Create a Solid Prize-to-Effort Ratio

Written by: Ho Son



Sign up to win prizes – everyone loves these competitions, especially when they’re free. However, many businesses make the critical mistake of making competition entry time-consuming and tedious, leaving participants weighing up whether the prize is worth their effort at all. If you’ve created a competition and discover that conversions and entries aren’t as high as you’d expected, you’ve fallen into this trap.

Getting your prize-to-effort ratio on point is critical to the success of any competition, contest, or prize draw. Yes, this endeavor should be beneficial to both parties, you as a business and the participant, but just because you’re giving away a prize or reward, that doesn’t mean you should try to acquire more information from participants than is absolutely necessary.

Establish Your Goals

You’ve decided that a competition, contest, or giveaway is the medium you’re going to use for this campaign, but why? Sweepstakes and contests are a fantastic tool for increasing engagement {LINK TO LAST BLOG}, raising brand awareness, increasing your social following, and encouraging conversions, but now’s the time to be specific.

For example, if capturing opted-in email addresses is your goal, you may decide your goal is to grow your email list by 10,000 subscribers by the close of entry to the contest. Alternatively, social media may be your platform of choice, and you’re aiming to attract 20,000 new female followers aged 25 - 40.

At this stage, the more specific you are, the easier it will be to decide the reward you’ll be offering as part of your contest or competition.

Decide Your Reward

Whether you’re working with a partner, sponsor, supplier, or using your own product or service as a reward, this step is crucial in establishing the effort people are willing to exert to claim the prize on offer. As you’ll know from competitions you’ve seen advertised or previously entered, the value range of rewards fluctuates drastically. Let’s compare the pros and cons of a large vs. small prize.

Large Prizes
A larger prize will catch the attention of your audience and potentially expose your sweepstakes to a larger audience beyond that.

A $1,000,000 cash giveaway will catch anyone’s attention.

But there will be greater legal and logistical barriers. For example, prizes over $5,000 need to have a sweepstakes rules bonded in Florida and New York. And usually, the higher the value of a prize, the more stringent the fulfillment process can be.

Smaller Prizes
Smaller value prizes mean that you can give away more of them so your fans will feel like they will have a greater chance to win. But people may not be as willing to enter a sweepstakes if the prize is a 10% off coupon.

Instant Win Prizes
Instant win prizes are great ways to keep audiences engaged for a longer period of time. Use these prizes to make sure your nobody walks away empty handed.

If you’ve established clear goals, you’ll be able to decide upon a reward that entices your target audience and convinces them to engage with the effort process.

Create the Process

You may think, the greater the prize, the greater the contribution. In some instances, this would be completely correct. However, much like beauty, the value of the reward is in the eyes of the beholder. Once you’ve nailed down your goals and established a prize that your target audience would love to win, you’ve got to get participants across the finish line by tailoring the competition sign up to their lifestyle.

As you’ve realized, the prize is crucial to grab attention, but so is the process. For example, you wouldn’t ask a target audience of 20-30-year-old males to mail in a competition entry. And, on the other end of the spectrum, it’s unlikely 70-80-year-old males will be flocking to Instagram to share your story and tag their friends to participate in your free entry prize draws.


This is the moment of truth; the "make or break" part of the sweepstakes, and where we see the most potential for failure in any campaign. 

Like any marketing strategy, you must know where your intended audience lives, and create the appropriate assets to promote your giveaway. Utilize digital tools like social media and banner ads, but don’t forget the power of promoting campaigns onsite and at the point of sales.

Quite simply, if you don’t invest in promotion, don’t expect quality entries.


Effort-to-reward isn’t dictated by the monetary value of the prize. Primarily, it's decided by your target audience and the actions they're willing to take to claim a reward meaningful to them. Align your goals, prize, and process with the wants, needs, and lifestyle of your desired customers, and you’ll create a perfectly balanced effort to reward ratio.