Holiday Contest Ideas to Engage Your Audience (+ Boost Sales)

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The holiday season is a time of giving and receiving.

It’s also a great opportunity for business owners to engage their audience and increase sales.

Statista predicts that holiday retail sales in the US will reach 729.3 billion this year. (Back in 2000, sales amounted to only 400 billion U.S. dollars.)

With that in mind, how do you maximize your holiday sale potential? One of the best strategies is to run a holiday-themed contest.

Need inspiration? Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered with our list of holiday contest ideas. Check them out below.

5 Holiday Contest Ideas to Spark Engagement and Sales

Spice up your marketing this Christmas with these creative and fun contests. This idea list should help you plan ahead!

Idea #1: Holiday essay writing contest

Christmas is a special season for expressing one’s gratitude for life’s blessings.

Why not leverage this opportunity through an essay writing competition?

Make it simple!

Ask your contestants to submit a short essay on “3 Things I Am Thankful For This Christmas.”

You could also tackle funny topics. Here are some examples:

  • My Funniest Holiday Story”
  • The Weirdest Christmas Gift I Ever Received!”
  • “Top 3 Funny Tips To Survive The Holiday Season”

To pick your winner, you can enable public voting so everyone can decide which essay they like best!

Idea #2: Best photo contest

A photo contest is sure to bring holiday cheer.

Who doesn’t like taking photos these days? The holiday season gives countless opportunities to capture fantastic snapshots.

Here are some cool ideas for a photo contest:

  • Scared of santa 🎅🏻
  • Best Christmas lights
  • Ugly Christmas sweater
  • Colors of Christmas
  • Best holiday pet costume

Bonus tip: To collect user-generated content, ask your fans to take a selfie while showing off your product!

Idea #3: “Dear Santa” letter contest

For many kids around the world, the Christmas season would be incomplete without writing a letter to santa.

So if you’re in the business of selling toys for kids, you could run a “Dear Santa” letter contest.

Reward three lucky winners with a “gift package from santa” and feature their letters on your social media!

Idea #4: Personality quiz

Got the best holiday contest ideas but don’t know what to give away?

Interactive quizzes help you figure out what your audience wants.

For example, you could run a quiz “What’s Your Christmas Personality?”

Be sure to create multiple choice questions that allow you to gain insight into their likes and dislikes. From there, you can pick the best contest prize.

You could ask:

  • What’s your favorite thing to receive this Christmas?
  • Choose a Christmas food
  • Finish this sentence: Christmas is a perfect time to ________ !

To convince your audience to take your quiz, make sure that it’s an interesting topic.

Bonus Tip: Ask people’s email addresses so you can deliver their results to their inbox. Once you’ve created a contest, be sure to let your email list know.

Idea #5: Refer-a-friend contest

Referral contests encourage word of mouth marketing.

If you knew how companies like Dropbox, Airbnb, and Evernote succeeded, you would be amazed at referral marketing’s potential to grow your business.

This holiday season, reward your participants with points for referring their friends. Offer referral points that they can use to get your products for free or enjoy discounts.

Related: Referral Marketing: What It Is, How It Works, and Getting Started

Tips for Running a Successful Holiday Contest

Do you feel excited after learning some holiday contest ideas? If you don’t know where to start or what mistakes to avoid during the campaign, here are some helpful tips:

1. Be generous with your prize.

Why not reward people with an irresistible prize? Entice everyone with something that they don’t get to win on a typical day. Here’s what a “generous prize” looks like:

  • Your most expensive product
  • Unlimited access to your most expensive service
  • A package of prizes (if you sell multiple cheap items)
  • Any prize that your audience likes (allow them to choose!)

Giving away more than what’s expected makes your audience feel the holiday spirit!

2. Make the prize relevant.

Your prize should not just be appealing to people, but it also needs to be relevant to your business.

Otherwise, people will only be interested in your prize — not in your business.

Be sure to check out our guide on choosing the right contest prize (no matter the time of the year!)

3. Use holiday hashtags to boost your campaign’s reach.

When used properly, hashtags can help your contest go viral. This is especially important for promoting the campaign on social media.

Keep in mind that specific hashtags enable you to reach a specific audience.

Since you’re running a holiday-themed contest, make sure that your hashtags are related to the holidays.

Popular examples include #holidaygiveaway, #holidaycontest, and #holidayspecial. 

You can also create a branded hashtag such as #[yourbrand]contest to bring special attention to your business.

4. Give clear instructions on how to enter.

If you want to have a successful giveaway, write clear guidelines.

Put yourself in the shoes of your contest participants. When you read your guidelines, ask yourself, “Do I understand what I need to do to enter this contest?”

Here are some important details to add in your list of guidelines:

  • Holiday contest entry period
  • Participation restrictions (age and location)
  • Ways people can enter and gain points
  • How you will choose the winner/s
  • When you will announce the winner/s
  • Details about the prize
  • How you will use an entrant’s personal information

You also need to acknowledge that your holiday contest is not sponsored by the social media platform (for example, Instagram).

5. Offer a sale at the end of the campaign.

Why not allow non-winners to get your prize at a very low cost? Doing this could boost your sales in as little as 24 hours.

If you haven’t read our Bunkie Life case study, make sure you do.

David Fraser of Bunkie Life did an epic 2-day sale where he offered his prize at $1000 off + free shipping to non-winners. At the last minute, people called and made their orders.

The result? He made $300,000. 😮

6. Follow-up with your contest entrants.

Just because your holiday contest has ended, doesn’t mean you can ignore your leads.

The truth is, your real work starts after the contest  — if your goal is to increase your conversions and sales.

Here’s an effective follow-up technique to try:

Create an email segment of your non-winners. That way, you can include them in your email campaigns where you promote the product they wanted to win.

If you run Facebook ads, create a custom audience that you can send retarget relevant ads to.

Ready to Spread Cheer with a Holiday Contest?

The holiday contest ideas and tips we shared should put you off to a good start.

Take advantage of this season since it’s when most people are in the mood for some fun. They’re also in the mindset of buying.

UpViral is a contest/viral marketing tool that simplifies the process of creating your holiday contest. You’ll be able to set-up landing pages, share pages, email sequences, and ensure that people keep sharing your campaign!

See how UpViral works. Try it today!