Advent Calendars are fun and exciting! There’s a surprise in store for you every day leading up to Christmas. It’s a great example of a timeless product. Since its invention 100 years ago, Advent Calendars have come a long way. Today, it has also gone digital, and many marketers are using Online Advent Calendar templates for their campaigns.
How did Advent Calendars come to be? Let’s go back in time and check out the history of Advent Calendars. The tradition dates back to the early 19th century in Germany. Protestants would mark the days to Christmas by burning a candle every day. Later on, the practice of hanging a religious picture instead became a trend. About 10 years later, the first printed advent calendars appeared. Another 10 years later, Gerhard Lang innovated the calendar by adding small doors to the calendar. He is often referred to as the creator of the modern Advent Calendar. In 1950, chocolates started to appear in Advent Calendars, and the product started gaining popularity in other countries.
In 2015, Dot.vu was one of the first companies to create Interactive Advent Calendars for online marketing. During the following years, we perfected our digital Advent Calendar templates so that they can be easily used by companies as part of their seasonal marketing strategy.
In this blog post, you will learn how you can easily create your very own Advent Calendar with ready-made templates. We will also explain the many benefits of Advent Calendars and why they are essential for you in 2023.
- What is an Online Advent Calendar?
- Why should you make an online Advent Calendar?
- How to create successful Online Advent Calendars?
- Save time and effort by using an Advent Calendar template
- Achieve results minus the hassle with an online Advent Calendar template
What is an Online Advent Calendar?
An Online Advent Calendar is a type of Interactive Content that encourages users to visit your website every day in December to unlock daily gifts or surprises. So, instead of having a physical advent calendar, your users can access the Advent Calendar online on your website. It creates the same excitement as a physical Advent Calendar because it keeps people guessing what each day’s surprise will be. It sparks joy and brings in more business – a perfect combination!
Why should you make an Online Advent Calendar?
There are many reasons why virtual Advent Calendars are a great addition to your holiday marketing campaigns. Let’s discuss 5 of the most important benefits.
1. Increase engagement rate
Because of its design with daily surprises, Online Advent Calendars will keep your audience coming back for more! The time spent is also much longer than other types of content. Users spend an average of 67 seconds per engagement, compared to a mere 1.5 seconds of dwell time on a digital ad. That’s why virtual Advent Calendars are one of the best Interactive Experiences to boost your engagement rate.
For example, using an Advent Calendar game, Coop, the largest consumer goods retailer in Denmark, managed to engage more than 700,000 users with a total of 3.5 million times!
2. Increase Brand Awareness
Consumers love promotional Advent Calendars! It might be because it brings back childhood memories. Or, because it ignites the holiday spirit. Maybe, it’s simply because they get loads of deals, discounts, or prizes in this Interactive Experience.
Companies using them saw a significant increase in their website visits during the month of December. This could be due to participants sharing the online Christmas Calendar with their friends and family. The more shares, the more people will see your brand – thus contributing to increased brand awareness.
3. Positively Influence your Brand Image
By associating yourself with such a magical and gamified concept, you will positively impact your customers’ perception of you. They’ll associate you with a happy holiday experience. This will contribute towards improving your brand image.
4. Generate leads and grow your email list
Gate your branded Advent Calendar with a lead form, so to participate, users have to share their details with you. The most common details collected are names and email addresses.
Many of our marketing campaigns with online Advent Calendars have had incredible success. For example, Colorstreet, a revolutionary beauty brand, managed to collect more than 30,000 leads with their Advent Calendar campaign.
Read for effective lead generation: Gated content best practices
5. Boost Christmas Sales
An Interactive Advent Calendar is a great Christmas marketing idea to boost sales. Every day, participants will go back to your website to unlock their daily surprises. You can use that to your advantage by promoting your best products or services with your Christmas Calendar. Feature different items daily and offer discounts to entice a purchase.
How to create successful Online Advent Calendars?
Since 2015, we have helped many clients design successful digital Advent Calendars for their marketing campaigns. From this experience, we have identified key points that make an Advent Calendar effective. Here’s a list of the most critical aspects of creating awesome Advent Calendars:
1. Main goal
Firstly, you’ll need to identify your main goal. This will help you determine the type of Advent Calendar that you should use for your marketing campaign. Here’s the summary of the top 5 goals that we covered earlier:
- Increase Engagement
- Increase Brand Awareness
- Positively Influence your Brand Image
- Grow your Email List
- Boost Christmas Sales
Identifying your main goal will help you choose the main direction when designing your Interactive Experience.
Read more: Online Advent Calendar ideas
2. Overall Design
The next crucial step when creating a virtual Advent Calendar is to focus on the general design before you dig in to the specifics. That way, you’ll make sure you are designing an Interactive Experience that is consistent with your main goal. Ask yourself:
How many days do you want to include in your Online Advent Calendar?
Do you want to have a door (gift) for every day in December? Would you rather have only 4 doors, one per week? Do you want to stop on the 24th or 25th?
Remember, depending on how unique you want each door to be, it might be a lot of work to have 24 different doors. Of course, you can also have the same experience in every door, for example, this Advent Calendar with Daily Prize. With this template, having 7 or 24 doors is basically the same work behind the scenes. But, if you are going to have a different Interactive Experience behind each door, such as Christmas Calendar Games, then you need to consider a longer implementation time.
Pro Tip: In some countries, Advent Calendars end on the 24th and in others on the 25th. Make sure to check out the trend in the country of your target audience.
What is your background image?
An online Advent Calendar generally contains one background image on which you’ll have your daily or weekly doors. Elements of the Christmas spirit should inspire the visuals. That’s why you’ll often see a picture of Santa Claus, a snowman, or a reindeer. But, keep in mind that you are designing an Interactive Advent Calendar for marketing purposes, so you also should make sure the calendar follows your brand guidelines. For example, remember to add your logo and follow your font guidelines.
Where should you insert your lead form?
There are two places where you can insert a lead form: either before visitors can open the daily doors of your digital Advent Calendar, or at the end of the daily experience, once they have uncovered the surprise.
If your main goal is to increase your email list, then you should add a gated lead form before participants can open the daily door. But, make sure not to add the lead form before they can access the branded Advent Calendar. That will significantly reduce your success. You want to hook your audience by letting them see your creative Advent Calendar. Then, they’ll be more inclined to give you their contact details to open the daily door.
If increasing your email list is not your main goal, you might want to add your lead form at the end of the experience after participants have opened the daily door and uncovered the surprise. This way, you’ll make sure you lose any potential participants because they didn’t want to share their contact details. But, if you choose this option, you need to think about how you can incentivize participants to share their contact details at the end. For example, you could tell participants they get an extra 5% discount if they provide their details. You could also ask participants to subscribe to get daily reminders to go unlock the doors.
How and where will you highlight your products?
Finally, when deciding on your Interactive Experience’s overall design, you’ll want to think about how and where you’ll highlight your products or services. Will you add product placements to your online Advent Calendar? If so, you need to determine where to add your placements: to the bottom of each daily experience, or on the right side? Or as a banner at the top?
Or, maybe you prefer to keep your virtual Advent Calendar free of any product placements. In that case, you can also use your email list to send promotional emails to participants.
3. Behind the doors
Now that you are settled with the overall design of your digital Advent Calendar, it’s time to decide what will appear behind each door. Again, you could choose to have the exact same experience every day, or you could go with a couple of different Interactive Experiences. You could also go for maximum surprises and have a different Interactive Experience for each door!
There are 2 options for you:
- Have more interactivity and fun behind each door
- Excite your audience with discounts and surprises
For option 1, you can choose from many different types of Interactive Content, such as Christmas Calendar Games, when designing your doors — some with a higher level of customization than others.
If you want a quick and easy way to create your Advent Calendar, then you can go with option 2 and keep it simple. Surprise your audience with daily discount codes and gifts.
Once you have decided which Interactive Experiences you want to add to your Online Advent Calendar, you need to consider the different contests you want to include, if any.
1. Choose the type of contest
You could have one big contest where people can increase their chance of winning every time they unlock a new door. Or, you can also have different smaller contests for every door with different prizes. If you really want to incentivize participation, consider adding instant-win contests.
2. Decide on the details
Also consider how many participants can win. For example, is it only one winner, or 100 a day? Do you also want to limit the number of participants every day to create a sense of urgency?
3. Choose the prize(s)
The prizes should be attractive for your target audience and related to your product offering. If you decide to go with one big contest where users need to fill in their information to participate, make sure the prize is attractive enough to them. On the other hand, if you go with instant-win prizes, you can have smaller rewards like discounts, free samples, etc.
Pro Tip: If you’re thinking about having contests within your Interactive Advent Calendar, check out this article for more ideas: How to run an Online Contest that drives results.
Once you have reflected on your virtual Advent Calendar and thought about the overall design and all the details, it’s time to design a mock-up. You’ll generally leave that part to your designer.
If you need some inspiration for the mock-up, take a look at our marketplace and search for Online Advent Calendar templates on the left menu. Better yet, instead of creating a digital Advent Calendar from scratch, just choose any one of our ready-made templates and quickly customize it with our super-easy drag & drop Quick Editor feature.
Now it’s time to implement your digital Advent Calendar. You can always ask your IT department to help out. But, the thing is, depending on the complexity of your online Advent Calendar, they might take a long time to implement it. They will have to implement the overall design, each daily surprise and experience, and the contest rules.
That’s why it’s more beneficial (and time saving!) to use an Interactive Content Platform to build online Advent Calendars. At Dot.vu, you can find various Advent Calendar templates. Just select any of them and you can easily create your own online Advent Calendar.
Once your online Advent Calendar template is ready and looks amazing, it’s time to let the world know about it! Start planning how you would like to promote your Interactive Content both before and during the month of December.
Before December, you should create lots of buzz about your online Advent Calendar by promoting it on your social media platform and by email. Encourage your audience to pre-sign up to your calendar to be the first to know when it goes live. Make sure to incentivize the pre-sign-up form with a contest or another Interactive Experience.
Don’t forget to keep promoting your virtual Advent Calendar on your social media platforms and by email throughout December. You can also send daily reminders by email to participants to unlock the daily door.
Save time and effort by using an Advent Calendar template
After we ourselves have created many Advent Calendar templates for our customers, we know how much time and effort it takes for each one. If you aim to create an awesome one with a different surprise behind each door, that will take up even more time.
That’s why every year we come up with new Advent Calendar templates for you! This saves you loads of time because all you need to do is just make a few changes, set the surprises for each door, and that’s it!
We have templates that already include spin-and-win games, scratch cards, quizzes, and so much more. So you don’t need to spend time on adding them in but just to customize it. Plus, the customization process is very easy with our Quick Edits feature. It’s very intuitive and you’ll be guided by steps to create your Advent Calendar template. Everything is customizable. You can add in your logo, change the colors, edit the text, configure the prize draw, and much more.
Dot.vu Quick Edits feature for user-friendly customization
If you would like to make more advanced customization, like for example adding in a game behind one of the doors or adding a CTA (Call-to-action) button, our Editor feature makes it an easy task to accomplish. Just select it, and drag-and-drop the elements you would like to add in! The example below shows how easy it is to add a CTA button to the template:
Dot.vu Editor feature with drag-and-drop function
Achieve results minus the hassle with an Online Advent Calendar template
As you probably figured by now, designing a successful online Advent Calendar can be quite tricky. There are many things to be considered, and creating it from scratch can be very time-consuming.
Don’t let that stop you from reaping the benefits of having your own online Advent Calendar! Take a look at our attractive list of ready-made Advent Calendar templates. You’ll save loads of time by just customizing these templates instead of building a new one.
Create a free account and see for yourself, it has never been easier!
This blog was updated by Cathryn Kok on 26th July 2023
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