The 2020 Contest Marketing Guide for Business Growth

Discover how to make your contests and giveaways more engaging and successful in 2020 with new strategies and trends.

By Will Blunt ・6 min read
Best Practices
Business & Marketing Strategy
Campaign & Contest Ideas
Social Media

Are the contests you run boring your customers?It’s a provocative statement, but one that many marketers and business owners should take seriously.The thing is… contests and giveaways have been around for as long as you and I can remember.While the psychological triggers that make participants go crazy for free stuff haven’t changed, the contest marketing landscape is in constant evolution.Simplistic prizes and uninspiring experiences that lack interactivity won’t get you the results you are looking for anymore. You need to have your finger on the pulse of new social media trends, marketing tactics, and consumer behavior.So, even though people will always get a rush from winning something for free, the consumer expectations of a contest experience in 2020 are very different than they were in the past.Here are 3 important areas of your 2020 contest marketing strategy that are critical to its success:

#1. Traffic channels

Without visibility, your contest will fail. It’s as simple as that.Getting “traffic” to your contest entry landing page or in-store signup form is one of the biggest hurdles to running a successful giveaway.The problem is, traffic strategies and channels are regularly changing. A few years ago, posting a simple message to your Facebook Page would’ve spurred interest and potentially garnered the required traffic you needed to run a successful contest. Then, Facebook sent organic reach for businesses into the abyss. Businesses started paying Facebook for attention.Now, as more and more businesses become savvy with Facebook Ads, the cost goes up. In a revenue model that is based on supply and demand, the cost will only continue to rise, much like it did with Google Ads.So, if paid advertising is getting more expensive and organic reach on the most established social media platforms is essentially non-existent, how do you get traffic to your contest in 2020?Here are some tips:

  • Find new traffic channels. If you can capitalize on a fairly new traffic channel prior to everyone jumping on the bandwagon, you’ll have an untapped source of potential contest entrants. One example of a growing social network that is yet to be saturated is the video-sharing platform TikTok.

Traffic Channels for Contest Marketing Guide
  • Get creative with content. Yes, organic reach for basic posts is non-existent on Facebook, diminishing on Twitter, and soon-to-be a thing of the past on any established social network. However, creative and interesting content still gets attention. Social networks reward content that keeps people on their platforms for longer. If you can be creative with video content, for example, and your latest video gains traction, the organic reach will explode.
  • Go offline. Funnily enough, we’re seeing a slight shift from online to off. Digital channels are getting so crowded that some businesses that were taking a digital-only approach to marketing their contests are now tapping into offline strategies, too. It’s kind of like getting back to the basics in a way. Engage with people, go to relevant events, host in-store giveaways, and get your name out there!
  • Think partnerships. While influencer marketing is quickly becoming a saturated and over-used concept, “real” influencers still provide an excellent distribution platform for your contests. The key is to find authentic influencers who have a genuine and highly engaged following. You could even think outside the box and partner with influencers on new and exciting platforms.

In summary, traffic to your contest entry point is always going to be a major contributor to the number of entries you receive. However, how you get that traffic in 2020 may differ from the past. Get creative and tap into some of the suggested channels above.

#2. Prizes

As I hinted at in the introduction, generic prizes such as gift cards and simple product giveaways are unlikely to garner the attention and intrigue of your ideal customers in 2020.Instead, you need to double down on value with a touch of creativity sprinkled on top. The higher the perceived value of your prize, the more chance people will enter and share the contest with others.Not sure what type of contest prize will work for you? Consider these suggestions:

  • Long-term prizes. With the subscription economy going from strength-to-strength, your customers are used to getting things month-on-month over a long period of time. Be it a sock subscription, music streaming, or a box of goodies for their dog, subscriptions are all the rage. Offer your customers a long-term prize, such as a year’s worth of your products, and watch the entries roll in.
  • Partner bundles. Combining a collection of prizes can be a good way of increasing the perceived value of your giveaway. Of course, this concept isn’t exactly new. However, a slight variation is to collaborate with partners, such as other brands or influencers, to offer complementary prize bundles. Not only will this increase the value of your prize but it will also double the reach of your audience. The below collaboration between Craftamo and Watercolor Daily is a great example of this approach:

Giveaway Partner Bundles for Contest Marketing Guide
  • Group experiences. Multi-ticket holidays, concerts, and other experiences are all examples of contest prizes that create intrigue for more than one person. The reason this concept is attractive is that it gets entrants thinking about who they will invite and even encourages them to share the entry details with those people.
  • Exclusive products. Nothing drives action quite like scarcity. Whether there are only a small amount of products left in stock or a limited number available, the thought of missing out entices people to take action. This phenomenon can be replicated in the form of an exclusive contest prize. For example, you may offer a one-of-a-kind edition of a popular product that can’t be purchased outside of the contest.

These are just some examples of contest prizes that will intrigue your customers in 2020. Don’t fall into the trap of “business-as-usual” by running yet another boring old contest with a gift card. Think outside the box and you will reap the rewards.

#3. Experience

A hefty 84% of companies that aim to improve customer experience report an increase in revenue. These statistics are considerably higher than they were a decade ago, too.What does that mean?Consumers want more than products, services, and discounts. They crave an interactive experience with brands that breeds connection and loyalty.When running contests and giveaways with your audience, focusing on the experience you provide each individual can elevate your business above the noise and help you stand out.Below are three components of the contest marketing experience that you can influence for the better this year:

  • Smart follow up. The way you engage with contest participants after they enter a giveaway is directly correlated with how many entrants you will convert into customers. Traditionally, contest participants have been followed up with using email autoresponders. Yes, email marketing is still a key part of this ecosystem. However, technology has empowered brands to be even smarter with their follow up. Be sure to take your follow up multi-channel by using Facebook Messenger, live chat, remarketing campaigns, and other customer-centric tactics for moving prospects closer to a purchase.
  • Personalization. Contests and other interactive experiences help you collect valuable data points from prospects that you can use to personalize the customer experience in the future. If you draw meaning from customer data, such as product sales, website activity, email behavior, and customer service interactions, you can create a personalized experience for each person. For example, you could offer different prizes to relevant segments of your audience. This is bound to increase engagement and the overall experience for those involved.
  • Interactivity. We discuss interactivity at length on the ShortStack blog but it is for good reason. Creating a technology-driven one-to-one dialogue with your customers is the most scalable way of keeping their attention. Interactive content, be it quiz questions, moving graphics, or “choose your own journey” videos, partnered with personalization, is the future of customer experience. The quiz from Jarlsberg below shows an example of interactivity in a contest experience:
Quiz Interactivity for Contest Marketing Guide

View and Create Your Own. Keep in mind that contests are a great way of re-engaging your current leads, not just finding new ones. Running an exclusive contest with your current customers makes them feel special and tightens the emotional connection they have with your brand. Not to mention the depth of data you have already collected on customers enables you to provide a premium experience during the giveaway.Combine these tips with your own knowledge of your leads and customers to deliver the ultimate contest experience.


There you have it… a provocative look into what’s ahead for contests and giveaways in 2020.How will you use this battle-tested marketing tactic to generate leads, delight customers, and grow your business?Don’t rest on your laurels with boring and outdated prizes, costly traffic channels, and mundane experiences. Instead, take some risks, get creative, and harness the power of data at your fingertips. Good luck!

About the author

By Will Blunt ・6 min read

Will Blunt is the founder of Sidekick Digital by Will Blunt - B2B Marketing Expert - Sidekick Digital, a publishing business that launches, manages, and grows brands with content marketing.

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