Talk to the raffle site experts

Raffle and Paid Competition Web Design and Development, Marketing and PR, Legal and Compliance

Raffles and paid competitions have exploded in popularity, and whilst they can be highly successful businesses, they require advice and guidance from a specialist marketing agency on many issues like web development, payments , compliance and customer acquisition. The Competition Agency has over a decade's experience in raffles and pay to enter competitions.

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Raffle site web design and development

We have decades of experience in raffle and paid competition site web design and development, having built large scale lottery systems, raffle systems, and other random draw systems for large and small clients alike – no agency has a better understanding of true randomisation and the requirements of websites that draw winners at random.

Raffle and paid competition sites built on WordPress and Woocommerce

We regularly build raffle and paid competitions sites on the WordPress CMS platform to our own specific standards.  WordPress can make a very suitable platform on which to build and run a raffle, particularly when combined with Woocommerce for ecommerce functionality, however we do not recommend buying “off the shelf” plugins and raffle systems for WordPress as these are often not compliant with laws and regulations, have poor security and integrity standards, and can be easily compromised.

Custom Raffle and Paid Competition Plugin for WordPress

Our custom raffle and paid competition plugins allow for rapid development within WordPress and ease of use and integration with Woocommerce (and other ecommerce platforms), as well as running to far higher compliance, integrity and security standards than non-specialist developers.  Because it sits as a standalone plugin rather than a total WordPress build it reduces the risk of your site “breaking on update” of core WP, Woocommerce, or other plugins.

Instant win prize draw mechanics

Instant win mechanics can provide addition to the customer experience, encouraging new users to play, or reward existing players.  Instant win games can be as simple as classic “spin to win” mechanics, or as unique as your imagination allows.

Loyalty point schemes for raffles

Loyalty schemes are another great way to reward customers and offer free plays after a certain number of tickets have been purchased.  We specialise in loyalty schemes for ecommerce, and much of this specialist knowledge can be brought to raffles and paid competitions.

Raffle site marketing and PR

Raffle and paid competition sites often fail badly at marketing, believing that paid Facebook will provide cheap, abundant, high converting traffic.  This is short term thinking at best, and delusional at worst.  Raffle sites require highly tuned marketing channels from both organic and paid sources.  We specialise in reaching places other agencies can’t, and our largest specialisms are content marketing, email marketing and SEO.  These are long term, specialist channels, and so many raffle operators avoid even attempting to drive customer acquisition in these ways.

Here are the channels we can assist with:

Search engine optimisation (SEO)

Email marketing

Content marketing

Digital PR

Offline PR

Paid social (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Tik Tok, Quora)

Google and Bing PPC

Offline display and OOH

Events and offline activations

Raffle site payment gateway and payments

It is vitally important to understand that paid competitions and raffles are considered by many payment gateways to be high risk or prohibited by many mainstream payment gateways.  The most commonly asked question we get is: “Can I use Stripe or PayPal for my raffle or paid competition site?”.  The answer is a resounding no.  Stripe and PayPal put this activity in the same high risk category as gambling, CBD and cryptocurrency.

We can work with you to set up a merchant account with high risk payment gateways, who will allow you to transact without risk.  Just because these payment gateways accept high risk activities, it does not mean they are small or obscure companies themselves; many are household names.

In order to set up a merchant account, you will need to fulfil certain requirements, which we can guide you through.

Major payment gateways carry 3D Secure (1+2) features, which we can help set up, as well as integration with smartphone wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay.

Raffle Site legal and compliance

It is vital to ensure that your raffle or paid competition site adheres to the relevant requirements as regards legal and compliance.  Skill requirements and/or free entry routes need to be carefully considered and designed, your terms and conditions must be watertight, and your winner selection process must be transparent and auditable.  Not only will this prevent you from any potential penalty, but it also makes you a far more trusted business, and will improve conversion from visitors to customers.  Running a raffle or paid competition along the proper lines is vital to success and many operators fail to meet even basic standards.  We can help bring you to the highest level of compliance, transparency and good practice.

Raffle site prize/customer unit economics

Many raffle and paid competition sites fail early on because they fail to calculate and work to:

  • A target cost per customer acquisition (CPA)
  • A target average order value (AOV)
  • A target average customer lifetime value (LTV)
  • A target profit per ticket sold, per raffle
  • A target average profit across all raffles

Raffle sites are regularly considered as a “build it and they will come” enterprise, where if a flashy and expensive prize is presented, this will both drive and convert visitors on its own merit.  This is an unwise strategy, and one we see most first-time raffle promoters make.  If anything, you should start small with your prize allocation and work up once your customer base is built.  Don’t give away a BMW as your first prize!

If you need assistance working out the unit economics of your raffle site, i.e. how many tickets you need to sell at a certain price to break even and make x profit, we can help.  Remember that your largest cost other than the prize will be customer acquisition, you will not enjoy pure margin once your prize is “paid off”.

We can assist on increasing average order value, lifetime value, and peer referral, as well as assessing and optimising the acquisition costs across your paid and organic marketing channels.

Raffle site conversion rate optimisation (CRO)

Many raffle and paid competition sites suffer from very poor conversion rates, which mean very few visitors to your site become customers.  There are typically a range of common reasons for a low conversion rate in ecommerce and there are many instant, short term, medium term and long term fixes.  We help many clients with conversion rate optimisation, typically in the following areas:

  • Trust signals (reviews, social proof, reputation building)
  • Product descriptions
  • Product photography
  • User experience (UX)
  • Site speed and performance

Frequently asked questions:

Can I promote my raffle or paid competition site using Facebook ads?

Facebook ads have traditionally been the most popular marketing channel for raffle and paid competition sites, but there are significant downsides to over-reliance on this channel.

In terms of whether it is allowed to promote raffles or paid competitions using Facebook ads, it is certainly possible, but it is risky.  The highest risk comes with offering cash in raffles and paid competitions, which are generally not allowed.  Other types of prizes may be allowed, but approval times of your ad account and the ads themselves can be slow.

This is not to say that paid Facebook ads cannot be extremely useful, but they should be used surgically.  Bear in mind that bids are higher due to competitors vying for similar customers so the cost of acquisition can be higher than with other channels.  Facebook ads are extremely useful for remarketing to lapsed (i.e. win-back) or existing customers, and this is where you can see the greatest efficiencies, typically.

Can I use Stripe or Paypal as a payment gateway for my raffle or paid competition site?

No, Stripe and PayPal put raffles and paid competitions in the same category as gambling, lotteries, CBD, cryptocurrency and so on, generally referred to as “high risk”.

You will need to seek out alternative payment gateways to accept card payments.

What payment gateways allow raffles and paid competitions?

There are a number of well known and long established payment gateways that can allow you to take card payments (as well as Apple Pay and Google Pay payments in many cases) in the “high risk” category.  You may need to adhere to certain requirements to gain a merchant account.  Contact us with your requirements.

Is a raffle or paid competition gambling?  Do I need a license from the Gambling Commission?

The Gambling Commission exists to license and regulate gambling activities, if your raffle or paid competition contains certain mechanics it can avoid being classed as gambling (a lottery) and thus will not require a license.We should note that because of the poor administration of some raffle and competition sites and the accompanying negative customer experiences and bad press generated, we expect The Gambling Commission and the ASA to pay greater scrutiny to raffle sites and paid competition sites and to strengthen the rules on them in future.

This should not put any potential raffle promoters off starting a business in this area, but it should underline the importance of running a raffle or paid competition that properly adheres to the requirements and regulations and makes itself distinct from a lottery.

Can I run a raffle or paid competition site in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland?

Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have different laws on gambling and prize promotions.  In Great Britain, purchase necessary promotions operate similarly to free-to-enter promotions (though there are some important differences).  In Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, a purchase in relation to a prize draw will in most commercial circumstances be defined as a lottery.  There are allowances and exclusions for charities.

Northern Ireland has for many years examined and committed to harmonising its prize promotional regulations with Great Britain, but after a number of consultations it has still not formally changed its stance on paid prize promotions.  For this reason you may see on promotional grocery items “No purchase necessary in Northern Ireland”.

What kind of skill question can I use for my raffle or paid competition so it is not considered gambling?

Most raffle sites and paid competitions use “skill questions” that are so simple that it could not be argued reasonably that any skill is required.  Questions like “what colour is the sky?” and  “Who is the Prime Minister?” are not questions that can sufficiently discriminate on the basis of skill and we do not generally recommend multiple choice skill questions.

There are a number of more sophisticated mechanics that can ensure your raffle does not fall within the parameters of gambling, contact us for further information.

What prizes work best for a raffle or paid competition site?

There is no single, easy answer to this question.  The best prizes are:

  • The prizes that appeal to your visitors and customers the most (i.e. they are aligned with their interests and demographics)
  • The prizes that will provide you good return on investment (i.e. they are profitable against the tickets you sell)
  • The prizes that other raffle sites aren’t offering (i.e. don’t do the same thing as everyone else, find gaps)

Do not fall into the trap of the most expensive prize being the most attractive.  A large value prize will not win you customers on its own.  It may become a costly mistake if you do not sell sufficient tickets to break even before the draw date.  We’re happy to assist with prize strategy, please get in touch to learn more.

How much money can a raffle or paid competition site make?

Successful raffle and competition sites can make millions of pounds a year.  To be a successful raffle or paid competition promoter you will need to always keep an eye on profitability and use this capital to reinvest and grow the business sustainably.

The raffle and paid competition operators who unfortunately fail usually do so because they have perceived that such an enterprise will be a “quick win” or “quick money”.  This is an illusion, and like all businesses, you will need patience, persistence, capital, and expertise.  Raffles and competition sites are not “get rich quick” schemes, and beware anyone who sells you the idea that they are.  Agencies or courses that promise such things should be avoided.

What should I do if I have not sold enough tickets for my raffle or paid competition before the draw date?  Should I give away the prize?

This is difficult to answer without viewing a site’s terms and conditions, but the first answer is: do right by your customers.  Most raffle and paid competition sites draw a winner or winners on the date promised, this is the logical thing to do, and it is a promoter’s responsibility to ensure they’ve sold enough tickets.  If you have a refund clause for undersold tickets and you wish to use it, communicate to your customers transparently and honestly.  A refund should be in full rather than site credit.

If you are regularly underselling tickets and/or cancelling draws, consider why this would be and review your marketing, prizes and ticket costs accordingly.  Bad practice can give rise to complaints (and their publication), bad publicity and damage to reputation.

Do I need terms and conditions for my raffle or paid competition site?

Yes, you most definitely need terms and conditions for your raffle or paid competition site, and you need to make them clear, fair, and consistent.  These are to protect your customers, but also protect you as a business if there are unforeseen circumstances or something goes wrong.

Is it possible to use blockchain technology and cryptocurrency for a raffle or paid competition site?

It is entirely possible to use blockchain (for example, the use of smart contracts or non fungible tokens for tickets), and use cryptocurrency for payments.  The extent to which you use these technologies will depend on your requirements for the site, and your user or customer base.  If your customers are not tech-savvy, it is not a worthwhile exercise.  If your customers are crypto-savvy however, there will be the potential for frictionless onboarding and high conversion rates.

It is worth noting that a raffle site using crypto will still need to abide by all rules and regulations.