Holiday Wishes Sweepstakes Generates $9K in Revenue

by Julie Foley Second Street

The Background

The Southern Illinoisan, part of Lee Enterprises, is a 27,000 circulation daily newspaper in Carbondale, Illinois. The paper has been running successful online contests since 2008.

The Idea

The Southern Illinoisan has been running their Holiday Wishes contest alongside their holiday gift guides since 2008. Each year, they publish two gift guide print special sections, which correspond with the two rounds of the Holiday Wishes contest.

The Execution

The first Holiday Gift Guide was published on November 21st, and the second was published on December 2nd (view Holiday Wishes 2).


Readers could enter the Holiday Wishes contest by reading the Gift Guides and selecting which of 30 businesses – including retail shops, restaurants, spas, furniture stores, wineries, and more – they would most like to receive gift cards from. They had to choose between 3 and 5 businesses and the highest amount that a reader could request was $100 from any business.

One winner was selected at random from all of the eligible entries for each of the two rounds. The winners received the item(s) on his or her wish list, with a value of up to $250, as you can see in the screenshot of the winner’s page below:


The Results

The contest generated more than $9,000 in revenue and The Southern Illinoisan ended up with a combined 285 opt-ins, 147 for their Today’s Deal program and 138 for their Local Business Offers List.

Why It Worked

  • The contest was sponsored by 30 advertisers, allowing each entrant to choose their possible prize. As opposed to having just one possible prize, this not only brought in more advertising revenue, it increased participation because each entrant could customize his or her possible prize.
  • The advertisers not only got the benefit of the online advertising, they were also featured in the special print sections.

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