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Affiliate's Guide to Sweepstakes

In this guide we’ll show you everything you need to know about running sweepstakes offers and give you insider tips to help you get the conversion rate you desire.

What are Sweepstakes?

Traditionally, sweepstakes are offers where visitors sign-up to win something, with winners being chosen at random. However, in the affiliate marketing industry, the term sweepstakes has come to be used as a term for most offers where users have to sign-up to participate. This means that VOD offers, or online courses are also considered to be sweepstakes.

In this article, we are going to be focusing on traditional sweepstakes offers, where users enter a prize draw.

You’ve no doubt seen some of the most common sweepstakes promotions offering free iPhones, laptops, gift cards in return for signing up. If so, then you already have a good idea of what sweepstakes look like. Now, we’ll show you how they work so that you can start running them yourself.

Types of Sweepstakes

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Sweepstakes are divided into 2 main categories, each with 2 subcategories: CC Submit (Payment/Free trial) and Email Submit (SOI and DOI)

CC Submit (Credit Card Submit)

There are two types of CC submit sweepstakes funnel: Payment and Free Trial, and which you choose can have an effect on your conversion rate.

Payment

User need to submit their CC details, he will be charged a small amount of money at once and after some period of time (usually 7-14 days) they will be charged the full amount

Free Trial

Users need to submit their CC details, he won’t be charged anything at once, only after some period of time (usually 7-14 days) they will be charged the full amount

How CC Submits Really Work

CC submit sweepstakes offers generally have higher payouts per conversion than email submits, often $10 and over. However, have you ever wondered how advertisers are able to pay more for CC submits or why it would be necessary for a visitor to pay a small fee to enter?

The reason advertisers generally pay more for CC submits is not because they can make a quick couple of bucks from the user from their credit card. Instead, it’s because CC submits often lead to free trials, as discussed above.

Free trial periods can be anywhere from about 3 to 14 days, after which time, the user is billed for their monthly subscription, as described in the terms and conditions. This amount is usually quite high, allowing advertisers to make their profit off of those who decide to stick with the offer.

The reason for CC submits, while it might seem more scammy on the surface, is actually used for quality control. When users submit their credit card details and pay a small fee, advertisers are able to check the legitimacy of the card. They can find out if people are using stolen, fake or prepaid credit cards and then blacklist them. Many advertisers even pay this money back to the user when they know the card is legitimate.

Every vertical, offer, advertiser, network and affiliate will work differently, but the basic premise is always the same. Advertisers want quality leads, affiliates want quality payouts and networks want both sides to come out happy. Therefore, it’s important to work with your affiliate network to get the right match for you.

Email Submits

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SOI (Single Opt-In)

User needs to fill in the contact details (usually First & Last name, email address, physical address)

DOI (Double Opt-In)

User needs to fill in the contact details (usually First & Last name, email address, physical address) and verify the email address he provided (an email with the link is sent there).

How Email Submits Really Work

Most sweepstakes offers are used by advertisers for lead-generation, allowing them to build a list of potential future customers. Therefore, the page where customers submit their information may have some additional requirements. For example, GDPR laws in the EU require companies to ask for consent to future marketing, however, this can not be made mandatory. It must also be opt-in and not opt-out.

It’s always worth taking the time to check data privacy laws in each country you target before you begin promoting your offers, otherwise you risk your campaigns being taken down. This is especially true for email marketers who can be easily blacklisted or fined.

Another common attribute of sweepstakes is co-registration or co-reg for short. Co-reg simply offers visitors the option of signing up for multiple offers which they may find interesting.

Co-reg can be really effective, especially if it doesn’t impact the visitors flow and presents them with relevant offers. However, some sweepstakes make visitors click through 10 or more pages of irrelevant sign ups before they get to the final sweepstakes offer they came for. This can be extremely frustrating and will put a lot of people off.

The other downside to co-reg is that, as an affiliate, you most likely won’t benefit from it, as you only get paid for generating the lead for the offer you’re promoting.

When it comes to lead generation, remember to keep it simple. Tell people what they could win and how to enter and then send them to the page to fill in their details.

CC Submits vs Email Submits, which is better?

Deciding on CC Submit vs Email Submit will ultimately come down to how confident you are as a marketer.

SOI/DOI Email Submit offers are one of the best places to start for affiliate marketing beginners. While they have lower payouts, they also require less of a budget for testing, optimizing and scaling. They also require short, simple funnels, allowing you to focus on your traffic flows. The lower payouts would be a downside for industry veterans, but if you need to learn how affiliate marketing works, then you should focus more on low cost, low loss campaigns, which email submit sweeps campaigns are perfect for.

CC Submits offers are better for affiliates with more experience as they are more aggressive and more difficult to get people to convert. The cost and risks are also far higher. However, experienced affiliates who understand every detail of their campaign and how to get high-quality, high-converting traffic can make serious profits.

Note: Email submits can generally be used across GEOs in Tiers 1, 2 and 3. This enables affiliates to use lower cost traffic sources when starting out. CC submits on the other hand, are generally Tier 1, because of people’s access to credit cards. However, this is slowly changing and some CC submit offers can be promoted in Tiers 2 and 3 and because of the relative novelty of credit cards in these GEOs, there is a lot of untapped potential.

Top Tip

One thing to look out for with CC submit offers, will be the popularity of Cash On Delivery offers in Tiers 2 and 3. If these start to decrease in popularity, then the chances are CC submits will begin to increase, as more and more people begin to trust online purchases.

Traffic Sources

There are lots of different traffic sources that affiliates use to promote sweepstakes offers. Each one has it’s pros and cons. In this section, we’ll explain how each traffic source works, what the pros and cons are, and give you links to recommended traffic providers.

* Please note that this article is designed to highlight the most common practices of affiliate marketers when running sweepstakes. We do not endorse or recommend the tactics described.

Facebook

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Facebook is by far the most popular traffic source for sweepstakes and there are two ways in which affiliates run their offers.

Third party chat-bot

Affiliates who run sweeps through chat-bots first set up a group or page, which they can then promote. When people engage with these groups, they will be added to the chat-bot’s database, allowing the bot to send PMs (Private Messages). These will usually be surveys which, once completed, send the user a link to the sweepstake offer page. This method essentially uses the chat-bot service as a prelander, to entice the end user with their offer.

Cloaking

Most affiliates who use Facebook for sweepstakes offers opt for cloaking their campaigns. Cloakers enable affiliates to present their sweepstakes offers to visitors, while simultaneously presenting Facebook moderators with other landing pages. This enables them to run campaigns behind Facebook’s back so that they can avoid the ban hammer.

As you can see, while these might be the most popular methods, neither of them are white-hat, and can lead to your facebook accounts being suspended.

Push Traffic

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Push Traffic can either be bought from networks or by collecting your own database using scripts placed in Landing Pages. Collecting your own data always works better, however, you’ll likely see far smaller rates of traffic.

When it comes to using push traffic for sweepstakes, aggressive promos tend to burn out very quickly, so if you want a longer running campaign, it’s best to use milder angles. However, bear in mind that there is a lot of competition in this area and traffic is generally lower quality than on Facebook.

If you would like to buy push traffic then here are some of the most well-known providers:

Adcash

Adsterra

MGID

PropellerAds

ZeroPark

GDN (Google Display Network)

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Promoting sweepstakes on Google can be a little bit tricky, with 99.9% of campaigns using cloaking. The reason for this is that Google considers most sweepstakes to be misleading and offering a false promise, which ultimately violates their advertising rules. However, GDN allows you to easily track and predict the costs of promoting your offers, and is relatively simple to set up.

Pros

GDN allows you to target effectively and efficiently. It gives affiliates access to a wide-range of audiences and allows for retargeting, contextual and interest-based targeting.

Cons

Generally speaking, GDN traffic for sweepstakes will be low-reach and, when you get traffic in larger volumes, it becomes much harder to control the quality.

Pop Traffic

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When it comes to running sweepstakes on Pop traffic, it’s important to have whitelists. You can get these by testing and excluding areas which don’t convert, or by buying them from traffic sellers.

Pros

Pop traffic is relatively inexpensive and easy to find and it can work well for less aggressive campaigns.

Cons

Pop traffic has a fairly low retention rate for advertisers and the overall traffic quality is generally poor. Plus, many pop networks now have far stricter rules than they did in the past, so it’s difficult to promote aggressive angles which use free prizes or trademarks.

If you’d like to test running sweepstakes campaigns using Pop traffic then here are some of the most popular sources.

Adcash

Adsterra

PopAds

PopCash

PropellerAds

Zeropark

SMS

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Sending SMS campaigns can be very effective but it’s also very expensive. SMS allows you to deliver your message directly to recipients, and most people still consider it to be private and secure. After all, most people don’t share their phone numbers online. The result is that SMS campaigns often have close to a 100% open rate, which is incredible when compared to email. They also have very good engagement rates.

A typical SMS sweepstakes promo will provide the recipients with a bit of text promoting the offer and why they should enter the competition and a link to the prelander or landing page.

The key to sms is having a relevant database and making sure you stay compliant. You should always choose your sources wisely and use opt-out links so that people can choose to no longer be on your list.

Pros

SMS has really high open and engagement rates and is considered to be more private and secure by recipients.

Cons

The main downside to SMS traffic is that it is more difficult to target, and can often be low-quality. As a result of this, many advertisers don’t like working with it. There’s also a limited volume and the additional risk of complaints, however, this risk is reduced if you are compliant and include the option opt-out from receiving further messages.

If you’d like to try an sms campaign from scratch, then a good place to start would beSMS Edge.

Messenger

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Messenger traffic is very similar to SMS traffic, with the key difference being that the database of contact numbers is checked for connected messenger apps. When a Viber, Whatsapp or Telegram profile is found to be connected to the number, the user can then be sent a message.

The messages sent out using messenger traffic will either be similar to the SMS messages, providing details and a link, or they will invite the user to a private group. Links to the prelander can then be posted in the private group.

Pros

It’s actually possible to generate your own traffic using number generators, however, it can take a long time to get each contact, and once acquired, the likelihood of a conversion is low.

Cons

It can take a long time to build a list and there are a lot of steps to take before you can even show people the link to your offer. This will result in very low volumes of traffic reaching your landing page and converting.

Email

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Email campaigns for sweepstakes work the same as most other affiliate marketing verticals. Affiliates build lists of email addresses that they can then target. The quality of the traffic will depend on how well the list was collected and how targeted the audience were when they signed up.

When it comes to email traffic, you’re never going to get the same results from buying leads as you will from collecting your own. Therefore, if you are looking for quick lead generation, it’s going to be really hard to get a quick list of quality traffic.

However, if you have a list and you’d like to monetize it using sweepstakes, then the format is really simple. You can create email templates that focus on the sweepstakes offer you want to push and then provide links to the landing page in your email.

Pros

Sweepstakes can work really well if your list is already interested in the products on offer.

Cons

It’s virtually impossible to buy a decent list, and there is a high-risk of your campaigns getting thrown into Spamhaus if people complain. Which, with an untargeted list, is highly likely.

How to run sweepstakes offers

Running sweepstakes offers is fairly straightforward. You just need to choose your traffic source, pick up some high-converting sweepstakes offers from your affiliate manager and then start testing.

Sweepstakes funnels should be as short and simple as you can make them, whilst still having enough information to make them attractive. If you make people complete too many tasks, then you will lose a lot of people’s interest. Too little, and you risk sending really poor quality traffic to the advertisers.

Prizes and Funnels

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When it comes to picking the prize you want to promote, there’s a lot to choose from, but do they really make a difference?

The answer is yes, but they aren’t as important as the funnel. You’re obviously going to want to promote a prize that people want, otherwise why would they enter the draw in the first place? However, as you’ll see, with many sweeps offers, it’s usually the funnel that is make or break.

Products come and go and therefore, so do prizes. Let’s take mobile phones for example. With new models being released each year, prizes have a limited window of appeal. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that you are giving away newer models in order to keep people motivated to enter.

The great thing about sweepstakes is that, once you have generated a high-converting funnel, you can swap the prizes in and out and still yield similar results, making sweeps a great evergreen vertical.

Top Tips

Find your Funnel:If you find a sweeps funnel from your network that works well, then ask them for other offers for different GEOs and products which use the same funnel.

Go niche or go home:Hot products make for hot offers and if you see something has a strong demand, then try to find a way to promote it. Good advertisers will always be on the lookout for hot products to promote, and this will often mean thinking outside of the box and moving away from the more obvious prizes like mobile phones and computers.

If you find a new product in high-demand, it might be tricky to find landing pages which work well. This is a good sign, as it means there probably isn’t that much competition. Plus, if you’ve found your funnel, you’ll easily be able to incorporate your new product into it.

If you have a good relationship with your affiliate network and can prove that you can run the volumes needed to make a decent profit, then you could even ask for a custom offer to be made.

Do people actually win prizes?

Yes, all of those terms and conditions aren’t for decoration and the advertisers behind sweepstakes offers are legally obliged to follow through on their obligations. That being said, there are of course people who run scams, which is why it’s important to work witha trusted affiliate network.

You might not think it matters if your visitors receive prizes or not, as long as you get paid. But just remember, if the people you work with are willing to cheat your visitors, why would they not cheat you?

How to Choose the Right Offer

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When choosing the right sweepstake offer there are a couple of things you’ll need to take into account, primarily traffic type and GEO.

Traffic Type

As we’ve already discussed, there are a lot of different traffic types to choose from and your choice will affect which offers/prizes work better. For example, shopping vouchers work far better on Facebook than on push traffic. Similarly, sweepstakes promos offering gadgets tend to work better on Push and Pop traffic. If you’re wondering what offers are converting well for a specific traffic source, then check with your affiliate manager.

GEOs

Different things work better in different GEOs. As we mentioned earlier for example, CC Submits work better in Tier 1 GEOs because of people’s accessibility to credit cards and trust in making online purchases.

Top Tip

In affiliate marketing, a little research early on can save you a lot of money on testing, so it’s always worth doing. It also pays to think outside the box.

Use your Affiliate Network

When trying to find offers that will convert well be sure to talk to your affiliate manager. When asking which offers will convert for you, be as specific as possible. If you ask for the hottest sweeps offer, then you might be offered one which is converting well for several affiliates. However, if you’re using a specific traffic type, then it may not convert for you. Therefore, make sure your network knows which traffic type and landing page you are using and which GEO you are targeting.

Once you know your traffic type and the GEOs you plan to target, then you can start to look at which offers will be likely to convert. If you’re just starting out, then it might be better to go for products with a more general appeal. Once again, this includes things like mobile phones and laptops. However, you should think carefully about your audience and do a little research.

Here is an example of an offer that on the surface looks like it could work, but after a little research, you can quickly see why it probably won’t.

Paid streaming services are becoming more and more popular, and if you live in a Tier 1 GEO, then they probably seem to be the new normal. This means that everybody is signing up and paying to stream right? No!

In many Tier 2 and 3 GEOs, torrents are still popular, meaning people are far less likely to pay for content that they can just download for free.

Top Tip

If you’re still new to affiliate marketing, then try to find out what is working for the top affiliates in the network. Obviously the network won’t be able to give you intricate details into every aspect of their campaigns, however, they might be able to tell you which traffic type they are using.

Optimisation

The ideal sweepstakes funnel will have an ad, a prelander and an offer/landing page. That’s all it needs leading up to the conversion. If your funnel takes more than 3 steps to convert a visitor, then they will lose interest.

The same is true for direct linking. If you go straight from ad to sign up page, then visitors will not be driven to convert. Therefore, when it comes to sweepstakes, 3 is the magic number.

Your funnel should also be optimised so that each stage loads as quickly as possible. Remember, 53% of mobile users will leave a site that takes longer than three seconds to load. For more information about how to optimise your pages for speed, check out our article Speed Matters: How to Boost your Site’s Performance.

Angles

There are a lot of different angles you can choose from and they will depend on the sweepstakes offer you are running. Here’s a quick look at some angles for the most popular sweeps offers.

Gadgets (phones, laptops, earphones, PSs)

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Gadgets are the bread and butter of sweepstakes offers and have been popular for years. However, this means a lot of competition and the need to beat banner blindness.

A good way to do this is to set up campaigns that target devices and carriers. If you’re using Voluum, then you can redirect traffic based on certain rules. However, it will depend on the offers and traffic sources you are using, so check first.

If you are running a mobile offer on pop traffic, then you may be able to redirect visitors to offers that would be more likely to interest them. For example, iPhone users will likely be more interested in Apple products, so you can try targeting them for high-quality leads.

In Voluum, you can set up multiple redirects for a single campaign, allowing you to segment and split-test, to see what gets you the best results.

Here’s a handy guide to setting up redirect campaigns in Voluum.

Gift Vouchers

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Gift vouchers are great for more localized targeting. Plus, everyone needs to go shopping, so there isn’t a demographic that this won’t work for.

When it comes to deciding on your angles for vouchers, it’s worth doing a little research into the types of people who shop at the supermarkets that you are advertising. For example, if you target UK customers, then there will be a difference between Lidl and Marks and Spencer.

When it comes to Lidl, you could use angles such as high quality, low prices. After all, their slogan is ‘Big on quality. Lidl on price.’

Marks and Spencer on the other hand, is more expensive and more of a luxury brand, therefore, you’ll be targeting people who can usually afford to pay a bit more. Therefore, they won’t necessarily be looking to save money. However, everyone loves free stuff, so offering them the chance to get their next shop free might be a better angle.

Cosmetics

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There are lots of different ways to advertise cosmetics and it will take a bit of research to find the right angle for the right product. To see how to research cosmetics and apply your findings to your ads, check out our article A Brief Guide to Market Research.

As a general rule of thumb, cosmetics are fairly specialised, so offering specific products might not convert well. However, offering cosmetic brands will make them more accessible to a wider audience. Therefore, it’s best to promote branded product ranges, rather than individual items. For example, ‘Your chance to win an exclusive red MaxFactor lipstick pen’ vs ‘Get your hands on an exclusive range of MaxFactor products for free!’.

The Bottom Line

There are a lot of different ways to run sweeps and all that variety can give you a lot of room to experiment. If you’re just starting out in affiliate marketing, then sweeps can offer you a great opportunity to learn the industry from the ground up. Alternatively, if you’re an experienced marketer and looking for a new challenge, then sweeps can also offer higher risk, higher reward opportunities too.

To get started with some great sweepstakes offers, head over to our platform and speak to one of our team today!

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