social media how to

Do you want to capture more email leads?

Are you running social media contests to grow your email list?

Whether they’re run on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram, social media contests and giveaways are a great way to collect emails.

In this article you’ll discover how to make sure your social media contests and giveaways attract and convert more email entrants.

Why Collect Emails as Contest Entries?

You know social media is effective, but it’s rented land. Your email list is something you own.

The good news is that you can use social media contests to collect emails for that list by asking people to enter with their email address.

capture email leads with social media contests

Find out how to capture more email leads with social media contests.

Once collected, you can use those email addresses to target your marketing on platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

Here are a few ways you can multiply the number of email leads your contests generate by making them as participant-friendly as possible.

#1: Put Winning Within Reach

If your social media sweepstakes and contests aren’t generating the email entries you need, the issue may be that people don’t believe they have a real chance at winning.

Here are three ways to help people understand winning is a genuine possibility and therefore worth the time it takes to enter with an email address.

1. Offer Multiple Prizes

Past research on maximizing sweepstakes and contests for consumer value shows that offering multiple smaller-value prizes can be more effective than offering a single high-value prize.

Why? People weigh their chances of winning before they enter a contest.

Say your contest offers a new car as its only prize. Most people think about how many people will enter, feel their chances of winning are minimal and decide not to enter.

sweepstake with multiple winners

The most effective contests offer multiple lower-value prizes so there are more chances to win.

Offer a number of lower-value prizes in place of or in addition to your grand prize to raise the odds someone has of winning.

2. Level the Voting Field

“Enter with a selfie of you and your dog! The selfie with the most votes wins!”

At first sight, this contest seems okay—it’s simple and easy to understand. But it’s not ideal. The conditions are intimidating for entrants who don’t have a large online network.

See, in order to win the prize your potential subscriber needs to collect the most votes. Say he has a cute puppy but not many friends who are part of the platform your contest is running on. He does the math and thinks he’ll collect relatively few community votes, loses interest and doesn’t enter.

Instead of choosing winners based solely on community votes, include a jury round in the process.

sweepstake with jury round

Add a jury round to your contest so all entrants feel like they have a fair chance to win.

If you let people qualify for the final round by collecting community votes, and then have a jury award your prizes, everyone will feel like they have an equal chance to win.

3. Separate Entry and Voting Rounds

Would you enter a race if the other runners each got a one-mile head start? I’m guessing not.

The same logic can be applied to social media contests that require people to upload something (a picture, video, music or a story) for a voting round.

If these periods overlap too much or are run at the same time, people worry about catching up with others who have already collected lots of votes. They know they’re behind and they don’t enter.

sweepstake with separate rounds

Separate uploading and voting periods give everyone the same chance at winning.

To make sure everyone has a fair chance at collecting votes and winning, you need to have separate rounds for submissions and voting.

Open your contest for voting only after you stop accepting submissions so all entrants start at the same baseline.

#2: Incentivize Voting

If you only focus on motivating entrants to share their email address by offering a prize, you’re missing out on a big source of leads—your voters.

To capture voter leads, add a layer to your contest that asks voters to register with their emails in exchange for being entered into a related prize drawing.

sweepstake with voter incentives

Voters are more likely to engage if they have a chance of winning too.

As a bonus, you can gain even more engagement for your contest when you add an entry for someone on each day they cast a vote.

#3: Give Bonus Entries to Get Social Shares

“Thanks for entering! Now share this with your friends!”

Marketers often make the mistake of putting sharing icons and prompts wherever they can; for example, just after someone enters a contest.

Getting people to enter your contest, sweepstakes or giveaway with an email is only half the battle. The other half is to get the people who enter to share your promotion with others, whether you’re trying to attract voters or more entrants.

The issue is that most people won’t share a contest if it means decreasing their own chances of winning the prize.

The solution is to create a win-win for both you and the people who enter your contest.

sweepstake with sharing incentives

Sharing is caring. Sharing that’s beneficial for both sides is even better.

Use a social media contest, sweepstakes or giveaway tool that lets you award extra entries or points to people for each share they post from your contest.

The more people who know about your contest, the more email addresses you’ll receive.


Because your email list is a commodity you own, you should require all entrants to submit an email address as part of your contest entry process.

The tips in this article aren’t difficult to implement. Apply the techniques above to generate more entries from your social media contests—and more emails for your list.

What do you think? Will you try these techniques to get more entrants and grow your email list? What tips can you share to help others? Let us know in the comments below.

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  • What contest tools would you suggest we look at using?

  • Hi Scott, the one I can certainly recommend is Antavo. The platform has 13 contest types, inbuilt and responsive templates, mobile compatibility, great customer service, etc.

    All the images above are screenshots from Antavo contests.

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    >>>>>>>>> M ONeYKIN. Com

  • Michelle

    Hi Scott, I recommend ShortStack. Their platform allows you to run contests on Facebook or on the web so you can involve your entire online audience.

  • Bonus entries are crucial I think at getting people to share a contest. Otherwise there isn’t much incentive to do it. Great post.

  • Ravi Shukle

    Great post @zsuzsakecsmar:disqus, I agree one of the most over looked features in a contest is having multiple winners. This combined with social sharing for more entries is a great recipe for engagement and increasing the word of mouth about your promotion.

  • Thanks Scott!

    I hope it could help PostPlanner too when you used our tool!

  • Yes! More winners mean more chances and more participation! Such a simple technique. Prizes don’t need to be that expensive.

  • Without doubt a great strategy- At the Brian Carter Group, we’ve tested all the approaches with Facebook ad lead gen for clients, and contests and webinars usually win. In fact we had a tuition giveaway recently that got a 30% conversion rate. Great article, Zsuzsa!

  • Awesome post, Zsuzsi!… I’m going to share this on the Post Planner fan page right now! 🙂

  • Nice job Zsuzsi! Great round up and examples of what works!

  • Excellent post Zsuzsa – thanks for sharing your wisdom and experience!

  • Kim Garst ツ

    Great info, Zsuzsa! Thanks for sharing your wisdom around what works for social media contests!

  • Thanks, Zsuzsa! I love that all your tips featured examples to help us be able to actually visualize each point.

  • Jenny Brennan

    Love this post! I especially like your first point about making winning a possibility! Many contests that we have run have been hugely successful based on this.

  • Great post Zsuzsa! I’ve tested the multiple prize idea for one of my pages and it did so much better than giving away one prize.

    Love the idea of social share entires too.

  • I love your ideas Zsuzsa! I’ve personally tried the tactic of allowing ‘multiple entries’ to increase participation (and tweaked it a little to authenticate the participants) and it has worked a great deal for me, so I can vouch for that.

    I’ll explore the others and share with you if I see positive results!


  • Thanks for bringing us up to speed on the state of contest tools and strategies @zsuzsa! Bravo! Many get excited with the idea of influx of traffic and subscribers, how important do you see it to have an engagement strategy in place prior to launching a contest? -Travis

  • Pingback: Marketing Day: Chartbeat's Attention Minute Metric, Content Marketing On A Global Scale & More()

  • DonnaGilliland

    Zsuzsa, an excellent post filled with helpful examples. Love #3, bonus entries for sharing. Your post is a great reference for anyone working on creative ways to use contests. It’s an area many people struggle understanding how to do best. It’s one to bookmark.

  • Excellent post Zsuzsi, I love your approach of boosting participation by incentivising also voters and virality

  • I am happy for your success Brian!

    We have seen it at Antavo customers that tuition giveaways can be really powerful with essay and video contests too!

  • Thank you 🙂

  • Thank you Andrea!

  • Thanks Neal! This is a topic I could talk about for days!

  • Thanks so much Kim!

  • Thanks Debbie!

    These are screenshots from actual contests, and we worked a lot on each copy to each campaign mechanics variation. I am glad it’s useful!

  • Hi Jenny, indeed! The best is that it doesn’t cost you more money. Just just need to be start with the copy and the app’s working mechanics.

  • Hi Jenny, indeed! The best is that it doesn’t cost you more money. Just just need to be start with the copy and the app’s working mechanics.

  • It’s nice to hear that you succeeded with the multiple prize idea!

  • Hi Jason, yes, definitely let me know how they worked!

    Multiple entries are great because the customer keeps you in mind all week, it’s priceless!

  • I like the idea of having this post among your bookmark Donna!! 🙂

    Bonus entries for sharing is such a simple and powerful technique, you just need to have a proper backend to count referrals.

  • Thanks Antonio!

    I see many contests each day, and appreciating votes with prizes is very rare. But where the organisers do it, it’s super powerful.

    I am happy you liked the post!

  • Lilach Bullock

    Awesome post Zsuzsa – very valuable post for those wanting to create winning contests. We will be sharing this on our Fan Page and across our networks!

  • Thanks so much Lilach!

    Contests and sweepstakes are what I am clearly the best at, so I am glad that you think it’s valuable 🙂

  • RivkaK

    Great article! Love the point about incentivizing social sharing – so important. 🙂

  • Thanks Rivka! One of the most powerful features indeed!

  • Using contests is one good way of getting e-mail lists but if I may ask, why would people play this contests? What is in it for them to entrust to you their e-mail addresses? As we all know giving your e-mail address is a delicate matter because of the spamming activities that are happening across the world wide web that is why many websites gives only contact forms rather than giving their company e-mail to the public that wishes to inquire about their services.

  • Well, since you can’t talk to these people face-to-face and convince them to trust you, you need to *look* trustable.

    Have a coherent and professional-looking app, pay attention to the right “Terms and Conditions” where you insert a part about your privacy policy, have a trustable-looking Facebook Page or website – it depends where you run the content. Of course having both of them nice doesn’t hurt neither.

    On the other hand don’t expect that all the people’s enter your contest who visited your app. A 30% conversion of visitors to subscribers is already great. If you do it very well you can go up to 50%, but there always will people for whom you are just not the best fit.

  • You have a fair point there Ms. Kecsmar. Building trust is one way of winning subscribers, eventhough trust is hard to earn, the quality and the appearance of an app. may be a good thing to begin in experessing that you are trustworthy. Thanks for talking some sense into me, really appreciate it. 🙂

  • Jayden, your welcome! If you don’t want to start designing a trustworthy-looking app from scratch, then a tool like Antavo might be a fit for you.

  • Great post! Put share buttons on the right places is the key and reward people if they share, just love this idea… 🙂

  • The *right places* – that’s the most important. Plus the backend that can handle all the referrals. Thanks for your comment 🙂

  • “the backend that can handle all the referrals” Oh yes :-))

  • Indeed! Antavo can do all that.