How to Use Contest Marketing to Grow Your Brand

By Raubi Perilli

      May 2, 2018     Solutions    

Contests are fun and affordable ways to connect with your customers. For only a few hundred dollars, you can add engaged fans to your contact list, develop content for your blog and social media channels, and hype up any events or promotions related to your business.  

One of the main benefits of contest marketing is its flexibility. You don’t have to have a large business or significant social media following to successfully engage your audiences. Even if only a handful of people enter, you can identify fans who are closely connected to your brand.  

If you’re still on the fence about contest marketing, check out these ways to engage audiences with games, tests, and drawings.

Why Contest Marketing Works

While word-of-mouth marketing is the most reliable type of promotion, contest marketing is one of the most fun. Human beings are competitive by nature and are eager to try their hand at various challenges and games. Furthermore, the effort it takes to enter a contest often outweighs the benefits.  

Consider the business card fishbowl found at most restaurants. It takes 10 seconds for someone to take out their business card and drop it in for a chance to win free lunch. The benefits of the reward outweigh the lost effort of entering.  

HubSpot shared a helpful infographic that illustrates just how much audiences love contests and games. More than 70% of businesses use some form of gamification, and a third of entrants are happy to receive additional advertising information from the companies holding these contests.  

Modern audiences are excited by the chance of winning something, even if they don’t win your prizes, they’re happy to simply participate.   

Related: The Best Marketing Contest Ideas for Restaurants

Promote Upcoming Events With Giveaways

Contest marketing is a great way to generate buzz about an upcoming event. Contests are more engaging than general promotions and increase the demand to attend fundraisers, concerts, galas, and grand openings.  

Consider developing a contest that gives away tickets as the main prize. The engagement from attendees and promotion from your fans will significantly outweigh the costs of a few free tickets. If you are unable to give away tickets, consider offering upgrades that enhance the event. For example, you might give a contest winner VIP service at a gala with a complimentary bottle of champagne and gift bags at their table.  

Contests can also drive tickets sales for your branded events. For example, if attendees buy their tickets before a certain date, they could be entered to win special treatment from your brand. This creates a timely call to action for your audience and encourages them to buy tickets in advance.

Build Your Marketing Lists With Opt-Ins

One of the main reasons brands launch contests is to build their marketing lists. From email marketing to social reach, contests are ideal for engaging with new people and interacting with those who are already familiar with your brand.  

For example, contests are a great way to boost your text marketing efforts. Consider hosting weekly or monthly giveaways related to your brand. Ask customers to text a certain number to enter and receive your marketing messages. With just a few clicks, you will have new people engaging with your brand who you can market to in the future.  

Contests are also used to solicit customer feedback. Brands like Macy’s and JCPenney prompt shoppers to complete surveys in the chance that they will win store gift cards. If you want to see how your staff is doing and how your business can improve, start with a contest.   

Develop User-Generated Content at a Low Cost

Contest marketing is a tool for content generation as well as data collection. In an article for Kissmetrics, Corey Post shared how his company, Shoeboxed, used contests to populate their Pinterest boards and increase social media engagement.  

His team launched the “Messy Desk Contest,” where people submitted their messiest desks to the company’s Pinterest board. Then, participants shared their desks with their friends and encouraged them to like, post, and share who had the messiest desk. The messiest desks won the best prizes. Within 48 hours, the company had more than 200 submissions of messy desks after promoting it to their 9,000 fans. Suddenly, their social media channels had pages of content with people commenting and saving various photos.  


As you develop your contest strategy, look for opportunities for your audiences to create content for your brand. They might need to upload videos, share photos, or even write small stories. Either way, the more people who enter, the more content options you will have to work with.

Move Customers Deeper Into Your Sales Funnel

Regardless of the contest format and channels, you use to launch it, your brand can use giveaways to move customers deeper into the sales funnel.

Contests are often used to increase awareness of a brand, meaning they’re optimal top-funnel content choices. However, they can also be tailored to attract mid-funnel and bottom-funnel audiences who are on the fence about making a purchase. They can encourage customers to set up a meeting with your brand or even convert in the off chance that they win something because of it.  

As you develop your contests, consider the weaknesses in your buying process and your overall marketing goals. Taking these two elements into consideration will help you develop a plan that grows your business while helping your marketing efforts.

Brainstorm Contest Marketing Tactics for Your Brand

There are multiple ways for your brand to tap into contest marketing and align it with the rest of your promotional efforts. You don’t have to think of it as its own marketing tactic, but rather an option for your other promotional methods.  

If you want to create a contest for your brand but aren’t sure how contact My Area Network today. We will set up a free consultation and review your current marketing strategy and find ways to grow upon it.

Whether you want to grow your contact list or increase the user-generated content on your social channels, contest marketing is the way to go.