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A Guide To Promotion Types

A Guide To Promotion Types

Running promotions can be daunting because there are many options to choose from when deciding what will work best for your brand. In the U.S., promotions typically consist of any two of three elements: 

  • Chance (random selection)
  • Prize (anything of monetary value)  
  • Consideration (this can include requiring an increased level of effort to participate, purchase requirements, travel requirements, etc.). 

For example, a Sweepstakes includes both Chance and Prize, meaning a prize is given to a winner who's been chosen completely at random from a pool of potential winners. A Contest on the other hand includes Consideration and Prize, because contests require an element of skill where a potential prize winner is judged (considered) according to a set of criteria and not being picked at random. 

If a promotion consisted of all three elements - chance, prize, and consideration - then by law it would be deemed a lottery and thus fall under Federal jurisdiction...something we'd all like to avoid for the sake of ease and simplicity. Using this guide you can create a deeper understanding of different promotions types and be able to better decide what will work best with your brand and what you are trying to promote. 


Instant Wins

Instant Wins are an excellent versatile promotion that allows customers to feel excited about the chance to quickly win a prize and helps build anticipation that can keep them coming back to enter again and again. Instant wins also allow for companies to offer a more extensive prize inventory; instead of a single prize, companies can provide a range of prizes available to win from small prize tokens like product coupons to extremely high-value prizes like VIP trips. This type of promotion can either be an overlay for a contest or a standalone promotion. It can generate additional brand acquisition and awareness and is easily customizable to work with other marketing incentives. Instant Wins keep your marketing campaigns creative, unique, and exciting for your customers. For example, they are a great way to promote a holiday giveaway or a sporting event promotion!



Sweepstakes are perhaps the best-known type of promotion, mostly due to their ease of use and their ability to be customized based on a brand's vision or budget. Sweepstakes are used to generate overall consumer interest and to promote new products or events. These promotions offer elements of chance and prize, meaning anytime you reward your customers at random, you are presenting a sweepstake. One benefit of Sweepstakes is that they can easily be combined with other promotion types such as Instant Wins, Collect & Wins, Contests, and more, which makes a more robust and exciting promotion for consumers. This promotion type also pairs well with a loyalty program because it lets members burn points with little cost to your brand. An excellent way for a brand to use this promotion is for a new product launch. 


Collect & Win 

Collect & Win promotions can come in a variety of shapes and forms, such a bingo boards, scavenger hunts, and more. This type of promotion invites customers to dive into their competitive side by playing different games and collecting unique pieces to win prizes. Collect & Win promotions can be highly engaging because they can incorporate different gamification elements to attract, engage, and entertain audiences of all different ages. They can also take place for an extended amount of time, which gives more people the chance to play and win. Some Collect & Win promotions can be used just to drive engagement or can be used to promote the sale of certain products - not unlike how Willy Wonka hide Golden Tickets inside the wrappers of specific chocolate bars. Collect & Wins can also utilize geo-location elements by enabling customers to collect items or pieces they need to win when they visit specific locations or areas, such as an in-store display. 


User-Generated Content 

User-Generated Content (UGC) is content the brand's customers create that the brand can then share or promote across its channels or platforms. These posts can come in the form of pictures, videos, reviews, testimonials, or podcasts. UGC content can come from a wide range of people, from brand employees to actual customers. UGC promotions give your customers or potential customers a sense of authenticity regarding your brand because they see what people enjoy about your products or services.

UGC is today's version of word-of-mouth marketing and is a great way to grow brand loyalty and trust. Because there are so many brands and options available to customers, building trust is more important than ever for helping distinguish your brand from competitors. One of the most common ways for brands to collect this user-generated content is by hosting photo or video contests, or making photo or video submissions part of an entry process for another promotion type. For example, one method of entry for a sweepstakes could include posting a photo or video on social media channel using a specific hashtag. Brand can then use hashtag-aggregation tools to curate UGC submissions into a mosaic or collage that can be easily viewed by wider audiences. 


Receipt Validation 

A Receipt Validation promotion can be used as a standalone promotion or as part of an entry mechanism for another promotion type like a sweepstakes or instant win. Receipt Validation provides purchase validation of consumer receipts, barcodes, QR Codes, or UPCs for any retailer, anywhere, and at any time. Image recognition technology like Brandmovers' proprietary receipt validation module, ValidSpend, is a great way to let customers also enter for chances to win prizes with every purchase they make. It allows for easy scans and validations of receipts containing multiple purchase and non-purchase submissions. This promotion type is a great way to drive engagement and sales while also capturing live data and insights into your customers' buying habits. A brand could use receipt validation to award its customers with points, entries, or prizes once they upload a receipt or reach a certain spend threshold. 



While the term 'giveaway' has been used in the past to refer to all kinds of digital promotions from sweepstakes to instant wins, true Giveaways exist as a category of their own. Giveaways are a type of promotion that doesn't include chance; instead they typically follow a first-come first-serve format. The first X number of people to do an action (register, purchase, enroll, sign-up, etc.) within a specified timeframe are the ones who win the prize. Giveaway promotions and their 'limited-time only' prizes offer a unique sense of exclusivity and luck which is both appealing to audiences and helps builds high levels of anticipation, perfect for drawing people in and achieving the brand's desired goal (whether that's increasing account registrations, collecting customer contact info or opt-ins, etc.). 

A true Giveaway promotion doesn't fall into the same category as a Sweepstakes or Contest because it's not random and does not include skill, which means the usual type of official rules that are legally required when running a promotion aren't typically needed. However, as a best practice we still recommend creating rules that establish how long the giveaway lasts, who is eligible to apply, etc.  This is so audiences can easily understand how the giveaway is intended to operate while avoiding the potential for any conflicting instructions. One situation where a brand can utilize this promotion when they are about to launch a product or want to get customers excited about a seasonal product that is coming back! 


This guide can help you get a start on which promotions will work best for your brand. These six different promotions give you plenty of options and are a great way to excite your customers! Promotions can be used for whatever your company needs, whether a product launch, a new partnership, a giveaway, etc.!

Need help figuring out how to implement this into your loyalty program? Reach out to us today and see how we can help you put these promotions into play and have your customers wanting to join in!