Sweepstakes vs contest - what are they, and how do they differ?

Believe it or not, many businesses are still not aware that fun activities such as running contests that give away free stuff can be used as an excellent marketing tool to increase brand awareness and attract new customers. However, navigating the world of promotions can be as confusing for businesses as it can be for entrants. Therefore, understanding how a raffle, a game of chance, or a promotional drawing can increase your brand awareness, is key. 

At the heart of these promotions are the official rules that dictate the method of entry, and how winners are selected. Whether you're trying out a type of promotion where winners are chosen at random, like in a traditional raffle, or engaging in a game of luck or a lottery, understanding the distinctions is paramount.

So is it to be a contest or a sweepstake? Dive into this article to unravel the differences between the types of activities and discover the nuances that make each one unique.

What is a sweepstakes (giveaway)?

what is a sweepstakes

Sweepstakes, also known as givea­ways, are promo­tional campaigns where prizes are awarded to partic­ipants based on chance. Unlike contests or compet­itions, sweep­stakes (or types of giveaways) typically do not require any purchase or entry fee for that chance to win, making them acces­sible to a wide audience. A sweepstake can serve as a simple yet powerful approach to enhance brand recogn­ition, foster engag­ement, and gather customer data.

What is a contest?

what is a contest

In contrast to sweeps­takes, contests entail partic­ipants perfo­rming a specific action or showc­asing a parti­cular skill in order to be eligible for a prize. The winners are usually selected based on criteria estab­lished by the organ­izing entity, which could include factors like quality, creat­ivity, or popul­arity. Examples of contests can vary from photo compet­itions to essay writing or even gaming chall­enges.

What’s the difference between contests and sweepstakes?

what is the difference between sweepstakes and contests

Both sweepstakes and contests are excellent promotional tools. The main difference between sweepstakes and contests lies in the method of selecting winners. Sweep­stakes winners are chosen randomly, whereas contest winners are deter­mined based on skill, effort, or judgment based on specific criteria.

Sweepstakes: Pros & Cons

Advantages of sweepstakes

  1. Easy participation: Since they often require minimal effort, a larger audience is likely to participate.
  2. Data collection: Brands can gather valuable data and email addresses for future marketing campaigns and promotions.
  3. High engagement: The allure of winning prizes can increase brand visibility and engagement.

Disadvantages of sweepstakes

  1. Short-term engagement: People might only interact with the brand for the duration of the sweepstakes.
  2. Quality over quantity: Not all participants are genuinely interested in the brand; some are just attracted to the prize.

Contests: pros & cons

Advantages of contests

  1. Quality engagement: Participants often engage more deeply with the brand by investing time and effort.
  2. User-generated content: Brands can use the content submitted for marketing purposes.
  3. Targeted audience: By setting specific contest rules, brands can target a particular segment of their audience.

Disadvantages of contests

  1. Limited participation: The effort required might deter some people from entering.
  2. Resource-intensive: Contests might need more resources, from setting guidelines to evaluating entries.
Create your Tropee now!
Get started for free

Engage, like never before

Grow, engage and reward your community — for free.

Watch video

3 Examples of contests and sweepstakes

Example #1: Kraft Heinz sweepstakes program

Kraft Heinz sweepstakes

Kraft Heinz Canada had dual objectives: engage Sobeys and Safeway shoppers and boost CRM acquisition while capitalizing on partnerships with Budweiser and the Toronto Blue Jays.

They partnered with Snipp and SALT XC to craft an enticing cross-brand sweepstakes. Shoppers at Sobeys and Safeway could participate by purchasing qualifying products like Heinz Ketchup (750 mL to 1 L) or a non-alcoholic 6 or 10 pack of Budweiser. Participation involved uploading a receipt photo. The more products bought, the more sweepstakes entries earned. Ten fortunate winners received the Grand Prize, featuring an exclusive Blue Jays weekend for themselves and a friend, complete with Budweiser box seats, flights, and cash.

Throughout the promotion, Snipp actively engaged opted-in shoppers via retargeted emails, encouraging continued participation on the dedicated site. This strategy not only fuelled shopper excitement but also strengthened Kraft Heinz Canada's customer relationships and maximized their valuable partnerships.

Example #2: Pepsi zero sugar Canada super bowl competition

pepsi super bowl

Pepsi wanted to establish itself as the go-to beverage for game-day during the Super Bowl. They created a user-f­riendly program with Marketing Resources Inc, that gave fans the oppor­tunity to win 2022 Super Bowl Tickets. This not only engaged consumers but also allowed Pepsi to secure prominent floor space in retail stores for visually appealing point-of-sale (POS) displays, further reinf­orcing the conne­ction between Pepsi and the Super Bowl.

Pepsi collab­orated with MRi to implement a purpose-driven strategy by utilizing point-of-sale (POS) displays to promote their program. These displays promi­nently showcased the program's website URL, a phone number, and a keyword for entry submi­ssion. Users who texted the keyword and phone number received a message conta­ining the website URL, allowing them to easily enter the contest. The website was designed with simpl­icity and access­ibility in mind, ensuring that Pepsi could accum­ulate daily entries for the Grand Prize drawing at the end of the program.

Example #3: Lacoste’s UNDW3 Phygital Experience

Lacoste UNDW3

Tapping into the exciting world of NFTs, French clothing giant Lacoste leveraged Tropee to create a remarkable phygital experience, where holders had the chance to have a unique IRL experience at the Lacoste Arena store in Champs Elysées, Paris.

Lacoste is one of the few powerhouse fashion brands to recognise the potential of facilitating  phygital experiences in order to actively engage with their loyal supporters, and the key to their success was to ultimately make their customers feel like they were a part of something special.

Using Tropee, Lacoste gave its exclusive cohort of 11,212 token holders the chance to meet each other in real life in a very fun atmosphere, whilst also giving them the opportunity to own an exclusive UNDW3 polo shirt. All token holders had to do was to go onto the Tropee website to download their passes onto their iOS or Android in a truly seamless manner. Once done, all they had to do was to visit the Lacoste store to have their passes scanned in order to have the opportunity to buy one of these highly sought after shirts. 

This initiative was wildly successful, and UNDW3 sales not only sold out in a matter of days, but also skyrocketed on the secondary market after. Furthermore, this campaign elevated Lacoste as a pioneer within the realm of phygital experiences, and exposed their products to a young and crypto-native audience. 

3 tips on running sweepstakes and contests

Tip #1: Choose brand-relevant prizes

When you're organ­izing a sweep­stakes or contest, it's crucial to choose prizes that align with your brand and target audience. These prizes should connect with your followers and custo­mers, streng­thening your brand identity. 

For instance, if you're a fitness brand, offering gym member­ships, workout gear, or nutrition consul­tations as prizes can attract partic­ipants who have a genuine interest in your products or services. The key is to make sure that the prizes enhance your brand image and provide value to your audience, creating a stronger bond between your brand and your custo­mers.

Tip #2: Spread the word

After creating an enticing sweep­stakes or contest, it becomes essential to promote it effect­ively. Take advantage of your brand's social media platf­orms, email newsle­tters, and website to spread the word. Encourage partic­ipants to share the contest with their networks, gener­ating a viral effect. Additi­onally, consider collab­orating with influ­encers or partners to extend your reach even further. 

So never undere­stimate the power of a well-d­esigned marketing strategy; it has the potential to signif­icantly increase partic­ipation and maximize the impact of your campaign. Always remember that the more people who are aware of your contest, the higher its chances for success will be.

Tip #3: Leverage tools

If you want to run a succe­ssful sweep­stakes or contest, there are some helpful tools and platforms available to make the process easier. Dedicated contest manag­ement software like Tropee can handle entry submis­sions, customization, and notify winners; amongst other things. These tools not only strea­mline the process, but also ensure fairness and transp­arency when selecting winners. 

Furthe­rmore, they provide valuable analytics and data that can help you better under­stand your audience and improve future campa­igns. Embracing techn­ology can greatly enhance the effic­iency and effect­iveness of your contest manag­ement.

Sweepstakes vs contest: which is better?

Sweep­stakes and contests are popular promo­tional strat­egies, each offering unique advan­tages. Sweep­stakes are simple and inclu­sive, requiring minimal effort from partic­ipants, often just providing their inform­ation. They're a great way to quickly build a large audience. 

On the other hand, contests require a skill-based entry, like submi­tting a photo or answering a question. Contests attract more engaged partic­ipants who are willing to invest time and effort, making them perfect for gener­ating user-ge­nerated content and fostering commu­nity.

Therefore, the choice between sweep­stakes and contests depends on your goals and audience. If you want broad exposure and engag­ement, go with a sweeps­takes. If you aim to encourage creat­ivity and deeper engag­ement, opt for a contest. Ultim­ately, choose based on your specific marketing objec­tives and target audience prefer­ences.

Now over to you

Knowing the diffe­rences between sweep­stakes and contests allows you to make informed decisions when designing your next marketing campaign. Whether you're aiming for a broad audience with few barriers, or want to engage a passi­onate and creative crowd, both sweep­stakes and contests offer their own advan­tages.

By selecting the approach that aligns with your goals and target audience, you can fully leverage these promo­tional tools to enhance brand aware­ness, encourage intera­ction, and ultim­ately achieve your marketing objec­tives. 

So take this knowledge and customize your next campaign to create a lasting impact in the realm of promo­tions!