How To Create a Viral Lead Collecting Competition: Step by Step Guide

All you want to do is collect hundreds of potential leads, right? How hard can it be? From our experience, the answer is, not very. Viral lead collecting competitions, also referred to as sweepstakes, viral giveaways or online contests, are competitions that allow people to sign up for a chance to win a prize. Depending on the type of competition, the winners can be either selected at random, or with leaderboard contests eg: the person that refers the most friends wins. 

Every time we ran these types of contests online for our clients, they’ve always proven to be extremely successful. One we ran with ideal flatmate, for example, saw us gather 15k emails at a cost per lead of only £0.10. 

In the screenshot below from an email, we were almost halfway through the competition and decided to double the budget!

Needless to say, whatever your goal is, these lead collecting competitions are definitely worth looking into as a way to grow your business. In this guide, we’ll go over all the steps that we went through to put in place this neat little growth hack.


Step 1: Validating the experiment

At the Growth Hustlers, we aim to properly validate and justify why we should run any kind of growth experiment. Even though it is very tempting, especially in small businesses, to think ”F**k it let’s do it!”, it can also end up being a huge waste of time, effort and money if not properly thought out. 

The name of the game is research and strategy. The questions you should be asking yourself are the following:

    • What is the objective? (Sales? Growing your email list? Gaining more Instagram followers?)
    • Is there data to back up the experiment? (Are there any case studies out there from companies doing viral giveaways with a similar product/industry?)
    • What are the technical requirements? (Will you need to implement code? For emails, will this be part of your marketing automation?)
    • How could it go wrong? (Is your website ready to handle a big increase in traffic? Will the competition be cheat-proof?)
    • How will you nurture the leads once you have them? (It’s all well and good collecting leads, but they need to be targeted and you should have a plan of how you’ll nurture them into becoming customers)

Step 2: Choose a platform

After carefully outlining the reasoning and strategy behind the lead collecting competition, you’ll need to choose a platform so you can set it up.  

Some of you might ask: Why don’t we build this ourselves within our website? 

Well, because it’s a complex task which will require a lot of time. It’s better to use a third-party provider. A platform that’s fully operational and ready to use without any hassle. 

This will allow you to test if a viral competition works for your business. If it becomes an important part of your marketing, it would make sense to eventually build an on-going competition on your website in-house.

Now that we’ve covered why you should use these third party platforms, here are all the best online contest platforms we have found on the worldwide web:

The one we have used was Maître because of their leaderboard option. This enabled everyone who entered the competition to win by referring the most friends. 

Once a user entered the competition, they were able to see their position on the leaderboard based on how many of their friends actually signed up using their unique link. 

It worked amazingly well and the number one winner had referred over 700 friends. The second and third winners all came close to that high score! We recommend that you look into all of these platforms. Try scheduling a demo with each one to help you decide which software will be the most compatible with the type of competition you want to run.


Step 3: Promotion

Now you have a plan and the right platform for your giveaway competition. The next step is coming up with ideas on how to promote it. You’ll want to make a big splash obviously, so make sure you don’t under-do this step! 

First, determine the marketing budget for the competition. This will depend on the objective you have set.

Once you have your budget, you can determine how best to use it. For us, the two main channels that brought in the most referrals and leads were Mailchimp emails to our user base and Facebook ads. But here are other promotion ideas we had that could be worth testing also: 

  • Sharing in relevant Facebook groups.
  • Email partnerships with companies or websites that have a similar audience and demographics.
  • Reaching out to websites such as to get featured.
  • Influencer marketing and brand ambassador program (paying them a commission for each referral).


Step 4: Execute and report

Now your strategy, platform and promotion plan is sorted, it’s just a matter of launching your viral lead collecting competition! Simple. Once your competition is live, you should keep a close eye on it, reporting weekly on how it’s performing. 

If your goal is to increase sales, ensure you have a clear view of your analytics account. Use UTM tracking links so that you know exactly how many sales, traffic or sign-ups are coming from your competition. 

Platforms like Maître also have their own analytics. We found this very useful. It meant we could track how many people were signing up to our competition, and from which source they came from.

So there you have it folks, the ultimate guide on how to (properly) set up a viral competition. These online competitions have proven, on several occasions, to be a huge success for many businesses’ growth. And by following our 4 simple steps, you should be able to achieve similar results. If you need any help setting up a viral competition, contest, sweepstake or giveaway, feel free to give us a shout!

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Giovanni Perri

About Giovanni Perri

Giovanni is the co-founder of The Growth Hustlers. His years of experience in marketing – and growth marketing in particular – have helped many businesses find and accelerate growth using his data-driven approach.

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The Growth Hustlers team are a team of highly skilled cross-disciplined technical marketing experts. I’ve worked with them on multiple projects at different businesses and they always bring a level of expertise and energy that ensure the impact is rapid and significant. Specifically the value they add with Data Strategy and Marketing Automation workflows has really empowered my team to be truly data driven.

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The Growth Hustlers are highly skilled analytics consultants with a wide knowledge of applicable technologies and a determined attitude. They have been invaluable in helping our growth team access the data they need. After an accurate audit of our current analytics and the implementation of new views and goals the growth team can finally make decisions based on clean data enabling us to optimise paid acquisition campaigns and focus on the channels that are performing best.

Rob Imonikhe,

Giovanni & his team have been absolutely great. They started by setting up our web analytics stack. We now have full visibility of activation and acquisition events on Google Analytics. This has enabled us to make data driven decisions based on the performance of our digital marketing activities. They’ve also drafted a Marketing Automation Strategy which will play a key part in reducing drop offs in our acquisition flow. Finally, they have been working on Paid Acquisition Testing on LinkedIn and Adwords. Ambie is looking forward to carry on working with them in the following months.

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The team at Growth Hustlers were instrumental in developing the inploi data infrastructure and marketing automation engine. Marketplace liquidity and user engagement are critical to the success of any product seeking to efficiently match supply and demand. With the help of The Growth Hustlers we were able to develop a complex growth stack that has enabled us to rapidly scale our marketplace without having to increase the size of our team or compromise our user experience. Technical know-how and deliverables aside, they are a great bunch to work with!

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The Growth Hustlers are a great team of talented growth marketers. They helped us deploy a solid analytics framework which enabled us to easily distinguish marketing efforts between our App and our Website. Their team added great value across CRO and paid acquisition testing, thanks to very well structured experimentation roadmaps. We were also very impressed with their workshop skills. In short, the learnings acquired through their data focused experimentation helped us improve our App and Website flows.

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Co-Founder & CPO

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