc you gain as a result of your competition. Not only is benchmarking important to see if competitions are worth your time, but it’s also going to act as an indication of the value of running a competition and its return on investment for your business.

For example, if you previously got approximately one direct sale from your Facebook page per month which costs you $10 to acquire (the cost of a boosted post for example) and makes you $30 profit, but during your competition which cost you $100 to set up, you make $1000 worth of profit, it’s pretty safe to say competitions work for your audience and are a wise return on investment and worth investing in again.

Do it now: get benchmarking

Take note of your current interactions, engagement, fans, followers, likes, comments, leads, customers, subscribers, sales etc before you launch. Pay special attention to the stats that directly relate to your goal – if you’re collecting email addresses, you’ll be measuring subscriber numbers, interaction rates, click through rates etc.

You have now set yourself a benchmark against which to compare the success of this competition.

It’s launch time.

Go live with your competition!

Your hard work and preparation have paid off and it’s launch day. You’re excited and also nervous, will anyone enter? What if they don’t like the prize? Argh! I don’t feel ready! Calm down, these are all normal questions and reactions. You are ready, you’ve been following the last guide to competitions you’ll ever need to read. You couldn’t be more ready.

Do it now: go live!

Hit publish on your page, post your competition post, hit send on your email and send your competition out into the world!

There. It’s done (you can breathe now). Congratulations, you’ve done the scariest part, you’ll be pleased to hear it’s much easier from here. That said, now your competition is live, it doesn’t mean you can just put your feet up and watch those entries roll in!

—> We’re bringing you a launch day checklist really soon!

Promoting a competition.

A successful competition is 20% strategy, 80% promotion.

Get people to enter your competition.

… By promoting the hell out of it

I’ll cut straight to the chase. We both know that the only way to achieve your competition goal is to get people to enter your competition. How do you get people to enter your competition? By shouting about it from the (virtual) rooftops, of course!

Entrants will come from two main channels: free and paid. We have a dedicated article on promoting your competition, but here’s my top picks…

  • Use the marketing material we created to connect with your existing audience
  • Make the most of your social media accounts, that includes your descriptions, links, header images, bio images and pinned posts to promote your competition entry post/page
  • On that note – make sure you cross-promote across all of your social channels
  • Add a banner to your website’s homepage, linking to your competition
  • Email your existing list, you’d be surprised how many people forget to tell their existing subscribers they’re running a competition…
  • If you have the budget for paid promotion, consider ads on social or Google, sponsored posts or guest blogs or even a reputable influencer.

If you don’t promote your competition at all, you will be disappointed. There’s no two ways about it. It’s the equivalent to opening a bricks and mortar shop, then keeping the lights off and the door locked. Your customers can only enter your competition if they know you’re running one – so tell them!

Do it now: decide which channels you’ll use

1. Check out our resources and list a few promotional methods you will be trying during your competition. Not every single promotional method will work for you and your business, but the chances of you striking gold and finding a really effective promotion channel will be higher the more methods you try.

2. Create any necessary marketing material needed (blog posts, email copy etc) so you’re ready to get promoting.

3. Decide if you’re going to run paid ads, taking into consideration your goal, target audience, budget and timeframe. If you do, consider getting expert help or really do your homework first so you don’t burn through your budget with no results to show for it.

Don’t do these things.

A few ‘don’ts’ for your competition

We’ve just been through the ‘dos’ for your competition, now let’s take a look at a few ‘don’ts’ to make sure your competition runs smoothly and people leave with a fantastic perception of you and your company.

  • Don’t just promote, interact. Reply to comments, ask questions, thank people for their entries and just generally interact with your audience.
  • Don’t be that guy/girl who drops into a group they don’t give a flying fig about just to promote their own stuff and then leave again. If you’ve ever been a member of a Facebook group, you’ll know this type well. They never post or comment on your posts unless it’s a sales pitch. We all hate that and it leaves a really bad impression of the business.
  • Don’t expect – if you ask friends and family to help you promote, don’t expect them to do all the work for you. In fact, the opposite is true, you need to do the work for them, make it easy for them to help you promote your competition.
  • Don’t launch it and walk away. The success of your competition directly correlates to the amount of effort and promotion you put in – remember a successful competition is 80% promotion. If you launch it and leave it, don’t come crying to me when you don’t have any entries…
  • Don’t spam! You’ll only piss people off. You hate spam, so does everybody else. Be human and be respectful, it’s so much better for your business in the long-run.
  • Don’t forget to say thank you… chances are you had a little help with your competition – or at the very least – support from some very patient partners, colleagues and family members. Also don’t forget to thank your entrants for taking the time and effort to enter.

Do it now: don’t do it

Just make sure you’re not planning on spamming, expecting your influencers/friends/family to do all the hard work for you and ensure you do have a proper promotion plan in place and aren’t just going to launch and ignore your competition until closing day…

Managing your competition.

A few things you need to keep an eye on whilst your competition’s live.

Maximise your entries.

Traffic vs conversion

Between promoting your competition and engaging with your audience, there’s also a little bit of admin to take care of. I know, right? It’s like I just keep throwing work at you! The way I see it, there’s no point spending all this time, money and effort running a competition if you’re not going to make the most of it and make every single one of your dollars and minutes spent on your competition work hard for you.

There are two key things to keep an eye on whilst your competition is live: traffic and conversion. Traffic refers to the number of people seeing your competition or visiting your entry page/post and is heavily reliant on the amount of promotion you do. Conversion refers to how many of those visitors who see your competition actually enter the competition and is heavily influenced by the design of your entry page and the prize on offer (among other things). You need to have a good balance between traffic and conversion to make the most of your competition, so keep a close eye on your reach/visitors versus actual entries.

Do it now: check your traffic vs conversion

Keeping an eye on your analytics should already be a habit, but if you haven’t had a peek at how you’re going yet, now’s the time.

1. Check stats such as visits, reach, views and clicks and of course how many actual entries you have.

2. If you notice any huge discrepancies – such as high click through and low entry numbers – take steps to correct this in the early stages and set yourself a reminder to come back and check again in a couple of days to see if your fixes have improved your stats.

Keep an eye on your analytics.

Remember how I said competitions aren’t set and forget?

Keeping an eye on your stats not only highlights any potential issues with your traffic and conversion, but also gives you valuable feedback about marketing tactics that work really well for your business. For example, if you notice one promotional post gets heaps more traction than others, ask yourself what was unique about it? Did you post at a different time of day or day of the week? Did you use/not use hashtags and mentions? Did you use/not use imagery? Did you change from your usual imagery/messaging? Try to recreate that – the spike in your stats is telling you your audience liked it, so keep on doing it!

Checking in regularly with your analytics allows you to get your competition back on track if it’s not heading towards the goal you set, or reassure you that you’re doing a great job – so schedule regular reminders to take a look at your competition stats.

Do it now: check your stats

Check your analytics and note down key stats and trends – it could be an exceptionally well-performing post or one that totally tanked. Remember that trends can be channel-specific so don’t assume that the image you used on Facebook will get just as much traction on Instagram or LinkedIn for example.

The insights you collect during your competition should form part of your marketing plan going forward.

Troubleshoot problems.

Help is here

Just be thankful you’re not Jay-Z, he’s got 99 problems, though granted I’m sure none of them are competition-related. OK, enough with the dad jokes. We all have the occasional competition hiccup or giveaway stuff up and it’s totally OK to ask for help. As you can imagine, I’ve seen a fair few competitions in my times, so I’ve listed a whole bunch of potential problems your competition may be having and matched them with a whole bunch of answers and suggestions for overcoming them. You’re welcome!

  • How many entrants can I expect to enter my competition?
  • Why am I not getting any entries?
  • I’m getting entries, but they’re not my target audience! What do I do?
  • Why am I not getting any traffic?
  • I’m getting entries, but they’re not following my entry criteria! What do I do?
  • Help! I’m receiving entries but I’m not achieving my goal!
  • My entries have totally dropped off, how do I get the momentum going again?
  • Why is no one engaging with my posts?
  • No one can find my competition! How do I fix this?
  • I tried promoting my competition but no one entered! Why didn’t my promotion work?
  • Why didn’t my competition make me any money?!
  • I’ve got one of those difficult entrants/winners you talked about… How do I deal with them?
  • People are cheating! How do I stop cheat entries?
  • How do I know if I achieved my goal or not?
  • I didn’t achieve my goal – what now?
  • What do I do if I need to change the competition whilst it’s live?
  • What if I need further support?

Do it now: just ask

If you can’t find an answer to your question, please feel free to email me. I promise there’s no such thing as a stupid question; in fact, there are probably others out there wondering the same thing, so you’d be helping them out too by asking!

Close your competition.

What to do on closing day

Hopefully you’ve really enjoyed learning to run a competition, have a tonne of new subscribers/likers/followers etc and have learnt a lot about marketing your business along the way. Your competition is drawing to a close now, so let’s look at what you need to do.

  1. Get those last few entries in. Tweet, post, mention, do what you need to do to get those last few entries in! Let people know exactly how long they have left and make it easy for them to enter.
  2. Know how to close your competition! As closing time approaches, check you know how to turn off commenting or check the time someone liked your page, for example. If you’re using an app, you may have already pre-set the competition to close automatically.
  3. Double check it’s closed. Log out, reload the page and check it is closed properly by attempting to enter.
  4. Post your thank you message across your channels thanking people for entering and letting them know when they can expect the winner to be announced
  5. Download a copy of your entries. If you used a competition app, you should be able to download a spreadsheet or CSV and if you ran your competition on social media, copy and paste your entries into a spreadsheet.
  6. Now create a copy of these entries so you have two separate copies of the raw data, just in case you accidentally mess anything up (may or may not be a tip from experience…)

Finally, do a little happy dance (note: this step is not compulsory). Well done on running a kick arse competition!

Do it now: close the competition

Follow the steps above to close your competition. This may be turning off commenting or logging into your competition app and manually closing the competition yourself.

Once you believe the competition is closed, just revisit your entry page or post and double check you can no longer enter.

Choose and announce your winner.

Fanfare please…

The big moment is here, you’re about to make someone’s day – or year, depending on the prize – I once won a business class return flight to London and 2 nights in a 5* hotel, I don’t think they had ever seen a more excited winner in their lives! It’s up to you to ensure that the drawing of the winner is all above board and legal, as per your T&Cs. I normally screen-record the drawing process if I’m working with apps and spreadsheets or film myself drawing the winner if I’m choosing from paper entries at a trade show for example. It’s not legally required to record the draw, but it helps keep your clients’ confidence in you and I feel happier knowing I have a video of the process should anyone dispute the winner or accuse me of favouritism. It’s never happened, but I’m a back-up plan kind of girl.

Here’s how to choose and announce your winner:

  1. Prepare your entries. Gather all of your entries in one place. This could be business cards from a trade show, or simply compiling entries from multiple social media posts into a single spreadsheet. Just make sure they’re all in one place.
  2. Draw the winner. Depending on your entry method and whether you used an app or not, it could be as simple as hitting the ‘pick a winner’ button in your app, or using random.org to pick a winner from your spreadsheet. For games of skill, you may be choosing your favourite entry or one that best fits the entry requirements. Just make sure you do it fairly and legally.
  3. Notify your winner. Instead of just plastering their name across social media and asking them to contact you, make an effort to get in touch with them before you publicly announce their name. If you collected emails as part of your goal/entry process, email them. If they liked your page on social media, try sending them a message to let them know.
  1. Announce your winner. Once they have officially accepted their prize, let the rest of the entrants know who the lucky winner is. You can do this via email (hot tip: combine with an offer to generate some extra revenue!) or via social media, or both. Announcing your winner helps people see your competition is legitimate and trust your brand. Usually people are gracious and offer congrats to the winner too, which is great for engagement.

Do it now: choose and announce your winner

It’s time to pick the lucky winner.

1. Follow the steps above or the steps provided by your competition app to pick your competition’s winner. Just make sure however you pick your winner, it’s fair, objective and legal.

2. Contact them to let them know they have won.

3. Once they’ve accepted their prize, spread the message to your entrants and congratulate the winner publicly.

Manage your winner.

Treat them like royalty

Once your winner has claimed their prize, you need to actually send your prize out if it’s a physical product; or contact them to arrange when they will redeem their prize if it’s a service-based prize. I advise you to do this ASAP, the last thing you want is your winner chasing you for their prize! Licensing bodies advise you to deliver the prize within 6 weeks of the draw date, however, that doesn’t mean they need to have completed their prize within this time frame. For example, if you are giving away a city break, you need to contact them to book it in within 6 weeks but they could have up to 12 months to actually complete their travel – these are the standard terms we offer in our travel prize packages.

Once they’ve received or redeemed their prize, ask your happy winner to send a couple of photos along with a quick sentence or two about how stoked they are to win. This makes for great material for social media and another brilliant chance to create engagement with your audience.

Do it now: deliver their prize

Contact your winner right now and arrange delivery/redemption of their prize, if you haven’t already. It’s really important that you keep in your winner’s good books if you’re planning on asking them for a photo and/or testimonial.

They may be receiving your product/service for free this time, but they have the potential to turn into your biggest fans and advocates, so make sure you treat them just as well as any paying customer.

After your competition.

Wrapping up a job well done.

Celebrate your achievements.

How did you do?

Back at the beginning of this guide, you set a goal for your competition. Now it’s time to check if you achieved that goal and what else you learnt along the way. If you set yourself a SMART goal, you should have a measurable element to your goal – e.g. to increase Instagram followers by 1,000 or gain 10% more followers on Facebook – so you should know pretty much straight away whether you achieved your goal. You can also use your benchmarked stats, to compare your results to and see if you achieved the results you set out to.

If you didn’t quite achieve your goal or feel your competition didn’t go the way you had hoped, don’t feel downhearted. I promise you it has happened to the best of us. You might want to check out this video but also, remember not to be too hard on yourself – you will have achieved something with your competition, even if it was just gaining one page like. If you’re really upset or puzzled by your outcome, get in touch and and we’ll go through a competition SOS and look at what you did well and where you can improve.

Do it now: check how you did

Look at your goal and look at your results. If you set out to gain 100 likes on your Facebook page and you got 200 new likes, it’s safe to say you achieved your goal. There might be a bit of maths involved if you’re working with percentages, but stick with it.

We would absolutely love to hear about how your competition went, so if you haven’t already – hop into our Facebook group and post your competition goal and final result!

Grab your key takeaways.

What did you learn?

So how did you go, did you nail it? Perhaps you were really, really close but didn’t quite get there, or maybe you completely missed the mark. Either way, I guarantee you would have learnt a few incredibly valuable lessons about your business and how to market it.

Maybe you were aiming for subscribers but ended up generating a surprise amount of sales? Is this something you can explore further with special VIP discounts? Perhaps you thought your audience was on Facebook but actually, your Instagram followers tripled during your competition. Maybe you should spend more time nurturing your Instagram followers? Look for surprising trends or unexpected side-effects of running a competition, look at the types of people who entered your competition and see how they compare to your ideal demographic. All of these findings from your competition can help you with your future marketing efforts.

Do it now: list your takeaways

Use the questions above as prompts to create a list of key takeaways from your competition. Try to look at the positives and negatives and think about how you can apply these learnings to your business or marketing in general. You may also see some surprise results you wish to develop further, or some learnings about where your business weaknesses lie.

Use your results.

Make them work hard for you

So what should you do with the data/leads/entries/insights you’ve collected? Well, you can never have too much data and insights into your target audience and you can use this information gathered for ongoing marketing long after your competition has closed. Here are just three of my favourite ways you can use your results post competition.

  • Create a ‘consolation offer’ – you know how everyone at school got a prize for participation? You can offer everyone who entered an exclusive discount or offer to help generate revenue or convert leads to paying customers. BONUS: combine with your winner announcement for maximum reach.
  • Use your entries for marketing material. If you asked for new T-Shirt slogans as their entry, or have some interesting stats from your customer survey – share the results with your audience. User generated content gets great engagement, you can even have a ‘runner up’ gallery of your favourite entries.
  • Run another competition. Keep the momentum you’ve gained by announcing your next competition – especially now they’re engaged with your brand. Your next competition can continue the work you started with your last competition or you can try something totally different to compare competition results. You’ve got all the tools in your arsenal to run infinite competitions now!

Whatever you decide to do with your competition results, incorporate them into a larger, overall marketing plan or strategy for your business. Competitions should form part of your marketing plan, not be isolated events unrelated to your business and marketing goals.

Do it now: come up with some ideas

Grab a piece of paper and jot down some ideas to make the most of the momentum and results gained by your competition. The above suggestions are just a starting point, you might decide to turn your competition into a monthly event, or use your entries to segment your email list.

Whatever you do, don’t let your hard work go to waste.

That’s all she wrote.

That’s all from me! I sincerely hope you’ve gotten something valuable from this guide or at least learnt something new about marketing and social media. I’d absolutely love to hear from you (good or bad!) so send me an email if you have comments, questions or you’ve just spotted a typo. Your emails make my day, even the typo ones.

If you’ve taken the leap and decided to run your own competition (yay!) don’t forget to join our Facebook group, Competition Creators for any questions, ideas, support and feedback from like-minded individuals. If you’re not quite ready to part ways just yet, why not take a look at how we can work together on your next competition?

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this guide, I can’t wait to see your competitions!

Suki.