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16 oct

Adding a Sweepstakes or Contest to your Marketing Plan

By: Sync Marketing | In: Advertising, Best Practices, Contests, Marketing, Sweepstakes, User Generated Content

This is about the time of year when companies start thinking about their marketing budgets for the upcoming year. They analyze the current year’s successes and misses, and start the conversation about what might work to their advantage in the next year. Does your upcoming marketing strategy include an online sweepstakes or contest? If not, we think it’s something you should consider. Below we list the benefits of adding a sweepstakes or contest to your marketing plan. It could be a win for your company.

Sweepstakes are a very cost effective marketing tool

Unlike traditional media, sweepstakes are a low cost way of getting your company’s name or products in front of the masses. By putting the word out on your company’s social media sites, it will engage conversation about your company and the free buzz will organically occur.  It’s also a great way to build your SEO. Here is a case study showing how Star Fine Foods increased their website visits by 288% from the previous year due to running an online sweepstakes.

Sweepstakes are a good medium to build your email database

Your online sweepstakes may just have been the catalyst that brought a new customer to your site. Once there, hopefully you have impressed them enough to want to keep in touch so to speak by signing up for future communications from your company. Here is an article that outlines sweepstakes best practices and ways to build your email database.

Sweepstakes offer insight into who is interested in your company

You are in control of the information you collect from entrants so if you’re looking to obtain demographics on your consumers, the sky can be the limit on what you can collect. One word of caution, however, is the more difficult you make the entry process, the higher chance you have of drop-offs. Make sure you are only requiring information that is important to you and perhaps make the other information optional for entry.

Sweepstakes and Contests can produce unforgettable UGC and PR

One instance that comes to mind is the annual Doritos contest. I can’t image watching the “big game” without the anticipation of seeing the winning commercial from the Doritos contest. This is an example of a fun promotion that has garnered a lot of free advertising through blogs and social media sites over the years. When companies ask their consumers to upload photos or videos, those companies have unique user generated content directly from their consumers that can benefit them in the future. Check out the 2016 contest here

Sweepstakes build a good relationship between the company and the consumer

The common thing that all sweepstakes share is that they give away a prize. Whether it’s thousands of instant win prizes, an unforgettable family trip, or a brand new car, rewarding your consumers with prizing will always leave them with a good feeling about you that will hopefully translate into future sales.

If you are sold and would like to consider adding a sweepstakes or contest to your marketing plans, be sure to consult the experts at Sync to get started. We will formulate a plan to make sure you have the most successful campaign and ROI.


09 oct

Do I Really Have a Chance to Win a Sweepstakes?

By: Jennifer French | In: Best Practices, Contests, Marketing, Sweepstakes

Picture the scene…you have a five minute break from your busy day and decide to order a new pair of shoes online from your favorite retailer. While on their website you notice that they are running a sweepstakes and the grand prize is a luxury trip for two to Italy. Your mind immediately flashes back to the time one summer in college that you back packed (on a tight budget) across Europe and how you swore you would return some day to this magical place. Could this be your chance? But, then reality sets in and the adult you, who has limited time and lots of skepticism abound thinks, “What are the Odds? Do I Really Have a Chance to Win a Sweepstakes?”

Believe me, I’ve been there as well. On many occasions in the past I’ve seen random sweepstakes that have piqued my interest, but before entering, I stopped for a moment and thought, “Why bother, what are the chances?” Now that I’m on the other side and actually see the inner workings of a sweepstakes, I can say, “Sometimes, the chances can be pretty good!” So good in fact, that there are many people, aka “Sweepers,” as referred to in industry terms, who make entering sweepstakes a full-time job. Here is one example of a site that lists new sweepstakes every day to aid people involved in this very hobby.

But for the average person who may only enter here and there, below are some helpful tips to determine if you should take a shot at entering for your chance to win.

What are the odds of winning? 

Obviously, this is a big factor in your chances of winning. Typically the odds are based on the number of eligible entries received during the sweepstakes entry period. As a good rule of thumb it is always good to check the official rules to see how the odds are outlined. In some instances, companies choose to limit the number of entries or only open the eligibility up to people who are subscribers to their email notifications or to people within a certain age range. You typically have a better chance of winning if it’s a contest vs. a sweepstakes as entrants have to complete a task in order to enter a contest, which often lessens the number of entries received. Also, look for local sweepstakes to enter. There will be less entries than a national promotion so you will have a higher chance of winning.

How often are you allowed to enter?

Building on the odds of winning, another thing to consider is that if it is only one entry per person total you will have a much greater chance of winning than a sweepstakes that allows people to enter daily, unless you plan to enter on a daily basis yourself.  Be sure to read the official rules to see if there are restrictions on the number of entries in order to make sure you have the best chance.

How many prizes are being awarded?

If a sweepstakes sponsor is only offering one grand prize, your chances of winning will be less than if they offered more than one grand prize, or if they are offering several first prizes.  Obviously, the more prizes a company is offering, the better chance you have of winning. You may not win the trip to Italy, but it might be fun to win some of the other prizes they are offering.

Enter a sweepstakes that has a mail-in entry

Because most sweepstakes have been moving online, you have a better chance of winning one that is strictly a mail-in entry since less people tend to enter these sweepstakes.

Now if you do win, additional questions may arise such as, “How do I know this isn’t a scam?  Here is a blog article that may be helpful in this instance.

Want some additional tips? The sweepstakes pros share their tips to winning here.

Whether you take the time to enter or not, of course it is ultimately up to you, but one thing rings true…you can’t win if you don’t play.


30 sep

Running Sweepstakes and Contests on Social Media Channels

By: Sync Marketing | In: Ask Sync, Ask Sync Marketing, Best Practices, Contests, Facebook, Instagram, Marketing, Sweepstakes, Twitter, User Generated Content

This month’s Ask Sync Marketing is all about social media. We are address common questions relating to running sweepstakes and contests on social media channels.

Is one social platform more effective than another when running a sweepstakes or contest?

This really depends on the goals of your campaign and your target demographic. Ask yourself, “Do you want to gather user generated content?” “Do you want to appeal to a younger demographic?” If so, Instagram would be a good medium to choose. This way, you will gain UGC by capturing their uploaded photo. In addition, you will hopefully in turn get them to follow your page in the process. Here is an example of a winning social media campaign that we created. It was even highlighted in Chief Marketer. Lastly, here is an article on the benefits of running an Instagram sweepstakes.

Next we need to cover the ever popular Twitter. When running a sweepstakes Twitter, you will find that it’s an effective way to increase your odds of getting word out about your sweepstakes your mass demographic. It will also help increase your followers. However, if your goal is to encourage consumers to opt-in to your email subscription list, you may consider running a sweepstakes on Facebook. Running a sweepstakes on Facebook will allow you to collect user information and collect opt-ins. While Facebook is for all ages, if your demo skews older, this might be the best social media platform for your campaign. Regardless of the platform you choose, it is important that your entrants have access to the official rules.

Do I have to include a Hashtag in my social sweepstakes or contest?

If your only method of entry is via Twitter or Instagram for example, a hashtag will need to be included in order to identify your entries. For example, if you are running a sweepstakes where you are asking entrants to upload a photo of their pet in a Halloween costume, you might consider asking them to include the hashtag, #Halloweenpetparadesweepstakes with their upload. By doing this, you will be able to recognize all of your entries into the sweepstakes.

One thing to keep in mind is that you will need to make sure to clearly outline that your entrants’ Instagram, Twitter and/or Pinterest profiles must not be set to private during the sweepstakes entry and selection period. It’s also extremely important to add the term, “sweepstakes” or “contest” to the end of your promotion’s hashtag. This is a recent required ruling made by the FTC. It needs to be included in order to help consumers identify that others are posting as part of a sweepstakes. You can learn more about the rule change here.

Am I able to let my customers enter on more than one social platform?

Certainly! As long as it is clearly outlined in the official rules, you can give entrants more than one way to enter. We also recommend that you make it very clear to entrants if they are allowed only one entry total in the sweepstakes. Or, if they are able to earn one entry per method.

The next time you consider running sweepstakes and contests on social media channels, feel free to reach out to Sync. Our expert team will guide you on the best platform to use to achieve your goals. In addition, our legal team stays up-to-date on all of the changes to the rules of social. If you would to some example of Sync’s social media campaign’s check out or work page, here.

Sweepstakes and Contests on Social Media Channels

17 sep

And the Winner Is… An Insider’s Guide to Entering Contests

By: Jennifer French | In: Best Practices, Contests, Television

On the heels of the Prime Time Emmy Awards, television’s greatest contest so to speak, I thought it fitting to touch upon the art of entering (and hopefully winning) a contest. So what exactly is a contest you may ask? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, one definition is, “to try to win (something).” This is true, but this definition doesn’t touch about the ART of trying to win this said contest.  I’m going to offer you an insider’s guide to entering contests as well as provide some tips to help make sure you have the best chance to win any contest that you may choose to enter.

Before we get into the nitty gritty, I think it’s important for you to first know the difference between entering a sweepstakes vs. a contest. A sweepstakes is a game of chance in which consumers are asked to provide basic information about themselves to be entered into a prize drawing. Most importantly, potential winners are selected in a random drawing. On the other hand, a contest is a game of skill, where entrants are asked to complete a measurable task that is judged and scored. For more information on this, click here.

Now on to the show…

Know the contest criteria – This is the number one most important thing to consider when you enter a contest. First and foremost, you need to know what you are required to submit to have a valid entry. For example, a contest could ask you to upload a photo of yourself at the most exciting location you’ve traveled to as part of your entry. Sounds simple enough, right? But what you may have neglected to notice is that it also said that the photo cannot contain any company logos, and you have on your best Nike jersey.  Disqualified! Information is your friend. Be sure you have all of the facts before you take the time to enter.

Understand the judging criteria – Because a contest is a game of skill, each entry will be judged on a set criteria. So, building on the photo entry above, this contest is judging entrants on three categories: 50% on location, 25% on creativity, and 25% on uniqueness. So, if you submit a shot of yourself in your backyard, I’m guessing you might not rank very high with the judges. However, had you read the criteria, you might have considered showing that picture that you took of yourself diving off of a sailboat in Fiji. Be sure that you chose to submit the best photo that you can to get the best score possible.

Know your audience – Judges are only human after all, so ask yourself when entering, who is running the sweepstakes? If it’s a young, hip energy drink company, the judges might think that a picture of you bungee jumping off of the Grand Canyon is creative and unique vs. you feeding a giraffe at the San Diego Zoo. However, the giraffe picture might work for a pet supply store running a contest. Play to your audience.

So back to the Emmy’s. When you are watching the winners being announced this weekend, think of the steps these actors needed to take to compete for their prizes. Just like you, they first need to know in which category they would be eligible to compete (criteria), submit their best work, and play to the judges. Check out all of the nominees here.

 


28 aug

Common Questions asked by Sweepstakes Entrants

By: Sync Marketing | In: Ask Sync, Ask Sync Marketing, Best Practices, Contests, Marketing, Sweepstakes

We receive many inquiries during our sweepstakes and contests from entrants who want to know the answers to their questions pertaining to the promotion before entering. First and foremost, the official rules are your friend. The majority of the answers to most questions regarding a sweepstakes or contest will be found here. Below we will go over a few of the most common questions asked by sweepstakes entrants.

Can I enter more than one time per day?

This varies by promotion, but if you attempt to enter more than one time in a day and you receive a message stating that there is only one entry allowed per day, then you have your answer. And, no, this doesn’t mean you can sign up with a different email address to try to enter again as that is against the rules and you will be disqualified.

When will I be notified if I am a winner?

It’s very important to know this information as sometimes potential winners only have 24-48 hours to respond to the initial notification regarding their prize. If you enter a sweepstakes or contest that you’re really interested in, set your calendar to be ready for the call or email from the sweepstakes administrator. At a minimum, the date of winner notification will be listed in the Official Rules in the winner notification section. It’s also a good idea to check your spam folder of the email account that you used to enter on the posted date of winner notification as sometimes email carriers may inadvertently mark the notification as spam.

Why can’t I provide a P.O. Box as my address?

Typically this is because if there is a physical prize to be won, some carriers do not ship to P.O. boxes. Also, it allows administrators, like Sync Marketing, to help prevent cheaters from entering their client’s sweepstakes. You can learn even more about this here

Was my entry received?

Sometimes entrants have a computer glitch or their internet goes out during entry. Typically it’s not the sponsor or administrator’s responsibility to look into this as the issue occurred on the consumers end and the hosts of the promotion are not responsible for the entrant’s internet problems. However, if the administrator offers good customer service, and it is something that they can identify, they will look into the entry to see if it has been received, but this process is not legally required in most cases.

How much is the trip worth?

You can find the approximate retail value, also known as ARV for a trip in the prize section of the Official Rules. To learn more about ARVs, check out our post here.

If you’re an entrant or a company planning an upcoming sweepstakes or contest and have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Sync Marketing at inquiries@syncmarketing.net. Come back next month for another Ask Sync feature!

 


07 aug

Best Practices for Running Instant Win Sweepstakes

By: Sync Marketing | In: Best Practices, Instant Win, Legal and Prize Fulfillment, Marketing, Sweepstakes

Instant win sweepstakes are becoming increasingly popular with brands due to the ever changing habits and valuable input of their consumers. We are in an age where people love instant gratification so what’s better than winning a prize instantly? There are certain best practices for running instant win sweepstakes that we will go over today to make sure you’re running one that will tie into you brand or service and enable you to have the most successful campaign possible.

Prizes that matter: When running an instant win sweepstakes, you first want to make sure you have relevant prizes to give away and a lot of them. If there is only one instant prize winner a week, your instant win game will not be as popular as say one that gives hundreds or even thousands of prizes per week. So be sure, if your budget allows, to give away a substantial number of prizes. If budget is an issue, think of connecting with a suitable partner to offset some of the costs. 

If you can’t partner with another company, it’s important to provide prizing, like branded swag for example, that relates to your product so you know you’re getting entrants who truly care about your brand. Lastly, it is recommended that you offer an overarching grand prize that relates to the theme of the campaign. In the Mopar campaign, they are also giving away a trip to a Sandals Resort, which ties in perfectly with the Smooth Summer Travels Sweepstakes.

Is it Shareable? With all sweepstakes, exposure is key. It’s important when running an instant win sweepstakes that it’s something that would be attractive to consumers to share with their social network. A lot of instant win sweepstakes incorporate games or quizzes. Often time personality quizzes are the most shared, so consider running one where entrants who take the quiz find out at the end if they’re an instant prize winner. Or, think of creating an instant win promotion which partners with a cause or charity that is important to your organization.  Your consumers will really feel compelled to spread the word which equates to a win-win situation!

Knowledge is Power: There is a lot of trial and error when creating instant win sweepstakes, including the programing, legal, registration, and security measures to name a few. To avoid mishaps, hire an agency like Sync Marketing who has extensive experience in the area to make sure you’re getting the most out of your instant win sweepstakes.

The next time you want to run an instant win sweepstakes, try to keep these best practices for running instant win sweepstakes in mind. If you have any additional questions or need help with your promotion, don’t hesitate to reach out to Sync Marketing!

Instant Win Sweepstakes


30 jul

Questions Regarding Prizing ARV

By: Sync Marketing | In: Ask Sync, Best Practices, Contests, Marketing, Sweepstakes

We are often asked by our clients and blog followers alike a variety of questions relating to online sweepstakes and contests.  We thought it might be informative to highlight some of the questions here once a month in order to offer our insight on a broader scale. This month’s topic specifically relates to questions regarding prizing ARVs.

What does it mean when a sweepstakes refers to an ARV in the official rules?

When you win a sweepstakes prize over $600, you are required to pay income taxes on the amount won. The ARV stands for approximate retail value of the prize. If for instance, the sweepstakes you are entering has a cash prize, your winning income would be the exact dollar amount of the prize. If the offered prize includes non-cash items such as a television, or a service such as a trip, it’s up to the sponsor and/or administrator of the sweepstakes to determine the approximate retail value or the ARV of each prize. For more information on taxes and sweepstakes prizes, see our previous blog post here.

What determines if I need to bond and register my sweepstakes?

The rule of thumb is that if your sweepstakes has a total approximate retail value (ARV) of all combined prizing of over $5,000, you will need to bond and register your promotion at a minimum with the states of New York and Florida. There are also other factors involved where other state or federal authorities may have jurisdiction over your sweepstakes or that your organization may be exempt from this process, so it’s best to consult an expert in the field, such as Sync Marketing, to review your promotion structure and advise you on a case by case basis.

How do you determine an ARV for a sweepstakes at Sync Marketing?

There are several instances where we work with our clients to determine the approximate retail value (ARV) of a prize for a sweepstakes or contest.  If it is an item that our client sells, we will designate the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP), which is the amount for which the company that produces a product recommends that it be sold for in stores. Here is an example of how one retailer, Diamond Candles, explained the ARV of prizing in their recent sweepstakes. When determining an ARV for a service such as a trip, we do our due diligence to research the average price of the trip elements to ensure that the ARV is on target.

Check back next month for another topic of interest regarding sweepstakes and contests.  If you have any additional questions regarding this topic or another sweepstakes or contest question, feel free to send them to inquiries@syncmarketing.net and they may be featured in an upcoming blog post.


15 jul

Sync Marketing: How Do I Run an Online Sweepstakes or Contest?

By: Julie Link | In: Best Practices, Contests, Legal and Prize Fulfillment, Marketing, Sweepstakes

You’ve finally made the decision to join many of your fellow companies by adding an online sweepstakes or contest to your future marketing plan. Since you’ve reached this point, you probably are asking yourself, “How do I run an online sweepstakes or contest?” First you need to identify your audience, outline your goals, pick a platform, and assign a budget, and then you might be asking yourself, “What do I do next?” Below is a check list of things that you will need to focus on to get your sweepstakes or contest off of the ground successfully:

• The Concept: The ideation process is very important to make sure that you grab your audience’s attention to get them interested in participating in your campaign.

• The Creative Design: What is the look and feel of your campaign? How will you incorporate your message in the design of your sweepstakes microsite? There are a lot of things to consider during this process.

• The Programming: How do you plan to collect the data entered by your consumers? Are you planning to send thank you for entering or reminder emails to your participants?

• The Legal: Although not as fun and “sexy,” this is one of the most important elements of your campaign. You really need to outline the legal parameters of the promotion and offer entrants clear and concise rules. Also, are you going to need to bond and register your promotion based on state guidelines?

• Customer Service: Did you plan to answer consumer inquiries during the campaign, or provide access to winners lists at the end?

• Winner Selection, Notification and Verification: Playing Santa Claus is definitely a fun part of the promotion, but making sure your potential winners meet all of the sweepstakes eligibility before you award the prize is imperative.

Prize Fulfillment: The winner has been cleared and now it’s time to deliver their prize. But wait, is the prize over $600? You are planning to send the IRS and the winner a tax form, right?

• The Metrics: So, how did it go? Without setting up the appropriate metrics, how will you know?

This list is just a basic outline of what is needed to run a successful sweepstakes or contest as there is much more involved. Here is another of our blog articles that might also be helpful to get you started.

We get calls all of the time from first-timers looking for information and what steps are needed to create their campaign. It can be initially overwhelming when you hear all of the things that go into putting together a sweepstakes or contest. That’s why we are here to help. At Sync, we will put together a program for you that will clearly outline what is needed and offer services that allows us to manage all or some of your campaign based on your needs.

 

 

 


17 jun

Sweepstakes and Contest Guidelines: Recent Changes That Could Affect Your Upcoming Sweepstakes or Contest

By: Jennifer French | In: Advertising, Best Practices, Contests, Facebook, Legal and Prize Fulfillment, Sweepstakes

When running an online sweepstakes or contest that includes a social media element or endorsement feature, it’s very important to follow the most up-to-date sweepstakes and contest guidelines to make sure your company or client is on the right side of promotion law. For example, recently Facebook made a significant change to their guidelines with respect to sweepstakes and contests, and the FTC has updated a host of FAQs outlining their stance on several topics related to endorsements and social media sweepstakes and contests. Below are a few highlights, but to read the entire FTC FAQ list, click here.

FTC Recommendation for Social Media Sweepstakes or Contests
The FTC recommends that companies running a sweepstakes or contest require all entrants to make it clear that their post on their social media account was an entry into a sweepstakes or contest. They recommend including either “sweepstakes” or “contest” in the overall promotion hashtag required for entry into the promotion. Also noted is that the FTC does not feel using the word “sweeps” is clear enough as they feel that many people will not understand its meaning.

No More Facebook “Likes” for Entries
A recent change in Facebook policy prohibits earning additional sweepstakes entries by sharing on personal timelines or by using friend connections (i.e. asking entrants to share on their timeline to enter for a chance to win, or by sharing on a friend’s timeline in order to earn additional entries, and tagging your friends in a post to enter are no longer allowed). Additionally, all promotions must be administered on pages or within apps on Facebook. Personal timelines and friend connections must not be used to administer promotions. For a full list of Facebooks promotions guidelines, click here.

It is very important to know all of the facts before you begin planning your upcoming sweepstakes or contests. Consider hiring a sweepstakes administrator like Sync Marketing for your next promotion. Our legal team is constantly staying up-to-date on all of the many changes in the field and we will make sure that you are always informed and running legally compliant promotions. Please contact us at 323.596.7962 or email info@syncmarketing.net.


31 may

Sweepstakes and Contests: Handle Internally or Hire a Sweepstakes Administrator?

By: Sync Marketing | In: Best Practices, Contests, Legal and Prize Fulfillment, Marketing, User Generated Content

We may be a bit biased when it comes to whether or not you should handle a sweepstakes internally or hire an administrator, but we hope the following tips will lead you in the right direction. Whether you’re a marketing agency or an international corporation, these questions will help you determine if you’re equipped to handle a sweepstakes or contest, or if you need to call the experts.

1. Does your in-house legal counsel specialize in promotion law?

Promotion law is very specific. Just recently, Facebook changed its policy to no longer allow entrants to share on Facebook that they’ve entered a sweepstakes or contest in order to earn extra entries. Using a legal team who specializes in promotion law will allow you to stay up to speed on these types of changes so that you know you’re running legally-compliant promotions. You can read more about the policy change here.

2. Does your creative team know how to design mobile-optimized websites?

These days, a lot of consumers enter sweepstakes through their mobile devices and it’s important that your site is mobile optimized to provide the best consumer experience. More importantly, you must have a creative team that understands how to design for a mobile optimized site to ensure your site will run smoothly. It’s also important to know the difference between mobile-friendly, mobile-optimized and responsive sites, and determine which one is best to use for your sweepstakes or contests…but that’s for another post. 🙂

3. Does your ideation team know the difference between a sweepstakes and a contest?

It is not only imperative to know the difference between a sweepstakes, but it’s also important to know which one to run to achieve your goals. Are you looking to obtain user-generated content or are you looking for data capture? To learn more about the differences between a sweepstakes and contests and which one you should run, check out co-founder Julie Link’s article on the very subject, here.

4. Is your accounting team set up to handle winner paperwork and issue 1099’s at tax time?

Whenever the total ARV of your prize is over $600, you will need to obtain a W9 from your winner and then 1099 them during tax season. Your accounting team will need to gather this information during the year, submit the information to the IRS and answer all consumer calls that come after you send the 1099. Co-founder, Jennifer French, has a lot to say about this topic, here.

Hopefully we have helped make the decision of whether or not to handle a sweepstakes internally or not, a little easier. And if you have decided to hire an agency, please give Sync Marketing a call! 323.596.7962.