Ensure your next contest, quiz, giveaway, or UGC campaign is a success

We’ve got two words of advice: plan ahead.

This guide will outline what you need to consider before you start building.


Establish Goals and Objectives

Begin by establishing goals and objectives for your campaign. The subsequent decisions you make will be based on them. Consider the following:

Plan Your Campaign

Select a Specific Campaign Type

Consider the various campaign options and which ones will best help you meet your goals and objectives. ShortStack campaigns generally fall into the following categories:

Make it more effective: Enable autoresponders and other email marketing features so you can interact with entrants during the course of your campaign.


Pro: Ease of entry allows you to build your email marketing lists quickly.

Make it more effective: Always require folks to submit their email address in order to vote so you’re able to collect leads.


Pro: Contests allow for customer engagement through entry and voting. Plus, word-of-mouth marketing occurs when folks share their entries to help drum up votes.

Make it more effective: Collect an email address before you reveal quiz results.


Pro: Promote customer engagement and word-of-mouth marketing through sharing of outcomes.

Make it more effective: Obtain rights to use the UGC for marketing.

User-generated Content

Pro: Promote engagement through the creation of UGC (photos, videos, stories).

Make it more effective: Interact with your customers after the campaign by sending emails with relevant content.

Data collection and lead nurturing

Pro: Build segmented lists based on your special offers and events.

Make it more effective: Include a link on each product to drive traffic back to your website.

Product display

Pro: Increase top-of-mind awareness of your products by making them front and center on your campaign.

Some combination of the above: Combine features to increase the power of a single campaign. For example:

  • Combine a quiz with a giveaway by requiring folks to submit their name and email address in order to learn their results and have a chance to win your prize.
  • Use a giveaway to collect leads, then nurture those leads using email automation.
  • On a product display campaign, include a form for visitors to fill out in order to receive product emails and discounts via a lead-nurturing email campaign later on.

Consider Customization Options

You can customize your campaigns in many ways. As you create your plan, ask yourself which of the following options should be enabled or included:

  • Photo and video submissions
    Do you want people to submit photos or videos as contest entries?

  • Photo and video galleries
    Do you want to moderate entries before they appear in a gallery?

  • Text submissions
    Do you want people to submit a caption, recipe, story, etc.

  • Referral points/extra entries
    Do you want to reward entrants with referral points if they share a unique referral URL, which someone else clicks and submits an entry of their own?

  • Contact forms
    What information do you want to collect from participants?
  • Navigation
    Do you have multiple sections with unique content you want people to access?
  • Voting
    Do you want to encourage visitors to vote on UGC entries (such as photos, videos, stories, etc) submitted by contest entrants, or ask them to vote on content you provide?
  • Multi-day giveaways
    Do you want to allow people to submit one entry a day, or restrict entries to once for the duration of your campaign?
  • Hashtag feeds
    Do you want to pull in submitted entries simply by posting to Instagram using a specific hashtag in the post?

  • Downloadable content
    (e.g., ebooks, white papers, etc.)

  • Discounts and coupons

  • Reservation forms

  • Newsletter signups

  • Event or entry countdowns

  • Surveys and polls

  • Testimonials

We offer several templates to help you meet your campaign goals.

Determine where you want the campaign to “live”

Two options exist for publishing your campaign. These options are:
Landing Page

Standalone Landing Page

Publishing as a standalone landing page can:

  • Increase your campaign reach, as the Campaign URL you are provided can be shared anywhere, and anyone can access the campaign (assuming your don’t have any country-based restrictions in place);
  • Allow for design freedom from any restrictions on your website (e.g., campaign width and mobile responsiveness); and
  • Reduce the impact of social network policy changes that might affect your campaign.

Campaign Embedded on Your Website

Embedding to your website can:

  • Increase traffic to your website;
  • Display a call-to-action form on your website for lead generation purposes;
  • Increase traffic to your campaign through folks who visit your website and find the campaign organically;
  • Save you money on promotion, as promoting your campaign promotes your website and vice versa; and
  • Provide an appearance of a white-label solution, as the campaign will be located on your domain.

Create a Campaign Schedule

Several elements will determine the date your campaign can go live, including:

Start and end dates
Key deadlines and milestones – for both planning and execution
Your internal approval process
Content scheduling considerations, e.g., email and ad initiatives
Coordination with other marketing initiatives

Not sure what your schedule should look like? Try basing it on the following example timeline, which is based on a contest that would run from November 1st through November 10th:


Finalize contest concept


Campaign set-up
a. Considerations: artwork, copy, etc.


Campaign Testing


Campaign start date/time


Create promotion plan by EOD Write social media posts to be published during the campaign Write ads to be published during the campaign Write email messages to be shared at several points before, during and after the campaign


Publish campaign by EOD Time-based visibility settings will automatically start showing content at 8:00 A.M. on November 1 Send Campaign URL for published campaign for use in contest promotion — ads, emails, etc.

November 1 @ 8:00 A.M. Eastern Time

Final approval by EOD

November 1 @ 8:00 A.M. Eastern Time

Publish first posts on social media

November 1 @ 1:00 P.M. Eastern Time

Send list an email announcing contest

November 1-9

Analyze ad and social posting promotion efforts at least twice between these dates. Refine as needed.

November 6 @ 8:00 P.M. Eastern Time

Send email reminding people the contest entry period is coming to an end

November 10 @ 11:00 A.M. Eastern Time

End Date/Time

November 10 @ 11:30 A.M. Eastern Time

Select random winner

November 10 @ 11:45 A.M. Eastern Time

Contact winner via email

November 10 @ 12:00 P.M. Eastern Time

Contact non-winners via email

November 10 @ 12:00 P.M. Eastern Time

Winner announced


Decide on the Data You Want to Collect

ShortStack makes it easy to collect information from participants, such as an email address, name or birthday. The forms you build can also make it easy to collect user-generated content, such as photos or reviews.

When collecting data, we recommend you set up forms with a small number of fields and collect only the most essential information. Most forms request:

  • Name
  • Email
  • A checkbox for opting into an email list

However, you can add fields to request (or require) any information you want, such as a photo or someone’s age. You can also offer open-ended fields or make it easier for people to complete your form by using multiple-choice dropdown selections or radio buttons.

Below are some goals you might have, in addition to lead generation, and the form fields you should consider implementing if you have these goals:

Test User Knowledge

List field(s)
Allow people to choose a single answer from several options with radio buttons

Give entrants the option to choose one or more answers from a dropdown list

Text field(s)
Create a free-form text box to allow a written answer

Learn about Customer Interests

List field(s) 
Create a scale for people to rate your product or service with radio buttons

Let respondents choose from a set of answers using a dropdown

Text field(s)
Create a free-form text box to allow a written answer

Test User Knowledge

List field(s)
Allow people to choose a single answer from several options with radio buttons

Give entrants the option to choose one or more answers from a dropdown list

Text field(s)
Create a free-form text box to allow a written answer

Collect UGC

Media Upload field
Collect photo and or video submissions

Video URL field
Collect video submissions via links from Vimeo, YouTube or Instagram

Entry Description
Allows entrants to describe their entry

Entry Title
Asks entrants to provide a title for their entry


Provide a Contact Form

Text field
Allow individuals to write details without the limits of a smaller text field.

List field
Require users to choose a category for their reason for contacting your team.

Email and Marketing Automation

ShortStack enables you to send participants autoresponders, follow-up emails and scheduled emails. We also offer additional marketing automation functions, like form integrations and automatic content display after form submission. As such, a part of your campaign planning should address questions such as:

Acme Cameras' Autoresponder For Follow-up Sequence

How will we respond instantly to entries and signups?

IDEA: Send an autoresponder after form submission that includes:

  • A link to your website or directions to your store;
  • An opt-in link for your mailing list; and
  • A coupon for your products or services, or link to a downloadable resource (e.g., white paper, style guide).

How do we keep our audience engaged throughout the campaign?

IDEA: Use scheduled emails at various times throughout the campaign:

  • To remind entrants when voting starts;
  • To encourage people to vote for their entries and share their entry URLs; and
  • To announce a contest winner.

Should we create a series of subsequent emails to increase engagement?

IDEA: Implement a follow-up email series where:

  • You share information on your products and/or services;
  • You provide a coupon toward an upcoming purchase at your business to be redeemed within a certain number of days; and
  • You send a reminder email to encourage folks to redeem their coupon if they haven’t already.

How will we use the leads we collect after our campaign concludes?

In addition to the scenarios above, you can use leads to:

  • Encourage repeat customer engagement through contest announcements;
  • Promote a new product or service; and
  • Collect feedback about your product or service.

Does it make sense to integrate the data collected with other CRM and/or marketing platforms?

  • Do you use a sales-related platform to manage leads individually? If so, you could use ShortStack to collect leads, then send those leads to your CRM using our Form Integration options.
  • Do you currently have an email marketing list on another platform?
    • No: Use ShortStack to send your emails.
    • Yes: Use our Form Integrations option to send entries from your ShortStack forms to your email marketing platform.
      Note: Using ShortStack will save you money and allow you to keep all of your lead generation efforts in one place.

Integrations Options

You may have services and platforms already in place for marketing and social media. Many of them will work seamlessly with ShortStack because the platform is already integrated with the following:

Establish relevant key performance indicators (KPIs)

Beyond form data, such as contact information, you may have additional KPIs you want to track. Be sure you know what these are before you launch your campaign so you have the appropriate tracking methods in place. Your KPIs might include:

  • Page views and unique views;
  • Landing page conversion rates;
  • Traffic-to-lead ratio;
    Cost per lead;
  • Sales revenue; and
    Email marketing list growth.

After establishing your KPIs, determine how you will track the information. On our Pro Plan and higher plans, you’ll have access to ShortStack’s Advanced Analytics, which include:

  • Campaign traffic, including sources, device type, and country;
  • Entry data;
  • Social-media-sharing statistics; and
  • Campaign interactions, including voting, video plays, and poll interactions.
When using ShortStack to send emails, each email you send includes email-specific analytics, such as:
  • Total number of sends;
  • Open rates;
  • Click-through rates; and
  • Unsubscribes.
If you collect information via a form, you’ll be able to view and export those entries. You can also implement Google Analytics and/or Facebook-tracking pixels, or other tracking methods to meet your tracking goals.
Step 4

Consider the Creative Details

Ensure your campaign reflects your brand. ShortStack allows you to customize the appearance of your campaign using our Style Panel.

Decide on appropriate fonts and colors for your campaign.
Choose appropriate images, photos and illustrations.

Use the questionnaire that follows as a guide for working out the details.

Do you have a brand style guide you’ll want to adhere to?

Will you add links to other marketing properties?

Have you seen promotions from other companies that feature elements you’d like to include?

Are there specific images that must be used?

How will you identify your company within the campaign, and where will you add your company’s logo?

Will you use a specific hashtag for your promotion?

Will you send autoresponders and/or scheduled emails?

Will you create a gallery of user-generated content?


Establish the Rules of Your Campaign

When building a contest or giveaway for your brand, you’ll need to create a set of rules that abide by the regulations in your state/country.

Things to consider may include:

  • Rules, terms and conditions
  • Eligibility requirements
  • Campaign start and stop dates
  • Details about prizes
  • Odds of winning
  • Winner selection and notification
  • Rights management
  • Limitations of liability
  • Privacy policy

ShortStack offers a useful shortcut for you. Here’s a template you can use as a guide for writing your campaign rules.


Test and Publish Your Campaign

Testing a campaign before it’s published will ensure that the campaign functions and appears as expected. It’s also an opportunity to address unexpected issues. *Tip: Our team is happy to review your campaign before it goes live; just send an email to theteam@shortstacklab.com.


In most cases, you will make this decision sooner in your online campaign design process. See Determine where you want the campaign to “live” earlier in this guide.

ShortStack will host your campaign. It’s up to you to determine where you want it to display. Options include:

  • Publishing your campaign to the web as a standalone landing page
  • Embedding your campaign, either in-line or as a pop-up, on your website


When your campaign is ready to be published you can customize your subdomain or choose from one of five domain options offered on ShortStack’s servers.

Develop a Promotion Plan

Do you know how you’ll promote your contest, giveaway, quiz or campaign?
The launch and promotion of your campaign may include:

Online advertising

  • Google AdWords
  • Facebook ads
  • Promoted Tweets, Instagram posts and Facebook posts
  • YouTube video ads
  • Display ads on websites
  • Pinterest images

Traditional advertising

  • Print ads (flyers, handouts, magazine or newspaper)
  • Billboard ads
  • Television ads
  • Radio ads
  • Brand sponsorships

Content marketing

  • Write a blog post to promote your campaign
  • Create a video with a CTA to visit your campaign
  • Design an infographic with a CTA to visit your campaign in the footer

Email automation

  • Send a scheduled email to your subscribers with a link to your campaign
  • Include a link to your campaign in the header or footer images of other emails you send out to your list

Use of hashtags

  • Post a link to your campaign and include popular and relevant hashtags in the post
  • Require the use of a hashtag in a post on Instagram in order to enter

Social media

  • Post a link to your campaign in a status update on your Facebook Page
  • Include a link to your campaign in your Instagram bio
  • Update your Facebook cover photo and/or profile photo
  • Update your Twitter header image
  • Tweet a link to your campaign
  • Include a link to your campaign in the description of a YouTube video
  • Update your Twitter bio with a link to your campaign
  • Encourage folks to share your campaign to their social media profiles though the use of the Share Widget

Measure Your Performance

As a result of running a ShortStack campaign, you’ll likely collect data and have the ability to track your promotion in real time via our analytics dashboard. We recommend:

  • Revisiting your KPIs;
  • Analyzing data you have collected with Google Analytics and/or Facebook pixels; and
  • Accessing your campaign data within our Advanced Analytics (available on the Pro Plan and higher plans).

Analyzing your campaign to see if you meet your KPIs will help you to measure the success of the campaign. It also helps to inform future campaigns. You can learn what went well with the campaign and where you can improve or update future marketing efforts to better reach your goals.

Haven’t scheduled your call with us?

This helpful Getting Started Guide will show you exactly what you need to do to set up your campaign.

Prefer videos? We’ve got those, too.

If you still aren’t sure how to get started, please get in touch with the ShortStack customer support team.

We are available seven days a week to answer your questions and facilitate the creation of your promotions.

Want Design Support?

ShortStack also offers custom services. Our team of experts can guide you every step of the way and even build your campaign for you or your client.

Get started today!