Contest marketing is quite widespread among big and small brands alike. Offering a reward for your information is more successful than you may have ever considered. There are two particular reasons for this. The first is that contest marketing provides intermittent reinforcement, which has proven to be the most psychologically motivating and addictive. This is precisely how gambling works and why sin city is as popular as it is. The second reason is that Email marketing is one of the most successful and effective ways to market. So now you have offered your customers a highly addictive way to engage with your brand and in exchange they provide personal information, such as name, email, address, and birth date. Now you have the keys to the kingdom and can invite them to learn more, show up at an event or even mail them a free gift on their birthday. Pretty compelling, don’t you think?!

Contests are particularly popular in sectors such as consumer goods, technology, fashion, food and beverage, and entertainment, where brands seek to engage with their target audience and create buzz around their products or services. With the rise of social media and digital platforms, brands have even more opportunities to run contests and reach a broader audience. Many small businesses, startups, and large multinational corporations incorporate contest marketing as a cost-effective and interactive approach to promote their brand and connect with their customers.

There are many different types of contests, and you want to be sure to align yourself with a proper contest company so that your legal terms and conditions are compliant as well as bonding and state specifical laws for particular types of contests.  From spin and win to video uploads, and random drawings, we’ll share some of the most popular contests and examples of the big brands behind these wildly popular and engaging contests.

User Generated Contests

Encourage participants to create and share their own content related to your brand or a specific theme. For example, ask users to submit photos, videos, or written entries showcasing their experiences or creativity. Offer a valuable prize to incentivize participation. This approach not only generates user-generated content but also promotes brand engagement and awareness through social sharing.

One example of a successful user-generated content contest by a popular brand is the “Share a Coke” campaign by Coca-Cola. This campaign was launched in numerous countries and encouraged customers to find Coke bottles with personalized names or phrases on them, and then share photos of themselves with the bottles on social media using the hashtag #ShareACoke.

contest marketing

The contest leveraged the power of user-generated content, turning customers into brand ambassadors. Participants were encouraged to be creative with their photos and share them on platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Coca-Cola featured some of the best user-submitted photos on their social media channels and even displayed them on billboards and in commercials.

The campaign was highly successful for several reasons:

  1. Personalization: By printing individual names and phrases on Coke bottles, the campaign created a sense of personal connection and encouraged customers to find and share bottles that were uniquely relevant to them.
  2. Social Media Integration: Utilizing popular social media platforms and a unique hashtag, Coca-Cola made it easy for participants to share their photos and for the brand to track and engage with the content.
  3. User Engagement: By encouraging creativity and actively involving customers in the campaign, Coca-Cola fostered a sense of ownership and excitement among participants. Customers felt empowered to create and share content related to the brand.
  4. Viral Potential: The campaign capitalized on the viral nature of user-generated content. People shared their photos with friends and family, extending the reach of the campaign beyond Coca-Cola’s own social media channels.
  5. Emotional Connection: The campaign tapped into emotions and nostalgia associated with personalization and sharing experiences with loved ones. It evoked positive sentiments and created a deeper connection between customers and the brand.

The “Share a Coke” campaign generated millions of user-generated photos and impressions on social media, creating a significant buzz and increasing brand awareness and engagement. It showcased the power of user-generated content and demonstrated how a well-executed contest can successfully leverage the creativity and enthusiasm of customers to amplify a brand’s reach and impact.

Referral Contest

Implement a contest where participants earn entries or points for referring friends or family members to sign up or make purchases. Provide rewards or exclusive discounts for both the referrer and the new customer. This strategy can help expand your customer base and drive word-of-mouth marketing.

Dropbox, a cloud storage and file-sharing service, implemented a referral program that encouraged existing users to refer their friends and family members to sign up for the service. They wanted an “out of the box” program to ensure the engagement was associated with innovation and how the brand wants consumers to think of Dropbox. Dropbox offered both the referrer and the new user additional storage space when the referred user signed up. This provided a tangible and valuable incentive for participants to refer others.

The campaign was successful for several reasons:

  1. Ease of Use: Dropbox made it easy for users to refer their contacts through a simple and intuitive referral system within their user dashboard. Users could quickly send referral invitations via email, social media, or a unique referral link.
  2. Viral Loop: The campaign incorporated a viral loop where each referred user had the opportunity to refer their own contacts, creating a network effect that expanded the reach of the referral program exponentially.
  3. Social Sharing: Dropbox encouraged users to share their referral links on social media platforms, maximizing the potential reach and visibility of the campaign.
  4. Trackable Referrals: Dropbox provided users with clear visibility into the number of successful referrals they had made and the additional storage space they had earned. This transparency reinforced the feeling of progress and accomplishment for participants.

The “Dropbox Refer-a-Friend” campaign achieved significant success, driving user growth and brand awareness. The referral program became a major growth driver for Dropbox, helping them gain millions of users and establishing a strong position in the cloud storage market. The campaign demonstrated the power of incentivized referrals, creating a win-win situation for both the brand and its customers by rewarding existing users for spreading the word and attracting new customers to the service.

Instant Win Contest

Instant win contests recruit participants to enter a contest and instantly find out if they have won a prize. This can be done through scratch-off cards, virtual games, or randomly generated winning moments. Offer a range of prizes, including smaller incentives, to keep participants engaged. The instant gratification aspect of this type of contest often generates excitement and encourages repeated participation.

One of the most globally renowned instant win contests around is the McDonald’s Monopoly promotion. This campaign has been running for years and has proven to be highly successful in engaging customers and driving sales. During the Monopoly promotion, McDonald’s provides customers with game pieces that correspond to properties on the Monopoly board. Each game piece contains a peel-off tab that reveals an instant win prize, such as free food items, drinks, or even larger prizes like vacations or cash.

The campaign’s success can be attributed to several factors:

  1. Instant Gratification: By offering instant win prizes, McDonald’s taps into the desire for immediate rewards and instant gratification. Customers experience the excitement of instantly finding out if they’ve won a prize, creating a sense of anticipation and enjoyment.
  2. Collectability and Gamification: The Monopoly board and game pieces create a collectible and interactive element. Customers strive to collect specific properties to win larger prizes, fostering a sense of competition and encouraging repeat visits to McDonald’s.
  3. Broad Appeal: The Monopoly promotion appeals to a wide audience, as anyone visiting McDonald’s during the promotion period can participate. The potential for winning small prizes, combined with the chance to win significant rewards, attracts a large number of participants.
  4. Extensive Prize Range: McDonald’s offers a diverse range of prizes, including both small and large rewards. This ensures that participants have multiple opportunities to win something, regardless of the size or value of the prize.
  5. Social Media Integration: McDonald’s leverages social media platforms to promote the Monopoly campaign and engage with customers. They encourage participants to share their wins, create buzz, and generate user-generated content through the use of branded hashtags and social media contests.

The McDonald’s Monopoly promotion has become a highly anticipated event each year, driving foot traffic to McDonald’s restaurants and generating widespread excitement. The instant win aspect, combined with the collectible and gamified elements, has proven to be a winning formula that engages customers and reinforces brand loyalty.

Social Media Contest

Run a contest exclusively on social media platforms. Ask participants to follow your brand, like or share a post, tag friends, or use a specific hashtag to enter. Choose a prize that aligns with your target audience’s interests. Social media giveaways are effective for increasing brand visibility, engagement, and follower growth.

One of Starbuck’s most popular campaigns has been the “Starbucks #WhiteCupContest” campaign. Starbucks launched this contest on Instagram, encouraging customers to decorate their plain white Starbucks cups and share their designs using the hashtag #WhiteCupContest.

The campaign achieved great success due to the following factors:

  1. User Creativity: The contest tapped into the creativity of Starbucks customers, inviting them to showcase their artistic skills by decorating their cups. This approach engaged participants and made them feel personally involved in the brand’s promotion.
  2. Social Media Engagement: By utilizing the popular Instagram platform and the hashtag #WhiteCupContest, Starbucks facilitated easy participation and enabled users to connect with each other and the brand. Participants were able to view and engage with other entries, fostering a sense of community and excitement.
  3. Viral Potential: The visually appealing nature of the contest, coupled with the shareability of user-submitted cup designs, had a viral effect. Participants shared their decorated cups with their followers, which organically expanded the reach of the campaign beyond Starbucks’ own social media channels.
  4. Limited-Time Contest: The contest had a specific timeframe, creating a sense of urgency and encouraging immediate participation. This element helped to build anticipation and increased the level of engagement within the given time period.
  5. Prizes and Recognition: Starbucks offered attractive prizes for the winning entries, such as gift cards or having their designs featured on a limited-edition Starbucks cup. Recognizing and rewarding participants further incentivized them to take part and contributed to the campaign’s success.

The Starbucks #WhiteCupContest generated a significant amount of user-generated content and engagement on Instagram. The campaign showcased the creativity of Starbucks customers, while also serving as a platform for Starbucks to connect with and celebrate their dedicated fan base. By leveraging the power of social media and user participation, Starbucks successfully created a buzz and generated brand awareness and positive sentiment among its target audience.

Remember, successful contests are built on clear rules, engaging prizes, effective promotion across various channels, and a user-friendly entry process. Adapt these ideas to suit your brand, target audience, and marketing objectives. And when you’re ready to kick off a wildly viral contest, call Contest Factory and we’ll get you set up with stunning graphics that draw attention, legal terms and conditions, Official Rules, prize affidavits, and any necessary insurance provisions. We have you covered and are ready to help you gain global attention to your next contest.

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