Online contests and competitions are a perfect way to attract new customers and retain your old ones. While it seems like a simple process at first glance, once you try organizing it yourself, you’ll quickly realize that’s not quite the case. Hosting an effective online competition requires a lot of planning, analyzing, and hard work.

With that in mind, we’ve decided to create a simple, yet detailed guide to help you reach your business goals by starting an online contest!

So, if you’re interested in learning how to do it properly, make sure you read all the way to the end!

Source: Corporate Finance Institute

Set some S.M.A.R.T goals

Before you start thinking about what your prize should be, you need to ask yourself: what do I want to achieve?

Without a solid plan and clear goals, your contest will likely amount to nothing. Even if you do succeed, how would you know it was a success? That’s why you should prioritize setting your goals properly. Your objectives should have the following characteristics:

  • Specific- you can’t simply say: “I want more customers”! How many? When do you want it to happen? Set a deadline and work with real numbers!
  • Measurable- your goals need to be trackable! So, again, think numbers!
  • Attainable- yes, you should set your goals high, but you should also know your limits. Don’t try to become the next Apple in a course of a day.
  • Realistic- be aware of what you can, and what you cannot do.
  • Time-bound- set deadlines on both your long-term and short-term goals. “We’ll get there one day” is simply not enough!

Overall, as long as you keep your goals SMART, you’ll be able to come up with a perfect plan.

Source: Paraphrase Online

Determine your target group

Who is this competition for? What kind of people are you trying to attract here? What are their interests, needs, and goals? You have to know your market well before making any strategic moves!

Your target group won’t only determine your prize, but it also determines the core nature of your contest. A great prize is not enough; you have to keep your content engaging too. Make sure to learn as much as you can about your current position on the market. If you’re trying to broaden your offers to a completely new demographic, you’ll have to learn what they like first. Marketing is 99% understanding other people and their needs and goals: everything else is a pure technicality.

Also, keep in mind that different age-groups prefer different online platforms. For example: if you’re targeting boomers then you should go to Facebook, when it comes to Millennials they’re mostly on Twitter and Instagram, and you can find most of Gen Z on TikTok.

Source: Woorise

Set up the competition rules

Now, when you know your goals and your target group, it’s time to create the contest itself. Naturally, we can’t tell you precisely what your competition should look like. Still, make sure you base it on the demographic you’re targeting, and keep it relevant to your brand in some way. For example, if you’re selling cosmetics, you could make a make-up contest. Let your followers post selfies on a themed look of your choice, and pick a theme that speaks to your target group the most!

You should choose a desirable prize for your contest- that’s a no brainer. It should be of high-quality because that’s what people will end up associating your brand with in the future. Make sure you don’t overdo it though, as it should be an investment towards your company’s future, not its way to financial ruin. Pick a reasonable budget and start brainstorming with your team, and you’ll certainly come up with something great!


Find the right tools

Depending on the nature of your online contest, and the social media following you have, you should start searching for online tools to help you with the implementation process.

Luckily, there’s a ton of useful resources online, so keep on searching until you find something that fits your plan and your budget.

Social media is where you’ll promote yourself, and many of these platforms have integrated tools to help you achieve this quickly. If you’re just starting off, and your social media presence isn’t quite strong, you could try boosting your competition by buying votes and participants at websites such as

Find the judges

A competition, no matter if it’s online or real-life, isn’t complete without a set of judges. You should approach professionals either from your own company or a third-party source. Whatever you do, make sure these judges are reliable and knowledgeable. Your competition has to be fair to be effective.

Of course, sometimes you won’t even need a judge. If your contest doesn’t have to do much with skill, but it’s entirely based on luck, make sure to get software that will randomly generate the winner.

Make sure to announce the winner publicly, since it promotes trust between you and your potential clients.

Source: National Business Research Institute

Track and analyze your results

The competition you’re organizing is primarily a marketing move, so you’ll need to approach it as a marketer. This includes analyzing your progress and your results. Are you any closer to achieving your goals? Do you need to do some retargeting? Change the prize? Does it make financial sense to organize another one in the near future?

The answer to these questions lies in careful analysis of your key performance indicators (KPI). They’re the cornerstone of digital marketing, and you can easily gain access to this data by using various software tools such as Google Analytics and E-commerce insights.

Source: WIN Creative Marketing

The bottom line

Organizing an online competition is not an easy task: it requires deep knowledge of marketing tools and tactics. Nonetheless, contests are a powerful tool that can help you achieve your business goals.

Overall, as long as you stay creative, with a clear, yet flexible plan, you’ll be able to succeed. Do your research, keep your brand in mind, and know your market, and you’ll quickly achieve your goals.