Want to Amplify Your Loyalty Program? Don't Overlook Sweepstakes
While sweepstakes might bring to mind simple tactics often tacked onto holiday, Super Bowl or back-to-school marketing campaigns, they can actually help your brand boost customer loyalty in a big way.
When executed correctly, sweepstakes are effective, scalable and cost-effective amplifiers that engage consumers and motivate a variety of strategic behaviors across the customer lifecycle — inspiring frequent customer engagement and capturing valuable data. In fact, 74 percent of consumers are more likely to sign up for a loyalty program if joining enters them in sweepstakes to win prizes.
Considering that 81 percent of consumers are more likely to engage with a brand if it offers an incentive, it’s clear why more brands are enhancing their customer loyalty strategies with sweepstakes.
3 Ways Sweepstakes and Contests Inspire Customer Engagement
In the economy of choice, where consumers can choose whether they want to engage with brands, loyalty is more difficult than ever before. While having a loyalty program is critical, sweepstakes and contests are scalable and cost-effective add-ons that can be highly effective at boosting engagement. And as a bonus, they operate at a fixed cost regardless of the number of entries.
Consider these three ways contests and sweepstakes can help you achieve your brand’s loyalty goals:
1. Strengthen customer acquisition.
Contests and sweepstakes not only strengthen relationships with your current program members, but also connect your brand with potential new ones. Sweepstakes are low-hurdle and low-commitment events that provide instant gratification — making them an appealing entry point for consumers less familiar with your brand. You can also use registration information captured via sweepstakes to further engage shoppers through efforts like trivia contests and social media challenges.
For example, when National Car Rental wanted to acquire more loyalty members, it partnered with Air Miles to offer a sweepstakes where consumers could enter their Air Miles Collector number or sign up for the program to play a car-themed instant win game for a chance at free reward miles and car rentals. To ensure everyone drove away feeling like a winner, those who didn’t score a prize received a high-value car rental offer. Each play was also an entry into the weekly drawing for 5,000 air miles.
2. Encourage brand advocacy.
A successful advocacy strategy provides a stimulus in the form of a call to action and an incentive that motivates consumers to share authentic content reinforcing brand messaging. This motivates brand advocates to create valuable user-generated content (UGC) for your brand and share it across their personal networks. With contests, you can target specific hashtags and trends to engage in conversations with your target audience.
Alaska Airlines wanted to engage and reward its followers to generate positive sentiment on social channels. It invited consumers to share their travel stories on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag “#IFlyAlaska.” The brand selected top content each month and surprised those fans with round-trip vouchers, Shutterfly gift codes and more.
With every person who participates and shares, you increase brand awareness and capture the attention of a larger customer base who trust the recommendations and opinions of the people they follow on social media.
3. Increase data acquisition.
Sweepstakes and contests offer access to valuable zero- and first-party data about your customers’ purchase behaviors and preferences. For example, you can learn if shoppers prefer certain products over others or if they’re more inclined to engage with your brand across certain channels or content mediums (e.g., video vs. written content).
Kalahari Resorts’ Create Your Perfect Kalahari Adventure is a great example of a brand using sweepstakes entries to gather zero- and first-party data and gauge customer interest. The contest was also designed to feel like an engaging experience for customers, rather than just another form to fill out. Would-be travelers took part in an image-based personality profile with questions designed to help them determine which activities and experiences comprised their perfect Kalahari adventure. By completing their profile, participants earned a chance to win their family’s ideal adventure. With this sweepstakes event, Kalahari unlocked data and insights into customer preferences that could be used to recommend personalized products and offerings (like discounts on certain hotel rooms or locations).
It’s time to rethink the role that sweepstakes and contests play in your customer engagement toolkit. These cost-efficient incentives can be used to capture consumers’ attention, motivate participation in branded experiences, and drive strategic actions. You can then use these engagements to learn more about your target audiences, gain more program members, and encourage shoppers to advocate for your brand on social media — greatly amplifying customer loyalty in the process.
Tyler Haskins is executive vice president of marketing at ebbo, an all-in-one loyalty company helping brands build unforgettable customer experiences.
Related story: 2021 Loyalty Program Benchmark Report
Tyler Haskins is the EVP of Marketing at ebbo, an all-in-one loyalty company that has helped leading brands build unforgettable customer experiences for over two decades. He brings over 20 years of experience in digital marketing and product development, including past work with American Express, Bank of America and Wells Fargo. He has extensive knowledge of the loyalty and customer engagement space, having strategized on loyalty products for major consumer brands.