Back-end marketing is the marketing activity least done by companies, and it’s one of the most important.

When I meet someone new and they find out what I do for a hobby, I usually get peppered with questions. One of the most frequently asked questions is, “No one really wins, do they?

Why do you suppose I would get asked that question, when companies spend billions, yes billions, running sweepstakes every year?

That is because companies and agencies frequently neglect to announce a winner. What should happen is; once the contest is over the sponsor or agency needs to continue marketing. Once the official winner(s) is confirmed, use that information to further promote the promoted product or service and pull new Facebook, Twitter, etc. followers to your next promotion. It’s much easier to pull someone into your conversation, versus pushing messages at them.

The current lack of Back-end Marketing stems from an outdated mindset.


Marketing for 100+ years was blasting messages out to the masses; billboards, magazine ads, television commercials, radio spots, etc. Agencies and companies told you what they wanted you to hear, read, see and perceive. They started and ended the conversation along with controlling the conversation every step of the way.


Even though contests had been around for decades, they gained favor as a marketing tool in the 1950s. Judging agencies loved creating CGM (Consumer Generated Media) contests to get their client’s customers to engage with their brands.

The best example of how popular contests were during that time period is the book and movie: The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio, subtitled How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less.

SIDE NOTE: I preferred the book over the movie, but I loved both. I even got to be an honorary Affidaisy, not once but three times!!

As companies had spent thousands of dollars hiring judging agencies, printing entry forms, commercial spots, etc. they always announced the winners as they used the winning entries in future advertisements. Why wouldn’t they? It was the entire purpose of the campaign. To get the client’s consumers to create the jingle, tune, slogan, tagline, etc.


In the 1960s sweepstakes began to become more popular for several reasons:

  • They were less expensive to run. (It always seems to come down to money!)
  • They attracted far more entries as the appeal to enter a sweepstakes is greater than a contest. It is easier to fill out an entry blank than it is to craft a clever jingle.
  • The manpower and time taken to conduct a random drawing are far lower than judging hundreds or thousands of entries.

Back-end Marketing began to disappear as companies were not spending as much time or money conducting contests. Sweepstakes were not creating the CGM to use in future promotions and advertising campaigns so the marketing stopped once the end date of the sweepstakes arrived.


Just as contests had shifted to sweepstakes. Mail-in promotions were now moving online. Initially, it was straightforward online entry forms, but as more and more people owned computers and Internet access became more prevalent sweepstakes got more sophisticated.

It was as if marketers got their mojo back. It became fun to enter as marketers began to utilize the full power of technology. Everything from advergames to submitting PIN Codes online created a whole new generation of sweepers.

The percentage of men entering also increased as it was no longer a ‘woman’s’ hobby. No more hunting up and down the grocery isles for OEBs (Original Entry Blanks) and manually completing 3x5s. Entering online was ‘manly’.

The downside for marketers was they couldn’t use a database of names to create their next ad campaign.


Just like fashion, at some point, everything that is old is new again.

The next evolution was when standard online entry forms gave way to social media sweepstakes. Not all other forms of online entering disappeared, but as over 50% of my daily entries are on one social channel or another, it is safe to say social media sweepstakes are now the platform of choice for marketers.

This is where Back-end Marketing began its resurgence. However, a tiny resurgence hasn’t been enough to stop the question, “No one really wins, do they?

Steps To Take

What can companies do to fully round out every social media contest they create and begin Pull Marketing versus Push Marketing?

ONE: Always announce the winner. Even if it’s a simple banner created in Canva stating ‘Sally S from NYC won our giveaway’. The number of times I see entrants messaging a company on social media asking who won is ridiculous. Not only does it make the sponsor look incompetent as they didn’t complete their job, but it also begins to erode the trust consumers have with the brand. If they can’t run a simple online contest properly, how good can their product or service be?

TWO: Do it in more than one place. You held a Facebook contest, but why not announce the winner in your newsletter, on your blog, in a tweet, etc.? It will increase your message reach as not everyone sees every message everywhere. It will also encourage those same followers to like you elsewhere.

THREE: Use it to pull followers to enter future giveaways. Let’s be realistic. This isn’t going to be the only contest you ever hold. You are going to host more, so tell followers what to do to be ready to win the next prize. For example:

  • Subscribe to your newsletter for an exclusive giveaway.
  • Select SEE FIRST on Facebook so they never miss a winning opportunity.
  • Ensure they TURN ON Instagram Notifications so they see all your posts.


If you host a Facebook caption contest, Instagram photo contest, or Vine video contest, ensure you use the winning and best CGM in your next marketing campaign.

How often do you engage in Back-end Marketing?

NOTE: This post was originally written for Neal Schaffer’s social media marketing blog