7 Steps: How to Run Successful Contests on Your Blog


7 Steps: How to Run Successful Contests on Your Blog image tumblr inline muj4cjc8461rur54v

Do you run contests on your blog? Are you failing to get the results you need?

Whether you’re a small business or a large one, if you’re a socially savvy company, you’re using contests, sweepstakes and group offers on your website. Contests provide incentivized interaction that can drive traffic to your site, generate new email leads, and even allow you to crowdsource product developments.

I’ve seen a lot of companies use these marketing tools to resounding success. I’ve also seen epic failures. I want your next blog contest to leave you with a win.

Here are 7 actionable steps for a highly successful contest on your blog.

Tweetable Takeaways:

  • Drive traffic to your blog: run contests…
  • Choose a contest that resonates with your market…
  • Leave the tech stuff to others, use an app to build your contest…
  • Get buzz for your contest: email your current customers. More tips
  • Track contest in real-time for better results…
  • Use contests to develop better client relationships …
  • Learn and repeat: the road to contest excellence…

1. Know your Goals and Target Market

Yes, you’ve heard this a million times, and I’ll say it again: “know your goals”.

There’s really no shortage of contest options you can host on your blog. So, drive your success by defining the outcomes you need. Your contest campaign goals should be aligned with your business and marketing objectives.

Here are 10 top goals for hosting a contest on your blog:

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Focus your goals further, into objectives, by setting numbers and dates for your goals. This will give you both motivation, and metrics to measure your success.

You need to know who you want to enter your contests, too.

Define your target market by:

  • demographics
  • geographic location
  • social media usage

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This’ll give you a much better focus on how to set up your contest, and how you’ll market it.

Key Takeaways:

  • Align your contest goals with your business and marketing objectives
  • Define your objectives to both motivate you, and give you measurable results
  • Define your target market, so you know who you need to reach

2. Choose your Contest Type, Details and Prize

The next step in running a successful contest on your blog is to plan out your campaign details.

Choose your Contest:

There’s a whole lot of types of contests you can host on your blog, or website. I’ll outline a few of the contests we offer here at Wishpond (we keep adding more, too!):

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Sweepstakes – These are the easiest for people to enter, and to win. The prize is key to getting lots of people to enter.

Vote Contests – These also have a low barrier to enter (so you’ll get more participants). Give customers choices to vote on, and to be heard by your company!

Photo Caption Contests – People love to caption photos. Choose a brand related image, and get participants to enter your contest by captioning it.

Photo Contests – These contests have a slightly higher barrier to entry, as you’re asking for people to give you their photos. They’re a lot of fun, and can get you tons of UGC (read authentic marketing photos).

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Essay Contests – These generally ask a little more from participants. You’re asking people to write a few words about a topic you choose. Make the topic brand related to get more feedback from entrants, or get more brand awareness.

Video Contests – These ask your entrants to make a video and submit it to you. Like a photo contest, video contests can be a lot of fun, and you can get lots of UGC, and even some customer insights! Include a voting element to get more people engaged with video contests.

Group Offers – These are easy to enter, like the sweepstakes. They give your business immediate sales.

If you’re not sure which type of contest you want to run, try one out, or try out a few, and see what works best with your business and target market.

Contest Details:

You’ll want to know your contest details, such as:

  • the contest start and end dates
  • how frequently you’ll run contests (weekly contests build momentum)
  • the rules of the contest
  • entry methods (email, or email and name etc.)
  • where you’ll host it (your blog, or a website landing page)


The prize is super important to how successful your contest will be. You need to have an offering that will motivate your customers to make the effort to enter.

Choose a prize that is:

  • brand or product related
  • something that you know your target market desires
  • in keeping with the “ask” of your contest

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Get these right, and your contest will get you lots of entrants who are genuinely potential customers. For example, don’t just give away the latest iPad and expect to get participants who are interested in you. They’re only entering for the prize. Give away business gift cards, your latest product, or something unique and cool to your business. Keep them in budget, too.

Check out more on how to use incentives.

Key Takeaways:

  • Choose a contest type(s) that works best for your business goals and target market
  • Decide on the frequency and time frame of your campaigns. Short, weekly contests build momentum and habits in your customers.
  • Your prize is very important. Keep them related to your brand, desired by your market, and suited to your contest ask.

3. Build your contest

You have the theory in place. Now it’s time to act. Build your contest.

Make your marketing life a whole lot easier: use a social media marketing app. There are a number of contest apps out there, but I’m biased, so I’d suggest you use Wishpond.


  • Wishpond makes the tech stuff super easy
  • we’re very affordable
  • we give you tons of multi-platform contests
  • we give you lots of rich marketing tools to work with

Check out our Social Marketing Suite pricing and start your free trial today.

You can build your contest and have it up and running in about five minutes:

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Screenshot of Wishpond’s Campaign Creator

You will need to include:

  • Attention-grabbing title: make it short, with clear Calls to Action. Include your prize and even your business name. Example: “Enter to Win $ 250 from Sneaker Store”
  • Entry details and rules: Clearly write how to enter, and any rules you need to include
  • Image: Preferably include a great image of your prize as the main contest photo
  • Contest details: Enter where you campaign will appear, entry methods, time frame etc.

You can also include a customer banner for your website, a custom entry form, and even add sharability by automatically posting to entrants’ Facebook Wall or Twitter Feed when they enter.

You can make a great looking, fully mobile optimized contest in just a few minutes:

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Once you’ve got your contest made, our app makes an HTML code for you. Copy and embed the code into your blog or website landing page.

Yes, it’s really that easy!

Key Takeaways:

  • Use a third party app to build your contest – it will make your life a lot easier!
  • Make your title short, clear and actionable, with your prize and business name
  • Use enticing images in your contest to motivate people at a glance

4. Promote your contest

Once you’ve got your contest up, you’ve got to get people to enter. Market it through social media channels, and even offline too.

Here’s a few tips to give a boost to your contest success:

Add a banner to your website: Put a banner on your homepage, with clear CTA’s, and direct link to you contest landing page. Show your prize, and how to enter. Here’s a banner example from TravelBIG:

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Send an email blast: Email your customer email lists, and tell about their awesome chance to win. They’re the one most likely to enter first, and they’ll likely share with friends, too.

Promote contest on social networks: Share your contest on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, and any other social network you’re on. Encourage your Followers to share your contest too.

Create ads: Make targeted Facebook ads, Google ads and Twitter ads to market your campaign. Post ads on popular niche sites too, to extend your contest reach to your target market.

Post your contest on contest sites: There’s tons of websites that are dedicated soley to listing current contests and sweepstakes. If this fits with your brand, post your contest to them for free. Here’s a list of 19 contest sites.

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Market your contest in print: If you still market using printed materials, promote your contest this way. Use printed flyers, with QR codes linking directly to your contest. Make a newspaper ad with your contest.

Key Takeaways:

  • Promote your contest to boost your success
  • Use email and your social networks to generate a buzz for your campaign
  • Use targeted ads to reach your market niche

5. Track your results

To be a good marketer, and to get the best results that you can, you need track and monitor your key performance indicators (KPI’s).

You need to:

  • monitor your contest in real-time, so you can improve your contest and real-time marketing.
  • monitor your metrics to get measurable success, and prove your ROI.

Here’s three measuring tools you can use:

Google Analytics: If your website has Google Analytics, track contest page visits, referral traffic, and other website traffic. Increase your marketing on high referral sites.

Wishpond campaign reporting: Wishpond’s Social Marketing Suite includes real-time campaign reporting. Use it track your views, entries and bounce rates in real-time. Update your contest in real-time to improve your end results. Here’s an example of Wishpond’s analytics:

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eCommerce insights: Track visitors to your website, using the backend analytics on your site – your analytics will vary if you have a wordpress site, an etsy store, a shopify site, an ebay store, etc.

Key Takeaways:

  • Monitor your contest in real-time to improve it as you go
  • Track the metrics of your objectives to measure your contest success
  • Use analytic tools like Google, Wishpond’s Social Marketing Suite, and your website

6. Post-Contest Follow-Up

Congrats! Your super successful contest has ended. Now’s the time to deepen your entrants’ relationships and turn them into loyal customers.

How do you this? Here’s a few tips:

Choose a winner, and let them know: Ok, whether it’s through on a random draw, a panel of judges, or public voting – choose your winner(s), and let them know what they’ve won.

Congratulate the winner on your blog: Make sure you mention the winners on your site. This shows you care about your customers, and you let others know who won too. If you can get a photo or video of the winner, share the excitement.

Example from Stitch Collective, who run vote contests to choose next product design:

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Share the win on social networks: Mention the winner(s) and prize(s) on your social sites. This gives you one more opportunity to talk about your contest to your social connections.

If you have UGC – showcase the winner(s) (and runners’ up): Use your new photos, videos and essays and post them on your social sites and website.

Send a follow-up email: Send an email to all of your participants. Thank them for participating in your contest – and invite them to your next one. You could even offer everyone a small discount just for participating.

Key Takeaways:

  • Follow-up with your contest participants to deepen customer relationships
  • Choose a winner(s) and congratulate them by email, on your blog, and through social sites
  • Send a follow-up email to all of your participants to thank them, and invite them to your next contest

7. Learn and Repeat

Learn from your blog contest. Check your metrics. Analyze what went well, and what didn’t.

Make improvements by:

  • refining your target markets
  • changing your contest type, details or prize
  • improving your contest image or CTA’s
  • tweaking your marketing strategies
  • tracking better metrics
  • changing your contest follow-up tactics


Run your contests every week, for example. This builds habits in your consumers, and momentum for your contests.

Key Takeaways:

  • When your contest is complete, take the time to analyze your results
  • Learn by defining your successes and failures to make improvements going forward
  • Repeat your contest


Use these seven steps to make your next website contest a huge success:

  1. Know your goals and target market
  2. Choose your contest type, details and prize
  3. Build your contest
  4. Market your contest
  5. Track your results
  6. Follow-up post-contest
  7. Learn and repeat

What do you think? Have you hosted a contest, sweepstakes or group offer on your blog? How did it go? Share your advice in the comments, below.

Written by Krista Bunskoek @Wishpond

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