8 Must-Have Features to Maximize Your Contest or Giveaway’s ROI

Learn the 8 features your contest or giveaway needs to maximize its ROI.

By Jessica Miller-McNatt ・7 min read
Business & Marketing Strategy
Best Practices

Giveaways and contests can be magnets for engagement and a catalyst for brand growth. If you're a marketer or business owner vested in the success of your campaigns, you understand that the true measure of success is your return on investment (ROI). It’s essential to employ a strategic approach beyond the basic setup of a contest or giveaway to get the most out of your campaign. Here are 8 must-have features to ensure your campaign isn’t just creating a buzz, but also delivering tangible business benefits.

Points for Referral Entries

Encourage participants to become ambassadors of your brand by rewarding them with points for referral entries. This feature capitalizes on word-of-mouth's power and can potentially increase your contest’s reach exponentially. 

When running a contest or giveaway, referral points can be awarded by assigning each user a referral URL and instructing participants to share the contest using their specific URL. This way, all entries who sign up through the unique referral URL are tracked and awarded referral points. 

Points for referral entries would be complicated and expensive to set up using a developer for a custom-built online giveaway. Instead, use contest software that allows you to enable referral points with a few clicks. Within ShortStack, enabling the “refer-a-friend” feature is as easy as checking a box. The Referal URLs are generated for each user automatically. Contest hosts can customize the rewards in the back end, such as how many referral points can be awarded for each entry, and they can also set a cap for the maximum number of points that can be earned. 

Points for Actions

Motivate participants to engage deeply with your brand by offering points for specific actions. These could include visiting a webpage, watching a video, or posting on social media using your campaign hashtag. Such active involvement helps to leave a lasting impression of your brand on participants. This type of incentive also helps you reach other marketing goals like increasing followers, video views, and more. 

There are several contest platforms on the market that allow you to enable Points for Actions. Make sure to choose one that allows you to incorporate this feature easily and customize the content of your contest or giveaway. 

Check out this Points for Actions Template, which allows you to easily set up various actions with an allotted point value for each. When a participant clicks on each action, the points are automatically tallied and recorded with the user’s entry.

Import Comments

Import comments directly from your social media platforms into the contest interface to extract valuable insights from participants. This allows for real-time interaction and engagement analytics, providing an understanding of how your audience perceives your brand and campaign.

As an added benefit, importing comments allows you to incentivize commenting on your social media platforms, gaining engagement and boosting metrics across these social media channels. For example, offer an extra chance to win for a comment or like. Comments can be incentivized on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. Facebook also allows you to incentivize reactions. With contest software like ShortStack, import these comments and/or reactions into your list of entries and then randomly choose one or more entries. Those who have reacted or commented will have a higher chance of winning. 

Import Hashtags

The marketing world is no stranger to utilizing hashtags in contests and giveaways, but where most of these brand-heavy campaigns fall short is by not gathering the content into one place. Capitalize on user-generated content (UGC) by importing hashtagged posts into a gallery that can be displayed on a webpage. This feature helps track campaign reach and encourages users to create content that aligns with your brand message.

By importing the posts into a gallery displayed on a landing page, you amplify the visual impact of the collected UGC and improve your contest's UX. Enabling voting in a gallery creates a better experience for the end user and makes winner selection a breeze for the campaign host. 

Bot Detection

Many marketers are an army of one, handling everything from strategy to creativity to copy and everything in between. Therefore, more technical aspects of running a contest or giveaway, such as incorporating security measures, should be considered. Preserve the integrity of your campaign by employing bot detection. By filtering out non-human interactions, you assure participants a fair competition and gain accurate metrics to better evaluate your ROI.

Online tools such as Google’s reCAPTCHA or Cloudflare Turnstile allow you to reduce bot interactions significantly while keeping the campaign’s interface friendly for human participants. 

Customizable Forms

Maximize lead generation by tailoring fields to capture essential customer information and preferences, facilitating personalized follow-ups and enhanced targeting for your marketing efforts. 

For example, including a birthday field will allow you to contact participants with coupons and special offers on their birthdays. 

Another strategy is to use conditional (otherwise referred to as ‘branching’ or ‘skip’) logic. This form-building technology allows you to base the user experience on the data collected in each field. For example, when answering a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question, answering ‘yes’ will display a different follow-up question than if the participant answered ‘no’. This strategy leads to an improved UX and a higher form completion rate. 

Entry/ Vote Restrictions

With customizable entry/vote restrictions, you can control who can enter or vote in your contest. Whether by age, location, or any other criteria, this feature ensures your campaign targets the most relevant audience while combatting cheaters. 

How do these types of restrictions work? One popular method is to detect a user's email address. When enabling an entry restriction to one per person, you can block anyone trying to enter more than once when using the same email address as they did before. Then, stipulate that you’ll notify the winner via email to ensure entrants don’t use bogus email accounts. 

When restricting votes, using email addresses to detect fraudulent voters is possible but a little extra cumbersome for the end user. Luckily, there are better ways to prevent voters from voting more than you intend. By automatically collecting an IP address from each voter, fraudulent votes can be blocked by detecting multiple votes from the same IP.

Implementing these restrictions may sound daunting to your average marketer. However, utilizing these strategies is as simple as using software that has these features baked right in. 

Email Automation

Cultivate long-term relationships with participants through automated email follow-ups. Personalized messaging can help you stay connected with your audience, nurture leads, and up-sell or cross-sell your products and services.

In a contest or giveaway setting, set up an autoresponder to trigger as soon as the participant submits their entry. Autoresponders have a massive open rate of nearly 40%. By opening your company’s autoresponder, your audience’s email inboxes will be primed for future correspondence, boosting your email sender status and overall open rates. 


Putting these features into action requires a thoughtful strategy that aligns with your brand's goals. Remember that every interaction during your contest or giveaway is an opportunity to engage meaningfully with your audience and reinforce your brand's reputation.

While these features are poised to boost your campaign's success, the key is to use them thoughtfully. Your mission is to guide your participants through a memorable brand experience while they champion your message. It’s not just about winning a game; it’s about nurturing relationships, understanding your audience, and driving meaningful actions to contribute to your brand's growth.

Be methodical in your execution, genuine in your interactions, and relentless in your pursuit of growth. It’s one thing to launch a campaign, but it’s another to see it through to success with a clear view of its ROI. With these features in your toolbox, you're well on your way to transforming a simple contest into a powerhouse of profitable engagement. Ready to reap the rewards? Your next successful campaign begins now.

About the author

By Jessica Miller-McNatt ・7 min read

Jessica Miller-McNatt has been with ShortStack for over a decade and has served in every role from Marketing Team Lead to Customer Success. Her journey in martech continues to fuel her fascination for what drives growth. Jessica's favorite weekends are spent in the North Georgia mountains, chasing waterfalls and exploring with her family.

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