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How do sweepstakes work?

A sweepstake in its entirety is just a contest where prizes or gifts are given to randomly selected people. There is no skill involved in winning a sweepstake. It is random, and you are not even required to pay an entry fee or purchase a product of any sorts. Sweepstakes are a great way to promote your brand or introduce a new product into the market.

Running a Sweepstake

Running a Sweepstake is not a joke. It is a process that should and must be conducted legally and ethically. There are ten basic rules of running a Sweepstake, and I will cover them in just a moment. Many companies do not abide by these basic rules and violate the laws enacted to regulate the Sweepstake process. In the United States there are many Federal, State and local agencies who are involved in supervising the sweepstakes. Also, each state has its own rules and regulations regarding sweepstakes.


10 Basic Rules that Must be Followed
in Conducting a Sweepstake

  1. There should not be a purchase clause to be a part a sweepstake.
  2. Sweepstakes must have defined beginning and ending dates.
  3. Sweepstakes must explicitly and clearly state out the eligibility criteria.
  4. Sweepstakes are obliged to declare if there is a limit on how many people can be a part of it.
  5. Sweepstakes must have a clear description of “how to enter the sweepstake?”.
  6. Sweepstakes must have a statement clearing mentioning the odds of winning.
  7. Sweepstakes are bound to and must declare the prizes being offered and their value.
  8. Sweepstakes must state the process of winning and how the winner would get informed.
  9. Sweepstakes must explain if there are any restrictions on how to win?
  10. Sweepstakes must inform about the name and address of the ones who are sponsoring the prizes.

How to Participate in a Sweepstake?

The process of participating in a sweepstake is relatively simple. All you have to do is to check the guidelines to ensure that you qualify according to the location and demographics. Once you verify that, all you have to do is to fill your necessary information such as name, address on an entry form and turn it in.

girls and people using phone

Types of Sweepstakes

There are many kinds of sweepstakes. Following are the most popular:

Mail-in Sweepstakes

Mail-in Sweepstakes are the ones where you send your entry to the sponsor through the mail.

Advantage: Mail-in sweepstakes are less well known and hence your chances of winning are higher.
Disadvantage: It is more time consuming and hectic than online sweepstakes.

Online Sweepstakes

In this day and age, everything is online. You can find sweepstakes on the internet as well. Online Sweepstakes is easy as you do not have to go to a particular business location or a store to register and play. All can be done on a click. As there is no entry fee involved, online sweepstakes are enjoyable as they are effortless.

Advantage: Online sweepstakes are very easy to enter and free of charge.
Disadvantage: Since it is easy to enter in an online sweepstake, there is usually much competition for the prizes. So, your chances of winning are less.

Email Sweepstakes

Email Sweepstakes are the one where you send your entry via email.

Advantage: They are free to enter, and your odds of winning are higher.
Disadvantage: They are more time consuming than the online sweepstakes.

Call-in Sweepstakes

Call-in Sweepstakes have a phone number where you have to submit your information to enter.

Advantage: There are less well known, and your odds of winnings are higher.
Disadvantage: There are often hidden call charges, and you should be aware of that.

What do Companies Get out of a Sweepstake?

This far you have learned that neither you have to pay an entry fee nor buy a product to enter a sweepstake. This raises a question that what do companies get out of these sweepstakes. A short answer to this question would be “effective marketing.” The prizes they give away is not just a useless expense instead they are legitimate marketing expenses, which boosts sales and profits. Following are some benefits that companies enjoy by running a sweepstake.

Sweepstakes help create a buzz about the products:

Word of mouth is becoming more and more potent since the inception of social media. You can now, share your interests with your friends and family through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Sweepstake encourages people to talk about a company. Let us say if you win a prize at a sweepstake, you are going to share it. Alternatively, if you see any great product and there is a chance for people to win it, you might share that as well. So, sweepstake creates a buzz about a product.

Sweepstake makes people visit a company’s website:

Online sweepstakes give a strong motivation to customers to visit a company’s website. Once there, the customer will most probably continue to explore the site to see what product or services a company has to offer.

Free Giveaways strengthen the company and customer relationship:

Sweepstake and giveaways are a chance for fun interaction between company and customer. It creates a positive image of the company in the consumer’s mind, which can then carry over to brighter attitude towards the company’s products.
Fast food restaurants frequently arrange sweepstakes for boosting their sales. One of the most famous sweepstakes was run Macdonald’s, i.e. The “instant-win.”

Difference Between Sweepstake and Contest

Many people get confused between a sweepstake and a contest. The primary difference between a sweepstake and a contest is that a winner is randomly selected or picked in a sweepstake. On the other hand, a winner of a contest is evaluated by officials on a specific criterion. Contests are a good choice when you want to limit the target audience. For example, if you own a camera shop, then you may want to organize a contest to target the photographers, who may be interested in your shop.