increasing brand awareness through contests

There are many ways brands build awareness, acquire new leads, and engage their customers. One such way is to run a contest. Let’s face it, people like winning things; and if you dangle the right thing in front of them, it can be like moths to a flame.

A proper contest is not something you can just run whenever you feel like it though; they take time to craft, and to implement.

You’re the winner!

The benefits of running a contest will range anywhere from social sharing, brand awareness, and growth (new customers), to leads (new to you entrants), increased sales, and brand loyalty from your current customers who participate.

In order to reap these benefits, you must first decide what kind of contest to run. All have an upside and downside, will attract a certain type of audience, and will take a bit of know-how to run properly. Picking the right contest for your brand is crucial:

User-Generated Content Contest – Asks an entrant to submit something (often a photo). People who visit the contest platform vote on a winner. It increases sharing and builds brand awareness, but completely relies on users to make the contest successful.

Sweepstakes – Requires a submission of personal data from an entrant. Though nothing is required of them after that point, you can add them to your list of subscribers.

Video Contest – Asks an entrant to film something for judging. Video is slated to be the number one way companies share online within the next five years. Hitting the mark with a video contest could go viral, but requires a lot of work.

“Like or Follow” Entry – Asks an entrant to like specific content, or to follow your company in order to be eligible for the prize. Having them engage with branded content increases awareness, but liking and following has become second nature.

Trivia Contest – Asks an entrant to compete against other entrants in a battle of knowledge. This could bring a large audience to your contest platform and brand, or none at all depending on the trivia category and its questions.

“Share It” Contest – Asks an entrant to share specific content in order to be eligible for the prize. The success rate of the contest depends on the entrant’s motivation.

Once the type of contest is chosen, you need to decide what platform you want it to run on. This will be key in how many people engage with it. Facebook and Instagram, for example, will see more traffic than your own website will. Keep in mind that each platform will have a unique set of rules you must follow in order to run the contest, and a unique way in which entrants will engage. Instagram will be mostly photo-based, Twitter mostly text-based, where as Facebook can be almost anything.

What do you truly want to accomplish with your contest? Do you want to gain followers? Find new leads? Direct traffic to your company site? Build brand loyalty? Whatever the goal is, you need to pick the best platform.


Here are three steps you need to take in order to increase engagement:

Publicity – You won’t get any traction if you don’t promote your contest to the fullest. This means ads, email marketing, word of mouth, and posting on social media (don’t forget relative hashtags!).

Opt-ins – These are great for new leads and building up your subscriber list. In order for someone to enter your contest, they must opt-in to receive information from you!

Mobile first – Studies show that running a contest on mobile increases the number of entrants by as many as eight times!

The Prize

The prize can be anything you want it to be. The more valuable it is, the more people you’ll see entering for a chance to win. That means more people engaging with your brand. Be cautious though, this could attract people who are only in it for the prize!

The best thing you can do is align the prize with your brand. The more targeted the prize is, the higher purchase intent will be. What this means is if you align your prize to your brand, the better the chance an entrant will buy from you later on. However, a prize with high purchase intent that doesn’t have any wow factor may result in an unpopular contest. Try to find a happy medium.


If done properly, a contest will actively build up your brand. It will increase awareness, subscribers, sales, and engagement. Studies show that a third of contest entrants sign up to receive email updates from brands! The data you can collect from entrants is invaluable, and can be used to further promote your brand message. Contests can go viral, bond communities, and even change lives.

Just don’t make the prize a pen, ok? No one wants a pen.