When you think of sweepstakes, what are the first thoughts that come to mind? Perhaps you view them as frivolous, or spam-generators, or only appealing to suburban housewives. The reality is, sweepstakes have been around for generations, and for good reason — they are highly effective marketing tools. Want a competitive edge? You’d be wise to investigate sweepstakes further.
Who is Eligible to Enter?
Want to know who a company is trying to woo? Read the “eligibility” section of their sweepstakes rules. If the sweepstakes is open to all legal residents of the Unites States who are at least 13 years old, clearly they’re casting a wide net. This may result in a temporary bump in brand awareness, but the company is not terribly interested in building a database of qualified leads. The more revealing sweepstakes are the ones that are open to specific groups — account holders, or the military, or professional builders and remodelers. It’s a company’s way of appealing to and rewarding a select crowd. Later, the company can engage those prospects in relationship-building tactics, including newsletters and special offers.
Are You Opting Into a Mailing List?
By entering a sweepstakes, you may be opting into a sponsor’s mailing list. Do so – this will be a good thing. You’ll be among the first to know about a company innovation, or a new product, or a sale. Done well, you will feel connected to that brand. Even better, you may learn a thing or two about compelling direct marketing and decide to apply these lessons to your business.
What Other Data is the Company Capturing?
When you enter a sweepstakes, are there fields to fill out beyond your name and address? A cash sweepstakes may ask you to provide your mortgage amount. A trip sweepstakes may ask if you prefer to visit Disney or Hawaii. A car sweepstakes may ask what your next auto-related purchase will be – a bike rack, a soft top, or tires? All of this data is shared with the sweepstakes sponsor so they can design products and services that are more likely to resonate with consumers.
Does the Entry Method Reinforce Brand Positioning?
Sweepstakes entry methods vary. The speed-dating variety will simply require your name and email address, and there is a limit of one entry. It’s a quick exchange where both the sponsor and the entrant don’t learn much about each other. For a company looking for a more meaningful interaction, the sweepstakes entry is more time-consuming. The entrant may need to answer questions about the company’s products and services, or be asked to complete online tasks. In both cases, these exercises serve to reinforce the brand’s positioning in an informative and playful way. If consumers are allowed to enter the sweepstakes every day, the repeated brand impressions lead to more engagement, which in turn increases the likelihood of a future purchase.
Is There a Social Media Component to the Sweepstakes?
When an entrant is encouraged to email, pin, post, or tweet about a sweepstakes to earn additional entries, you know that there’s a savvy sweepstakes architect behind the scenes. Once shared, that brand message is blasted to a network of potentially millions. And because social media is free, the sponsor is getting much more mileage out of their marketing buck.
Sweepstakes give you a revealing look behind a company’s curtain. Be sure to study who’s eligible to enter, if you can opt into a mailing list, what other data is being captured, the entry methods, and the social media overlays. These features hint at larger marketing strategies. Understanding them can make you smarter when it comes to promoting your own enterprise.