8 Things All Great Competition Emails Have in Common by Kristin Huddleston @vision6

8 Things All Great Competition Emails Have in Common by Kristin Huddleston @vision6

8 Things All Great Competition Emails Have in Common

Competitions are a fantastic way to increase engagement, grow your email marketing audience or promote your brand.

Not all competitions are created equal though. Some are definitely better than others.

As a serial competition entrant myself, I’ve learned that there are some very simple elements within competition emails that will persuade me to enter every time.

Here’s a competition email that I like and the reasons why it works so well. And yes, I did enter… and no, I didn’t win :’(


1. Entice your audience. For a competition to be successful, you need to offer a prize that your audience will want. In this case, food franchise Mad Mex is appealing to their audience with an opportunity to win a trip to Mexico. Here are some ideas for prizes you could give away:

  • Aspirational experiences that money can’t buy. (Or that few people would organise.)
  • Cash prizes are untargeted and will encourage a wide range of entrants who may or may not have an interest in your organisation.
  • Category-specific prizes are related to your company or brand and will attract a more targeted range of entrants. For example, a hairdresser who offers a makeover as a prize.
  • Random draws or sweepstakes work well for charities where entrants are motivated by philanthropic reasons as they are generally perceived as ‘fair’.

2. Conditions of entry. Competitions are about more than just ‘giving stuff away’ and it’s important to make the conditions of entry clear to the entrant. In this case Mad Mex is aiming to increase sales of burritos and soft drinks and they’ve clearly communicated the purchase of these items as a condition of entry.

3. Entry mechanism. Your call to action and steps required to enter the competition must be prominent within your email. Entry details and instructions must be very clear and uncomplicated; if your audience can’t easily enter, they won’t bother. This also ensures that potential entrants do not get partway through the entry process and then abandon it.

4. Urgency. Competitions work best when they have a sense of urgency. Including an ‘end date’ on your competition email will increase the likelihood of people entering. If the competition does not have a sense of urgency, people may set it aside for a mythical time known as ‘later’.

5. Multimedia is a great way to encourage higher levels of engagement with your competition. Multimedia you could use include: games, videos, forums, images or other interactive elements.

6. The fine print is a necessary evil when it comes to competitions. It may not look great; however, it can save you a lot of heartache by clarifying the conditions of entry so that entrants do not dispute competition terms or outcomes. Depending on your geographical location you may also be required by law to display permit numbers or other details. Remember if you have quite a few T’s and C’s, you can always use a landing page as well.

7. Share the love. Unless you have a particular reason to keep your competition small, chances are you want as many people as possible to enter. One of the easiest (and cheapest) ways to reach a broader audience is to encourage and facilitate sharing by including links to send-to-friend forms and social media pages.

8. Increase the perceived chance of winning. Many people hesitate to enter competitions, as they feel that they are unlikely to win. Increasing a potential entrant’s perceived chance of winning is quite easy. In your email, draw attention to any ‘runner-up prizes’ you are going to award. For example, this Nivea competition offers 50 Nivea Prize packs as well as the main prize of a trip to New York.

Click image to see whole email.

Have you run a competition for your customers recently? Or have you entered somebody else’s competition? If you have any examples of great competition emails please share them by including a link in the comments section below.

Takeaway When designing a competition email, it is very important to both entice and inform. Include all of the information your recipients need, and ensure that there are no unnecessary barriers that discourage people from entering.

Meet the author:

Kristin Huddleston

Kristin Huddleston

Kristin Huddleston is the Marketing Coordinator at Vision6 and has been working in the email marketing industry for 3 years. Prior to this Kristin worked in Marketing and carried out email marketing campaigns in both agency and professional services companies. Her role at Vision6 is to use integrated marketing communications to inform, educate and promote everything e-messaging to both clients and non-clients.

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