online promotion games

You can set up and run a prize giveaway for your company in a few easy steps. All you need is a platform to collect some information from the entrants, such as email address, age, location – things to help you determine their eligibility and notify a winner. However, if you want to take it a step further, make it interesting, make it fun for people to enter and make them want to come back.

Gamify Your Online Promotion

The concept of gamification has been around for a while. It means using the elements and mechanics of a game in a non-game environment. Sweepstakes and giveaways are pretty close to games, and yet many companies forget to make the experience fun for the participants.

Gamification of prize giveaways can be used to achieve many goals, such as making a boring task of daily entry more interesting, engaging your audience, encouraging brand recognition and retention, and increasing participation.

However, it’s important to not overdo it. Gamification may backfire when:

  • The game is too long and is required to be played every day in order to enter
  • The game is close to impossible to win and the win is required to enter
  • The game is too confusing and lacks a proper manual
  • The game is poorly set up, constantly lags, crushes, or otherwise malfunctions

Below, you’ll find a few prize giveaway game ideas, as well as examples of how other big and small companies have successfully used games to design truly unique promotions.

Instant Win Game

One great appeal of an instant win game for participants is that they instantly find out if they won: no waiting for the winner selection and no human factor involved. The winning times are pre-set in a computer and the only way to win is by playing at or around this pre-set time. This means that everything boils down to luck – that’s as fair as giveaways ever get. Check out the way Dunkin Donuts has mastered instant win games.

Scavenger Hunt Game

This type of giveaway involves participants mining your website (social media profiles or other online resources) to find something you’ve hidden, typically a link to an entry form. You can make it as easy or as difficult as you wish – hiding multiple clues and making winners work for their prizes. The key benefit for you is guaranteed traffic to your website and participants actually reading your content and learning about what you do.

Earn-Your-Entries Game

This is not an official name for this type of a giveaway game – we just thought it’s the best way to describe it. Basically, you reward the participants with entries into the prize drawing when they complete a specific action in your game. This action could be as simple as spinning a wheel or as sophisticated as picking up a piece of trash in the virtual town you created or answering your quiz correctly. You can even make it so that participants earn as many entries as the number of points they receive during a game play. This way you get people to come back for more entries and stay engaged with your content.

A Skill Game

While other types of giveaway games don’t really have a winner per se, this one does. A person who earns the most points or completes your game faster than everyone else is the winner of the prize. A game like that may require a variety of skills, such as hand-eye coordination, computer literacy, agility, memory etc. This is a great option if you are giving away something expensive and want only the best player to win.

Just-for-Fun Game

In all of the above types of giveaway games playing a game is a part of entering the promotion. A gameplay confirms a win or a loss, reveals an entry form or directly affects the number of entries received. However, you can offer your participants to play a game just for fun. In this case, you might consider including two things:

  • A message saying that the participation in the game is not required to enter sweepstakes
  • An option to skip the game and proceed to the entry form

This type of game only serves entertainment purpose. However, if you want you can make it a requirement to play the game in order to enter sweepstakes. In this case, it’s a good idea to disclose whether the outcome of the game will impact the winning chances. In other words, does a person have to win (pass level 1, answer the quiz correctly or earn a certain amount of points) in order to receive an entry into the promotion?

Of course, there are other different ways to gamify your giveaway and you can be as creative as you wish. To get you started, here are some of the popular game scenarios you can modify to fit your needs and reflect your branding:

  • Whack-a-Mole – hitting things that pop out of the ground
  • Spin to Win – borrowed from the gambling scene
  • Memory Match – opening cards two at a time and matching them
  • Spot the Difference – find the differences between two images
  • A Match Up – connect two words, phrases, photos, or other items that constitute a pair
  • A Quiz – answering correctly may or may not be required to earn an entry


Now let’s take a look at how big brands use prize giveaway games to generate buzz and build loyal following.

Case #1: Airborne

Airborne ran several successful promotions in the past that received great response from the participants.

In the Spin to Win Instant Win Game they askeairborne-spin-to-wind participants to spin a wheel up to 3 times a day. Depending on which number the arrow stops on, participants can receive anywhere from 1 to 5 entries per spin. After each spin, a bonus card is revealed that may double the points, triple them or award a free Airborne product (that’s where instant win element comes in). Each earned point equals to 1 entry into the grand prize drawing (a hefty cash prize).


Key takeaway: earning points becomes a game and makes people come back to try their luck the next day. The participants share with each other how many points they have, which means more people talking about you.

Another promotion was called Fill in the Blanks Instant Win Game. It was set up in a similar fashion, but instead of spinning the wheel, participants had to fill in the blanks to complete a phrase, typically describing one of the features of Airborne products. Each correctly inserted letter earned a certain number of points. Bonus entries can be earned for sharing the promotion.

Key takeaway: this is a smart way to educate people about your products and services

Case #2 held a treasure hunt, a variation of the scavenger hunt. At a specific pre-announced time a question gets posted on the company’s Facebook page leading to the next clue on Participants have to search the website to find the right page (marked with a special symbol) that contains a link to the next clue. The 5th clue contains a code that needs to be entered on the form back on Facebook. The first 18 people to submit the code win different tier prizes.

Key takeaway: this is a complex, multi-step scavenger hunt that will work best for companies with a tech-savvy audience, like the readers of This promotion gave people a taste of the content offers on their site, enticing them to come back for more.

Case #3 Skittles

The Rock Paper Skittles game is something out of the ordinary. This is how it works: a participant holds a Skittles candy to his or her nose, the webcam captures the image, processes the color and then you get a result whether your piece of candy beats the other two random opponents in a match-up. If it does, you earn an entry. For participants who don’t have a webcam or don’t want to use it, there is an alternative method of entry where they just pick a color.


Key takeaway: this promotion is entertaining and innovative to the point that it gets you noticed for your marketing creativity.

Have your own tips to share? Chime in!


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