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How to Run Contests with WordPress

April 14, 2016
Best WordPress Competition Contest Plugins

Running a contest on your WordPress website can be very worthwhile, but it can also be hard work. If planned and executed correctly it can help grow your audience, raise brand awareness, and help promote and sell your products.

But what do you need to consider before running a competition and what type of competition is a best fit for your project? In this article, we’ll be taking a look at some of the different types of contests you can run as well as the best WordPress competition plugins that make growing your audience a breeze.

The Benefits of Running a WordPress Competition

The Benefits of Running a WordPress Competition

Running a competition creates excitement and interaction among your website community. The prizes don’t have to be huge but, done correctly, the rewards for your business can be.

Collecting Email Addresses

Competitions are a great way to collect email addresses and one of few times when people are happy to part with them. People love fun contests and more than that they love freebies. Giving an email address to access the possibility of winning a prize is a small price to pay. Meanwhile, your site’s mailing list grows and grows.

Growing Your Audience

An obvious result of a competition is that you can reach a wider audience, especially if you make the most of your social media channels. The more people engage in your contest, discussing and sharing it online with their friends, the more your website will begin cultivating and reaching a new audience.

Improving Your Social Media Presence

Contests are a popular way to improve your social media presence. Share or run your competitions through your social media accounts and your shares, likes, and followers will quickly increase. This will grow your audience on social media, and if you are clever about it, help increase traffic to your site.

Raising Brand Awareness

Social media marketing, as well as reaching a wider audience through running a competition contributes extensively to raising brand awareness. The excitement around your contest and the consequential reach to new consumers that can occur will help raise general awareness of your brand. In conjunction with that, the competition itself and the interaction around it will help position you as a serious brand, and a genuine authority in your industry.

Promoting Your Products

Competitions are also an impressive way to promote your products, particularly if you base a competition around one of your products. This could be using your product as a prize, asking people to comment about a particular product, or share photos displaying one of your products. Let your visitors and customers market your products for you through competitions, sharing images and dialogue about them with a wider audience.

All of the above points should ultimately lead to an increase in traffic to your site and more sales or leads. However, this will only be true if you have thought through the competition and chosen the right type of contest for your site and audience.

Things to Consider BEFORE You Start the Competition

Once you have decided to run a competition of your WordPress website don’t just rush ahead into it without a clear plan or strategy. There are some key points to consider before you get started.

What is the Objective of the Competition?

Think carefully about what you want to achieve from running a WordPress competition. Who you are targeting and consequently what type of contest you should run? Do you want to grow your audience, increase your mailing list, promote your products, or something else? Remember, in the long term, you can run more than one WordPress competition so just pick one or two objectives for the first contest for your site.

Who is the Target Audience?

You need to identify your target audience if you want your competition to achieve its goals. You want the contest to attract the type of people who are likely to become customers, clients, or subscribers, not people who love competitions but have no interest in your niche.

The prize for your contest is important here. It doesn’t need to be expensive but importantly it does need to resonate with your target audience and be related either to your products or industry. This will help attract the right clientele.

What Type of WordPress Competition Will You Run?

The type of competition you choose to run should help tick the boxes for attracting the right audience and realizing the aims of the contest. Think about the type of competition your target audience will be interested in entering. For example, at the most basic level, photographers, run a photography contest. But if your objective is to collect email address, make sure this is a prerequisite of entering the competition.

The Different Types of Competitions You Can Run

Here are some different types of competitions that you could run, as well as some of the best WordPress competition plugins that can help you manage them.

Note: Make sure to research the laws regarding giveaways and lotteries in your country, state, providence, county, city, etc. In some cases there may be age restrictions, tax forms, or other rules and requirements that are your responsibility to follow.

A Photo Competition

It is well known that people engage more with images online than text. So why not take advantage of this and run a photo contest? Sharing images in a competition can be a great way to promote your products, as the competition can be to post an image of one of your products being used or enjoyed. To increase engagement on your site you can ask people to vote on the pictures to determine the winner.

A WordPress Comment Contest

If you want to create a competition that encourages excitement, discussion, and engagement amongst your website’s community you could run a contest on your site that is based on people commenting on a blog post. Simply choose which blog post you want people to discuss and then offer a chance of winning. This type of contest encourages discourse on your site and creates a strong interactive community.

Social Sharing Competition

An impressive way to encourage people to generate brand awareness and gain new followers is to run a sharing competition on social media. This involves creating some type of image or text and asking people to share and like it, to be in with a chance of winning.

Refer a Friend Competition

By setting up a referral campaign you can run a competition by rewarding those who refer their friends. People are usually happy to refer a friend if they stand a chance of winning a prize. In the meantime, your site benefits from the promotion and sharing of your business with a new audience.

A Video Contest

Through video competitions, you can promote your brand and products plus get some great exposure through video reviews or recommendations. Hopefully, people will also share the competition and videos on social media, helping to grow your audience.

Lottery

Last you Could run an old fashioned lottery. In this case you would sell tickets, pick winners at random and allot prizes. Just be sure that lotteries are legal to be held in your local (for example, the states of Alabama and Utah completely prohibit all forms of gambling so it would not be legal for you to host a lottery if that is where your business is based).

The Best Contest WordPress Plugins

Now let’s take a look at some the the best options to run and manage contest on your WordPress site. All of our top picks are free, and while some do offer premium plans don’t you should only upgrade if you need the added features (in most cases the free version is great as is).

1. RafflePress

RafflePress

The classic WordPress contest plugin, RafflePress is a tried and true option to host competitions on your site. Use the drag and drop giveaway builder to create your contest, enable entry options (follow on social media, refer a friend, visit a page, leave a comment, answer a question, submit an image, etc.), integrate your newsletter, use the smart fraud detection to verify emails/actions and more.

2. WooRise

Woorise - Forms, Giveaways, Surveys & Quizzes

If you’re looking for a plugin that does more than just contests, then WooRise might be right for you. Of course you can use the plugin to run your won giveaways and contests, which includes options for social entries and campaign rewards. But the plugin can also be used for forms, surveys, quizzes, and orders/payments. So you can use it for a variety of steps in your overall marketing campaigns!

3. Simple Giveaways

Simple Giveaways Free Plugin

Next on our list is Simple Giveaways. Created to be simple and easy to use, we think a standout feature is the plugin’s ability help WordPress e-commerce stores grow their audience. This contest plugin includes helpful options to get customers excited about sharing your store by running store giveaways, enable actions for product related entries and giveaway interaction follow-up emails. Plus it integrates with both WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads.

4. Social Boost

Social Boost Plugin

With Social Boost you can design all types of giveaways, contests, sweepstakes and more. The plugin offers many features to leverage competitions on your WordPress site for leads and engagement. Use templates to get started fast, enable entries (subscribe, refer, follow, share, watch, etc), draw winners and see your brand grow!

5. Scratch & Win Giveaways

Scratch & Win Giveaways Plugin

Last, while technically an “instant win” and not a true contest, we’d argue that it’s still a form of giveaway so we’re including Scratch & Win in our list! This fun and unique plugin allows you to add scratch cards to your site with instant win prizes for visitors. Add prize types and quantities, enable social sharing, customize banners, add campaign start/end dates and more.


Of course, there are a lot more types of contest services and plugins that you can use, but the ones mentioned in this article are definitely a good place to start. Think carefully about your type of website or business, the audience you want to attract, and most importantly what you want to achieve through your competition. Then choose the type of contest accordingly. Good Luck!

How will you use competitions to promote and grow your website? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Article by Joe Fylan WPExplorer.com guest author
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4 Comments

  1. Megan Jones

    Thanks, this is a really interesting read.

  2. shakergeek

    Never occurred to me to run a contest thru WP. Thanks. I see the Pick Giveaway Plugin hasn’t been updated in 8 months. Has anyone here used it? I’m always hesitant to try plugins that don’t have active development.

  3. Emily Johns

    One of the precised article I have came across. I am looking forward to implement these points and working on the same. 🙂

  4. jtibbles

    Great article Joe, I’d love you to check out my competition plugin called No Frills Prize Draw. It’s free to download at WordPress.org . There’s a pro version with lots more features (for only €10), let me know if you would like to review it and I’ll send you a free copy. Both the free and pro version have received some great reviews. Playstation even use it for their internal office competitions.

    Hoping to release my business directory plugin early 2017 too.

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