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Check the laws around sweepstakes in every region that you plan to allow participation, and consult with an attorney and make sure what you’re doing is legal.
For example, New York requires you to bond prizes valued above $5,000, and California doesn’t allow the use of alcohol as a prize.
Sweepstakes law blog offers a list 12 things to do before organizing anything. Although it was made primarily for offline sweepstakes, many items on this list hold true in the online world:
- Are the sweepstakes limited to residents of the U.S. or one or more states or cities within the U.S.?
- Do the eligibility requirements for entrants clearly identify the age, residency, and other requirements for entrants to be eligible?
- Must individuals be at least 13 years old to enter?
- Is there a way to enter the sweepstakes by simply mailing a postcard with the entrant’s contact information to the sponsor?
- Are the odds of winning clearly set forth in the rules and are they equal for everyone who enters, including the mail-in entrants?
- Are the prizes described precisely and do they include all aspects and details, including the Approximate Retail Value for the total prize?
- Is the method of selecting the winner explained and is there a date and time stated for when the winner will be chosen?
- Is the sponsor’s name, address, phone number and web address listed prominently in the official rules and on all advertisements pertaining to the sweepstakes?
- Is the statement “No Purchase Necessary” and “Void Where Prohibited by Law” displayed in the rules and in all advertisements?
- Is the value of the prize less than $5,000?
- Are employees of the sponsor prohibited from entering the sweepstakes?
- Is there an end date and time listed in the rules, and are the number of entries that each person may submit clearly stated?
Establish marketing goals ahead of time and incorporate those objectives into your campaign structure from the beginning.
Different goals require different planning. For example, if your aim is to get X number of likes on your Facebook page, then the campaign has to have a Facebook component.
Have prizes that your target customers want and, ideally, others don’t, and also prizes that relate closely to your business.
The problem with having, say, an iPhone as the prize is that it will increase the number entries from hundreds, or thousands, or millions with a likely lifetime value of zero. You want to fill your email list or social media following with people who actually care about your product or service, not random freeloaders.
With so many sweepstakes on the web, a great prize is far from enough to get people to share yours. Encourage people to share by offering additional entries for liking, tweeting, or emailing.
- Incentivized share: Brands put responsibility on consumers to participate, but offer an incentive. As more entries = greater chance of winning, consumers are often happy to share.
- Soft share: Consumers receive a reminder that they should share the sweepstakes with their friends and family. This is the least invasive and most polite way to ask for a share.
- Direct share: Integrates the share call to action within the ad. It’s a bit in-your-face, but, then again, there’s a greater chance that your consumers will share it.
These rules are for your protection, and anyone entering your sweepstakes needs to be able to read them. They should include eligibility requirements for entrants and information about the time and place of the draw.
Every sweepstakes must attach a “no purchase necessary” message to promotional materials, in a clear and readable font. If you don’t, you might end up being fined heavily, which is what happened to CVS years ago.
Depending on the platform, your responsibilities may vary. Facebook in particular has very concrete rules, read them beforehand to save yourself a lot of trouble. If not, you might end up like Cadbury or FCUK, which had their official Facebook pages in India taken offline for different violations. You don’t want that to happen to your brand or client.