What Makes a Sweepstake Different from A Contest

Updated October 6, 2023

When looking to attract people to a business, most marketing experts recommend an array of marketing methods; amongst them is the use of promo deals.

Giving something for free is an easy way of targeting the right clients and appreciating long-term clients while delivering your business’s marketing goal.

Knowing how contests and sweepstakes differ is an ideal way of ensuring you never mistake the two.


Also, commonly referred to as a game of chance or a giveaway, a sweepstake is a type of promo whose method of participation is through free consideration. This means that the participants are not required to buy a product or pay a fee to enter the promotion. A sweepstake uses a random method to determine a winner as well as the type of award.

To categorize a promo as a sweepstake, one must also ensure the sweepstake complies by removing all elements of consideration to ensure the participant can enter the promo with ease and also participate without putting in too much effort.

If you decide to use considerations in your sweepstake, the participant should choose to use it or choose an easier method.

In a sweepstake, participants cannot get penalized or rewarded for their choice in the event you give them different entry choices.

For instance, you cannot give the person who chose to buy a product to enter the promotion 5 entries and give 2 entries to someone who decided not to purchase the product. Regardless of the entry method preferred, all participants in a sweepstake should get equal participating opportunities.

All winners in a sweepstake are determined by a chance element like drawing from the entries or an instant win that is randomly preprogrammed. You can try the easy giveaway app from Easypromos, with random pickers, comment picker, etc.

The prize is the incentive for any promotion. The prizes to be won in a sweepstake should be clearly described within the rules of the promotion.


Also referred to as a game of skill or competition, a contest is a type of promo where the participants are required to display a level of skill or effort to gain entry. A judging panel determines the winner. A contest requires a non-monetary consideration to win. Instead, participants must show a skill like creating art, writing an essay, or participating in physical challenges against other contestants. In a contest, the free entry method is not required. You can choose to include conditions for participating in a contest, such as purchasing a product or signing up to a service without giving the participant a free alternate method of entry, as is the case for a sweepstake.

The fact that a free method of entry is not required for a contest makes it appealing to corporates and brands looking to boost product sales.

At the end of a contest, all participants are judged fairly based on present judging criteria. There cannot be a chance element in a contest to ensure fair treatment and judging for all participants. Just like a sweepstake, the prize offered is an incentive to encourage participation.

Which one should I run?

The type of promo you choose to run is dependent on your marketing objectives. Sweepstakes are the simplest to plan and undertake, while contests are more intimate for smaller audiences.

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