The Beginners Text-to-Win SMS Contest Guide

Chris Brisson

Chris Brisson


May 9, 2024

The Beginners Text-to-Win SMS Contest Guide

It is no secret that the ROI on SMS marketing campaigns can be huge. Many of today’s major marketers use text messaging to collect leads from their audiences deliver coupons that drive sales, and engage their prospects to become customers.

In this guide we will outline step by step the way to “rock it” on your first SMS contest. Soon you will be able to build a mobile list faster than a speeding freight train. First let’s outline the steps and then do a deeper dive into each, one by one.

Choosing a Text to Win Software Platform

First you need to choose a platform capable of running an SMS contest. In all honestly there are plenty of them out there. But needless to say, when it comes to SMS platforms, we are a bit biased here at Call Loop and recommend using ours.

Regardless of whom you choose, the service should be affordable, intuitive, and feature packed. It should be simple to set up your campaign with little technical know-how and be easy to measure your results. To see how easy setting up an SMS contest is within Call Loop, just go here. Now, enough about us.

Let’s get to it.

Why Should I Run an SMS Contest?

Text to win SMS contests are a fun and entertaining way to engage prospects. They work well for a variety of situations, especially for generating leads using free giveaways, like a product, vacation trip, or event tickets. Often people cannot pass up an opportunity to win something, especially if you make it easy for them to enter using text to win.

Before starting your campaign, ask yourself these three questions…

1. Does this make sense for my company?

Businesses that offer a consumer product will often have better results, because their products tend to solve personal problems or meet internal desires. Often times their current marketing is better suited to engaging your target audience.

If your business is B2B, making your SMS contest a success can be more of a challenge due to the nature of your product or service. Don’t worry, if you think outside the box, anything can be accomplished.

Think of Coca Cola vs. commercial tax software. Which one is better suited to pulling off a contest?

Coca Cola will have a much easier time promoting a contest because of the mass appeal of their product and the strength of their brand. The commercial tax software company is a niche and has limited appeal.

2. Can we provide a great incentive or prize?

A strong incentive is one of the most crucial elements of the planning process.

One thing to think about is that picking an extremely low-value prize will stymie your results and can cause a campaign to fail. The incentive you choose should resonate with your target audience. It should get people excited about joining your contest.

The incentive does not have to be some expensive grand prize; it could be a discount. Furthermore, if a customer opts in to your SMS contest, you could reward that action with a voucher, special promo, or even exclusive content.

3. Are we going to put 100% into this campaign?

An SMS contest that is not properly marketed will fall on its face. You can’t set it up and expect it to achieve great results by itself. If you want a stellar campaign, it will require you to put in your full effort. Plan properly and, more importantly, execute all aspects of the campaign.

Nothing is worse than putting in time and effort to build a campaign that fails because you didn’t go the extra mile. Next we will talk about how to find your targets.

Find Your Target Audience

1. Who are you trying to reach?

Who is your target? Maybe its location based or gender based. If you have been marketing your business for any time at all, then this step is probably a no-brainer. You likely already have your target audience dialed in.

For instance, if you sell golf products, then it’s clear your target is going to be people interested in golf.

Here is a list to think about when you are finding your audience:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Gender
  • Relationship Status
  • Product Owner
  • Family

Set Your Goals

First you must sort out the primary goals of the campaign. What do you want to get out of it? Doing so will help you build a strategy, craft your messages, and determine your follow-up sequence. Outlining your objectives and setting achievable goals is your first step.

Here are some goals to think about during your planning:

  • Lead Generation
  • Raise Brand Awareness
  • Drip Content
  • Increase Sales
  • Heighten Event Attendance
  • Build Social Media Presence

To begin planning your SMS contest, it’s best for you to create a set of predetermined goals. Setting goals gives you a way to determine whether your campaign is successful once it’s over. Often businesses running a SMS contest set no objectives and then watch as it fails. Then they say “that doesn’t work.” This is because they had no way to measure its success.

Regardless of your goal, keep in mind that building your SMS marketing list is important for staying connected to your prospects. With an open rate as high as 98%, it’s the best channel for getting your message out to a large group of people quickly.

Set specific, measurable goals and you will quickly be able to see whether your SMS contest was successful. This can be done by answering yes or no questions, like these:

  • Did we collect “X” leads?
  • Did we get “X” coupon redemptions?
  • Did we increase attendance by “X”?
  • Did we increase sales by “X”?

Method of Entry – Text to Join

Will the contest be text to join or webform? Well, it depends. If you are promoting your contest online, then a webform probably makes the most sense. If you are promoting your contest where you are in front of a crowd or engaging mobile foot traffic like at a trade show, then text to join may be your best option. Or it may be both. Just remember that you want to use the easiest method given the channels you are using.

Choosing Your Text to Join Keyword

Don’t overthink this step. The KISS method is the best rule here. Use something short and sweet, like a brand or product name. Avoid a generic term like “save” or personal names like “James”

We have instructions on setting this up in Call Loop. Learn how to choose a keyword.

From Call Loop, just search for the keyword you want and secure it with a click.

This keyword will be the word people will text into.

Create Your Text Message Follow-Up & Auto-Reply Response

Keep wording of the text as brief as possible. Many text platforms have character restrictions, which limits the amount you can say. Detailed explanations will either get cut off or sent in multiple obnoxious messages, causing them to be ignored altogether.

That is why it is important to craft your message to be short and simple, outlining what the participant has to do and what the incentive is.

Want to capture an email address or name for your contest?

This option will allow you to capture the person’s email address for later marketing follow-up. You can also connect one of your email autoresponders to Call Loop and we’ll send these new leads to your 3rd party email marketing provider.

Promoting Your Text to Join Contest

Create Awesome Images

It’s no mistake that most contest promotion ads are eye-catching. If you are planning to promote your contest on social media posts, then you need awesome images. Using an awesome-looking prize image means that more people will want to share it. If it sucks, then it’s not going to prompt shares, tweets, and likes. So be sure to use graphics that grab the attention of your target audience and make them say, “I want to win that.” Don’t ignore this. It’s too simple to not do it.

You can use a free service like Canva to create beautiful text to join images in just a few minutes.

From here, you can promote your text to join sms contest across all of your channels like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin, and more.

After the Contest

Picking the winners

Picking random winners is super simple. You can just use a free tool like Miniwebtool. With it, you can copy and paste a list of names exported from your group of subscribers and generate random winners. It’s not the only method out there, but whatever you use, be sure to state what method you are using to pick the winners in your official rules.

Notifying The Winner

Now that winners have been chosen, it’s best that you notify the winners in a timely manner after the campaign ends. You also want to be sure that you use the notification method stated in your official rules. In our experience, following up with both a text message and an email is optimal. If you still don’t get a response, then you can call and leave a message.

While a phone call to notify the winners may be more personal, it’s not recommended. People tend to screen their phone calls, and calls are not as trackable. Texts and emails can be easily tracked if ever a dispute should arise. You can also notify the winner using ringless voicemail to deliver your message without actually calling.

Thank the Participants

Ok, so you notified the winners. What’s next?

Thank all the people who participated by giving them a special offer, driving some sales in the process. It’s best if you use some scarcity such as a time limit to respond to the offer.

Create an SMS coupon and send out a broadcast message to them all with a link to your site or an expiring coupon to drive you more sales.


I hope this special report gave you a full understanding on how to create, run, and successfully manage your SMS contest. Now it’s up to you to get started by following the steps outlined in this report to start seeing the results you want.

To get your free Call Loop account to setup your SMS contest, just click the link below and we’ll give you 25 free messages and a demo keyword to give us a try.

Get Your Free Call Loop Account

Chris Brisson

Chris Brisson

Chris is the co-founder and CEO at Call Loop. He is focused on marketing automation, growth hacker strategies, and creating duplicatable systems for growing a remote and bootstrapped company. Chat with him on X at @chrisbrisson

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