Using In-App Contests to Increase App Engagement & ROI


Using In-App Contests to Increase App Engagement & ROI

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As discussed in some of our previous blog posts, there are many ways to increase user engagement and encourage repeat app usage such as adding polls and regularly replenishing your app with fresh content. In that same vein, hosting in-app “contests” is another great way to drive user retention and engagement.

We find that contests can offer a number of benefits including –

  • Encouraging app downloads & user retention
  • Driving traffic to your website, if the contest registration form is located there and linked to from the app
  • Encouraging sign-ups that result in continued marketing opportunities
  • Offering an effective way to coordinate different marketing activities that all work together in an integrated program – your app, website, email marketing, social media, other print/digital/broadcast marketing
  • Offering in-app advertisers ways to connect more deeply with app users

Let’s explore some of these ideas in more detail.

Adding (and then advertising) contests can encourage app downloads, especially if the contest winnings are unique. Sweepstakes need not cost you a lot of money to develop either; work with local businesses to donate services or products that will spark interest from your app audience. We recommend updating contests on a monthly or quarterly basis and requiring users to manually re-enter each new drawing with the end goal of driving repeat app usage. Including a custom registration form within the app will allow the collection of additional user information such as demographics and user interests, as well as collecting sign-ups for future communications such as newsletters or coupons. Consider requiring some type of user action in order for them to be entered into the drawing, such as submitting a photo or tip, or voting in a poll. 

Contests can also be formatted more creatively to further encourage user engagement. A “passport” or “scavenger hunt” format requires users to “check-in” to visited locations. Consumers earn “stamps” from participating businesses/locations and once the required number is collected, the user is then entered into the contest. This drives repeat usage of your app as well as promotes participating businesses. If you are selling in-app advertising to local businesses, this additional visibility and user engagement will be welcomed and attractive! 

Tying contests in with special events is an effective way to partner with community organizations. The contest winner could receive tickets to the festival, or the winners of the in-app contest could be announced at the festival or event. This type of collaboration will help put more “marketing muscle” behind the contest and app, benefiting both parties. Be sure to advertise the contest or drawing with links and information to download the app, and use push notifications to encourage last minute sign-ups and to later announce the winner.

Many of our clients have successfully used contests to drive user interest, downloads, retention and app revenue potential. If you are interested in learning more about app contests and seeing examples of this technique, register for a Bar-Z webinar and we can tailor it to this topic. 


Originally written 07/23/2014. Update 07/24/2017.

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