eCommerce Insiders

10 Steps to Launching and Running Ecommerce Sweepstakes

The benefits of running sweepstakes are clear:

  • They help increase awareness of your store,
  • Generate referrals,
  • Attract new visitors to your site,
  • Grow your email list, social media following and much more.

And yet you’re still unsure if you should run a sweepstakes. Why?

Perhaps it’s the fear of doing it wrong and causing social media backlash.

Or perhaps you’re not even sure where to begin?

Lucky for you, that’s exactly what I’m going to show you in this post. Ready?

Step 1. Define Marketing Goals

To start with, you need to think about what you’d like a sweepstakes to help you achieve. It’s a crucial step, and not to be overlooked. Your objective will affect how you’re going to design and structure the campaign.

For instance, if you decide to use sweepstakes to help you grow your Facebook following, your campaign will naturally have to be centered around the social network.

If, on the other hand, you decide to use sweepstakes to generate more visits to your store, you’ll have to pay more attention to make the campaign as viral as possible.

Here’s a full list of objectives sweepstakes could help you achieve:

  • Increase awareness of your store. If you’re site is new, you might use a sweepstakes to help make more potential customers aware about it.
  • Generate referrals. If you already have a strong client base, you may use sweepstakes to get them to refer your store to their friends.
  • Increase visitors to the site. Sweepstakes can go viral. You can therefore design it to attract new potential customers to your store.
  • Grow your email list. Email is one of the best converting channels in Ecommerce. You can use sweepstakes to grow a list of subscribers.
  • Increase social media followers. Sweepstakes could also help you convince more people to become fans on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest.

Step 2. Select a Sweepstakes Tool

With a goal in mind, it’s time to start planning your campaign.

Your first step is to pick the tool you’re going to use to run a sweepstakes. A right tool will help you automate and streamline the entire process so do not take this step lightly.

There are a number of sweepstake products on the market. Some of the most notable include Viralsweep, Woobox and Rafflecopter.

Here are some questions you should ask when selecting the tool to use:

  • Does the tool allow for multiple entry actions? Does it allow to only collect email addresses or could you also conduct surveys or ask participants to become social media fans?
  • Could it automatically generate terms and conditions? It will save you time writing it down.
  • Could it help to pick a winner? Does it have the random selection option built in?
  • Does it allow to hold sweepstakes on multiple platforms, i.e. your site, social media etc.?
  • Does it integrate with email marketing software such as Mailchimp or Drip?
  • Can you brand the sweepstakes widget with your logo, colors etc?
  • Is it mobile-friendly?

Step 3. Check Compliance with Sweepstakes Laws

There are a number of legislations pertaining to sweepstakes. For instance, did you know that in New York you have to bond prizes valued above $5000? Or that in California you can’t offer alcohol as sweepstakes prize?

When planning your sweepstakes, use this handy checklist to ensure you’re not breaking any applicable laws.

Step 4. Pick a Prize That Will Attract Your Target Audience

It’s easy to fall into a trap of offering a prize EVERYBODY wants.

Take an iPad for example, the most obvious choice for a giveaway. After all, who wouldn’t want one?

But will offering it attract the very people who’d be interested in your products later on? Perhaps yes, if you sell iPad peripherals. But if you were selling cosmetics for instance, offering something only your target audience craves would bring greater results.

Step 5. Define Sweepstakes Location

Now you need to decide where you’re going to host your sweepstakes. Will it be your site, Facebook Page or a 3rd party website? Or will you try to host it on multiple locations?

Step 6. Define Additional Incentives

Sweepstakes are viral. Customers talk about them and share them with their friends.

But you can encourage them to share it even more by providing incentives to do so.

Offer them additional entries by liking, tweeting or inviting friends to a sweepstakes. You could even go as far as offering a guaranteed gift (a discount for instance) for inviting a number of friends to join in or posting about the sweepstakes to social media.

Step 7. Conduct a Test Run

Before you launch your sweepstakes to the World, ensure that there are no problems or barriers that might prevent users from entering your contest.

Ask a few friends or colleagues to try and enter the sweepstakes. Get them to perform every action in the process and tell you of their experience.

On your end, you should check if their entries show up in your sweepstakes tool and you can see analytics data about their entries.

This will confirm if everything works as it should before you hit the Go button.

Step 8. Promote Your Sweepstake

There are a number of steps you can take to ensure potential customers will hear about your sweepstakes:

Connect with influencers and ask them if they could promote your sweepstakes on social media. You can do this before you even launch the campaign.

Reach out to relevant bloggers and convince them that the prize you offer will appeal to their readers. If you’re successful, they’ll promote your sweepstakes to their audience on the blog and social media, greatly increasing your campaign’s reach.

Step 9. Select a Winner

Once your sweepstakes runs for whatever time you defined for it, it’s time to end it.

The most important part of it is of course selecting a winner.

Most sweepstake tools make the winner selection process really simple. But if you opted for one that doesn’t offer this option, export your entrants to, a tool that will randomly pick a winner for you.

But alongside this process, remember to also close the sweepstake on your site, Facebook or any other place you ran it at. You don’t want customers to think that the contest is still running.

Step 10. Contact the winner and mail them the prize

Email them asking to respond within a specified timeframe to claim the prize and give you their shipping details. After that, mail the prize and…

…You’re done!

In 10 steps you’ve set up and run a successful sweepstakes!


Pawel Grabowski

Pawel Grabowski is a copywriter and content marketer and the founder of, the content marketing agency helping SaaS companies grow the user base and generate quality leads with targeted content strategies.

Find out more about Pawel at and connect with him on Linkedin.

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