How Sweepstakes Administrators Should Notify Winners

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Let’s say you’re running your own sweepstakes or contest, and you’ve picked a winner. Now what? You’ve got to notify the lucky winner, and hopefully get a response in case you need shipping info or whatever.

Most sweepstakes administrators prefer to notify winners using email. If you included a telephone number field in your entry form, you could also call the winner in addition to sending an email, or a mobile text if you’re running a mobile-only sweepstakes. Each notification style has its pitfalls that I’ll get into below.

As you already know, emails could be sorted into your winner’s spam folders if they’re not being properly sorted. For information on how sweepers should properly sort emails into folders, consult the book Profit From Sweepstakes. The book lays out in detail a foolproof method that ensures they’ll always be seeing the winning notification emails.

Winning words to use

You should always use words in the subject line that are relevant and get readers’ attention. Words and phrases such as “Sweepstakes,” “Giveaway,” “You have won” and “You are a winner” are very reliable. It also helps to put the name of your giveaway into the subject line, as spammers also like to use these attention-getting lines to get people to open their spams.

Text or HTML?

Sending winning notification emails using text format is far better than HTML. Text emails can be read using screen previews, and they load faster. A majority of the biggest judging agencies send emails to winners using text format. Also, many people use privacy settings that block HTML images, making HTML a very impractical format to inform winners.

Notifying winners by phone is probably less reliable than using email. People don’t always have a cell phone with them, could miss the call or voice message or may have given you their landline number. Phone notifications does have immediacy, but I don’t recommend it.

If you were provided with a mailing address during entry, snail mail notification is rare but it is still being done.

Chasing the brown truck

Very large sweepstakes oftentimes notify winners using UPS and/or FedEx letter notification. For experienced winners who know what a letter from a truck means, it is very exciting when the truck arrives with a letter. This is likely a big prize that probably requires a notified affidavit. I have gotten several of these, and a letter from UPS just makes you feel like you just want to run after the truck.

One of the more annoying problems when running a giveaway is getting a response from winners. I have seen that prize-runners have to notify several people because of a lack of response from winners. Perhaps they’re no longer interested in the prize, or just didn’t see the email? Either way, it’s potentially a problem for you.

Giving people at least 48 hours to respond is a reasonable policy that is sure to not disappoint anyone who noticed the email a bit late. I think that most people who see an email notifying them that they won two weeks after receiving it would not bothering following up. Most likely they’ll feel pissed off at themselves for not answering, and not you. I feel that 48-to 72 hours’ reponse time wait is reasonable enough. Put this into the rules to cover yourself in case of any dispute.

Notifying winners their prizes are being shipped is a nice touch that is full of TLC. It’s always helpful using giveaways to build a good relationship with present and future customers.

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