Designing an Engaging Online Competition

In the realm of digital marketing, online competitions have emerged as a powerful tool to captivate and involve target audiences. However, orchestrating an effective competition necessitates strategic planning and thoughtful execution. In this blog post, we will explore the essential strategies for crafting an engaging online competition that drives participation and accomplishes your objectives. From selecting enticing prizes to optimizing the entry process, let's embark on a journey through the world of online promotions. 


The Perfect Prize

While captivating prizes like large cash sums or luxury cars initially catch attention, they may not necessarily motivate people to participate. Striking a balance between grabbing attention and encouraging entry is crucial. Consider offering a combination of major and minor prizes to entice participants and boost their perception of winning chances. Alternatively, these large cash prizes may result in lower entry rates if participants are not already invested in your product category. To make these more appealing, you could suggest potential uses for the cash prize that align with your offerings. Linking the cash prize to a specific purpose can help participants envision what they could benefit from winning, increasing interest and motivation. 

Timing plays a pivotal role in the success of your competition. Offering multiple headline-grabbing prizes simultaneously might not enhance participants' perception of their odds of winning. Instead, you could focus on a single headline prize or stagger the prize announcements throughout the competition period to maintain participants' engagement and excitement. Tailoring the competition structure to the preferences of your target audience is also essential for success. If your primary goal is to engage and educate existing users, opt for a competition format that features a limited number of major prizes and fewer smaller prizes. Although multiple prizes may initially seem attractive, a few prizes with higher value create a sense of exclusivity and desirability. Participants perceive these prizes as more valuable, thus increasing their motivation to enter the competition. This approach creates focus and fosters engagement among your loyal customer base. 

Barrier to entry

Simplicity is key to encourage participation. Design an entry process that is straightforward and easily accessible to all participants. Raffles, simple interactive quizzes, and prominently displayed clickable links or QR codes simplify the entry process and remove barriers to participation. However, for a more educated audience, consider incorporating a challenging format, such as a sudoku puzzle or general knowledge quiz, to appeal to their intellectual interests. 

Setting an appropriate draw date is crucial to maintain participants' interest, particularly for competitions focused on driving sales, building product awareness, or enhancing customer engagement. If the draw date is too distant, participants may lose motivation, especially for smaller prizes. Strive for a balance by selecting a timeline that keeps participants engaged while allowing sufficient time for promotion and execution. Participants will not be as excited about a competition with a prize draw one year down the line. Leveraging the popularity and participation levels in your competition can create a sense of urgency and excitement among potential participants. Incorporate phrases like "our most popular competition to date" or "Over 10,000 people have entered so far" in your promotional materials. By showcasing social proof, you instil confidence in prospective entrants and encourage more people to join the competition. 


Choice promotion

You can have the perfect prizes and competition entry lined up, but your campaign can still end up unsuccessful. Why? Lack of marketing and promotion! While it’s very important to select the right prizes for your campaign, it’s important to note that your campaign won’t have its desired reach through word of mouth alone. There are two main ways of driving traffic to your online competition: In-store promotions and social media/online.  

In-store promotions can include on-packaging call to actions, FSDUs with QR codes, floor stickers, till and store exit promos, or any combination of those listed! The messaging on these items may depend on the placement of the promotion. For example, the messaging at POS might be ‘WIN’, but the messaging at the till or exit might be ‘Don’t forget to enter’. The volume of consumers seeing this messaging guarantees an increase in engagement.

Alternatively, using online methods for promoting competitions can be equally effective, with a much lower barrier to entry as users are already online and a click away from entering from the comfort of their home (assuming your entry mechanic allows for this). This type of promotion can be pushed on retailer and consumer websites, consumer social media and influencer channels. All of these are unique in their own way and will be effective in different capacities depending on the nature of the promotion.   



Crafting an engaging online competition requires meticulous planning and execution. By carefully selecting prizes, targeting the right audience, emphasizing popularity, and simplifying the entry process, you can create a successful competition that captivates participants and achieves your marketing objectives!