11 Ways to Promote Big Contest Prizes (And Why You Should Use All of Them)

11 Ways to Promote Big Contest Prizes (And Why You Should Use All of Them)

If you’re going to invest in a big prize for your next contest, you need to double down on campaign promotion, too.

When I say ‘big’ I’m not just talking about a bundle of your best-selling products or a free spa day. Big contest prizes are so extravagant that most people couldn’t even imagine themselves winning one.

These prizes have a significant perceived value to entrants. That value could be either an intangible experience, such as a dinner date with Lady Gaga or a tangible prize, such as an all-expenses-paid trip around the world.

This $250,000 dream home giveaway is a great example:

Enter for a chance to win a $250000 destiny SMART series home
Big contest prize example

The most obvious obstacle to giving away a big contest prize is the expense. They don’t come cheap. So, the only way to make a contest work with such a hefty price tag is to get an extreme level of exposure. You’ll essentially need the contest to go viral to justify the prize.

With that in mind, it’s not going to be enough to offer a big prize and watch the leads roll in. You need to promote the contest across as many channels as possible to ensure the exposure is relative to the significance of the prize.

Here are 11 ways to promote big contest prizes. I’d recommend using all of them to maximize your reach.

#1. Create a campaign hashtag

It’s essential that your big-prize contest has a unique hashtag. Contest hashtags help you track the activity of your giveaway on social media and add a level of branding and memorability to the campaign.

Where should you use your campaign hashtag? Everywhere possible!

  • Add it to your social media profiles
  • Include it in all your emails – even in the signature of personal emails
  • Require people to use the hashtag as a way of entering the contest
  • Display it clearly on all marketing material and landing pages

The more you use the hashtag the more likely people are to remember it and use it themselves. Just be careful that when you create a hashtag it is unique, memorable, and doesn’t have a double meaning.

See SunRype’s campaign hashtag below:

SunRype’s instagram campaign hashtag
Campaign hashtag on Instagram

#2. Collaborate with Instagram influencers

In recent years, there has been a trend towards collaborating with Instagram influencers to promote contests and giveaways. These collaborations can exponentially increase your reach in a matter of moments.

The key to promoting a contest with a big prize is to gain momentum fast. You can do this with influencers by coordinating the times they post content about your campaign – building an avalanche of reach and awareness with Instagram users. Just make sure they use your unique hashtag!

#3. Keep it timebound

As well as growing awareness for your contest you also want to encourage people to enter. Creating urgency with a deadline entices people to take action at the moment they see your contest landing page, rather than thinking they’ll do it later and simply forgetting.

There is a subtle balance between running a contest for too long and not running it for long enough. We’ve found that with the right promotion, a contest of one to two weeks is optimal.

Of course, every contest is different and it will depend on your audience. This contest from Valvoline had a slightly longer window for people to enter, for example, but it still worked:

contest from Valvoline timebounded contest
Using a deadline for your contest

#4. Run Facebook Ads

Using Facebook ads to promote your contest can build momentum in a far more predictable way than other promotional tactics. You can control the spend, optimize the clicks and conversions, and essentially choose how far and wide your reach goes.

When promoting your contest using Facebook ads, be sure to promote an organic post that maintains all of the visible engagement, such as likes and comments, so those unfamiliar with your brand will feel comfortable interacting with it.

#5. Use referrals and gamification

Consider gamifying the prize selection process by rewarding a small group of contestants who refer the most qualified entries with a chance at the major prize.

You can use technology, such as ShortStack’s refer-a-friend feature, to automate the process of awarding points for referrals. Before long the spread of the contest will be out of your control and your audience will be advertising it for you.

ShortStack’s refer-a-friend feature usinf of referrals and gamification
ShortStack’s refer-a-friend feature

View and Create Your Own

Here’s an email follow up from one of ShortStack’s customers encouraging entrants to share a contest with their friends:

one of ShortStack’s customers encouraging entrants to share a contest with their friends
Encouraging referrals with email automation

#6. Go online and offline

With such a digital-focus on the running of contests these days, many brands ignore the power of offline marketing. If you can combine both online and offline methods with consistent branding and messaging, it will proliferate the reach of your contest.

Connecting the online and offline worlds is much easier with technology, such as QR codes, for example. You could allow people to quickly enter your contest by scanning a QR code on billboards, flyers, and other promotional materials.

#7. Don’t forget social media

I mentioned Facebook ads and Instagram influencers as promotional methods earlier in the article, but social media has far more to offer than just those tactics. If you have an active presence on social media already, which I’m sure you do, engaging with that audience to promote your big prize is a must.

Of course, with social media changing all the time, the way you attract the attention of your audience will differ depending on the platforms you are active on. LinkedIn and Facebook Groups, Live Video, TikTok, and Instagram Stories are all high-engagement environments where you can connect with your audience at the moment.

See how Valvoline promoted their contest on social media below:

Valvoline promoted their contest on social media
Valvoline promoting their contest on social media

#8. Strive for press mentions

Along the same lines as taking your contest offline, attracting traditional press mentions are hard to get but extremely powerful. Imagine your big contest prize getting a mention on a national radio show, the nightly news, or in the New York Times?

The sheer fact that you are giving away such a big prize can attract positive press. You just need to get that information in the right hands.

#9. Submit your contest to listing sites

There are literally hundreds of websites that list contests and giveaways, all with regular visitors looking for their next big prize.

Sure, some of these sites are of low quality with minimal traffic. But it’s worth distributing an announcement about your contest to some of the better ones so it will rank in Google searches and attract a huge audience that may not have heard of your brand before.

#10. Email your subscriber base

Boring, perhaps, but effective, absolutely!

Email marketing is still an unbelievably high-return way of promoting contests and getting the attention of your customers. But don’t just send a single email to your database and leave it there. Build anticipation in the lead up to your contest and then send multiple emails during the entry period to maximize exposure with your subscribers.

Sure, you’ve already got the contact details of these people, but if you’re running a refer-a-friend contest, what better place to get it firing than with your already loyal user base.

Email campaigns are simple, but highly effective, just like this one from The Plum Guide:

Email your subscriber base using email campaigns

Promoting a contest to your email database

#11. Cross-promotion on your website

If you already have traffic coming to your website, why not make the most of it by promoting your contest to an already captive audience?

You could, for example, place banners in strategic areas of your website to drive more visitors to the contest landing page. As well, optimizing your highest trafficked pages with interlinking, in-text mentions, and other promotional strategies can give you excellent bang for your buck.

If you want to take this method to a new level, using pop-ups and push notifications will significantly increase the click-through rate of your promotion.


Big contest prizes are an amazing way to explode the reach and recognition of your brand. But only if you promote them well.

So, if you’re going to invest money in a major prize draw, dedicate just as much budget to promoting it. Leverage the current traffic to your website, your email database, social media following, and relationships. Plus, don’t be afraid to spend a bit of money on influencer collaborations and social media ads.

Are you ready to turn a big prize into an even bigger marketing success for your brand?


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11 Ways to Promote Big Contest Prizes (And Why You Should Use All of Them)
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