Unlocking sweepstakes: Exploring Alternate means of entry Marketing Strategies Social Media Marketing Sweepstakes Marketing

Unlocking Sweepstakes: Exploring Alternate Means of Entry

April 20, 2023
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Most people enter a giveaway by following the terms of the promotion: they fill out a form, share a post, or tag a friend for a chance to win. 

Sweepstakes are a type of promotion in which a brand gives something away, and the winners list is picked via random drawing. 

To enter a sweepstakes, participants typically need to provide their name, address, and email address. Some sweepstakes may also require participants to answer a question or solve a puzzle to win a gift card, for instance.

It’s the element of chance that makes a sweepstakes different from a contest or lottery — and what makes this promotion so exciting for participants. 

However, not all brands follow the rules of engagement when planning a sweepstakes. In many jurisdictions, sweepstakes are considered to be gambling if a purchase is required to enter. 

There are laws in place that aim to make the sweepstakes a true game of chance and protect participants. 

By offering alternate means of entry (AMOE) for sweepstakes, your company can avoid running afoul of these sweepstakes laws.

Alternate means of entry are essential for sweepstakes because they allow everyone a chance to win, regardless of their ability to purchase a product or service.

Additionally, by creating an alternate means of entry, your company can increase accessibility and inclusivity for all potential entrants. 

Ultimately, this translates into greater brand loyalty and customer satisfaction.

If you are considering running a sweepstakes, here’s how to create rules and alternative means of entry that make this a true game of chance for everyone involved. 

Traditional Means of Entry

One of the things that makes sweepstakes so appealing for customers is that it’s easy to enter to win. There’s very little someone needs to do to participate in the promotion, as compared to a contest. 

The most common way to enter a sweepstakes is online. This can be done by visiting the sweepstakes website and filling out an entry form. 

Some sweepstakes also allow participants to enter by email, social media, or mail. With ViralSweep, you can set up your promotion to allow participants to enter via: 

  • Sweepstakes form
  • Social actions
  • Refer a friend
  • Partner sweepstakes
  • Leave a review
  • Fundraiser/Charity

You can view samples of each of these traditional entry methods on ViralSweep’s demo page for inspiration.

Pros of Traditional Means of Entry

Traditional means of entry, such as online entries, have some clear benefits. 

Online entries are convenient: participants can enter from anywhere with an internet connection.

Plus, online entries are often quick and easy to complete. They’re often more secure than other methods of entry. 

ViralSweep makes it easy for your company to create a branded sweepstakes landing page consistent with your other marketing assets. 

Here are a few other benefits to consider: 

Clear Rules

Traditional means of entry, such as the leave-a-review option, are clear and easy to follow. As you can see from the example below, once a participant fills out the form, the next step is straightforward. 

This example of Leave-a-review AMOE showcases a clear and easy to follow rule.

The customer can leave a product review to get a coupon and enter to win the sweepstakes. Each participant can leave up to 10 reviews to get additional chances to win. 

Easy and Convenient for Consumers

Online entries are often quick and easy to complete, requiring participants to provide a few key pieces of information in order to be entered to win.

As you can see from the demo below, this sweepstakes only asks for a person’s first name and email address. 

Demo sweepstakes

Brands can decide how much information to ask for and determine what information they will require for someone to be entered to win.

Grow your email & SMS list, or ask participants to follow you on social media to meet your marketing goals. 

Provides Companies with Opportunities for Engagement with Consumers

Consider offering additional entries to consumers who engage with your brand on social media.

For instance, once someone enters to win, a brand can ask them to share photos, subscribe to their channels, participate in a social media poll, and take other actions in order to gain additional chances to win. 

Cons of Traditional Means of Entry

Despite these benefits, there are some drawbacks to these traditional means of entry. For the reasons outlined below, you should offer an alternative method of entry for every sweepstakes you host. 

Not Accessible or Practical for All Potential Entrants

There are some people who do not have access to the internet or who do not feel comfortable entering sweepstakes online.

Depending on your target customers, there may be people who can’t easily access your sweepstakes means of entry. 

May Require Personal Information about Entrants

Consumers are becoming warier about sharing their personal data with brands.

Plus, restrictions like GDPR protect consumer privacy and may require your brand to offer an alternative means of entry that does not require handing over someone’s personal information to win. 

Get legal advice and check with state law and federal laws to learn more about online privacy restrictions for your specific giveaway. 

Less Effective in Generating Engagement and Social Interaction

A traditional means of entry may be less effective at generating social engagement than you had originally thought.

Entrants could be unwilling to follow or like your brand on social media, for instance, limiting the number of entries you receive. 

By offering an alternative way to participate in your giveaway, you can encourage entrants to sign up and still achieve your marketing goals. 

What are Alternate Means of Entry?

Alternate means of entry (AMOE) are methods that companies can offer in addition to traditional means of entry, such as in-person or online entries.

AMOE allows entrants to enter sweepstakes without having to purchase a product or service.

There are a few legal requirements for offering an alternative means of entry. First, the AMOE must be free.

Entrants cannot be required to pay any money or provide any personal information to enter using the AMOE. 

Second, the AMOE must be available to all entrants. Entrants cannot be excluded from using the AMOE based on their location, age, or any other factor. 

Finally, the AMOE must be clearly and conspicuously disclosed in the sweepstakes rules. Read more about creating sweepstakes rules in our guide: No Purchase Necessary: Laws and Best Practices

Remember, alternative means of entry requirements are designed to protect consumers and ensure that sweepstakes are conducted fairly and transparently. 

By requiring AMOE, companies are prevented from running sweepstakes that are essentially lotteries.

Lotteries are illegal in the US, and AMOE helps to ensure that sweepstakes do not cross the line into gambling.

What are some alternative means of entry? Here are a few options that could work for your brand, depending on your target audience. 

  • Mail-in entries: Entrants can mail in a completed entry form to the sweepstakes address.
  • Social media engagement: Entrants can enter by liking, sharing, or commenting on a sweepstakes post on social media.
  • Phone calls: Entrants can call a toll-free number to enter the sweepstakes.

Ultimately, your AMOE should be easy to use for your audience. When you design your alternative means of entry, ensure this option is clearly and conspicuously disclosed in the sweepstakes rules. 

Benefits of Alternate Means of Entry

By offering AMOE, companies can make their sweepstakes more accessible to everyone. This can help to increase the number of entries, which can lead to more prizes being awarded. It can also help to build excitement and anticipation for the sweepstakes.

Here are a few key benefits of offering an alternative method of entry. 

Expanding Accessibility for All Entrants

Offering an alternative means of entry makes it possible for the greatest number of people to participate in your sweepstakes. 

AMOE allows someone to enter without having to purchase a product or service. It allows people who do not have access to the internet or who do not want to purchase a product or service to still have a chance to win.

Here are some examples of people who may benefit from an alternative means of entry:

  • People who do not have access to the internet
  • People who cannot afford to purchase a product or service
  • People who have disabilities that make it difficult for them to enter online
  • People who live in rural areas with limited internet access

You can generate loyalty offline, too. One way to do this is to send a self-addressed, stamped envelope as an alternative means of entry; participants can send their form back to be entered to win. 

Capturing the greatest number of entrants online and offline can help you increase engagement with your brand, build a strong reputation for inclusivity, and increase brand loyalty. 

Encouraging Social Engagement and Brand Loyalty

Offering an AMOE can be a great way to encourage social engagement and brand loyalty.

By making it easy for people to enter a sweepstakes, companies can create a sense of excitement and anticipation, build a community around their brand, and generate positive word-of-mouth marketing.

When followers can enter a giveaway without having to purchase a product or service, they are more likely to share the sweepstakes with their friends and followers on social media. This can help to generate buzz and generate more entries for your promotion. 

Likewise, AMOE can help to create a sense of community around a brand. When people can interact with a brand without being forced to purchase a product to enter, they are more likely to feel connected to the brand and become brand loyal.

A branded hashtag can help users spread the word across their social media platforms. 

AMOE can help to generate positive word-of-mouth marketing. When people have a positive experience with a sweepstakes, they are more likely to tell their friends and family about it.

This can help to spread the word about the brand, help your giveaway go viral, and boost sales. 

Seamless and Efficient Entry Process for Potential Entrants

Posting your alternative means of entry in the official rules and sharing a link to these general rules on social media makes it easy for potential entrants to access your sweepstakes.

Clear, simple, and transparent rules of engagement lower barriers to entry and can encourage high participation rates in your sweepstakes. 

Types of Alternate Means of Entry

These alternative methods of entry are designed to provide greater accessibility and inclusivity for potential entrants. With these options, you can create a more engaging and enjoyable sweepstakes experience for everyone. 

Mail-in Entries

Mail-in entries are a great way to enter sweepstakes if the participant does not have access to the internet or if they prefer to enter by mail.

To offer a way to enter by mail, a participant can print out an entry form from the sweepstakes website and mail it to the address provided in the official rules. 

Be sure to state all the required information that someone will need to provide, such as their name, contact information, and the end date by which the form must be received. 

Online Form Submissions

Online form submissions are another easy way to enter a sweepstakes. To enter online, the participant will visit the sweepstakes website and fill out the online entry form.

On the form, include fields for all of the required information, such as the person’s name, address, and email address.

Social Media Engagement

Social media engagement is an excellent way for someone to enter a sweepstakes and connect with other brand fans.

Use a hashtag to unite participants across your social media channels, or focus on the channel where you already have a high engagement to get a multiplier effect and increase your reach. 

To enter via social media, a user should follow the instructions on your sweepstakes website.

For example, your official rules can ask someone to like, share, or comment on a sweepstakes post on social media. This isn’t a great option if you’re hoping to collect contact information, though. 

In-Person Entries

Retailers can use in-person entries to increase engagement in-store and online. To enter in person, a participant can visit a participating location and ask for an entry form. 

Note in your rules the locations where this promotion is being held, and make sure you note any eligibility requirements, such as years of age.

Some states may have specific rules around who can participate in giveaways for certain products, such as alcoholic beverages or tobacco. 

Tips for Maximizing Your Chances with Alternate Means of Entry

Are you interested in maximizing your chances of winning using an alternative means of entry?

If you’re participating in a sweepstakes — or considering hosting one and want to understand how participants will interact with your promotion — here are some tips. 

To increase your chance of winning no matter what the AMOE is, follow these guidelines: 

  • Read the official rules carefully to understand the eligibility requirements, entry period, and any other restrictions.
  • Make sure you’re eligible to enter by checking to see if the rules pertain to your area. 
  • Follow the instructions and don’t try to “game the system” — there are plenty of tools that brands will use to prevent fraudulent entries and spam. 
  • Enter early. The more entries you have, the better your chances of winning.
  • Share the sweepstakes with your friends and family.
  • Be patient. It may take some time to win, so don’t give up!

Paying attention to the rules is the biggest tip for maximizing your chances to win. Official rules can help you avoid scams, illegitimate offers, and poorly organized sweepstakes in which no one really wins. 

Here are some more tips to help you maximize your chances of winning, depending on the alternative method of entry. 

Social Media Engagement

If social media engagement is an alternative means of entry, there are tons of ways to increase your chance of being a winner. Consider taking the following steps: 

  • Follow the brand on social media. Follow the brand across all channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. 
  • Engage with the brand’s content. Like, comment, and share their posts to show your support. Consider tagging your friends’ and family’s accounts in the comments. 
  • Use relevant hashtags. When you post about the sweepstakes, be sure to use branded hashtags related to the contest and other relevant hashtags so that other people can find it.
  • Enter the sweepstakes multiple times. Many sweepstakes allow you to enter multiple times, so take advantage of this opportunity.
  • Be persistent. Don’t give up if you don’t win the first time! Many brands host sweepstakes regularly. 

Of course, brands will also incentivize specific social media engagement actions, so start with those and follow the sweepstakes rules. 

Text Message or Phone Call Entry

If SMS or phone call entry is an option, make sure you take the following steps to maximize your entries and hopefully win the promotion. 

  • Make sure you have a valid phone number. The sweepstakes sponsor will need to be able to contact you if you win.
  • Be aware of your data usage. Text message and phone call entries can use up your data plan, so be sure to check your usage before entering. The official rules should also state that “normal data rates apply” or give you an alternative estimate of how much it will cost to enter the giveaway.
  • Be careful about who you give your phone number: Only give your phone number to sweepstakes that you trust. There are many scams out there that involve sweepstakes, so be sure to do your research before entering any sweepstakes.
  • Enter early. The more entries you have, the better your chances of winning.
  • Enter multiple times. Many sweepstakes allow you to enter multiple times, so take advantage of this opportunity.

It is important to note that the specific rules for text message or phone call entry may vary from sweepstakes to sweepstakes. Be sure to read the official rules carefully before entering any sweepstakes.

QR Code Entry

QR codes are becoming an increasingly popular way to enter and may be listed as an AMOE requirement. Like phone or text message AMOE, make sure that you scan QR codes from sources you trust. 

In addition, before the contest starts, make sure you have a smartphone with a QR code scanner.

Most smartphones have a QR code scanner built-in, but you can also download a free QR code scanner app from the App Store or Google Play.

Once you have a QR code scanner, scan the QR code with your phone. This will take you to the sweepstakes website or app. Note that you may also need an internet connection to use this AMOE. 

Final thoughts

Brands should always offer an alternative means of entry for sweepstakes. This is not only a legal requirement but also a good way to engage with customers across platforms. 

For customers, an AMOE offers an exciting way to increase their chances of winning and entering without having to purchase anything. 

ViralSweep makes it easy to offer multiple alternative methods of entry. Learn more about how to run sweepstakes across channels and watch a demo of our platform to see how it could work for your business.