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!