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Contests, Sweepstakes, Coupons and Other Online Acquisition Tools

(This is a series of posts to try and bring together all the elements of online acquisition for use in targeted, data-driven relationship marketing.)
As marketing strategies evolve and more budget is spent online, a greater number of marketers are beginning to embrace the idea of relationship marketing. Basically, these leaders are looking to create dialogues with customers and key prospects to deliver against marketing objectives. But as the targets each marketer is trying to reach become more savvy we have to be more aware they are increasingly inundated with marketing “clutter”. And with more and more CFOs pushing brand management in the direction of marketing disciplines that are highly measurable, it is imperative that these executions drive short-term results.
There are a number of online tactics that can deliver on the promise of measurable results while also building the foundation for a successful relationship marketing strategy that can deliver on the marketing group’s objectives. The main tactics include contests, sweepstakes and coupons.

This series of posts will provide a better understanding how to use these tactics, and related best practices, to drive short-term results and build an ongoing relationship marketing program.
First, let’s step back and review some things.
Online is often the most cost-effective way to create highly relevant relationships that can be automated. But to drive marketing results you need to capture permission, preferences and other key data.
h2. Definitions
For legal and liability issues it is imperative that marketers differentiate between contests and sweepstakes.
*Sweepstakes* – The most basic definition of “sweepstakes” is “game of chance.” This means that the choice of a winner is totally random. There are no skills required and no “consideration” or payment is required to enter and win. You can not require an entrant to buy your product or service as this may make your sweepstakes a “lottery” which has much greater legal requirement and ramifications. Most legal jurisdictions (e.g. states, provinces, countries) do allow you to use certain entry limits including age and geography.
*Contest* – In marketing terms, for a campaign or promotion to be considered a “contest” it needs to be a “game of skill”. This can be as simple as asking one or more questions, completing a trivia challenge, playing a game to earn points or similar. If the entry process is too complicated or time -consuming some legal jurisdictions may equate this as “requiring payment equivalents”. Contests are more regulated than sweepstakes and may have to be registered, and even bonded, in certain jurisdictions. The state of Florida and province of Quebec have more stringent registration laws so you will often find people from these jurisdictions are not able to participate in a promotion. If you run a contest that requires judging (e.g. write an essay, submit a drawing, suggest a name) you will have to ensure that the judging criteria is clear, contained in your rules and regulations and that you follow it. In some case your contest will also be a sweepstakes. In this situation you will need to adhere to the stricter regulations that may apply.
*Lottery* – Whenever a promotion requires “payment” for entry it is considered a lottery. If there is a cost, you need to show proof of purchase, must invest significant effort or become a “member” prior to entry this may be considered payment for legal purposes. Since most legal jurisdictions prohibit private lotteries, you will find that promotions tied to products (e.g. receive a scratch-off card when you buy something, etc.) will also have non-purchase entry options (e.g. send a postcard with your name, address and phone number to be entered).
For more information on the legal aspects of promotions visit Doug Isenberg’s
Now that we understand the difference between Sweepstakes and Contests, let’s cover off the trends in using online promotions, sweepstakes and related tactics.

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