5 Pillars To Any Great Digital Sports Sponsorship Contest

At SQWAD we run a lot of digital contests with some great teams. With running those contests we’ve learned a lot in the process. And a few recurring items have popped up with the digital contests we’ve seen success with.

We broke them down into 5 pillars you should think through when creating & planning your digital contests. Our goal is to always bring value to the sponsorship, sports, & event communities whether you use our platform or not.

A quick list of the pillars:

  1. Connection
  2. Easy
  3. Desirable
  4. Memorable
  5. Accessible


A connection is important in most sponsorship assets, how can you make sure that brand affinity is being built toward the sponsor’s goal?

The key here is understanding the sponsor’s goal first. In order to know what type of connection to create, you need to know what the end goal is.

Is it just to build brand affinity? Is it to help drive sales? Online sales? In-store sales?

Understanding this will help you craft how your activation will build a connection. If in-store sales are the goal, winning a coupon to the store is that connection.

How you brand this experience is important to that connection. We’ve found that a co-branding of your team & sponsor helps build this connection.

For example, don’t just have the McDonald’s free burger giveaway, connect it to your fan base & team…have the Kobe Bryant McDonald’s scratch & win, where when Kobe Bryant scores 40+ points the scratcher goes live.

This brings the fandom into the connection to the brand and offer, making it more desirable for the fan to play.

When thinking about your contest, the first goal is finding a connection. This is your WHY for the contest.


Today we judge things on time and reward. Think about when someone approaches you on the street to sign a petition. The reason you don’t stop is that the time it takes to hear their story, message, and values is a lot.

To be honest, the only time I have signed one of these is when the woman simply said: “Hey I’m trying to save the environment, a signature takes 10 seconds, no spam, just your support.”

Succinct, easy to understand, and the time compared to pay off is easily understood. Of course, I want to save the environment…who doesn’t? What I don’t want is a 10-minute value talk with spam emails flooding me for more donations.

The reward was a better environment (hopefully), the time commitment was minimal.

The same idea needs to be applied to your contests. You need to ask yourself if the payoff is worth the time it takes to access, play, etc.

The easier it is to access, understand, & play…the more likely they will play & participate.

This means looking at the whole cycle. How do they access it? How do they log in? How do they play? How do they receive their reward?

You need to run through these because this is what runs through your fan’s heads before they play. If it seems too hard…they will not play. EASY is maybe the most important part of the contest.

BONUS, if it is easy…they are more likely to come back. The harder you make it, the less likely they spend the time.



As our fans decide “is this worth my time?” the WORTH part comes with our third pillar; Desirable. While the easier you make it, the less desirable you have to make it…we still need to make sure it is worth our fan’s time to play.

There are two factors that come into effect here, the gameplay AND the payoff.

The smaller of those two come with the gameplay. Your contest needs to be fun & different. I know what you’re thinking “But I run raffles all the time where they just give an email…that isn’t fun gameplay and people play.” I would imagine though that your prize is pretty amazing.

An opposite example, video games like Madden have absolutely no value payoff for the user other than they are fun…yet people can play for an entire day (just got a flashback to the wasted hours in college doing this….rough).

Do you have to have gameplay like Madden?…no… But it should be fun. The gameplay needs to bring some value.

On the flip side of gameplay…you need to have a prize that is worth the time. We’ve written about this in the past with the prizing triangle, and it is really important.

If you can offer an amazing experience AND an awesome prize…you’ve hit the holy mecca of contests. Both of these make it desirable.

A great question to ask yourself while looking at both of these is “If I were a fan…would I play this?” Keep tweaking until you can honestly say yes.



Memorability is an interesting part of any contest…but the most succinct way I can put it is where you add your branding/flavor into the game.

On the very top of this pillar is the question of “Is this contest different than all the others I see out there?”

You know which ones I’m talking about…the ones that all are “share this post and tag a friend…and add us on social..and comment with why you should win..” that we see out there.

These all blend together. They don’t stand out to the user. They will totally forget about your team & brand in a few hours.

You should be thinking of what would make your contest memorable. How can I get the person talking about it? How can I get them to share it because it is unique…not because it gives them a better chance to win?

The second part of this pillar is adding your team & culture into the contest. This is where creating a game that is out of the norm comes in handy. You will want to build your own brand with the contest.

Again at SQWAD, we work with a TON of teams on this, and each one has its own flavor to add. One team that did it particularly well is the New Jersey Devils.

We did a mobile scratchers game with them, which is much different from the “share & win” normal contests you see.

But they took it a step further in their branding. With the simple addition of a custom Winning & Losing ticket image, the contest spoke to their fans & culture.



Adding this simple twist of branding to the scratcher game brings buzz and memorability to the game. Fans are delighted and feel as if the game is speaking to their fandom.

When creating your contest, think about how can we make our game memorable by making it different AND adding your flair & branding to the game.



And last (these are not in order of importance by the way. We believe that you should have ALL of these in your contest to make it truly memorable) but certainly not least is Accessibility. How and where do your fans access the contest?

Is it just in your stadium? Just on social? Through your app?

Overall we jump back to your partner & team goals here with this. If your goal is more app downloads…then only having access to the app makes sense for that goal.

If your goal is reaching new fans…then just putting on the app brings down the likelihood of you reaching them (the amount of first-time fans who will take the time and space commitment to download your app just for a contest is low).

Many times I see a mismatch of goal and accessibility. If your goal is a broad reach, you need to have the contest accessible on as many platforms as you can and open for as long as possible.

A piece of this is understanding where your fan’s attention is. If you post the link on your paper gameday program…and you know not many people buy that program…how can you expect a large number of users?

Understand where the attention is, understand the goal, and make it accessible toward that goal. This is key in ensuring you are driving numbers to your contest.

As you build your contest, I would keep a checklist of these pillars with the questions on each image. If you can ensure that all of these are integrated into your contest, you are bound for success.

When we set up contests at SQWAD, these are always how we start in creating & implementing our contests with clients. As you set up your own digital contests…keep these in mind.



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