Using Umbraco CMS for an online competition



Marketing and brand managers, is Umbraco CMS a good tool for managing your online competition?


Background: two national online competitions


We have recently completed two online competitions for Amazon and Vodafone.  We were the digital partner working alongside our friends at Seed Marketing who are student marketing specialists.


In both cases, the competition objectives were:


  • Brand awareness amongst university students
  • Data capture

We had very little time to deliver the competition microsites: around 4 weeks each!


In both cases we used Umbraco as the backend platform for managing the campaigns.


The Creatives


As with any successful online competition mechanic, it starts with a good idea. With both of these competitions, the creative idea was simple: enter yourself or a team and get your friends to vote for you: the most votes won. In one of the competitions, the entrants also had to submit a video that people voted for.  In the other one they had to choose their favourite box sets and complete a simple multi-choice quiz to qualify.


Using Umbraco CMS


Umbraco was an ideal choice for allowing rapid set up, the easy management of teams, videos, questions and votes for both competitions.  In fact, every piece of content that was either displayed or entered by users was managed via Umbraco.  Umbraco really worked well for this because:


  • We didn’t have to custom-build any ‘backend’ administrator views thus saving a lot of time
  • Unlike other CMS solutions, Umbraco’s backend views can be tailored to the specific requirements of each competition site, so it made managing the competitions really easy.


Competition stages


The competitions went through different stages: pre-launch, live, voting, pause and winners announced.  Umbraco is simply a fantastic CMS for managing different stages and what is shown at each. Based on our designs that were approved, we were able to develop each competition stage as a different ‘block’ within Umbraco:



Then we could provide pre-approval to the client on staging and live.  An approved stage would be set live by simply re-ordering it to be the top block.  It made switches between competition phases so incredibly easy.


Data exporting


Harnessing Umbraco functionality we were able to easily set up CSV exports of all captured data.  So the data could be cleaned and processed off-site.




We used Cloudflare to increase site performance and reduce load speed.  This was particularly important as over 70% of site traffic was on mobile.


Where the competition was attracting a respectable level traffic (circa. 10000 unique visits/month) the platform performed well.


For one of the competitions, where we were getting 28,000 unique visits per month and up to 60 concurrent users we would recommend using custom database tables to store user entries and votes as the Umbraco content creation and publishing mechanism isn’t built to handle this kind of load.


For traffic much higher than this, Umbraco would not be suitable. We would recommend a fully bespoke solution which is load balanced and optimised for speed.




Umbraco is an excellent choice of CMS for competition microsites that won’t experience very high levels of traffic. It is very quick to work with and is particularly useful for:


  • Allowing easy management of all content
  • Switching between competition phases
  • Configuring how page layouts look
  • Creating export routines
  • Giving direct access to submitted data


If you would like to explore producing a competition microsite to increase your online brand awareness, drop us a line and we can have a chat.

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