5 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Game-Based Promotion Vendor

So you’ve decided to run a game-based promotion — congrats.

You’ve officially joined the ranks of brilliant marketers who know that to engage consumers, there has to be something in it for them.

Next step: picking the right vendor for the job.

The first question you’ll likely have is:

Should I use my agency on record to develop my game-based promo, or should I use a specialty shop?

It’s an important question. And the answer will depend greatly on how well equipped your agency is to create these kinds of promotions.

Have they built a game-based promotion before? What experience do they have with the legal requirements for running a sweepstakes or contest? Do they have the people and systems in place to design, develop, and host a game-based promo?

While your agency has the advantage of an established working relationship and knowledge of your other marketing initiatives, game-based promotions aren’t like other campaigns. There are complex technical and legal requirements that need to be met for the campaign to be successful.

And that’s where a speciality shop can be useful.

Why Use a Speciality Promotions Vendor?

Plain and simple, specialty shops have more experience than your AOR at developing, hosting, and maintaining game-based promotions.

And those extra years of experience directly benefit you — instead of making common mistakes that hurt your results, you’ll have access to best practices that deliver maximum ROI and achieve your goals.

Plus a specialty shop will often take care of cumbersome details like prize fulfillment & procurement, offer advice on promotion strategy, and suggest partners to reduce the cost of prizing — in addition to designing, developing, hosting, and maintaining your game-based promotion.  

But not every vendor is built the same. Some may have great looking promos but lack the strategy behind them to drive results. Others may have decent strategists but lack the ability to design a great user experience.

And since most vendors won’t tell you straight up “we don’t do this well” (wouldn’t that be nice?) you need to figure it out yourself — before it’s too late.

A poorly executed promo won’t only waste your budget — it can hurt your brand’s reputation and leave your company open to significant legal problems.

5 Things to Ask When Choosing a Promotions Vendor

1. Are Gamified Sweepstakes a Core Part of Their Offering?

Many digital agencies will claim to have sweepstakes capabilities. But if they can’t show a substantial body of work in this area you should be leery.  

You’re better to choose a promotions vendor that can demonstrate a history of planning, developing, hosting, and maintaining game-based sweepstakes.  Experienced vendors will be aware of the potential pitfalls, and will be able to draw on best practices to ensure maximum ROI.

2. Do They Offer a Full Range of Services?

A game-based promotion is a big undertaking. There’s a ton of work that goes into the planning, development, and execution. Make sure the vendor you choose has the manpower (and experience) to deal with all of these aspects.

Some services to look for:

  • Sweepstakes strategy and logistics

  • Creative services

  • A reliable and secure sweepstakes platform

  • Custom content development (microsites, advergames, instant wins, viral applications)

  • Prize procurement and fulfillment

  • Hosting, maintenance and support

  • Legal services (i.e. draft official Rule and Regs etc.)

  • Contest management services

  • Traffic driving solutions (i.e. optimization for search, seeding services etc.)

Planning a game-based promotion is stressful enough. You don’t want to get saddled with a bunch of residual tasks just because you chose the wrong vendor.

3. Can They Execute Multi-Channel Programs?

Great promotions don’t exist in just one channel. They integrate with your in-store experiences, drive social engagement, and are accessible on all devices.

Giving your audience the freedom to connect with your promotion where it is most convenient for them — and ensuring the experience is consistent across multiple channels — will yield much better results. However, it also puts some pressure on your vendor.  

Integrating digital promos with multiple channels takes time, technical know-how, and a solid understanding of best practices. Make sure to ask if the vendor has delivered on the channels you want to use -- especially if you want to tie to sales, integrate in-store, or hook up the promotion to your loyalty program. These channels in particular require solid technical know-how to create seamless user experiences.  

So if you’re trying to drive new member acquisition, and your promotions vendor hasn’t ever integrated with a loyalty program before -- it might be worthwhile to keep looking.

4. Who Have They Worked With?

You can tell a lot from a vendor’s client list.  

Promotions vendors who have worked with leading brands and agencies are a safer bet because their solutions have been repeatedly scrutinized by their clients’ marketing and legal professionals.

If a vendor can’t show you a number of game-based sweeps they’ve developed for reputable companies, it’s likely they aren’t the right vendor for you.

5. Do They Have a List of Client References?

A legitimate vendor will be able to provide a list of references for you to contact.

Take the time to call and talk to the people on your vendor’s list. Ask what the process was like, what the vendor’s strengths and weaknesses are. Are they straight shooters or did they try to hide their failings in mumbo jumbo jargon (yea we said it).

Another good thing to ask is how many times that client has worked with the vendor. If a client keeps going back to a vendor time after time, it’s a pretty safe bet they're doing something right.

The Bottom Line

These questions are a great starting point for evaluating your options and choosing an experienced vendor.  But at the end of the day, choosing the right promotions vendor goes beyond what’s on the page. It comes down to the people.

Are you going to enjoy working with them? Are they honest? Supportive? Decent human beings?

Running a game-based promotion can be a stressful process. Make sure the vendor you choose has the experience and ability to help you through it, and deliver on results.