And the 1st Place Goes To…

Retain restless customers with contest marketing. Done correctly, it provides numerous opportunities for you to entice them and make them stay.

Adebisi Adewusi
February 17 2019

McDonald’s didn’t invest their money and resources into a branded Monopoly contest because board members were passionate about the classic game. Contests influence nearly 75% of consumers’ purchasing decisions, and 74% are more likely to recommend a brand that hosts contests and giveaways. Want to spark excitement with your audience? Speak to their competitive nature. Use the following tips to drive retention and loyalty to your brand.

Hold a Referral Contest

When customers love you, they’ll recommend your brand. 83% of consumers will refer your company to others after a positive experience. Reward satisfied customers for engaging with your brand and continue driving customer retention by offering them the chance to win big.  59% of U.S. consumers are loyal to brands that present them with small tokens of appreciation for their support, such as personalized discounts, gift cards, and special offers. To make the most out of your contest, keep the following tips in mind:

Use a Leaderboard: A leaderboard can increase customer engagement and motivation by allowing customers to track their rankings against other players.

Give Valuable Rewards: Offer experiential rewards such as movie tickets, special tours, wellness treatments, etc., to customers who give referrals – in addition to a grand prize for the overall contest winner.

User Experience: Clearly outline contest rules, terms and conditions, and what’s in it for your customer. Make it easy for participants to invite friends to the contest by using a simple user interface (UI), structured navigation, and an easy sharing process that requires just one click.

Repurpose User-Generated Content

Including users’ contest submissions in your marketing can help build trust with customers and encourage more purchases. 60% of consumers say UGC is the most authentic form of content and 90% report that UGC influences their decisions to make a purchase. And while this approach doesn’t seem like a contest–it is, if only because you’ll potentially receive hundreds (or maybe more) of content by your customers and you you’ll have to choose the best pieces. Below are three ways you can use your user-generated submissions to drive customer retention.

Social Media Ads: In a world of airbrushed photos and banner blindness, UGC sets your social ads apart. UGC increases click-through rates for Facebook ads by 300%.  When cross-selling and upselling to recent buyers on social media, infuse social ads with UGC. For best results, include an offer in your social ad to encourage them to shop with your brand.


Email: Displaying UGC in post-purchase emails can increase your conversion rate by 166%. Use machine learning tools to identify top-performing posts and integrate them into your emails. Mix multiple UGC formats like tweets, Instagram posts, and selfies to connect with customers – just make sure the content is up to date.

Website: Embed user content on your website for social proof. When customers see people like them using your products, they’ll feel more confident about making a purchase. In 2009, Burberry launched The Art of the Trench. The website showed customers wearing Burberry trench coats and led to a 50% year-over-year eCommerce sales boost. To nudge customers to checkout, place your content on the website’s homepage and make it instantly shoppable and shareable, as did Charlotte Russe in the following example:


While UGC brings extra credibility to your brand, get explicit permission from content creators before you using their content, and always give credit.

Support a Cause

In exchange for their loyalty, consumers expect you to give back. 88% of consumers say they will be more loyal to a company that supports a social cause or environmental issue. Match a grant or throw a contest where you list a number of charities and ask the public to vote on which one should receive donations from your organization.

Target’s “Bullseye Gives” campaign asked Facebook users to go online and vote how the company should distribute $3 million to ten selected charities.  The contest attracted 291,399 votes from 167,000 fans and raised awareness for Target’s charitable efforts.

But while holding a contest for a good cause is noble, it can easily go wrong. Avoid turning a good deed sour by following these guidelines. 

  • Transparency: Disclose how much you’ll donate and how you’ll deliver the funds. Provide details so customers understand how you’re actually contributing. Target’s campaign showed how much money the following charities received in a week:


  • Suitability: Ensure your brand has an authentic connection to the cause you’re supporting. If you’re debating which cause to support, survey your customers to find out which organizations they favor, talk to your employees, or use resources like Charity Navigator to find nonprofits with similar values to your brand’s.
  • Include Expert Opinion: Enlist a panel of judges with charity expertise to select organizations that will participate in your contest. This will ensure that you support legitimate charities. For Tom’s of Maine’s “50 States for Good” campaign, independent judges chose the options based on community volunteers, achievability, and positive impact on the community.

When holding a charity contest, resist the urge to focus on yourself, and shine the spotlight on the cause.

Tap into Crowd Wisdom with Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing contests increase loyalty-related metrics such as repurchases and recommendations. When Oreo held its #MyOreoCreation contest, the brand’s impression score increased from 48 to 56.


To drive customer retention with crowdsourcing contests, have customers try your products before they vote.  This will provide insight into your customer’s preferences and encourage more sales. To participate in the M&M “Flavor Vote” campaign, for instance, customers had to purchase three competing flavors, taste them, and vote for their favorite.

Additionally, you can re-engage existing customers by producing your contest’s winning entry, making it available for purchase. For instance, cheesy garlic bread, the winning chip flavor for Lay’s “Do Us a Flavor” contest, drove an 8% sales increase three months after the competition.


Obtain Accurate Email Addresses 

To 80% of marketers, email marketing is the most effective method of reaching customer retention goals. But the problem is that consumers often submit fake personal details. Research shows that nearly one-third of people provide a fake email address.

58% of customers will trade personal information for certain incentives or benefits under the right circumstances. Use contests to your advantage and obtain accurate email addresses as part of the entry process.

When your contest ends, identify existing customers from your email list and inform them about sales promotions. Emails containing promotions can influence your customers’ buying decisions, as 22% of consumers purchase products from their preferred brand only when on sale or with a coupon.

Be respectful of your customer’s privacy by protecting and securing customer data through authentication, backup, replication, training policies, and procedure techniques.

No Contest

Done correctly, contest marketing provides numerous opportunities for you to retain customers in a fun way. To encourage customer participation, reduce entry barriers and specify what you want from them. Host your contest on one of your social media platforms and use your other social handles to promote it. Finally, choose a contest app that offers an extensive range of contest types and analytics functionality, so that you have plenty of options when developing the contest and picking your winner.



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