Generate leads with competitions, sweepstakes and prize draws

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Get competitive: Generate leads with competitions, sweepstakes and prize draws


Competitions are great for raising brand awareness, surprising and delighting customers – and bringing brands to life. Even better, they are a fantastic way to capture data and generate leads from customers and prospects.

I started my career running promotions and competitions, and thought it was only fair to share some friendly advice. So here are a few helpful tips and things to think about before running your competition.

– What makes your competition stand out from the crowd and stick in your customers’ minds?

– What’s the incentive to enter?

– And how does your competition actually work? What are the mechanics?

You will also need to take legal considerations into account – and the GDPR will likely be a factor too. These aspects all feed into your customers’ experience of your brand through the competition.

So how do you run a competition that does all this successfully and generates those all-important leads?


Before anything else, establish the goals of your competition. Do you want to create buzz around your brand or a new product? Perhaps you simply want to build relationships with customers. You might be after user-generated content, or insight into certain products. Plus you’ll probably want to generate leads, or even immediate sales.

Understanding your aims will help keep you on track. It will also help you choose the most appropriate type of contest. Take your pick from games, races, sweepstakes, submissions, votes, quizzes – even the most useful piece of feedback. Which type of contest will help you achieve your goal? If your objective is capturing customer data, a sweepstake is probably your best bet. On the other hand, you may want your competition to bring your brand to life. A contest that creates user-generated content, such as the Lexus Design Award, might be more appropriate here. It’s a chance to utilise the talent of your customers and communities to create new product lines.

You also want to make it easy for customers to participate. Kiosk mode on portable devices helps to maintain customer engagement and generate leads at events and activations. It allows customers to take part even when you and your team are elsewhere. Business card scanning is also a reliable, GDPR-compliant way to capture competition entries. And it’s a great opportunity to upgrade from the business card in a bowl mechanic.


Think carefully about how you incentivise your competition. As the main motivation for customers to enter, the prize will largely determine the success of your contest. Bear the following in mind when choosing your prize:

– Relate it to your product or brand

– Make it desirable for your target market

– Ensure it’s appropriate to the effort the contest requires. In other words, reward the winner of a quiz with an evening out rather than a branded pen

– Decide whether one prize is enough to entice your customers to enter. Customers like to think, at least, that they have a chance to win. So perhaps, for the purposes of your competition, multiple smaller prizes will encourage greater numbers to take part

– What’s more, people love experiences: festival tickets, a trip abroad, a meal out

– Choice goes a long way too. Don’t underestimate the power of cash, gift cards – or giving customers multiple prizes to choose from


The new data protection act requires positive customer opt-ins as standard in any competition. So if you want to combine data capture for competition entry with a weekly newsletter, customers will need to tick two boxes consenting to each separately.

On an international scale, you’ll only be able to transfer competition data to certain countries or territories outside the EU. Unsurprisingly, the EU Commission decides whether these countries or territories meet the adequate level of data protection. Find out more from about the GDPR from the ICO, which helps to sort fact from fiction.


Does your competition require skill, or is it luck of the draw? When can you ask customers to pay to enter? Below are some helpful guides on how to run a legally compliant competition.

Make entry clear, fair and legally compliant by including your own Ts and Cs. Setting out clear rules for your competition is one of the best ways to ensure you comply with the law. Check out this prize draw checklist for more information.

Don’t ask customers to pay to enter prize draws. And be extra clear in the USA. State clearly that no purchase is necessary to enter or win a contest. Read more on sweepstakes in the USA, and prize competitions in the UK.


So you’ve sorted the logistics and the small print. But what makes your competition stand out from the crowd and stick in your customers’ minds?

Well, one way is to put a twist on the traditional. The ‘Pimm’s Spritz wedding dash recently saw brides and grooms run for the chance to win £8,000. The unconventional race was part of the launch for the Pimm’s Spritz wedding cocktail.

Gamification also gets customers involved. A great offline marketing example of a gamified contest – resulting in immediate sales – is the McDonald’s Monopoly challenge.

As well as appealing to hungry opportunists, the McDonald’s Challenge is successful because it makes great use of the familiar. And there’s no reason you can’t employ the familiar for purposes other than immediate sales. Quizzes are great fun, and a fantastic way to capture data and generate leads. A simple, timed game of ‘name that brand’ on a competition app is often engaging enough for customers to part with their email addresses.

Go play!

Contact a Gather expert today about how you can start capturing quality leads through competition data.

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