The Advanced Guide to Sweepstakes

Proudly presented by ViralSweep

Why we wrote this guide

Our goal with this guide is to help you use sweepstakes to grow your business, generate more leads, increase sales, and learn how to utilize sweepstakes as your most reliable marketing strategy.

Sweepstakes are easy and affordable to run; and they help to quickly build an audience. This guide will take you step-by-step through planning, building, launching, marketing, and managing your sweepstakes.

This guide is packed with 5 years of insights, hard-learned lessons, and simple tips to help you get the most out of your promotions.

Who is this for?

and a bit about us

ViralSweep co-founder Giancarlo Massaro

Giancarlo Massaro

Co-founder Twitter Logo linkedin icon email icon

Created ViralSweep's predecessor, AnyLuckyDay. Alumnus of Sacred Heart University. Serial Entrepreneur.

ViralSweep co-founder Steven Kovar

Steven Kovar

Co-founder Twitter Logo linkedin icon email icon

Previously Lead Designer at AppSumo. Alumnus of University of Texas. Interned at NASA's Habitability Design Center.

Who is this guide for?

icon symbols


Bands, Promoters, etc.


Designers, Boutiques, etc.

Food & Drink

Restaurants, Bars, etc.


Teams, Apparel, etc.


Bloggers, Marketers, etc.


Authors, Athletes, Celebs

It's for anybody

This guide is for any business owner, entrepreneur, marketer, or blogger that is looking to grow their business through the use of sweepstakes.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner, or if you already use sweepstakes actively in your marketing strategy. This guide will help you master the art of running a successful promotion.

B2C vs. B2B

If your company is B2C (business-to-consumer), sweepstakes are pretty straightforward.

B2B (business-to-business) sweepstakes are a bit tougher to pull off because they require more creativity, marketing, and execution.

In this guide we'll show you how to properly target the right audience and generate quality leads.

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The benefits of running sweepstakes

You can get a whole bunch of awesome results from your sweepstakes: more email subscribers, new customers, a boost in sales, increase in followers on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and greater brand exposure and awareness.

Going into a giveaway with a predetermined goal in mind and executing towards that goal will maximize your outcome. We'll cover this in Part I, which is about planning your sweepstakes.

What about contests?

Sweepstakes vs. Contests vs. Lotteries

The differences are subtle

This entire guide is going to talk about sweepstakes—not contests or lotteries. Many people use these terms interchangeably but they are distinctly different types of promotions.

There are three main things that differentiate sweepstakes, contests, and lotteries:

Prize: Anything of value, like goods and services with a monetary value.

Chance: A drawing where the participant has no control over the outcome. Usually, this is a random drawing where luck is the deciding factor.

Consideration: A participant is required to make a purchase, pay an entry fee, or expend significant effort to participate.


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  • x icon


Entrants can only win a prize based on chance.

There is no consideration involved with sweepstakes, so no purchase is required to enter, and a winner is picked entirely at random.

For example, giving away a $100 Amazon gift card and choosing a winner at random is considered a sweepstakes.


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  • x icon


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An entry fee or significant effort may be required to win a prize.

For example, a promotion where users are required to create a video in order to enter would be considered a contest.

Chance is not involved, and a winner usually is determined based on some form of judging or voting.


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Consideration and chance are both present to win a prize.

For example, Powerball is a lottery because an entry fee is required, and a winner is randomly picked.

For something to be considered a lottery, all three elements must be present (prize, chance, and consideration).

ViralSweep faded logo


The guide is split into 7 parts, taking you through planning, building, launching and managing your sweepstakes from start to finish.

Now that you know who sweepstakes are ideal for and what makes them different from contests and raffles, let's get to planning our giveaway!

Let's get started!

Go to Part I

Part I

Planning Your Sweepstakes

Should I run a sweepstakes?

Sweepstakes can provide amazing results for your business, but they're not a silver bullet for marketing. A successful campaign requires total commitment and execution—more importantly a willingness to think for yourself rather than copy what someone else has done.

questions large questions

Before getting started, ask yourself these three questions:


Does this make sense for my business?

Consumer-facing companies are going to have an easier time with giveaways because their products and messaging tend to be very visual.

If your customers are other businesses, odds are your product is more abstract, like a service or software. You’ll need to get creative to see amazing results.


Are we prepared to provide a great prize?

We’ll talk about choosing a prize later in the guide, but it's worth keeping in mind that picking a prize of extremely low value will hinder your results.

The prize you choose should be valuable enough to get people excited about your promotion—this doesn't always mean it has to be expensive!


Are we willing to make this really awesome?

If you think that you can just launch a sweepstakes and set it on autopilot in hopes that it will take off on its own, think again. If you want results, this will require your full attention.

The last thing you want is a half-baked promotion that doesn’t take off due to neglect. Later in the guide you'll learn how to set goals to ensure a successful promotion.

basketball hoop

Setting goals

First and foremost, consider what you want to get out of running a sweepstakes. Do you want to grow your email list? Get more exposure for your brand? Increase sales and likes on Facebook?

To begin planning your sweepstakes, you will need to create a set of predetermined goals. This will allow you to determine whether your promotion is successful once it ends. We see way too many businesses running sweepstakes with no objective in mind; they just let it loose, watch as it flops, and say, "well, that was fun. It was worth a shot."

Your goal should be specifc, and you should be able to determine whether your sweepstakes was successful by answering Yes or No questions, like these:

  • Did we get X new Twitter followers?
  • Do more people read our newsletter as a result of the giveaway?

They just let it loose, watch as it flops, and say, "well, that was fun. It was worth a shot."

excel demo

Tracking your goals

You can do something as simple as creating a spreadsheet to set and track your goals. We've created a spreadsheet template that you can use to track your goals.

View on Google Docs

Figure out the details

To get your sweepstakes up and running, you’ll need to figure out the basic details of it first. Having all the details sorted out beforehand will help you in the long run when it comes time to put the sweepstakes together.

Start with the title

Win a Hawaiian Vacation valued at $5,000


Hawaiian Sweepstakes

Which title caught your attention?

Use something attractive that will grab people’s attention. These two titles are both pretty simple, but one is far more enticing than the other. It helps to be specific or aspirational—give your audience a glimpse into the new life that will be theirs if they win your sweepstakes.

What is the title of your sweepstakes going to be?

Use eye-catching imagery

It's no mistake that most sweepstakes are very visual. People are incredibly careful about what they share online because they want to be seen as someone with good taste. This is especially true for sweepstakes, where people are encouraged to share. Having a great looking product image means that more people will be inclined to share. If it's an ugly image, many will avoid sharing it. Vain? Maybe a little; but that doesn't make it any less true.

You’ll need to use imagery that grabs the attention of the end user and makes them say, “I need to have that.” Don’t skimp on the images.

Not good

poor gum image


good gum image

Not good

poor macbook image

Very good

good macbook image


Depending upon the value of the prize, you may want to consider drawing more than one winner. In our experience, any prize value under $100 should have at least 2 winners—if it’s in your budget.

Having more than one winner motivates people to enter because they have a better chance of winning. Generally speaking, the more winners you have, the more entries you’re going to get.

If you're drawing more than five winners, consider running multiple smaller sweepstakes back-to-back. This will allow you to collect data, learn, and improve the second time around.


When choosing the duration of your sweepstakes, keep a few things in mind:

  • If you run it for a short period of time, less people will have a chance to enter.
  • If you run it for too long, people will either bug you to see if they've won or (worse) completely forget about your giveaway.
  • It's worth testing several time lengths to find what works best for your brand.

A period of 4 to 8 weeks has been the sweet spot for our sweepstakes. It provides your audience ample time to enter and gives you enough time to adjust your marketing efforts based on the sweepstake's momentum.


Selecting your channel

When it comes time to decide where you want to run your sweepstakes, you need to decide where you want to host it - on your website, Facebook, or another platform?

We encourage you to run sweepstakes on your own website.

We suggest hosting your sweepstakes on your website instead of on Facebook or another platform.

Using social media sites is a great way to connect with your customers, but social platforms should be used as tools—they should augment the marketing efforts based on your website.

You don't own your social profiles

You don’t own your Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest page. It's easier to leverage social media by hosting the sweepstakes on your own site and driving traffic from your social profiles to your site.

Differentiation is hard in social media

It's hard to tell brands apart based on their social profiles. By hosting your giveaway on your own website, entrants will be familiar with you later down the road when they receive your marketing messages.

'Like gates' are unnecessary

Forcing people to like your page before they can enter a promotion is redundant. Your giveaway should encourage them to like your page for extra entries. Don't force it; if they like it, they will do it on their own.


bonobos giveaway

Even if your goal is to get more likes on Facebook, you don’t have to host it on Facebook to get those likes.

On August 27, 2013, Facebook loosened up their promotion guidelines to allow businesses to start running giveaways right on their timelines. With this change, you can now choose a winner based on likes or comments. We still suggest you run your sweepstakes on property you own, as there is no way to gather email addresses or other valuable information from users through their likes or comments. Most importantly, you won’t be able to re-market to these people in the most effective way: through email.

What is required to enter your giveaway?

Collecting information is the main reason you should be running a sweepstakes. Choosing which information to collect, however, can have a major impact on the success of your sweepstakes. At the very least you should collect an email address from a user when they enter. This creates a frictionless experience providing an extremely low barrier to entry, which will ultimately increase your conversion rate. Unfortunately, many businesses running sweepstakes require way too much information to enter.

If you require a name, email, phone number, address, age, and gender... you’ve gone overboard and it will affect your opt-in rate.

Keep in mind, 99% of people who enter won’t win, so most people don’t want you to have all that extra information about them. Requiring too much information creates a huge barrier to entry, and it increases the time it takes for a user to enter your sweepstakes.

Even if your excuse is that you need the information so you can ship out the prize, you can collect that information from the winner by contacting them via email after the promotion ends. When it comes down to it, we suggest asking for just an email address, and at most, a name.

Breadth vs. depth

Who are you trying to reach?

When running a sweepstakes, you need to decide if your goal is to target your audience and only attract people to enter your giveaway who are potential customers, or, if you want to cast a wide net and collect as many entries as possible.

It can be very tempting to cast a wide net and promote your sweepstakes everywhere, but remember, you’ll end up building a list that isn’t targeted and will be hard to market to. In the long run, no matter how many leads you collect, it all comes down to how you build the relationship and sell to the end user.

How are you planning to deliver extra value to the people who enter your sweepstakes?

It can be very tempting to cast a wide net and promote your sweepstakes everywhere...


Mobile first

Mobile and tablet devices are taking over, and you need to make sure your sweepstakes works properly on mobile devices. If you run a sweepstakes that is not optimized for mobile, you’re doing yourself a disservice and missing out on the opportunity to collect more entries. From 2016-2018 Mobile Internet has accounted for ~60% of traffic, so you need to have mobile in the front of your mind when setting up your sweepstakes.

If you plan on running your sweepstakes on Facebook, keep in mind that page tabs do not show up on mobile. If you set up a giveaway with ViralSweep on Facebook, you’ll be provided with a link that you can share that automatically brings mobile users to a page where they can enter the sweepstakes.

Establishing your rules

Run your own giveaway.

We encourage you to follow along and build your giveaway as you read this guide. It takes just minutes to set up your first promotion!

Sign Up Free

Sweepstakes official rules

You need to make sure your sweepstakes official rules are compliant with local, state, and federal laws.

ViralSweep provides a sweepstakes rules template that you can use to quickly get your sweepstakes up and running, but if you’re a larger brand, and the approximate retail value of the prizes is close to $5,000, we suggest having your lawyer draft up your sweepstakes rules.

If you are located in the European Union, you need to comply with GDPR when running any type of promotion. Be sure to refer to our GDPR overview for more information.

If you plan on running your sweepstakes on Facebook, you need to also be compliant with their promotion guidelines. For Facebook, the most important things to remember are:

  • Provide a complete release of Facebook
  • Acknowledge the promotion is not sponsored, endorsed or administered by or associated with Facebook
  • Disclose that the participant is providing information to your company and not Facebook.

Choosing your prize

To be compliant, every set of rules must indicate:

  1. No purchase necessary
  2. Geographic locations that are eligible to participate
  3. Opening date and time as well as ending date and time of the sweepstakes
  4. Number of prizes, the approximate retail value, description of the prize and odds of winning.
  5. Complete name and address of the sponsor of the sweepstakes
  6. How winners are chosen
  7. How prizes will be awarded and whether all prizes offered will be awarded
  8. How a list of winners can be obtained
  9. Restrictions on participation of certain groups (age, location)
  10. How you will use entries in the future (ex: marketing emails)

Sweepstakes rules template

Value proposition

Choosing the right prize

The value proposition is one of the most important pieces of a sweepstakes. The prize that is being given away will be a large factor in determining the success of your giveaway. If the prize is not suitable for the audience you are trying to target, your promotion will underperform.

You may be thinking, “Let’s give away an iPad!”

No. Stop it. Stop right there.

There’s a 99% chance that an iPad has nothing to do with your business, and while it may be a prize people want, it will not bring you the targeted audience that your business needs. When choosing the right prize for your promotion, it has to be a mix of something that is relevant to your business and something that your customers really want. If it is entirely one or the other, your promotion will not perform as well as you may be hoping.

Remember, the prize is the number one thing that will impact the number of entries your promotion receives—a good prize is like steroids for giveaways. It is also worth noting: if you have major barriers to entry for your promotion (long entry form, requiring Facebook login, etc), your total entries will suffer. Below are two example promotions: one correct and one incorrect.

Lesson in prize selection



Online store that sells clothing for newborns.

Prize Ideas

  • Gift certificate to the store
  • An entire outfit
  • A specific piece of clothing
  • An unreleased piece of clothing from their new collection

Powerful Prize Ideas

  • A new wardrobe every month for a year
  • A year’s supply of diapers plus matching clothes for mother and baby
  • A nanny + date night once a month for a year

These type of prizes work for this particular store because they are all related directly to the store, its products, and the desires of their audience. Since the offering is specific, they will be able to build a list of qualified leads (in this case, women with newborns) who are interested in their products.

When it comes to the prize, the winner should get to choose the exact size and color they want. A common mistake we see which drastically affects a promotion’s results is when a store offers a specific color or clothing size for the prize.

Remember to be sensitive to your audience; the prize needs to appeal to everyone in your target audience, so don’t restrict the prize to an exact size or color.

Avoid weak value propositions



Local hair salon that services women only

Prize Ideas

The salon owner thinks that offering an iPad will excite her current and potential customers, which will drive them into the salon to purchase her services. The owner launches a promotion on Facebook, giving away an iPad. They begin promoting the giveaway online and in the salon by telling people to like the salon on Facebook and enter their iPad giveaway.

Where it went wrong

Giving away an iPad on the salon’s Facebook page without any type of geographic restrictions on the promotion means that they will be getting entries from people who are not in the same area as the salon.

Asking people to “like” their Facebook page to win an iPad will just mean they will get a bunch of likes, with no way to directly contact each potential customer.

An iPad giveaway will also attract the bald guy Bob who doesn’t care about the salon and just wants an iPad. Offering a prize that involves coming in to the salon would ensure entrants are in the target market.

The salon owner should offer a prize that is related to her business. For example, offering a free haircut or free highlights will attract the right type of audience. The salon should drive traffic to its website from all of its social channels. Even though the volume of entries may be much lower, they will be qualified leads which means that when the salon owner reaches out to them via email, they will be much more engaged and responsive.

Avoiding a weak value proposition

So you’re going to give away a prize that is relevant to your business. That’s a great start! The prize is a $10 gift card that people can use in your store. Err, that’s not so great…

This is a weak value proposition because it’s not going to be worth people’s time. At least, most people won’t perceive it as being worth their time, even though every customer would undoubtedly say yes if you asked whether they’d like $10 off of their purchase.

If you couple a weak value proposition with a complicated entry process, you’ll be left scratching your head, wondering why your giveaway was so… blah. The value of the prize needs to get people excited enough to spend the time entering and sharing your sweepstakes, but not be so big that your company could suffer if the promotion does not do well.

Remember, your prize doesn't need to be expensive. It needs to be interesting and inspiring.

Can't come up with any ideas?

Use our value proposition framework

  1. What niche is my business in? (fashion, electronics, jewelry, sports, etc).
    My niche is ______________.

  2. Who is our ideal customer that we want to target?
    Our ideal customer is (Male/Female)
    Our ideal custom is between the ages of (13-17) (18-25) (26-31) (32-40) (40-50) (50-60+)
    Our ideal customer is (Single/Married/Married with kids/Divorced/Widowed)
    Geographic location: Anywhere or Specific location: _________
    Income level: (N/A) ($30,000-$50,000) ($51,000-$75,000) ($75,000-$100,000+)

  3. What is our budget for the prize?
    Our budget is ____________.

  4. We’ll have _________ winners.
    If the prize value is below $100, we would suggest having multiple winners. Having multiple winners will help to increase the volume of entries your promotion receives because people have a greater chance of winning.

  5. What is the prize we will give away?
    The prize is ______________.

  6. Is the prize something that people will care about?
    The prize and its value needs to be something that people get excited about. Offering a prize that feels “cheap” will turn people off. If your prize’s value is on the lower end of the spectrum, have multiple winners to increase the attractiveness of the promotion.

  7. Does this prize align with our target audience, and ensure that we will build a list of qualified leads?
    If yes, you’re done.If no, re-evaluate the prize choice before running your promotion.

View on Google Docs

This simple format should help in coming up with a strong value proposition. You can even reach out to a few people to see if the prize you’re considering interests them. Another idea would be to survey your audience by presenting them with several possible prizes and whichever one gets the most votes you can use in your giveaway.

In the example of the hair salon, it could be salon service and a night out for the customer to flaunt their new hairstyle. Turning your product into an experience is a great way to get your audience to think about how they would use your product and why it could be valuable to them. Something more than just giving away your own product.

In the end, your plan will look something like this:

Niche: Fashion
Budget: $500
# of Winners: 2
Ideal customer: Female, ages 18-25, single or married, income level of $51,000 and above.
Prize: Up to $250 to spend on any pair of pants from our store
Is prize relevant to customers? Yes
Is the prize relevant to our business? Yes

Think outside the box and create a promotion that inspires or motivates your target customer.

Part II

Getting Set Up

Build your sweepstakes

Once you have chosen a service to set up your sweepstakes, you can plug in the information that we came up with in Part I. There are many apps and services available that allow you to build a sweepstakes. We pride ourselves on making ViralSweep dead simple to use (sign up ).

Limit barriers to entry

Don't overcomplicate your sweepstakes

Apply the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) method when running a sweepstakes. The fewer barriers you put in front of your users, the better your results will be.

If you have a complicated entry process, lengthy entry forms, poor visuals, and misleading rules, you will not see positive results. People really dislike Facebook login and apps that request access to specific information just to enter a sweepstakes.

facebook connect

67% of people said they would either not enter the sweepstakes or look for another way to enter

We surveyed multiple audiences ranging from developers, designers, and business owners, to moms, dads, and normal everyday online consumers.

When asked specifically about sweepstakes requiring Facebook login to enter, 67% of respondents said they would either not enter the sweepstakes or would look for an alternative method of entry.

People don't like giving away their personal information, so don't demand too much information to conduct your sweepstakes. You will scare them away and end up hurting your results.

Make the process of entering you sweepstakes as effortless as possible. Your goal should be to get people to provide their email address, as that is all you will need to keep in touch.


Deployment and testing

chrome firefox internet explorer safari opera

Once your sweepstakes is all set up, get it live on your website or wherever you are planning to host it. Test it out on several different browsers (especially Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer), and test it on different mobile and tablet devices. Make sure to test the entire entry process and make sure that everything is working properly.

This is an easy step to gloss over, but it's very important to make sure your sweepstakes works perfectly before promoting it.

The last thing you want is to launch your sweepstakes and then have hundreds of people complaining that something is broken or they can’t enter. It is important to make a good first impression, so fixing any mistakes beforehand is crucial.

Reward sharing

Run your own giveaway.

We encourage you to follow along and build your giveaway as you read this guide. It takes just minutes to set up your first promotion!

Sign Up Free
bonus entries

Bonus entries

To reward sharing

Bonus entries allow for an entrant to boost their odds of winning the sweepstakes by performing actions such as sharing or getting people to sign up under a referral link. Bonus entries are vital to helping your sweepstakes go viral.

These additional entries are where a majority of your social profile growth will come from. If you provide extra entries for visiting a specific page on your website, it's also great for driving traffic to your website.

ViralSweep has bonus entries built right in, so users are automatically rewarded for sharing, referring friends, and performing social actions.

Part III

Pre-Launch Strategy

Do I need a pre-launch strategy?

Having a pre-launch strategy for your sweepstakes is extremely important so that you can quickly get the ball rolling and start seeing some results. Without a pre-launch strategy in place, you’ll be left with your wheels spinning in the mud.

Pre-launch tactics

Some marketing tactics for your sweepstakes need to be put into place ahead of time so that when you launch, everything is kicked into motion.

It’s important to handle these tasks beforehand because they require coordinating with other people and finding time to assemble certain assets. Planning ahead will allow you to focus purely on executing the sweepstakes perfectly when the 'switch' is flipped.

Let's begin


1. Blogger outreach

No one runs more giveaways than bloggers. You can leverage this opportunity by partnering with the bloggers who write passionately about your niche. There are millions of bloggers on the Internet—I can guarantee you there are a surprising number in your particular niche.

Compile a list of 10 or 20 bloggers in your niche, and reach out to each of them with a personalized email about the sweepstakes you're launching. Mention how you think it would be a great fit for their audience if they would be willing to promote it for you. Remember, these outreach emails need to be super targeted so that the bloggers you contact feel comfortable sharing your sweepstakes with their audience.

If you want to take a different approach, you can ask bloggers if they would like to receive your product or service for free in exchange for a review and blog post announcing the giveaway. Many of the bloggers you reach out to will be more than willing to write a review and share the giveaway with their audience. Who doesn’t love free stuff?

You should start your blogger outreach at least 3-4 weeks before you are planning to launch your sweepstakes. It takes time for people to respond and get their posts written, so plan accordingly.

Funnel them

Give them a free product in exchange for a review and blog post announcing the giveaway.


2. Blogger funneling

Unfortunately, most companies leave the giveaway administration up to the bloggers, instead of using it as an opportunity to produce massive lead generation for their business. Most sweepstakes services will allow you to provide a small snippet of code to each blogger you partner with so they can place your giveaway on their blog—effectively funneling all of the traffic and entries into your one promotion.

Funnel leads into a central source that is in your control.

With ViralSweep you can build one giveaway, then distribute the code for the giveaway to your entire network of bloggers. The giveaway can be placed on as many sites as you want, and all of the data that is collected will go right into your ViralSweep dashboard.

If you don't want to have the bloggers run the giveaway on their blog, you can just generate tracking links to hand off to each blogger, and those tracking links will point to the giveaway hosted on your own website. You can then track the performance of each blogger.

If you’re looking for a quick way to attract bloggers, you can use a service called Tomoson, which is a marketplace for brands and influencers to connect.

Email them


3. Email your list

Send a teaser email to your current email list letting them know that a sweepstakes is coming up very soon. Drop a few hints as to what the prize will be, and mention that as soon as it goes live you will notify them via email. Be sure to provide the exact date it will be going live, as they will be more likely to check their email that day.

Blog it up


4. Write a blog post

Writing a blog post announcing your sweepstakes is a great way to inform people that they can win something. Schedule the post to go out on the day the sweepstakes launches, and use a service like Buffer to coordinate your tweets and social posts with the launch.

Provide a direct link in your post to where people can enter the sweepstakes. Don’t make people search for a link either; use a big attention grabbing image, or some large text so that people know what to click on.


5. Buy ads

If you have a budget for your sweepstakes and you’re going to be buying display ads, set this up weeks in advance.

If you’re buying ads on niche blogs or websites, it will take some back and forth before everything is finalized and approved. Make sure that you arrange it so that the ads go live on the day that the sweepstakes goes live. You can use a service like BuySellAds to find websites in your niche that offer advertising opportunities.

Write a press release

press release

6. Press releases

The press release is typically seen as a thing of the past, but they can still bring traffic and backlinks to your sweepstakes, which can attract more entries. Draft up a press release using PRweb, PitchEngine, or PRNewswire and schedule it to be sent out on the day the promotion goes live.

If you want to be creative with your press release, try to use targeted keywords that people might be searching for on search engines. Your press release will most likely show up on page 1 of Google for your keyword under Google’s news section.

For example, if you’re giving away a diamond engagement ring, be sure to optimize your press release for the keyword ‘diamond engagement ring’.

Press releases are most effective for sweepstakes based on an event or specific time of the year. In fact, most of the initial traffic to our tongue-in-cheek Doomsday Giveaway came as a result of the press release we published. Turns out the Mayan apocalypse never happened, but it was a fun way to demonstrate ViralSweep.

Image preparations

Press releases can be useful for new brands or seasonal campaigns.

Run your own giveaway.

We encourage you to follow along and build your giveaway as you read this guide. It takes just minutes to set up your first promotion!

Sign Up Free

7. Prepared images

It is important to have eye-catching images prepared to post on your website, Facebook page, Twitter page, Pinterest page, etc. to help boost entries when your sweepstakes starts. Have the images made ahead of time so that when your giveaway goes live, you can easily start placing images in all the appropriate areas.

Facebook image sizes

facebook image sizes


  • Cover Photo

    820 × 312 pixels
  • Profile Photo

    180 × 180 pixels
  • Shared Images

    1200 × 630 pixels
  • Twitter images
twitter image sizes


  • Header Image

    1500 × 500 pixels
  • Profile Picture

    400× 400 pixels
  • In-Stream Photo

    440 × 221 pixels
  • Instagram images
twitter image sizes


  • Photo Size

    1080 × 1080 pixels
  • Profile Picture

    110 × 110 pixels
  • Photo Thumbnail

    161 × 161 pixels
  • Social teasing
sneak peek

8. Sneak peeks

One or two days before your giveaway is set to go live, provide your social audiences with a teaser that gets them curious, interested, and eager for your giveaway.

Video can be utilized really well when presenting a teaser, especially if you shoot a short clip using Vine, Instagram, or YouTube Capture. Be sure to use hashtags like #sweepstakes and #giveaway when uploading your video, so people can easily search for it.

You can use video services like Vine, YouTube, and Instagram

The video could be simple, like a quick shot of the prizes.

Let your audience know that they will have a chance to win something very soon. Share the clip on Facebook, Twitter, your blog and wherever else you have an audience.

Find an endorsement


9. Get endorsed

Having someone famous or well known promote your giveaway can be well worth the effort. Even if it's just through a single tweet, they can be a huge factor in getting your promotion off to a great start.

Before your giveaway is set to launch, reach out to people in your industry that are known influencers and ask if they would be willing to share the giveaway with their audience when it goes live. For those who respond, be sure to follow up with them on or right before launch day and provide them with a link. Provide an example of what you want them to say; odds are they'll use what you provide. Make it easy for them to help you.

If you're having trouble figuring out who the influencers in your sapace are, you can use services like BuzzSumo or Followerwonk to search your niche and pinpoint the most responsive figures. A great way to start the conversation is by helping them with something and providing value up front—do your research!

Partner up

Reach out to influencers who you know will like your sweepstakes.

10. Find a partner

Reach out to businesses that are in your niche, but that are not necessarily a direct competitor. You can pool your resources together to improve the value proposition of the sweepstakes and broaden your distribution.

Partnering up to run a giveaway is a great opportunity to forge long-term partnerships.

For example: if you sell mattresses and you’re giving one away, you could reach out to a business that sells bed sheets and pillows and see if they would be interested in contributing a prize for the giveaway. With the two of you working together, the giveaway will get promoted to an entirely new audience, bringing in more traffic and entries.

Part IV

Launch Day

Why you need a launch day strategy

Having a launch day strategy is just as important as having a pre-launch strategy. If you want your giveaway to really take off and grow some legs, you have to have everything in order so that it brings you maximum exposure. The launch day strategy is all about executing on the pre-launch strategy that has already been put into place, and then taking it one step further.

A. Establish your baseline

Before you start driving traffic to your promotion, make note of your numbers across all social channels. This is important so that you can track progress and see how well the sweepstakes performed when it comes to an end.

B. Deploy pre-launch strategy

It’s time to execute on everything you prepared during the pre-launch phase. Follow up with all the bloggers, influencers, and partners to make sure their posts go out and your ads go up. Send out your press release and publish your blog post.

Launch day tactics

The pre-launch leg work you've done is a solid foundation for a successful campaign, but a successful campaign also depends on what you do after you launch.

These launch day tactics will help to maximize your promotion’s exposure, helping you achieve astounding results.

Start submitting


1. Sweepstakes directories

There are hundreds of websites that focus on sharing giveaways, and you can easily have your giveaway added to these sites. While this can drive a surprising amount of traffic and get thousands of sign ups, keep in mind that a lot of these people are just looking for a freebie, and may not care too much about your business.

Up to 75% of traffic from directories are women over the age of 25

If your goal is to get as much exposure as humanly possible, submitting to these sites will definitely help drive your numbers higher. From our own in-house tests, we’ve found that much of this traffic is nearly 75% women over the age of 25. Many enter sweepstakes as a hobby and are known as "sweepers" in the US or "compers" in the UK, where sweepstakes are more commonly referred to as competitions.

Use your own discretion before submitting to directories. The demographics represented might be perfect for one brand but nothing but noise for another.

Send an email

Top 10 directories


2. Send an email

Send out another email to your list announcing the sweepstakes and provide a direct link to the page for people to enter.

Be sure to put some time and effort into the email because you want the highest possible click-through rate. Even though these people may already be on your list, you’ll still want them to enter so that when they share the giveaway their friends and family will be exposed to your brand.

Facebook tactics

3. Facebook tactics

Post about it

Write a post on your Facebook page alerting all of your Facebook fans about your giveaway. Be sure to include an attractive image that will immediately grab people’s attention, and provide a descriptive overview of what people can win. Make sure you include a direct link to your giveaway in your post.

country outfitter facebook post

To increase the post visibility you can pin it to the top of your timeline, or highlight it so it takes up a larger portion of your timeline. Make at least two more Facebook posts throughout the duration of the giveaway - one post halfway through, and one post a few days before it ends.

Pin it to the top of your timeline, or highlight it so it takes up a larger portion of your timeline.

Ads & Promoted Posts

If you have a budget for Facebook ads, you can advertise your giveaway and target the exact audience that you’re looking to reach. Set up at least 4 ad variations with different images and text in order to see which ad performs the best. If you’re new to Facebook ads, start with a small budget and slowly tweak your ads in order to get the most bang for your buck.

Facebook also allows you to pay a fee to promote your Facebook posts so that they reach a larger audience. If you have a budget for this, you can try promoting your post so that it reaches more people, which will in turn drive more traffic and entries. Look for a button at the bottom of your Facebook posts that says ‘Boost Post’.

Create multiple ad variations and use your budget on the most effective one.


4. Twitter tactics

Post about it

In addition to Facebook, post about your giveaway on Twitter with a tweet that includes information about what people can win as well as a direct link to the giveaway page. Tweets are only 140 characters, so try to keep the message clear and concise, but still intriguing for people who see it.

Twitter search

Using Twitter search is a great way to connect 1-on-1 with potential customers, especially people who are talking about your product or niche. Using Twitter search, you can search for keywords that are related to your company or the product that is being given away.

Include a ? in your search to find people asking questions about your topic

Reach out to anyone who has recently tweeted about something that is on topic and related to your niche and let them know about the giveaway. Do this a few times per day, but don’t do it so much that it turns into spam.

Twitter Ads

Just like Facebook’s promoted posts, you can also promote your tweets on Twitter through their ads platform.

If you have a budget for it, promote one of your tweets about the giveaway and see what type of response it gets. Always start with a small budget and remember to constantly add different variations of tweets to see what draws the most attention.

Twitter ads draw less clicks than tweets from individuals. We recommend seeking out influencers in your space to tweet your giveaway. Do them a favor or give them something their audience will love to go along with your request.

Run your own giveaway.

We encourage you to follow along and build your giveaway as you read this guide. It takes just minutes to set up your first promotion!

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5. Pinterest tactics

Many businesses overlook Pinterest because it is a newer player in the social game—they just don't understand it. Even if your business does not use Pinterest, at the very least you should have an account and you should be pinning images to your account that relate to the sweepstakes that you are running.

Pinterest is a traffic powerhouse for very visual fashion and design-focused brands.

Pinterest has the power to drive massive amounts of traffic, so be sure to pin attractive images and help others find your content by using #hashtags in the descriptions.

Google ads


6. Google Adwords

If you have a budget for your giveaway and you want to reach a wider targeted audience, you can use Google Adwords to run ads related to the product that is being given away.

Let’s say your product is a sleep aid, and you’re giving away 6 months worth of product in the sweepstakes. Using Google Adwords, you can target keywords that people may be searching for that are related to sleep aids.

Example Keywords:

  • sleep aid
  • trouble sleeping
  • trouble sleeping at night
  • how to fall asleep fast
  • natural sleep aid
  • sleeping pills
  • sleeping tips

Example ads:

  1. “Need a sleep aid? We’re giving away 6 months of our sleep aid for free”
  2. “Having trouble sleeping? Win 6 months of our sleep aid for free”
  3. “Want to fall asleep fast for the next 6 months? Enter to win our sleep aid”

This is a great way to generate leads because people are searching for a solution to their problem, and you’re giving away your product for free. Even if these people don’t win, you can re-market to them and offer them a discount or a free sample after the promotion ends.

Got karma?

7. Reddit

Post on Reddit

Reddit is a popular site that has thousands of sub-reddits for any topic that you can imagine. If you’re into fitness there is r/fitness; if you’re into looking at pictures of cats there’s r/cats, and if you’re interested in lucid dreaming, there’s even r/luciddreaming.

You can search Reddit to find the sub-reddit that is closest to your niche and read what other members have posted in the past. When you are comfortable with how receptive your audience is, post a link to something insightful and helpful for the community, mentioning your giveaway on the page you link to.

Follow the sub-reddit rules or you will get banned

For the sleep aid example, you will want to make a post in r/sleep sharing your knowledge about better sleep. Your posts should provide value, asking people to enter your sweepstakes or buy your product as a secondary concern. Don’t just post and run though; bookmark the page and check back often to answer any comments or questions.

Reddit Ads

Reddit Ads are much more viable, allowing you to target certain sub-reddits that are related to your niche. This will allow you to advertise your giveaway at the top of any sub-reddit. Going back to the sleep aid example, we can target r/sleep with an ad about our sleep aid giveaway. Again, remember to check the ad often in case people are commenting or asking questions!

Buy Ads

8. Advertise

728x90 ads

Email ads

You can use a service like Buy Sell Ads to advertise your giveaway through email newsletters. Buy Sell Ads has a network of thousands of publishers in a variety of different verticals that you can advertise with. For example, if you’re running a giveaway for a fitness product, you can find publishers in the fitness vertical that will push your giveaway through their email newsletters.

Email is one of the highest converting mediums.

Not only are your ads supporting people who put out great content, but their audiences typically look forward to receiving each newsletter.

180x150 ads

Ad network offers

There are many ad networks that will help you run CPA (cost per action) offers, where you pay the network for each entry your giveaway gets. CenterPoint Media and Integrate are ad networks with a large amount of affiliates who are bloggers in a wide range of verticals.

125x125 ads

You can set up an offer on these networks and their affiliates will promote your giveaway to their audiences. Working with these networks, you will come up with a price that you will pay for every entry you get, and you'll usually set a cap depending on your budget.

A more lucrative, albeit time-consuming outlet, is to contact bloggers and niche websites yourself. It's easier to negotiate a rate that you will pay per entry by contacting content creators directly. Try targeting smaller websites or personal websites in your niche.

9. Your website

Promote on your site

Since you most likely won’t be running your giveaway directly on the homepage of your website, you should create an image that will be placed on your homepage that links to your giveaway.


You can also use a simple service like HelloBar (see above) to alert people on your homepage that you have a giveaway going on.


If you sell a product or service, adding a link to your sweepstakes post-checkout can be another great way to get entries. Since people just bought something from you, they’ll be much more likely to enter your giveaway too.

Automated emails

Many companies send transactional emails when someone signs up or purchases something. If your website automatically sends out emails, you can place a link to your sweepstakes in those emails.

Part V

During The Sweepstakes


Focus on engagement

Engaging your new audience is extremely important throughout the duration of the sweepstakes.

While the promotion may bring you a crowd of new people, it is up to you to communicate with them. You want to engage with as many new fans and followers as possible, gaining their attention and trust with your content rather than just your sweepstakes.

Distribute great content and provide as much value as possible while avoiding pushy marketing messages. Setting the bar high with engagement will allow you to establish a relationship with your new audience.

Posting relevant and interesting content is just the start though; don’t forget to interact with people who are leaving comments on Facebook, Twitter and your blog.

Be creative, conversational, and genuinely care for your new audience.

Starting a conversation between brands and consumers helps to form an initial relationship that creates a foundation of trust and brand loyalty. These types of interactions are crucial in forming a long-term relationship that ultimately turns your new audience into customers. Be creative, conversational, genuinely care for your new audience, and you will foster a lasting relationship that will become the building blocks of your business’ success.

Proper email marketing

Email marketing

Before you blast off that first email to your new list of subscribers that you acquired with your sweepstakes, think about what it is that you are sending.

x icon
Are you sending emails completely unrelated to the giveaway?

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Are your emails only about your products or services?

If this is the case, you’re putting yourself at a huge risk, and there is a possibility that you will lose a majority of your new audience in the blink of an eye.

Put yourself in the shoes of the person who will be on the receiving end of the email - they entered a giveaway to win something and now they are immediately getting a marketing email about your products. You can bet that a lot of those emails will be marked as spam.

When you collect all those new emails from your sweepstakes, don’t import them all into your current email subscriber list. Instead, segment them into a new list and name that list based on the prize or topic of your giveaway.

checkmark icon
Focus on providing value first.

Inform and entertain your new audience before even thinking about selling to them.

As tempting as it may be, try to wait until your promotion ends before you start shooting off emails to your new subscribers. The first thing you want to do is build a relationship based on information relevant to the customer. You should start off with an email about the sweepstakes and who won, rather than trying to sell your products or services. You’ll find more information about this in the next section.

Pretend you run an online store that sells specialty foods.

Each month you give away a gift basket of foods from a different country; like Italian foods, Spanish foods, and French foods. By segmenting your lists based on each theme, you can email people foods that are relevant to the giveaway they entered—bonus points if you include localized recipes and interesting information about the regions.

If you lump all of your emails into one list, sending emails about Spanish foods to the people who entered to win French and Italian foods, you could end up with spam complaints and a large unsubscribe rate.

Run your own giveaway.

We encourage you to follow along and build your giveaway as you read this guide. It takes just minutes to set up your first promotion!

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Customer service

Providing quality customer service should be your number one priority, especially when you are servicing a new audience. Throughout the duration of your promotion your audience will grow, so this is the perfect time to "wow" your new audience with exceptional customer service.

Go the extra mile for every customer. You never know who might end up being your brand's biggest evangelist.

This includes promptly responding to all email inquiries and all questions and comments that you receive via Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks. When you provide a high-level of customer service, people will take notice and they will tell others about your company. This is one of ViralSweep's core focuses and it should be yours, too.


Importance of analytics

The platform that you use to power your sweepstakes should provide in-depth analytics that allow you to track and follow every aspect of your promotion. Having analytical data is important so that you can determine whether your sweepstakes will reach the goals you initially set out to achieve.

Throughout the duration of your sweepstakes make sure to constantly keep an eye on your analytics. Identify any areas where things may be lacking and figure out how you can improve upon them before the promotion ends.

Keep an eye on your analytics to identify areas where things can be improved.

Part VI

After The Sweepstakes Ends

The home stretch

By this point you've grown your audience and helped your brand become more visible. It's time to choose the winners, fulfill the prizes, and leverage the growth your sweepstakes has provided.

Choose winners

When your sweepstakes ends, you need to choose your winners. There will be a lot of people eagerly waiting to hear the announcement, so it’s best to do this in a timely manner. If you set a specific announcement date in your official rules, make sure you stick to that date.

Failing to announce the winners on the promised date can cause a lash back from your own community, which is something that can affect brand loyalty and trust.

With ViralSweep, you can choose your winners with the click of a button.

ViralSweep's system randomly draws your winners for you, and it can even detect if a chosen winner tried to cheat the system. If this is the case, you can click the redraw button to pick a new winner.

Notify winners

Once you have drawn the winners, make sure you notify them in a timely manner. Provide the winners with a date that they must respond by in order to claim their prize; 7 to 14 days is usually a good timeframe. Make it clear that if a response is not received within the allotted timeframe, they will forfeit their prize and a new winner will be drawn.

Here's a template that you can use to notify your winners:

Provide the winners with a date that they must respond by in order to claim their prize.


My name is [name] from [company name], and you were chosen as one of the lucky winners from our [sweepstakes name] that you entered. You have won [name of prize].

In order to claim your prize, we will need the following information:

[list required information]

Please note that if we do not hear back from you within [X] days, you will forfeit the prize and another winner will be chosen.


[company name]
[phone number]

Analyze results

Now that your sweepstakes has ended, it is time to analyze the results and see if the promotion was a success.

Compare the results of the sweepstakes to the goals that you set before the promotion went live.

This assessment form will help you to analyze your promotion; it will be a good resource moving forward in the future to look back on and see what worked and what didn’t.

Keep in mind that the numerical data from the promotion is not the only piece of the puzzle that should be analyzed. Take a step back and look at the qualitative data as well: what types of conversations were sparked and what types of questions and email support requests did you receive?

  1. How many people visited the sweepstakes?
  2. How many people entered the sweepstakes?
  3. How many new fans, followers, and subscribers did we get?
  4. How many clicks did we receive to our website from the sweepstakes?
  5. If we offered a coupon or discount, how many people redeemed it?
  6. Which area did we succeed the most in when it comes to the results?
  7. Which area did we succeed the least in when it comes to the results?
  8. Did we reach our goals that we set out to achieve?
  9. Did any new business, revenue, or profit come from the sweepstakes?
  10. What can we improve upon for the next sweepstakes?
  11. What worked best in terms of reaching X goal?
  12. What didn’t work in terms of reaching X goal?

What lessons did you learn?

Going forward, what types of things will you avoid in your next promotion?

Email follow-up

Run your own giveaway.

We encourage you to follow along and build your giveaway as you read this guide. It takes just minutes to set up your first promotion!

Sign Up Free

Email follow-up

The first email that you send out to your new audience is the most important—it sets the tone for all future interactions. You may start to forge a relationship with these people, or you may lose a majority of your new audience entirely depending on how the email is structured.

Remember, this is your first email to a new audience, so don't be pushy when it comes to selling your products and services. You’re walking a fine-line with your first email, so it is best to build the relationship first, instead of trying to sell right of out of the gate.

The first email that you send out should contain three main parts:


Thank people for entering

People may have forgotten who you are or what they entered to win. The first thing you need to do is thank them for entering, reminding them about the giveaway and your brand.


Announce the prize winners

It’s important to let everyone know who the winners were. Announcing the winners helps to add credibility and trust.


Provide a consolation prize

When someone finds out they didn’t win they may be discouraged. As a way to say thank you, it’s best to offer a consolation prize—something as simple as a coupon.

Prize fulfillment


After you have the addresses of all the winners, prepare the prizes for shipment. To add a personal touch, include a handwritten note inside of the package thanking them for entering and congratulating them on winning. Be sure to ship prizes in a timely manner, and don’t let the fulfillment process drag out for weeks or months at a time.

Once the prizes are delivered, follow up with the winners to make sure everything arrived safely and ask if they have any questions. This is a great time to ask the winners if they would be willing to submit a photo or video of themselves with the prize so you can use it as social proof across all of your social channels. This is a great way to get people excited for the next sweepstakes.

Part VII


Thank you

We're so grateful that you took the time to read our Advanced Guide to Sweepstakes.

We searched far and wide, trying to include every facet of knowledge that we have on this topic—every little morsel. Our goal is to help you grow your business and gain exposure through sweepstakes that leads to massive growth.

We had a lot of fun building this guide, and we encourage you to revisit as you build your next sweepstakes. We hope the information we've provided will help you in building up your email list and boosting your social media presence. Remember, sweepstakes are just the first step in building an audience; it is up to you to establish a relationship with them that turns them into customers.

If you have any questions or comments about anything in this guide, or about sweepstakes in general, leave a comment below and we’ll respond.

Run your own giveaway.

We encourage you to follow along and build your giveaway as you read this guide. It takes just minutes to set up your first promotion!

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