Last Updated 4 years by Emily Standley-Allard

In 2014, when Facebook leaked over 80 million user profiles to Cambridge Analytica – who allegedly used the data to sway a national election – we saw just how powerful data can be. As a business owner or blogger it’s vital to get data on your audience so you know exactly who to create content for. Collecting user generating content through contests is an excellent way to get your audience to interact with your brand. Read on to learn 10 ways to collect valuable data with contests. 

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The awareness this incident brought to the practice of data mining has painted it in a bad light. However, when data is collected and used in a responsible manner, there’s absolutely no shame in employing the practice to learn more about the audience you’re looking to convert. 


But the question remains, how do you go about getting the data you need? Especially in a world where consumers have wised up and closely scrutinize who they give personal info to. 


Contest marketing is a versatile, effective strategy to help you drive traffic, make meaningful connections, and capture the data you need to better market to your audience. And unlike Cambridge Analytica who used profiles comprised of hundreds of data points per individual, your business will likely benefit from as few as one or two. 


In this article, we’ll look at 10 different ways to use contest marketing (i.e. giveaways, contests quizzes, and other strategies) to help you capture the valuable data you need to convert more customers. 

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Contests to help you attract and collect leads


Giveaways are the “ol’ reliable” of contest marketing because they’re simple to set up and simple to participate in – a surefire way to keep ROI high.

By offering an incentive in the form of a prize, your giveaway’s entry form will capture the data you desire. Here are a few examples of unique contests to try. 


Instant Win

The instant win giveaway is a winner when looking to collect lots of new leads, quickly. The draw of this simple contest is that participants find out instantly if they’ve won a prize, making it a real engagement magnet. 


instant win giveaway

Multi-Day Giveaway

A multi-day giveaway is a clever way to offer a range of prizes, allowing you to tap into a larger audience. For example, if the prize offered on day one doesn’t appeal to some, the prize on day two might. 


Points for Actions

A points for actions giveaway allows you to offer extra chances to win in exchange for completing actions such as a follow on Instagram or visiting a Shopify store.

Shopify logo


The “points” awarded equal additional entries into the giveaway. By allowing the participant to earn themselves improved odds, this type of giveaway results in boosted participation.


points for action contest


Contests to help you collect UGC


In marketing, user-generated content (UGC) refers to any type of authentic content – photos, videos, testimonials, etc. – created by a user of a brand’s products or services. Businesses work hard to collect UGC from their loyal user-base because, with it, they can illustrate that real people use their products and love them. 


These types of contests make the collection of UGC easy and fun. 


Photo Contest

People love a photography contest and they’re beneficial to your business as well. Ask participants to submit photos using your products, or add a clever spin.

For example, PetValu hosts an annual “Casting Call” contest looking to fill a “starring role” in their yearly calendar.


casting call contest

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Hashtag Contest

Hashtag contests are photo or video contests with the added benefit of a minimized barrier to entry. For example, by simply including a specific hashtag (and an @mention on Instagram), a photo or video post can be submitted as an entry automatically. 


hashtag contest

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These types of contests help you collect other valuable data about your audience


When the data you’re looking to collect can’t be collected in a form field, use these creative contests to gather product preferences and gauge awareness.  

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Knowledge Quiz

A knowledge quiz allows you to learn what your audience knows (or doesn’t know), which can be valuable when collecting a lead.

For example, a bank or lender may build a quiz with questions such as “How much money does the average homeowner save when refinancing?”

The answer may be shocking to quiz-takers and create the perfect opportunity for a follow-up phone call with a felicitous pitch: “Lock in a low interest rate today and save big bucks!” 


Pick Your Prize 

This type of contest will give you an understanding of which products your audience prefers, priming them for further discounts and promotions tailored specifically to their preferences.


pick your prize contest

Bonus strategies to incorporate with any contest


Now that you’ve seen some contest examples, incorporate these strategies with your contest to drive further data collection. 


Offer a discount

Set up an autoresponder and send the contest participant a follow-up email with a discount code. The discount code will not only help you drive more sales but by tracking the number of codes that were redeemed, you’ll better understand the success of your contest.

By testing out a few different contest marketing strategies, diligently tracking the conversions from each will tell you what’s working and what’s not.

discount contest


Offer extra chances to win

Incentivize participants to fill in form fields for extra chances to win. For example, if you need to collect a phone number, offer extra chances to win in exchange for filling in that specific field.

Next to a social security number, a phone number is probably one of the most guarded pieces of info you can ask for.

By offering extra chances to win for disclosing it, you’ll ease that hesitation and collect more phone numbers from your contest.

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Collect an opt-in

Your contest can be the gateway to getting permission to send future emails. Email marketing is personal, versatile, and more impactful than other marketing mediums such as social media.

Use your contest to gather an email opt-in in the contest’s entry form or in a follow-up autoresponder.

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Always remember…


…that data is to be treated with respect. Never sell, spam, or use it without permission. 

Transparency is the best approach when asking for data, so don’t be afraid to disclose what you’re looking to do with it.

For example, including “We’ll send you an exclusive promotion on your birthday” or “The photo with the most votes will be featured in our next print ad” could go a long way in helping you gather quality data and more of it.  

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Author Info: 

Jessica Miller Shortstack

Jessica Miller from ShortStack

Jessica Miller is a content marketer for ShortStack. She’s an avid traveler, artist, and a new mom.