How to Create Online Sweepstakes

Learn everything you need to know about know about running a sweepstakes online with our step by step actionable guide.

If you're looking for a way to grow your audience, engage your users and drive powerful actions then there might not be anything you can do which will be as effective as running online sweepstakes.

Online sweepstakes are one of the most efficient and effective tactics you can use to grow your brand or business, and with Gleam's powerful Competitions app running one has never been easier. To help you get started we're going to take you through exactly how you can use Gleam to create and run a sweepstake campaign that will drive relevant, engaging actions and grow your business.

Running an online sweepstake is an outstanding way to grow your audience and drive a host of relevant actions that can help you achieve just about any goal or objective. Running an online sweepstake with Gleam is a powerful promotional strategy for a few key reasons:

  • With Gleam's extensive range of entry methods you can use sweepstakes to drive just about any action and reach any objective.
  • Gleam features numerous social or sharing actions which will amplify the reach of your sweepstake and expose you to new audiences.
  • Entry into a sweepstake is typically quick and easy which encourages entry and increases participation.
  • The random nature of winner selection paired with the ability to earn more entries by completing more actions makes sweepstakes perfect for driving an array of actions from your users.
  • Any campaign which gives away a prize is going to be fun and attention grabbing. This makes sweepstakes ideal for both engaging your existing following and generating awareness from new audiences.
  • With Gleam you can contain your entire sweepstake in a sleek, compact widget which makes it a lot easier for you to share your campaign, and a lot easier for users to enter it.
  • Gleam makes setting up a sweepstake, tracking entries and drawing winners a breeze so you don't have spend your time on the minutia of campaigns.

When you run a sweepstake, one of the first decisions you'll need to make is what you want to give away as a prize. This is one of the most important decisions you will have to make, as your prize is what will ultimately draw in your audience and incentivise entry.

When you choose your prize there are multiple factors you will need to consider. You want to pick a prize that is valuable enough to encourage mass entry, but still specifically tailored to your target audience so you aren't attracting entries from users who have no real interest in your brand or products.

The ultimate aim of your sweepstake is to grow your audience and drive relevant actions which will help your business grow. This means you want to be directing the campaign towards your target audience, and your prize selection plays a major role in achieving this. If you offer a generic prize such as an Amazon gift card you will entice entry from users who want to win the prize, but have no real interest in your brand or offerings. These users are highly unlikely to become loyal followers or customers and they won't contribute towards any of your desired business outcomes, so it's best to avoid them by offering a prize that appeals primarily to your target market.

If you have your own product or products which you can give away they make for the ideal prize. By giving away your own products you can all but guarantee that your entrants have a genuine interest in your business, and you'll also be able to wring a lot of free product promotion out of the sweepstake. If you want to add an extra layer of value to your prize, try adding some exclusivity in the form of a limited or special edition product.

If you don't have a product of your own to give away you should offer a prize that is relevant to whatever it is you do, and that is highly appealing to your audience. For example, if you're a style blogger you could give away a beauty package, or if you're a game streamer you could offer up a new console or some of your favourite video games.

When you run your giveaways with Gleam you can easily add multiple prizes to your campaign, which allows you to manage a larger prize pool, giveaway unique weekly/monthly prizes, or offer runner up prizes.


A great way to increase the value of your prize pool (and net yourself a lot of extra promotion) is by partnering up with complementary brands and offering a product bundle as a prize. This is a tactic which has been used to great effect by our customers Flyte Socks and Greenbelly.

Once you've decided on your prize you'll be ready to set up your campaign and decide how users can enter your sweepstake.

When you run a sweepstake with Gleam, you'll have a huge list of possible entry actions to choose from. Your decision should come down to what you are trying to achieve with your sweepstake, and which actions will help you reach those objectives.

Admin view of entry methods in a Gleam Competitions campaign

To help you decide on what actions you want to drive, we're going to take you through some of the most effective entry actions for achieving an array of goals.

No matter what type of business you run or what industry you operate in, maintaining a strong social media presence is crucial. Social media can provide you with a perfect platform for captivating your audience, promoting your offering and ultimately driving desired actions in an authentic, engaging and social manner.

However, in order to really make the most of social media marketing you will need to accrue an online following and draw attention to your social activity. Gleam has a host of actions across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and more which are all fantastic for garnering online attention and bolstering your following.

Some of the most powerful social media actions you can drive with Gleam include:

There are plenty more powerful social media actions you can incorporate into your campaign, including a few we want to draw particularly close attention to.

In addition to attracting visitors to your social media channels and growing your audience, with Gleam you can use a sweepstake to encourage users to become much more actively involved in your social marketing with Tweets and Retweets.

You can ask users to Retweet one of your own Tweets...

Or send out a Tweet of their own which promotes your brand, or even the sweepstake itself.

Both of these actions are terrific ways to gain exposure from a new audience and promote your offering or sweepstake in an engaging and authentic manner which people are more likely to take notice of.

If you can increase the number of people who enter your contest, you will increase the number of powerful actions you drive. So it should go without saying that the more entrants you attract the better.

A terrific way to expose your competition to hordes of new entrants is by using Gleam Competition's Viral Share feature which generates unique sharing links and awards additional entries for users who successfully refer your campaign to their friends.

This action is incredibly powerful. It can help you create a viral loop effect and gain massive amounts of exposure. This is particularly useful for pre-launch or newly launched brands that are trying to generate as much awareness as possible.

Viral Share links can be shared across, email, SMS, Twitter, Facebook Messenger, Facebook and more, and users can earn additional entries for each successful referral across any platform.


A successful referral means the referred user has also entered the Competition. They must have at least completed your mandatory actions for the original entrant to receive additional entries.

Gleam has integrations with a multitude of different platforms. So if you operate on a particular online platform there's a good chance you can use your Gleam sweepstake to drive interaction and engagement.

We have actions set up for:

Email marketing is one of the most powerful promotional tools you have at your disposal. Sending your email subscribers updates about your business and targeted calls to action are outstanding ways to maintain interest and drive action.

The main caveat of email marketing is that in order for you to maximise its efficiency and effectiveness you will need to develop a sizeable mailing list, and one of the best ways to do this is by using your sweepstake to incentivise email subscriptions.

If you have a website, a blog, or any other online destination you want to drive traffic towards then you can use the Visit action to send users in it's direction. If you don't want users to simply visit the site and immediately leave you can ask a question to validate entries and ensure that users are properly checking out the page. Try it here:

A great way to engage your audience and get your hands on some free marketing material is by using your sweepstake to collect some authentic and relatable user-generated content.

With Gleam, you can run a sweepstake which awards entries to users who submit hashtag restricted images with our Select actions for Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or you can use the Media Submit action to gather images from any of these sources with one easy action.

This is a great way to collect photos or videos of users enjoying your product or taking part in some sort of entertaining challenge.

If you want the collection of user-generated content to be the backbone of your entire campaign you can restrict entry actions to media submissions and select a winner based on creative merit.

Run Your Own Photo Contest
Learn More About Photo Contests

Find out everything you need to know about setting up your own engaging photo contest and displaying submissions in a stylish gallery.

A sweepstake can provide you with an outstanding opportunity to generate some user feedback. You can use our Question actions to ask users for product feedback, suggestions for improvement, personal preferences or anything else you would like. This is a great way to gain some useful insight into your customers and figure out how you can potentially improve your offering.

If you have an app that you're trying to promote you can drive downloads by awarding entries to users who successfully download your app.

If you are promoting a paid app then you'll need to be aware of no purchase necessary laws, we recommend offering a free entry alternative to stay legally compliant.

With our Coupon action you can offer discount codes from within your giveaway. This is a great way to offer participants a discount code to redeem at your store which is a great way to help drive sales.

You can use the actions required setting to lock your discount until users have completed a certain number of actions. This allows you to use your discount code to both drive sales and incentivise the completion of more actions which help maximise the effectiveness of your campaign.

When you run an online sweepstake you will probably include an assortment of actions. The more of these actions you can get users to complete, the more you will get out of your sweepstake. It's because of this that you should be looking for ways to get users to complete as many actions as you can.

A great way to do this is by using Gleam's Bonus Actions to offer extra entries to users who complete every action in your sweepstake.

As you go about setting up your sweepstake, another important decision you will have to make is how long you want the campaign to last for.

Generally speaking, the longer you keep your sweepstake active, the more people you will be able to reach and the more actions you will be able to drive. However, it's important that you don't drag your campaign on for too long. You don't want people to lose interest in your campaign or decide not to enter because the end date is too far away.

Keeping your sweepstake open for a few months is generally a good idea, as it is long enough to reach a significant amount of entrants but condensed enough to keep it engaging. If you already have a huge following you can probably afford to run shorter campaigns, as it will take a lot less time for your sweepstake to gain traction.

As you go about deciding the duration of sweepstake, you should also consider when you want to run it. Hosting a sweepstakes in the lead up to a special holiday or event such as Christmas, Valentine's Day or even a sale you are hosting can be a great way to add an extra layer of engagement to your campaign and boost the motivation to enter.

Once you've got your sweepstake set up and ready to launch, you will need to find a suitable online location to install your campaign.

If you don't have your own website then you can use a Hosted Landing Page which Gleam automatically creates for all campaigns.

You have the ability to style your Hosted Landing Page in a variety of ways, so you can add a sense of personalisation and professionalism to your giveaway.

Custom hosted landing page for a Gleam campaign

If you do have your own website then it's generally a good idea to embed your campaign within the site. All Gleam users have the ability to embed their sweepstake in any page that accepts basic HTML. This could be a blog post, a page on your website or on a third party site/social network that allows you to insert code. If you have a Facebook Page, you can opt to install your sweepstake within a tab on your Page.

Gleam campaign widget embedded on a blog post

If you opt for our Business plan you will unlock several more fantastic installation options including:

  • A full-page install which will mirror the Gleam landing page on your own site.
  • The ability to run your sweepstake in a floating tab or popup which can be triggered from your website.
Gleam campaign widget pop up on a website

Installing your sweepstake on your website is a fantastic way to promote you campaign from within your own site and encourage entry from users who have already shown interest in your brand or product.

Gleam gives you the ability to install your sweepstake in multiple places at once, so you aren't limited to a single installation method. That also means you can drive additional traffic through multiple channels!

Installation Methods
Learn More About Installation Methods

Find out everything you need to know about installing your campaign on websites, hosted landing pages and popup tabs.

One of the most important factors of any sweepstake campaign is the promotion. In order for your sweepstake to be a success you will need to encourage entry and drive action, and this means making sure that as many people as possible know about your campaign.

When it comes to promoting a sweepstake, the possibilities are essentially endless. We're going to take you through some of the most effective ways you can promote your sweepstake, but if you want an in-depth look at effective promotional techniques you can read our comprehensive contest promotion guide.

The users who are most likely to enter your sweepstake immediately and help spread the word about it are your existing fans and advocates. The best way to reach this audience is through social media, as it's likely that they already follow your various channels.

Social media is an incredibly powerful promotional tool as it allows you to connect with a huge audience in an authentic way, and it's perfect for reaching a new audience via peer-to-peer sharing.

Another highly effective way to drive action from you pre-existing audience is with email marketing. Sending out a promotional email to your mailing list is an outstanding way to encourage entry from loyal followers and get the ball rolling for your sweepstake.

Lease is How We Do It' Sweepstakes

If you produce any form of content on a regular basis then you should be using it to promote your sweepstake. Blogs, YouTube videos, streams, podcasts and more can all be used for promotional purposes, so when you're promoting your sweepstake don't forget about your content marketing channels.

If you have a blog then you will be able to embed the sweepstakes directly on a post, allowing you to not only promote your sweepstakes, but also collect entries within the same page.

Promoting a sweepstakes campaign on a Blog

A great way to significantly increase the promotional reach of your campaign is by teaming up with complementary brands and running a partner giveaway. This will expose your sweepstake (and your brand) to a whole new audience.

When looking for potential brands to partner up with, there are a few important factors to keep in mind. Firstly, you don't want to partner up with a competitor, as this can take the focus away from you and cannibalise the impact of your campaign. Secondly, you want to make sure that you partner with complementary brands whose audiences are likely to be interested in your product or service.

A terrific way to gain exposure from a large and relevant audience is by reaching out to influencers in your niche and asking them to promote your sweepstake in exchange for money, product, or even just the interesting content that your sweepstake will provide them with.

Popular YouTubers, Instagrammers and bloggers make for great influencers, so try finding and reaching out to some within your niche.

If you've got the budget for it, using paid ads can be an outstanding way to reach a new audience and expose a highly relevant audience to your sweepstake.

Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads, Instagram Ads and Google Ads are all excellent advertising channels for reaching and connecting with your target audience.

Another way to generate huge amounts of traffic is by promoting your contest on an online contest directory. The advantage of using these directories is that they can put your sweepstake in front of hordes of new users at low cost, but using these sites does have a potentially impactful downside.

By listing your sweepstake on promotional websites you run the risk of attracting entries from users who want to win a prize without having any real interest in your brand or products, which can lead to low conversion rates.

The best way to avoid this pitfall is by choosing a prize that will primarily appeal to users who may be interested in your brand. If you offer a generic prize such as an Amazon gift card you will likely be inundated with entries from uninterested users, but if you offer up your own product or a another highly targeted prize you are far more likely to limit entries to those with a real interest in your brand.

Sweepstakes directory website

If you are interested in using contest promotion websites we've created a comprehensive list of directories for you to use:

Competition Promotion Tips
Learn More About Contest Promotion

Check out our in depth guide for all the information you need on promoting your sweepstakes.

Once your sweepstake has ran its course it will be time for you to wrap things up.

If you run your Sweepstake with Gleam then we can randomly draw winners for you, all you need to do is go to the 'Winners' tab of your sweepstake and click 'Draw Winners'.

We highly recommend that you still check if your winner has a qualified entry. For example, a user could have followed you on Twitter to get an entry, then unfollowed you at a later time. If this is the case, Gleam allows you to invalidate particular entries and redraw a new winner.

Once you’ve picked your winners you can then choose to show their names inside the embedded widget, with or without their profile pictures.

Announcing your winners is a great way to let everyone know that your sweepstake has come to a close and publicly reward your winners in an engaging and personal way. In the immediate aftermath of your contest you don't want to neglect the other entrants, so consider using your announcement as an opportunity to offer all your users a bonus reward or promote your upcoming events or campaigns.

Once you've run your own sweepstake you'll be left with a bolstered mailing list and a strong social media following. It will then be time to think about how you can retain your audience and convert them into customers.

Here are some tactics you can use to drive sales and keep your customer relationships as strong as ever.

Once your giveaway has ended it's important that you wrap up the campaign and announce the winner. If you want to get as much engagement as possible from your campaign's conclusion consider sending out a wrap-up email which includes a discount code to your store, a link to your content, or any other special offering you can provide.

This is a superb way to reward the entrants who weren't lucky enough to win and drive further action!

Promotional email blast for a giveaway campaign

In the aftermath of your sweepstake, interest in your brand should be at a high point. It's crucial that you capitalise on this heightened attention by continuing to engage your expanded audience across your social media channels and drive sales or other further action such as subscriptions, views, listens, or anything else you're after.

If your sweepstake was well-received then you know you have just earned yourself a highly engaged community of fans! Reward your customer base regularly with flash sales or giveaways. Gleam makes it so easy to set up a campaign that you may as well run them on a regular basis.

Now that we've shown you how to run your own sweepstake campaign, we're going to take you through some specific examples of highly effective sweepstakes that you can model your own campaign after.


Ahron Burstin

Ahron is a Growth Marketer at Gleam. Shoot him a Tweet if you got something out of this post ☺