In 2022, we saw marketers increasingly utilize digital promotions — such as sweepstakes, instant win games and contests — to create custom brand experiences for consumers. In today’s noisy digital environment, where thousands of brand messages compete for attention, a strategic promotion and chance to win an exciting prize helps brands to stand out while driving loyalty, engagement and even first-party data.

Here are five key trends marketers embraced in 2022 to further personalize and advance their promotions:

1. Automatically Integrate Several Promotions or Phases into One Campaign

Many brands have been seeking the flexibility to create a suite of distinct promotions that can be offered simultaneously or layered within one microsite.

For example, one client sought to drive continued brand engagement around a major sporting event by unlocking a giveaway if specific teams made it to the finals. They planned to pair the giveaway, open to the first 10,000 registrants, with a sweepstakes that would take place regardless of the teams’ performances.

This type of integration is a fun way to keep your brand top-of-mind for consumers as they watch a game or series of live events, deepening engagement while tying your brand name even more specifically to an event or sports team.

On the backend, this advanced flexibility is powered by custom coding that can automatically open a new promotion or campaign phase based on real-time events, such as a team’s win or score by a key player.

Another client chose to unlock a receipt validation promotion whenever a specific football player scored a touchdown. If he didn’t score during a game, the site would encourage participants to watch the next week’s game and check back for another chance to win.

2. Flexible Dashboards Allowing Entrants to Choose Their Own Path

Rather than building a phased promotion with a straightforward and linear flow — such as an instant win game that also enters registrants into a grand prize sweepstakes — custom dashboards give brands the flexibility to merge several promotions and let the user choose their preferred option.

For major brands, which often run multi-month campaigns, this capability offers the opportunity to toggle between campaign phases or overlap them as desired. With this structure, users might be able to choose between entering a sweepstakes for cash prizes or a promotion to win merchandise during the month of January, while February might offer just one promotion and prize pool.

This ability to flex between promotions — or simultaneously run multiples — creates a more personalized experience for consumers, who can choose exactly how they’d like to engage with a promotion and/or their preferred prize package. It’s a more advanced tactic than hosting one promotion with a customized prize strategy, where users can choose a specific prize pool or grand prize, although both options increase engagement by personalizing the customer journey.

3. Offering Digital Payments to Increase Instant Gratification

In 2022, more and more brands chose to offer cash payments through Venmo, PayPal or other digital forms as part of their prize pool. Given the nature of many digital promotions — from receipt validation to instant win games — participants often expect immediate results and prize delivery. This is one reason digital prizes are so popular, especially for lower-tier prize options, and tend to garner more entries than promotions with physical prizes.

The trend towards depositing cash prizes directly into a winner’s bank account enhances the instant gratification of winners while also providing a seamless and secure method of prize fulfillment. With Realtime Media’s new Winner Management Portal, brands or fulfillment partners can immediately, simply and securely confirm winners, obtain their Venmo or Paypal information and deposit the prize money.

4. Gathering Data with Receipt Validation

This year, many brands turned to receipt validation to collect valuable first-party data on consumer behavior and preferences. These promotions offer an easy way to drive consumer purchases and can be quickly designed and launched. For some organizations, this is a key advantage over the time and cost required to print unique on-package codes — another way to encourage purchases and gain shopper marketing data.

5. Streamlining Winner Management

Winner communication and prize fulfillment can be cumbersome, and it’s more common than ever before for brands to utilize a trusted fulfillment partner for those services. In fact, it’s one reason we built our breakthrough Winner Management Portal, which offers a fast and secure way to manage winner outreach, prize inventory and fulfillment statuses. While in-house teams can leverage our new technology to create a white-glove winner experience, brands can also use the portal for instant visibility into all aspects of the fulfillment process handled by our team.

The move away from in-house winner management connects to an uptick in social media promotions — where it can be time-consuming and challenging to securely collect winner information and fulfillment data — and a trend towards selecting a greater number of winners for smaller-value prizes. Rather than having a handful of high-value prize winners, which can more easily be managed internally, this year we saw brands choose to reward a significantly higher number of participants — sometimes hundreds or thousands — with prizes in varying price tiers.

Each of these trends demonstrates a growing emphasis on personalizing the customer experience, from offering multiple promotion paths to ensuring that each winner is given VIP treatment throughout the prize fulfillment process.

While 2023 will bring new trends, priorities and technology advances, we expect brands’ focus on customization to continue. With unique elements and five-star winner communication, brands are enhancing their strategic goals of awareness, engagement and loyalty with a truly memorable promotion.