How to Run a Contest with WordPress (and Plugins to Help You Do It)

How to Run a Contest with WordPress (and Plugins to Help You Do It)

About a month ago, a woman named Mavis Wanczyk won a monster Powerball payout of $758.7 million. Wanczyk wasn’t the only winner that night either. In a store nearby, someone else bought a ticket worth $1 million. There were also other winners from this single Powerball play—9.4 million people (or, rather, tickets) to be exact.

Now, if that isn’t proof enough of how much people love entering contests in the hopes of winning something (no matter what sort of odds are stacked against them), I don’t know what is.

Even if you don’t have millions of dollars to throw around or enough followers to pitch in enough money to create that large of a prize, there are other ways you can use contests to your advantage in business. And when you have a WordPress website on your side, it becomes even easier to run a contest and cast a wider net than if you were to try and do it on your own.

So, let’s take a look at why you might want to run a contest, what types of contests work for a site, and which WordPress plugins and tools you can use to do it.

Does a Contest Make Sense for Your WordPress Site?

You already know how much people love to play games—even if the “games” are as simple as generating points towards a membership. It’s that same sense of competition and winning something in exchange for one’s efforts that ultimately drives people to enter costs, too.

So, we know why your visitors would be interested in entering a contest on your site. But what about you? Is that extra effort to devise the contest, run it, and then manage the payout to the winners worth it?

Consider the benefits:

  • A contest offers you the chance to show off the fun, human, and very generous side of your business.
  • This is a new opportunity to promote your business, product, or service—especially if the contest teaches people more about it or if the “prize” gives them easier/cheaper access to it.
  • You can increase the size of your email subscriber list.
  • You can also increase the number of followers you have on social media if the contest is one that employees the “share this on social” method in exchange for the number of entries they make.
  • You may also see an uptick in sales what with all the increased exposure to your business within the site as well as off of it.
  • This is a good way to generate more leads and customers quickly and in a short amount of time. Since contests are always a limited time offer, your visitors will know they need to respond to the urgency of it.
  • There’s the potential to collect more user-generated content if you run a contest specifically looking to reward customer submissions.

Regardless of what type of contest you run, you’ll now have a new avenue through which to collect visitor data.

As beneficial as a contest may be to your WordPress site, it’s important to think about how this contest will tie back to your business. It’s like everything else you do on your site—if it’s not relevant, you may find the results of the contest somewhat disappointing. Sure, people may still enter or sign up in the hopes of getting something for free, but they’ll unsubscribe or unfollow you once they realize the contest was just a gimmick without any substance behind it.

Here are some really cool examples of website contests to get your inspirational juices flowing:

Spirit’s offering the chance to win a $50 gift card in exchange for liking their Facebook page during a time of year that’s particularly important for them (i.e. two months before Halloween).

Spirit Biohazard Bucks

Panasonic, a sponsor of the New York Yankees, is giving one winner the chance to dine with a Yankee and then stick around for a game afterward. All in exchange for following their Instagram or Twitter pages and then tagging them.

Panasonic Yankees

The Food Network and Red Lobster have paired up to offer visitors the chance to earn a trip to Nashville. All they need to do is vote for their favorite flavor and enter an email address.

Red Lobster

The DIY Network (part of HGTV) is giving visitors a daily chance to enter this contest and win a stay in a lakeside “paradise” in Vermont along with a $50,000 payout from Quicken Loans.

DIY Ultimate Retreat

The ASPCA used this opportunity to draw awareness to their cause and get their community involved by sharing photos and telling their adopted pet’s story.

ASPCA Giving Day

Refinery29 often runs sponsored contests for retailers. However, many visitors might not actually know that’s what they’re looking at as the contest links are often hidden within the article. It’s a really cool format with a standard blog intro, a slideshow of the available wardrobe, and one simple link that gives readers the chance to win.
[Refinery29 Sponsored Contest]

7 WordPress Plugins and Tools to Run Fun Contests

Once you’ve decided what kind of contest will serve your needs best (i.e. get you more leads, make more sales, get more attention for your brand), you need to run it. But do you know how to do that?

While you could easily create a landing page that promotes your contests with a cool header image, brief details, and a contact form, you might not need to go that route. The following WordPress plugins and tools can help you cover a number of contest setup and management-related tasks. The one you use will likely depend on what sort of contest you decide to run.

  • Opinion Stage Plugin

    While this WordPress plugin is primarily used to create polls, quizzes, and surveys on websites, it can also be used to create simple contests as well. These sort of “contests” are the ones that prompt users to log in through social or submit their contact information prior to playing the trivia game or filling out the poll. While they’re not traditional contests, per se, the content of the polls, surveys, and quizzes can be a rewarding enough experience.

    Interested in Opinion Stage Plugin?

  • Woobox Plugin

    Don’t be misled by the name of this plugin; it has nothing to do with WooCommerce. What this plugin does instead is connect your WordPress site to your Woobox campaigns. Using the Woobox platform, you can create giveaways, photo, video, or hashtag contests, instant win games, and more. Then simply add the shortcode to your WordPress site and your contest will go live!

    Interested in Woobox Plugin?

  • Photo Contest WordPress Plugin

    If your plan on running photo contests from your website regularly, this is a great plugin to consider. You have full control over:

    • How your contest page looks and works
    • Voting terms and conditions
    • Images as soon as they’re submitted

    In addition, this plugin comes with super stringent security and fraud protection.

    Interested in Photo Contest WordPress Plugin?

  • Video Contest WordPress Plugin

    If, instead, you want to run video submission contests, you can use this premium WordPress plugin to do so. It comes with the same level of quality and support as the Image Contest WordPress Plugin above. And because this is meant for videos, it supports three different video streaming sites, too.

    Interested in Video Contest WordPress Plugin?

  • KingSumo Giveaways

    Looking to run a giveaway on your WordPress site? Maybe you have an e-book that you wrote or one of your clients wants to give visitors a chance to win a free trip or a free month of services? You can do that with this viral giveaway tool. Just keep in mind that this tool comes with a very high price tag. It may be worth it if you can attract a large enough audience, though, ideally, you’ll use this if you plan on running contests regularly for your clients’ sites.

    Interested in KingSumo Giveaways?

  • Rafflecopter

    Rafflecopter is a third-party tool you can use to quickly create a simple giveaway for your website. Although this tool does not have a plugin to help you directly sync to WordPress, their knowledgebase has an easy-to-follow tutorial on how to embed your raffle entry form into your site.

  • Wishpond

    There is a lot you can accomplish with Wishpond: popups, marketing automation, landing page design, and you can, of course, create contests too. So, if you’re looking for an all-in-one solution, this may be the tool you want to use for your contest setup and management. Do note, however, that most of their contests have a heavy social component to them. So, while you can launch the contest from your site, the end goal of most of these contests is to drive traffic to your social media pages.

Wrapping Up

There are a number of other questions you should ask yourself before launching a contest as well:

  • Do you think your customer base would find the prize worthwhile?
  • Would it add value to their lives and potentially inspire them to convert down the road?Would the amount of effort you have to invest in running this contest be worth the contact information they’re giving you in exchange for the entrance fee?
  • Are you able to sufficiently manage this contest on top of everything else going on?
  • Do you have the prize readily available and can you afford to “pay” it out right away?

As you can see, there’s a lot to think about with contests. And no matter how excited people are to enter it, all of that positive attention you get from running it could easily turn the other way if you drop the ball and forget to reward a winner or somehow short-change them on their prize. So make sure you’re prepared to see this thing through.

Of course, it always helps if you have a WordPress plugin to help lighten your load.

Over to you: Have you ever won a contest, sweepstakes, or lottery drawing before? What did you do with your earnings?

Brenda Barron

Brenda Barron Brenda Barron is a freelance writer from Southern California. She specializes in WordPress, tech, business and founded WP Theme Roundups. When not writing all the things, she's spending time with her family.