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What is a Viral Sweepstake?


What is a Viral Sweepstake?


Giving away free stuff is the oldest trick in the marketing book. Brands have been promoting their businesses with sweepstakes since color TV was invented.

But here’s the truth:

Free stuff just isn’t enough to get noticed anymore.

Just search Twitter for #giveaway or #contest and see for yourself. Every business is using the same strategy — they may get a few bites with a giveaway but there’s no way to go viral.

A viral sweepstake is a contest… with a twist. People don’t enter in for a random chance to win a prize and then go about the day. They enter in, then they start referring their friends. The more friends they refer, the better their chances of winning.

What Makes It Viral?

A regular sweepstake is passive. You enter to win, and by chance you might. But a viral contest turns your sweepstakes into a competition. Refer as many friends as you can, and get more entries into the contest yourself.

For businesses, this broadens their reach beyond their current audience. Maybe one of your social followers enters the contest, then refers 10 friends. Then each of those friends refer 10 more. You’ve captured 100 new email addresses just from one person. Imagine if half of your social followers did this.

One of our customers got just that kind of success, despite being a brand new company with a small audience. TOKAY Ultimate got 2502 email sign-ups in just a couple weeks. Most of them were from referrals:

How Can You Create A Viral Contest?

Any business, no matter the age, size, or product, can create a successful viral contest. All they need are a few important elements:

The Right Price

Your giveaway has to be something that gets people excited in the first place.

Coupons won’t cut it. Make it valuable.

And make sure your prize is something your target audience alone would want to win. Give away a free iPhone, and you can capture thousands of emails from people who would never buy from your business.

Give away one of your premium products, and only target people who are interested in your business in the first place.

You can also set first, second, and third place prizes to encourage interest:

what is a viral sweepstake

An Incentive to Share

There’s nothing about a regular sweepstakes that encourages people to share. Actually, if less people enter the contest, the better someone’s chances of winning.

With a viral contest, sharing becomes a strategy to win.

All you need to do to create this incentive to share is install MaîtreApp on your site. Embed the widget on your contest landing page:

What is a viral sweepstake prize

Next you can launch your contest and start promoting it to your current email list and social followers.

When someone visits your landing page and signs up, they’re encouraged to refer their friends using a special link. It’s that easy!

A Sense of Urgency

Ever heard of “fear of missing out?” It dominates the lives of Generation Y. They call it FOMO. It causes the same anxiety that causes people to check their Facebook 10 times a day.

People don’t like missing out on things, even if they didn’t realize they wanted it in the first place. That’s why your viral contest should have a sense of urgency. Tell people they’ll miss out on the opportunity if they don’t act now.

Make it clear on your contest landing page and social posts when the contest starts and ends. Remind your followers not to miss out on their chance to win!

What is a viral sweepstake

The Power to Promote

It doesn’t matter how big your current audience is. If you get even one of them to enter the contest and share, your reach can snowball.

But this is only going to happen if you get the word out.

So send out a notice about your contest asking them to join in. Better yet, build up the hype before your contest launches by highlighting your prize.

The same goes for your social profiles. Schedule and send out tweets and posts about the contest when your audience will see them. Follow up every day.

Your viral contest isn’t like all the other sweepstakes out there. It’s a straight up referral competition. Make sure you highlight this to make your contest fun:

Gamify your contest by reminding your audience how to increase their chances of winning. Post updates about who’s in the lead, and how much time people have to catch up.

The more interest you can generate for your viral contest, the more viral it can become.

Want to grow your list? Generate more leads? Spread the word about your brand? You need a viral contest, not an old-fashioned sweepstake. And luckily, it’s an easy task if you have the right prize and right tool.



Head of Growth @ Maître | Skibum @ heart | Growth-obsessed by Nature.
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