Email Marketing

Email + Sweepstakes: A Winning Combination

minute read

I like to win. I can thank my Dad for that. Endless games of cribbage against him as a kid (and mostly losing), taught me the value of good competition and not giving up. Granted, I’m used to losing. But, given a choice, I’ll choose winning. So, when a good sweepstakes email shows up in my inbox, it piques my interest. Who wouldn’t want to win a new grill or a free hotel stay? Email is an obvious and great way to promote any sweepstakes, but as with any campaign, flawless execution is a key factor to success. So, what can we learn from these recent sweepstakes emails?

Make it Easy

This email with the subject line “Enter for a chance to Win our Delish Dish Sweepstakes!from Classico engages subscribers by asking them to vote for one of their new recipes and enter to win coupons and prizes. The sweepstakes’ call to action (“enter today”) is clear and is the featured content in the email. Unfortunately, the “Enter Today” call to action led to a landing page that included too much competing information (a coupon for joining the newsletter, links to view the recipes, and the actual “click here” link to vote for your favorite delish dish and enter the sweepstakes). After clicking on the “click here” link, the lengthy sweepstakes form with eight required fields (which were not marked as required) appeared. By this point, Classico has likely lost many potential entries (and new subscribers).

Removing the landing page and driving directly to the sweepstakes form and clearly marking all fields as required simplifies the process. The information on the Classico intermediary landing page is better presented within the sweepstakes process. Classico has already incorporated the newsletter opt-in into the sweepstakes form (and requires subscribers to check the opt-in boxes – a best practice!). Links to get the recipes can be included on the sweepstakes thank you form. By removing a step in the process and focusing on the goal, a sweepstakes entry is much more likely to be completed.

Key Takeaway: Make the entry process as streamlined and as simple as possible starting with the email creative and subject line and ending with an easy-to-complete registration form.

Target Your Content

I’m fortunate to say I’ve been happily married for over 10 years. So, while I would love a $5,000 gift card to Williams-Sonoma, a sweepstakes focused on a wedding or gift registry is not remotely relevant to me (nor to anyone I know right now). Just because you are running a sweepstakes, it doesn’t give you permission to throw out the basic tenants of email marketing.  If you want to reach a bigger audience with your targeted content, at least use messaging to support this (e.g., “Know someone getting married? Tell them about the Williams-Sonoma Dream Registry Sweepstakes”). While you’re at it, consider adding a benefit to subscribers for sharing this content (free shipping, anyone?) with their friends and family (see the next section).

Key Takeaway: Don’t waste a valuable email touch on a sweepstakes that won’t resonate with subscribers. Use email to deliver the message to a targeted audience and leverage your social media presence to promote the sweepstakes to a larger audience.

Add a Social or Interactive Element

Embassy Suites Hotels and Betty Crocker each add a twist to their sweepstakes and promote these unique aspects in the email. The current Embassy Suites campaign offers a free night’s stay for you and a friend. This allows entrants to win, but also share the spoils with a friend. Betty Crocker provides sweepstakes entrants with additional entries for every recipe added to their recipe box on  After saving recipes to a recipe box, site visitors are able to share the recipes via email and several social networks as well as “like” the recipe on Facebook or “pin it” to Pinterest. Providing additional incentives to share recipes with a subscribers’ network could be another way to make the sweepstakes stand out and increase its reach.

Key Takeaway: If possible, add a social or interactive element to your sweepstakes and use email to promote the unique aspect of your sweepstakes.


When executed correctly, email is a great way to promote your sweepstakes. Sweepstakes can also be a great way to grow your email list when the sweepstakes has a sharing component and is promoted via other channels. In order to measure the success of email acquisition via sweepstakes, be sure to tag and track any new subscribers to determine the quality of the new subscribers. In addition, be sure to check with your legal team before launching any sweepstakes. Follow these guidelines and email and sweepstakes can be a winning combination for you.

This originally appeared on The Magill Report.