A Step-by-Step Guide to Running Ecommerce Contests in 2023

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As someone who owns an app (Gleam.io) that helps businesses grow I am constantly amazed by some of the contests customers are running to engage their audiences. Contests are one of the most diverse forms and engaging forms of marketing that exist, no two are the same and there's so much you can do to make the experience unique for entrants.

If you're reading this blog one would assume that you either own an Ececommerce store or plan to build one at some point in the future. Let me tell you this, online stores are in the perfect position to leverage contests to drive engagement and revenue growth. Why?

  • You have nearly unlimited access to products to giveaway
  • Customers love to win products
  • Contests allow you to keep your loyal customers engaged all year round (more on this later)
  • You can align contests with store events (such as flash sales or product launches)
  • Contests allow you to spread your message cross channel, but funnel the collected information into a single point of capture
  • Contests can be the most cost effective form of acquisition you'll ever do

In this article I'm going to let you into a few secrets that some of our customers are using to drive hypergrowth with contests. Let's dive in.

Build Giveaways Into The Fabric Of Your Store

The first mistake I often see store owners make is try to focus on using contests to drive new customers only. But what if I told you that your best asset is your existing customer base? Tapping directly into that will allow you to extend the reach of campaigns to new potential customers, for free!

Build Giveaways Into Your Store

This tactic is incredibly simple, and highlighted by a great example above. If you do regular giveaways then run them from a dedicated landing page on your store, and make it easy for your customers to access that page.

It works best with a static URL like:


This allows you to drive all the promotion and tactics to a URL on your own site. I honestly believe that the days of installing contests on Facebook tabs is dead, prospective customers are more likely to buy if they are on your store so drive them there at all costs. This also gives you the luxury of displaying them exit offers or other popups that you might have running.

Bonus Tip: Not running a contest? Use this page to build an email list of customers interested in your next one. Then you have an instant audience to promote it to.

Craft Enjoyable Experiences Around Product Releases

Think of every new product that you build or release as a chance to promote your store. You can do this in a few different ways, the most common is simply to giveaway the product after it has been launched.

Product Launches

But a much more advanced method is to use contests to build hype in the lead up to launch. Why is this more effective? It allows you to build an active list of engaged users that want the product over a longer period of time.

Bonus Tip: Not only that, but once the contest is over you can specifically market to this audience with very targeted product messaging and offers.

Leverage Organic Assets To Drive Campaign Engagement

As a store owner you spend all your energy building your brand and audience, so it makes sense to leverage that audience to help amplify the reach of your contests right?

Popup Banners To Drive Contest Awareness

There's a number of fantastic methods you can use here:

  • Create a popup banner to let customers know you're running a contest
  • Embed the contest on your order thank-you page so users can engage with it after they have purchased
  • Pre-launch your contest early to email subscribers to make them feel special
  • Run a sitewide bar with a call to action.

Top Bar

You can see the last time we ran a contest what sort of engagement we got just from the simple bar across the top of the page being shown to all our customers.

Growth Capture

  • Include a link in your template to your contest
  • Redirect users to your contest after they join your newsletter
  • Change all the links on social media to your contest landing page (Twitter/Instagram Bio etc)

Bonus Tip: When you post on Instagram, tell your users to visit the link in your bio to enter.

Instagram Bio Link

Align Entry Types With Desired Marketing Outcomes

This one seems like a no brainer but often I see customers just wanting to get Facebook Likes or some other vanity social metric.

If I gave you 1 Million Facebook Likes tomorrow, what would you do with them?

Many people can't answer the question, and if you can't then you're probably running a contest for the wrong reasons.

Instead, take a step back and think about what you need to help you grow. Usually the prime candidate here is capturing email addresses, increasing the awareness of your product or letting people know about your awesome Father's Day sale.

Contest Entry Methods

But what do you do once you get the email address? (more on this below).

Have A Solid Followup Strategy Focused On Revenue Generation

This brings me nicely to my next point. Contests need time, planning and effort to execute properly. You have to consider:

  • Prizes
  • Fufillment
  • Manging partners
  • Entry collection
  • Promotion
  • Syncing data to your systems
  • Followup

This means that you usually have to have a resource dedicated to making the campaign happen. Which is exactly why you should be thinking about how you drive revenue (and tracking it).

The simplest way to drive revenue is to get the users to buy products:

  • Send out a special offer or coupon code post entry
  • Send out a consolation offer after the contest is over. Include discounts off the prizes that were in the contest
  • Use the contest to collect data about what products a user likes, then personalise your communication to them

Here's a great example below from DODOcase:

Contest Consolation Email

Use Contests To Enrich Your Customer Data

Enriching Customer Data

Incentives allow you to collect more data from customers that you normally would be able to with traditional opt-in forms.

You can use this to your advantage by appending and collected data to your CRM or customer profile, then using this data to further segment how you show content or send communications to the user.

Typical data captured might include:

  • Social profile data
  • What types of contests they commonly participate in
  • How active customers are in your campaigns (think about rewarding loyal users)
  • Email or newsletter preferences for your email marketing
  • Reviews or NPS data about their experience
  • Social images from #hashtags of customers using your products (which you can use for social proof)

Lootcrate Community

Work With Partners To Extend Your Reach

Contests don't need to be all self contained within your store or brand. Sometimes finding the right partner to do your contest justice is a great way to get exposed to new users.

Take this example below, the brand created individual contests links to each product in the video:

Stuart McKeown

Stuart is the Co-founder of the growth platform Gleam.io, he regularly posts about how to grow your business over at Gleam's very own Growth Blog.

Comments 1 Response

  1. exit intent says:

    Loved the examples. Thanks!

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