The Ideal Length of a Contest


Peggy Seeloff, one of our VPs, discusses the ideal contest length.

contest countdownHow long should I run a contest for? One week? One month? Three months or more?

This is a question that comes up often from clients when they are thinking of launching a contest. And remember — contests are different then sweepstakes because you are asking the consumer to create something instead of just entering some basic information for a random drawing. The length you would want to run a sweepstakes may be very different from how long you run a contest.

There are a few important factors to consider when you are thinking about running a contest.

1) What is your goal?
2) What is the call to action and effort you are asking the consumer to put in?
3) What is the prize?

Let’s start with the first factor, your goal. Is your goal to have lots of content on your social media channels, and quality isn’t that important? Then make the entry period shorter and perhaps allow people to enter often. Or do you want fewer, high quality entrants you can use in your advertising? In this case make the entry period longer so people have time to prepare quality work. Your end goal needs to be a factor in determining the length of your contest as you need to make sure your goals can be met in the time allotted.

The amount of effort you are asking the consumer to put into their entry is also an important factor to consider when determining the length of your contest. If your contest is a few short essay questions then you could run it for a month or two. If you are asking the consumer to create a longer video or a song, then you might want to give them a little more time to prepare as much more effort would be going into this kind of entry.

Is the prize an event or a trip? If so you need to make sure you end it with enough time to judge all of the entries to be sure you have a clear winner in time to get to the event. If the prize isn’t an event, then you have a little more leeway with the length as you do not have any specific date that you need to fulfill this prize by.

If there is public voting this could come into play, too, as you need to have time for the public to view all the entries and submit their votes. It would not change the submission period, but it does affect the overall length of the contest. Public voting should always take place after all the entries have been received to ensure that all the entries have equal exposure.

It has been our experience that one week would be to short, and that more than 3 months would be too much time. As a general rules, we would suggest a minimum of one month and a maximum of three months. If you are not sure about how long your contest should run then let us help you work out the details.

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