We all love to win. That’s why contests and sweepstakes are such effective marketing tools. The chance to win a prize grows audiences, builds enthusiasm and engagement, and can be a great way to acquire first-party data and learn about your audience.

Prizes will naturally segment your audience: Someone with a studio apartment in New York City may not enter to win a grill, and a beach lover might not care to win a ski trip. But a personalized prize strategy, where winners can choose between several prize options, can attract a broad audience and provide valuable data about your customers’ preferences.

Audience Activation

If your goal is to engage the widest audience possible, then we recommend offering a “Pick Your Prize” option to the grand prize winner(s). Typically, brands will offer a choice of four grand prizes that all fit the theme of the promotion. One client recently hosted a “Summer of Freedom” sweepstakes, giving the winner a choice between two different trips, a new home theater system or an ATV, helmets and trailer. By tapping into a wide variety of leisure preferences, the brand can engage customers who might not have been interested in just one of the prizes. 

Data-Driven Insights

The most valuable data a brand can have is customized to its own company and customers. And promotions like sweepstakes, contests and instant-win games can be uniquely designed to gather rich insights on customer behaviors and preferences in exchange for the opportunity to enter. 

Such “Pick Your Prize”-style promotions are customized to users’ preferences. As they select their favorite prize category, brands can ask highly relevant, targeted questions as part of the promotion’s flow.

For example, an adult beverage company might be interested in customer feedback and preferences for their products. The promotion flow could invite entrants to choose between lagers and stouts, and then gather market research with a few specific questions for the customers in each category. Asking the same questions to a general audience is helpful, but not as powerful as polling brand’s stout lovers about their preferences for the drink.

One client hosted a back-to-school instant-win game and sweepstakes, with two different prize packages and sets of questions based on whether entrants preferred to watch TV or play outside after school. By playing the instant-win game, participants could immediately win a gift card that corresponded to their category, such as to Dick’s Sporting Goods or Fandango. We layered this game with a sweepstakes for the grand prize, earning repeat engagement as users came back to play the game for more entries. The grand prizes, awarded to one winner in each category, featured a home theater renovation and streaming subscriptions or an outdoor prize collection such as a fire pit, set of bicycles and lawn games.

Seamless Fulfillment

A personalized prize strategy — while delighting a broad audience and providing valuable customer insights — will create a longer prize fulfillment process and timeline. If winners are selecting their prize, from a customized home theater system to a specific color of sunglasses, your contest prize fulfillment team will wait to order the items until all winner preferences are submitted. It will also require a more detailed fulfillment management system to ensure all customizations are tracked and followed.

When the contest or sweepstakes prizes are general and pre-determined for winners, those prizes will typically be purchased and warehoused before the launch of the promotion to allow for immediate shipping.

While winners love fast fulfillment, in our experience they understand the necessary delays that come with customization. Ongoing, timely communications that let them know what to expect are key to creating an excellent brand experience from start to finish.

Ensuring smooth, swift fulfillment and timely winner communication is one reason brands often choose to work with us as a sweepstakes management company. With this service, we handle every detail — from legal administration to winner communication and prize distribution — so that you can set your strategy and trust us to handle the rest. With our new winner management portal, clients can have real-time visibility into every aspect of winner communication and fulfillment, including email outreach, winner replies and tracking information.