10 Reasons Your Contests Aren’t Producing Results

by Julie Foley Second Street

You didn’t set goals and plan ahead.

It’s hard to find success if you haven’t defined it first. In order to get the most out of your contesting program, work with your entire promotions team – including people from Sales, Marketing, and Digital or Editorial – to plan out a year-long integrated promotions calendar that aligns with events, special sections, and sales initiatives that your company will already be doing.

You’re not choosing the right contest type to achieve your goals.

Once you know what your goals are, it’s much easier to pick the right type of contest to achieve them. Each contest type – sweepstakes, photo, video, and so on – has different strengths. Here’s a quick overview of some of the most popular contest types (get even more detail):

SweepstakesUGC (Photo, Video, MP3)
Low barrier to entryHigh barrier to entry
Drive entriesDrives engagement
Generates email opt-insDrives website traffic
Drives Facebook likesDrives social shares

You’re not aligning contests with other promotions or interactive content.

Your engagement strategy is much more impactful when you create integrated initiatives rather than just running a contest here and there. This is another reason it helps to have a year-long promotions calendar like the one below – you’ll know ahead of time that you will be running both a quiz bundle and a Cutest Couple Contest for Valentine’s Day so you can sell bundled packages and cross-promote.


You don’t promote your contests enough.

If no one knows about your contests, it doesn’t matter how wonderful they are – no one will enter them. Avoid this tragic scenario by promoting each contest as much as you possibly can. Take a look at this handy promotional checklist for ideas! Furthermore, having a consistent promotional package will also help you sell contests, since your reps can easily pitch it to prospects and cite real results when they do.

You don’t send an announcement out to your promotional database.

Email is the number one driver of digital conversions for promotions and interactive content. According to eMarketer, 91% of American adults check their email at least once a day (don’t you?), and we have consistently seen our partners across all media types and market sizes receive the majority of contest entries on the day they send out a promotional email. As you can see in the graph below, Quad-City Times saw 70% of submission come in the day they sent the email!

Your contests are too complicated.

If your contests are convoluted and have a lot of complicated rules, people will get frustrated and decide not to enter. Similarly, people will become frustrated by a registration page that is overly complex. In order to bring in the maximum number of entries, keep your concept simple and the barrier to entry low.

You aren’t including opt-ins on your registration page.

Not including at least one opt-in on every single contest registration page is a major missed opportunity. With every engagement campaign you run, you could be growing your promotional email list, your deal email list, an email list for your advertiser, your mobile database, and more! Since email is such a powerful tool for conversion, growing your database will result in an increased number of entries to your promotions which will lead to more email addresses, which will lead to more revenue, which will…well, you get the idea.

You aren’t adding coupons or offers to your thank you pages.

Adding a coupon or offer from your advertiser on the “Thank You for Registering!” page is a great way to improve ROI for your advertiser by driving foot traffic to their location. It will make your customers happy too!

Your contests aren’t mobile-friendly.

Over half of all American adults (68%) – and a full two-thirds of young adults (85%) – own smartphones and one quarter (45%) of American adults own a tablet. Since such a large segment of your audience is likely to be accessing your contest on a mobile device of some sort, and since it’s now possible to upload photos directly from a mobile device, not making your contests as mobile-friendly as possible is another missed opportunity.

Your contests are hard to find

In order to encourage as many people as possible to enter your contests, you need to make them as easy as possible to find. One great way is to add a contests & promotions page to the header navigation on your website.

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