How to Host a Successful Online Sweepstakes Contest For Your eComm Store

How to Host a Successful Online Sweepstakes Contest For Your eComm Store

There are a few things every CakeCommerce expert knows to be tried and true: 

  • Nothing goes better together than cake and icing.
  • Chocolate makes everything taste good.
  • Always follow the recipe.
  • There’s nothing shoppers love more than the sweet sound of “free!”

We always say the best way to someone’s heart is through their stomach. But when it comes to winning over the affection of customers, something a little extra sweet goes a long way. Our secret ingredient to bringing hungry shoppers back to stores for seconds is to butter them up with something free. Of course, just giving away products isn’t a great way to make profits, so you’ll have to raise the stakes, and there’s no better way to do it than with a sweepstakes! 

So, what are sweepstakes? They’re a “giveaway” challenge where customers enter to win a prize. Why host a sweepstakes? For starters, treating your customers to something free is a good way to boost brand loyalty. Sweepstakes can also be leveraged through social media to promote your business and attract new audiences to your brand. Giveaways get potential new shoppers excited about your brand and products while simultaneously re-engaging the interests of old customers; it’s a win-win!

Before we dig into the good stuff, let’s first review the key ingredients for a successful sweepstakes. 

Establishing Your Goal

Having a goal in mind before you begin developing any marketing plan is a good first step. So before you begin building your perfect sweepstakes, ask yourself what the ideal end outcome is. Are you hoping to attract new followers or customers? Re-engage old customers? Build brand loyalty? Boost brand awareness and reach? All of these things are possible with giveaways. 

Once you establish the “why” behind your efforts, you’ll be able to more effectively build a campaign to achieve this goal. Otherwise, you’re blindly throwing ingredients together and hoping for the best – and what did we say about always following the recipe?

Choosing Your Giveaway 

While in this case, we are focusing on sweepstakes, there are a few other types of giveaways to be aware of:

  • Contests: A winner is chosen based on merit. This giveaway is competitive and requires contestants to “submit” something in return for something. 
  • Lottery: A winner is chosen randomly. However, contestants will have to purchase to enter the lottery. For example, they may have to pay a small fee.

Whichever giveaway your brand chooses to host, be sure to prominently display all the official rules – including the prize, duration, how to enter, who can enter, how a winner is chosen, how the winner will be notified, and how the prize will be delivered. When it comes to how to tell if a sweepstakes is legit, this information is crucial to make your giveaway legal and legitimate. 

Making it Easy to Enter

This step is simple: The easier it is for users to enter your sweepstakes, the more likely they will opt-in. If you make getting something for free difficult or complicated for users, they’ll be more likely to pass. Maximize entries with a simple and clearly explained process. 

For example, a popular “enter to win” process on social media includes three basic steps: like, comment, and share. This is an easy way to enter that also works to promote your sweepstakes (and brand) to reach new audiences and gain more entries.

Being Transparent About Terms and Conditions 

The last thing you want is for your followers and customers to feel tricked or misled. To avoid unhappy customers, be completely clear about the terms and conditions of your sweepstakes. For instance, if the prize can only be shipped to U.S. residents, be upfront about this. Your reputable brand name could face some backlash should you accidentally hoodwink an entry.

Price Point

The words “free” and “giveaway” can be a little scary for brands. After all, no successful business owner wants to give away products for nothing in return. Sweepstakes can show pretty sweet returns for your brand if executed correctly. 

But, to avoid “losing out” too much, be sure that your selected prize or prize's market value is fair to both your business and the contestants. The price should be high enough to attract and maximize entries, generate excitement, and encourage users to share with friends. However, you don’t want to hurt your returns. 

For example, some brands host sweepstakes with $500 gift cards. While this may be feasible for larger brands, smaller businesses probably wouldn’t be able to afford or profit from such a large giveaway. Work the prize value into your budget and find that sweet spot between “too expensive” and “too cheap.” Be fair to your customers and yourself. Pro Tip: Don’t forget to budget for the cost of shipping, as well! 


Now that you have your sweepstakes baked to perfection, it’s time to cut everyone a slice! When it comes to promoting a giveaway, social media is your BFF. Use your channels to spread the word – sharing is key! 

Encourage your participants to share the post or, better yet, make it mandatory to share with friends to enter. Ask your contestants to tag three friends in the comments and share the post to their stories or feed. This way, you’re reaching new pools of potential entries outside of your immediate followers. 

Pro Tip: Make the cover art of your sweepstakes post engaging and interesting to new eyes, as this will be the first thing other users see when the post is shared. Think of it as their first impression of your brand. Be sure to emphasize the “giveaway” component and perhaps feature the products you’re including. Add some branded content and click-baity copy, and you’re good to go! 

Creating a unique hashtag for your sweepstakes that users can share is a super fun and creative way to spread awareness. 


Whatever you do, don’t make a sweet thing sour. While getting the word out about your sweepstakes is important, spamming could turn your masterpiece into a bitter disaster. So, don’t overpromote. Spam drives users away from your brand, which is the last thing you want while hosting a giveaway, especially if your goal is to attract new audiences! It’s best to let the users do the work when sharing. A sweepstakes that promotes itself takes a little off your plate while also taking the potential for spam out of the equation. 

Following Up After the Big Win!

After the winner is announced, follow up with all your entries (if possible). Thank them for entering and encourage them to visit your store. Even if they didn’t win, they might find something they love or another sweet deal when they sign-up. A little extra push could convert these new top-of-funnel audiences to loyal customers in no time.

The Icing on the Cake

Now that your brand is an expert in all things sweepstakes, how about we look at what else is on the menu? For an eCommerce marketing strategy unique to your business and goals, consult the team at CAKE. Learn more about our super sweet services, or contact us to get started!