When running a sweepstakes one of the most vital ingredients to achieving your goals and attracting the right audience is prize selection. Select a prize that attracts too broad an audience and you’ll end up with unqualified entrants. Select a prize that’s too targeted and niche and you’ll end up with very few entrants. The key is to find a prize that has enough value to attract attention while being niche enough to filter out those who are not within your business’s target market.

Many businesses may think that they cannot afford to run a sweepstakes due to the cost of the prize. This should not deter you from running a promotion, as there are no minimums or maximums for prize values when running a sweepstakes. A good rule of thumb is typically to try to have a prize value that is at least $100.

Prize value versus popularity

In this session at TBEX Toronto, a travel blogger conference, JohnnyJet mentioned that he often sees more entries for campaigns that have prizes with lower retail values than the huge prizes that he sometimes offers. This is where knowing your audience becomes extremely important. Knowing their interests and needs allow you to select prizes that appeal to them.

In the graphs below you can see popular prizes from the electronics category that have appeared on the Giveaways Directory over the past six months. Based on the number of times entry forms were viewed you can see which prizes were most popular, with a PlayStation 4 giveaway taking the top spot, with 15% more views than the runner-up, the iPad. It should also be mentioned that the PlayStation 4′ average retail cost is 25% higher than the iPad prizes that were being given away.
Sweepstakes prize popularity

Sweepstakes prize retail value

Prizes by category

In general there are some prize categories that are just more popular than others. This is not always directly impacted by the retail value of the prize being given away. Prizes that appeal to broader audiences are going to attract larger numbers of views and entrants. While these popular categories like electronics and gift cards may attract the largest volumes of entrants it’s vital that you evaluate whether that large audience will be comprised of users within your target market or if it’s likely to attract those who are interested in the prize only and are unlikely to make purchases or interact with your brand long-term.
Sweepstakes prize categories

Prizes by Brand

With all other things be equal (approximate retail value, type of product) the brand of your prize can have a significant impact on the performance of the sweepstakes. Many websites and blogs with a focus on household items and cooking offer prizes such as blenders, food processors or similar kitchen appliances. Below you can see the average interest level for a campaign with a prize from popular brands within this category.
Sweepstakes prize brands

Large brands spend resources on getting the word out about their products and building a brand image. You can build on their efforts by selecting a sweepstakes prize that has a popular and well respected brand behind it. This can also be a powerful tool to use when promoting your sweepstakes. Try the suggestions below for increasing awareness of your campaign.

Tag the Brand within your Facebook posts

By tagging other pages in Facebook posts you can increase the organic (free) reach of your posts when Facebook shows your posts to users who are Fans of that page.

Tweet at the Brand when promoting your sweepstakes on Twitter

You may be surprised by the frequency with which your Tweets that mention other companies or brands will be favorited or re-tweeted to their followers by mentioning them or including their account in your Tweet (@brand).

Be sure to include the Brand within your entry form headline

Rather than writing a headline for your entry form that is generic (Win a Blender) be sure to add the brand name and be specific with details (Win a $150 {Brand} Blender)