How to Build a Successful Contest Promotional Plan

Are you concerned about creating a contest to promote your business? It’s a common worry for business owners, especially small business owners who don’t have time to invest in strategies that don’t deliver real results.

The reality is, without a creative, well-thought-out marketing plan, your contest might not have the results you were hoping for. If no one knows about your contest, no one will enter — which, of course, means you won’t see benefits like growing your email list and increasing social reach and brand awareness.

However, there is a way to make sure your content is successful.

Once you’ve determined what your contest prizes will be, outlined all the rules, and chosen your contest hosting platform, it’s time to plan and implement a contest promotion strategy to get the word out.

But you might not know where to start. Do you need to spend a ton of money on promoting your contest? While using ad spend to increase your contest reach can help, you can do a lot with the channels you already own — such as your website and email list.

Here’s how to build your contest or giveaway promotional plan.

Start With an Email Blast

While the goal of your contest might be to grow your email list, there is a good chance you already have a few folks signed up. These are people who have already engaged with your brand, and they want to hear from you.

Create an email campaign to spread the word about your contest and ask subscribers to share the email with their friends. Share what entrants could win and how that prize will impact their lives — will it help them lose weight, work from home more efficiently, or learn languages faster?

Here’s an example of a contest email from AllMax, a nutrition supplement company. Notice how they focus on the benefits of their products and include links to their website and social media accounts.

how to contest promo plan example

But don’t just send one email. 

The average person gets more than 100 emails per day — you need to be persistent.

In addition to an email announcement, segment your email list and resend the contest announcement to folks who didn’t open your email the first time.

Then, send a reminder one week, and two days before the contest closes to reminding your list that time is running out. Stay focused on the benefits of your products, how the prize could impact their lives, and their chances to win — especially if you are offering several awards.

Have a Physical Location? Promote Your Contest In-Store

Not all marketing needs to be online. If you have a brick and mortar store, make sure your in-store customers are aware of the contest.

Post a sign at the register outlining the rules and prizes and ask your staff to remind shoppers about the contest.

You can also:

  • Add a line about your contest to printed receipts
  • Include a flyer with contest information in shopping bags
  • Post a sign in your store window
  • Print out entries and post them on a bulletin board or hand them behind the counter

If possible, create a contest entry station with a tablet so customers can register for your contest right in the store.

Create a Social Media Contest Promotion Plan  

The first step to promoting your contest on social media is to schedule posts about your contest. Schedule out posts on Facebook and Instagram that highlight the prizes, how to enter, and remember to post reminders a few days before the contest ends.

Here’s an example of an Instagram post for a giveaway from Baby Teith, an online clothing brand, promoting their giveaway. It includes a flat lay of the item entries can win as well as the contest rules and how to enter.

how to contest promo plan example

(Note: Instagram promotional guidelines do allow brands to ask people to tag friends in the comments — Facebook does not. This is why it is essential to read the contest rules for each platform you promote on!) 

However, there’s an issue with promoting your contest on social media — organic reach (the number of people you will reach with a regular, non-paid post) on social media sites like Facebook has decreased dramatically in the last few years.

According to a study by Buffer, Facebook engagement dropped between 70 and 50 percent between 2017 to 2018.

how to contest promo plan stats data

Given the steady decline of organic reach on Facebook and other social media accounts, you can’t expect to just post on Facebook and Instagram and see the entrants pour in.

Instead of relying solely on organic social reach to promote your contest, try these strategies:

  • Instagram Stories: These time-sensitive posts appear at the top of users’ Instagram feed. They tend to get much higher engagement and allow you to include links (if you have more than 10K followers), music, stickers, locations, and even GIFs.
  • Boosted Posts: Both Facebook and Instagram allow you to pay a small amount to increase the reach of your posts. These will reach a wider audience and can be targeted carefully based on location and demographic information — which can help limit the contest’s reach to your target audience.
  • Share User-Generated Content:  Share content created by entrants via social channels. For example, if you have a weekly winner, you could share their photo contest entry on Instagram and tag them. Or, share a variety of entries in Instagram stories. Make sure to tag the entrant’s social account — this will ensure they see the post and help extend your reach.

Leverage Your Website

Your website is one of the most valuable assets your company has — it can help you share information, encourage email sign-ups, sell products or services, and, yes, promote your contest!

So, where do you start?

Publishing a blog post about the contest on your website allows you to go more in-depth about rules, prizes, and the benefits of your company. This can be valuable because blog posts can also be shared via email and social — which will also drive traffic to your website.

Here are a few additional strategies for using your business’ website to promote your contest:

  • Use a banner or pop-up on your website to remind site visitors to enter your contest.
  • Add inline ads (small ads that are embedded in your content) about your contest to your most popular blog posts.
  • After the contest is over, publish a post announcing the winner.

Create a Video to Promote Your Contest 

When it comes to online content, video is a clear winner. In fact, 45% of people watch at least an hour of videos per day on sites like YouTube and Facebook. According to one study, a video can increase organic traffic to your website by as much as 157%.

So, how do you use a video to promote your contest? Here are a few strategies to add to your contest promotion plan:

  • Create a video announcement for your contest and use it in a blog post.
  • Go live on Instagram or Facebook to launch the contest — and use Instagram Stories to tease followers about the upcoming announcement.
  • Post a YouTube video, then share the link via email and social media.
  • Post a video promoting your contest on Facebook, then promote the post to increase reach.

After your contest ends, consider using live video on Facebook or Instagram to announce the winner. Schedule the announcement at a time when your audience is most likely to be online (which you can see via Instagram or Facebook insights).

Leverage Partnerships With Related Businesses 

What if you want to extend the reach of your contest — but you don’t want to pay for ads? Even if you are paying ads, consider partnering with another brand in a related industry to boost your reach and increase contest entries.

Make sure the business you partner with is related to your business, but not a direct competitor.

For example, an ice cream parlor might partner up with a bowling alley — both businesses will have similar audiences but are not direct competitors. Or, a clothing brand could partner with an accessory company with a similar style.

The same social and email promotions could reach twice the entrants when two businesses are promoting the contest. You may also be able to offer a more valuable prize by splitting the cost.

Final Thoughts 

Creating a contest or giveaway is a proven method for promoting your business, increasing website traffic, and building your email list — but only if your audience participates.

A successful contest promotional plan is the key to creating a contest that gets results.

Don’t let your hard work go to waste; make sure your contest marketing plan includes reaching out to current and prospective customers on all channels, including:

  • Email marketing
  • In-store promotions
  • Social media post and ads
  • Blog posts
  • Website pop-ups
  • Video
  • Partnering with related brands

Ready to launch your online contest? We can help. Woobox Support is available from 8 am to 5 pm PST, Mon. through Fri at 1-360-450-5200 and