How to Promote your Contest or Giveaway

If you want to get noticed online, you need to be strongly proactive: there’s no use in sitting back and expecting people to happen upon your site and happen to be interested in whatever you have to offer. There’s far too much competition. Even if you operate in an unusual niche, it’s extremely likely that you have numerous rivals seeking to dominate the market.

Proactivity, of course, can take various forms. You can invest in content marketing, aiming to bring in traffic from organic search. You can launch PPC campaigns to (ideally) generate some high-ROI visits. You can take to social media to engage with your target audience, seeking to impress them with your insight before carefully deploying your value proposition.

Each of these options is viable and can be tremendously effective in the right circumstances, but we’re going to focus on another option: running a contest or giveaway. The opportunity to pursue a tempting reward, whether through completing a task or simply entering a lottery, is often enough of a draw to drag people away from whatever else is vying for their attention.

But even if you set up a contest or giveaway, you still need to promote it — and that’s where those other forms of proactivity come back into the picture. Instead of wielding them to market your brand, services, or products, you can hype up your contest or giveaway, making it so hard to miss that your brand ultimately comes away with a large pool of prospective customers.

In this post, we’re going to run through various options for promoting your contest or giveaway, explaining how you can maximize your ROI (and your chances of going viral). Let’s get to them.

Get Started Well in Advance of The Event

This needs to be mentioned first for obvious reasons. Few things are more frustrating than rolling out a well-designed promotional campaign too late for it to prove effective: it’s a massive waste of time, effort, and monetary resources. A smart contest or giveaway is planned out, scheduled to coincide with something significant (a product release, a service update, a brand anniversary, a public holiday, etc.), so you should know months before that it’s going to happen.

And while you needn’t start your promotional campaign as soon as you have the contest or giveaway slotted into your calendar, you do need to start it with plenty of time to spare. Adopt the same stance you’d take concerning something like a seasonal promotion (Linnworks has a good calendar for this): start too early and those initial efforts will be forgotten by the time of the event, but start too late and your marketing campaign won’t have time to leave an impact.

You also need to factor in the nature of each facet of your campaign, since different tactics require different amounts of time to prove useful. PPC ads are excellent last-minute additions you can roll out if you feel your chances need a final boost: they can produce clicks as soon as they’re live, and be taken down in seconds when you’re done. Social media work, however, can take some time to become meaningful (particularly if you don’t begin with a large following).

Mention it After Notable Website Actions

It isn’t a good idea to saturate your website with mentions of your contest or giveaway. Not only will this irritate people and reduce the overall quality of your user experience, but it will also tarnish the perceived value of whatever’s on offer. Any time that a brand comes across as trying too hard, it results in the impression that the brand doesn’t have anything worthwhile to provide.

However, you should mention your contest after any notable user actions on your website. If you’re running an ecommerce site, then make note of it in the order confirmation stage of a purchase — someone who has just bought from you will be considerably more likely to trust that your contest or giveaway is genuinely worth their time and attention.

Add it to your business support system. If you take support tickets, send out a simple notice (or reminder) with each concluding message. If you offer live chat through a chatbot platform like Crisp.Chat, set up a suitable wrap-up prompt — something along the lines of “Thanks for using our live chat service! Please leave a rating so we know how well it’s working. And if you’re interested in winning [whatever’s on offer], check out [your contest or giveaway] at this link.

This is useful because it takes some of the focus off the promotion, making it more incidental. If you stop someone early on to push them to get involved in your contest or giveaway, they might feel that you’re pressuring them into taking part in something they’d be better served avoiding. If you promote the contest or giveaway after you’ve provided them with some meaningful value, they’ll be more positive about it and feel slightly indebted to you.

Add it to Your Standard Marketing Emails

If you’re not already sending marketing emails, then you’re wasting whatever audience you’ve been able to build up — and missing out on one of the most obvious opportunities to promote your contest or giveaway. After all, such emails chiefly (or exclusively) go out to people who’ve already bought from you or paid for your services. They’re going to be far more interested in whatever you have to say than the average social media user (for instance).

At a minimum, you should mention your contest or giveaway in your marketing emails for a while. Going beyond that, you could embed your entry form within your emails so recipients can register to participate without needing to leave their inboxes: the range of Woorise integrations includes various email marketing tools, so this should be relatively easy. Anything you can do to make it easier to enter will help (more on that in the next section).

You can, of course, create new emails specifically concerning your contest or giveaway: you could use them to provide a sense of urgency by counting down until the point at which entry can no longer be registered, ensuring that each email slightly ramps up the heat until anyone with any risk of experiencing FOMO has surely registered. But this is itself a risk. As noted earlier, trying too hard can make you appear desperate — so proceed with great caution.

Place Strong Emphasis on How Easy it is

The easier you can make it to enter your contest or giveaway, the better — so if it is indeed extremely easy, you need to strongly emphasize that when you’re promoting it. The truth about every event of this nature is that participants all feel deep down that they won’t win: people who claim to believe they’ll win the lottery are engaging in wishful thinking. They take part because it’s nice to dream, and because they don’t lose anything significant in doing so.

If you offer me a thousand-to-one chance to win something and ask me to fill out a lengthy form, I won’t do it. If you offer me a million-to-one chance to win the same thing but allow me to enter with a single click (or the entry of a few basic pieces of data), I probably will do it. Obviously the thousand-to-one chance is markedly better, but neither chance feels very significant.

In each piece of promo content, then, make early mention of how participation works. “Enter in just one click!” “Register in seconds!” “No card details needed!” Anything you can do to frame the contest or giveaway as a fundamental convenience will massively improve the likelihood that you’ll attract a large number of registrations.

Draw Upon UGC From Previous Winners

This only works if you’ve run contests or giveaways before, but let’s assume for a second that you have — and if you haven’t, then you can use this tactic in the future. UGC stands for user-generated content, and it has a big role to play in online marketing for two compelling reasons. Firstly, we all instinctively look to our peers for guidance, and if people similar to use gleefully endorse something then we’ll end up considerably more interested in it.

Secondly, it’s always useful to have guidance from people who are relatively unbiased — especially since so many companies are prone to exaggeration (or outright fabrication) in the online world. If your contest or giveaway is built around your flagship product, then repeatedly talking about how great that product is will only go so far. Of course you think it’s great, or are at least willing to claim that it’s great. Why should that be convincing?

But if other people who’ve used that product are inclined to be extremely positive about it, their testimony will prove much more persuasive. And if you can set out great feedback from winners of previous contests or giveaways, that’s even better. We’re all wary about being scammed (it’s inarguable that plenty of online giveaways are scams). Reassure people that yours is legitimate.

Partner With Some Relevant Influencers

Influencer marketing is difficult to get right, but it can be extremely fruitful if you approach it correctly. Perhaps the biggest challenge lies in choosing the right influencers to work with. If you pick someone with a huge audience, for instance, they’ll likely charge you an exorbitant sum for the privilege of having them simply mention your contest or giveaway.

On the other hand, if you pick someone with a miniscule audience, then all their gleeful recommendation of your contest or giveaway won’t get you anywhere. What you need to find is the perfect middle ground: trustworthy influencers with modest audiences of passionate followers. If they’re on the cusp of achieving mainstream popularity, that might be even better (if you’re only intending to run one project with each, at least: their rates will rise soon enough).

In addition to promoting your contest or giveaway on your behalf, a well-chosen influencer can bring in registrations for you through distributing your entry form on social media and through other channels. Video streaming is an interesting option, for instance: Twitch streamers often run simple contests during their streams, and yours could be worked in easily enough.

Reward (or require) participant sharing

Lastly, though not least significantly, it’s important to create a knock-on effect whereby each participant makes it more likely that further people will participate. The UGC we looked at earlier will surely help, but you can also be direct and seek straightforward referrals by encouraging participant sharing.

“Thanks for entering! Why not encourage someone else to enter using this custom link? With every new entry from your link, you’ll win a random discount coupon!”

By providing a simple message like that (and attaching some measure of reward to the sharing process), you can hugely increase the spread of your contest or giveaway. Internet users will readily share content, and something as thin as “Share this!” can often prove effective — people want to share their online experiences, so even a weak justification can be more than sufficient.

Alternatively, you can simply require that each participant share the contest or giveaway. One option is to add a required field to the entry form for someone to nominate for participation: that person will then receive an email suggesting that they enter. Another is to make it so each entry doesn’t become live until someone the entrant refers completes their registration.


As we’ve seen here, there are myriad ways in which a contest or giveaway can be usefully promoted — and this assortment is merely the tip of the iceberg, though it should serve as an effective baseline for anyone new to the world of online marketing.

There’s a lot of potential in running a contest or giveaway, particularly if you can have yours achieve virality, but never forget that you need to be proactive. The more effort you put in, the better your chance of success will be.

Join 68,000+ marketers today

Get exclusive updates, invites and tips from our team of marketing experts.

Join more than 80,000 brands using Woorise

Easily create landing pages, forms, surveys, quizzes & viral giveaways that drive real user engagement.