Advent Calendars are a great example of timeless products. However, to be truly timeless, products have to be adapted to the latest technological advancements. Advent Calendars have come a long way since they were invented more than 100 years ago. But, did you know that now lots of marketers are adding Online Advent Calendars to their toolbox?
Let’s just go back a little in the history of the Advent Calendar. The idea came early 19th century in Germany. There, 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 Land got the genius idea to add small doors to the calendars. In 1950, chocolates started to appear in Advent Calendars, and the product gained popularity in other countries than Germany. In 2015, Dot.vu was one of the first companies to create Interactive Advent Calendars for marketing purposes. During the following years, we perfectionated the way we create interactive and Digital Advent Calendars so that they can easily be used by companies as part of their Seasonal Marketing Strategy.
In this blog post, you are going to read about our famous recipe: How to create successful Virtual Advent Calendars. But first, let me explain what they are and why they are essential for you in 2022.
What is an Online Advent Calendar?
An Online Advent Calendar is a type of Interactive Content where visitors can come back to your website every day in December to unlock new games or surprises. So, instead of having a physical advent calendar, your users will have access to their advent calendar online on your website. Consequently, they’ll go on your website to a new door every day and discover their daily surprises.
Because an image is worth a thousand words, take a look at the embedded example below.
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. But let’s discuss 5 of the most important benefits.
1. Increase Brand Awareness
We have seen it many times; consumers love Promotional Advent Calendars. It might be because it brings them good childhood memories. Or, because it plays on their holiday spirit. Maybe, it’s simply because they get loads of deals, discounts, or prizes in this Interactive Experience. In any case, many Online Advent Calendars Marketing Campaigns that were created on Dot.vu had incredible success. Companies that decided to create them saw their website visits increase significantly during December. A very possible explanation for that is that participants would share the Online Christmas Calendar with their friends and family if they liked it enough. Thus, increasing your Brand Awareness. And, who doesn’t like Online Christmas Advent Calendars?
2. Increase Engagement Rate
Online Advent Calendars are popular and relatively new on the internet. Therefore, consumers are willing to engage with them. They enjoy playing the daily games or unlocking the discounts and surprises. That’s why Virtual Advent Calendars are one of the best Interactive Experiences to boost your engagement rate.
3. Positively Influence your Brand Image
By associating yourself with such a magical and gamified concept, you will positively impact how your customer sees you. They’ll remember you participated in making their holiday spirit high this Christmas. Thus, you’ll succeed in improving your brand image!
4. Boost Christmas Sales
An Interactive Advent Calendar is a great way to boost your Christmas 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.
5. Lead Generation
Make sure to follow the Gated Content Best Practices and gate your Branded Advent Calendar with a lead form so that to participate, users have no other choice than to share their emails with you. You can also collect specific data points that are associated with each user. With these insights, you can create personalized Interactive Experiences or offers for them later on.
How to create successful Online Advent Calendars?
Since 2015, we have helped many clients to design successful Digital Advent Calendars Marketing Campaigns. We gained lots of insights on what should be considered, what should be added, and what’s the most critical aspects. These insights will be synthesized in this blog post to help you create an awesome Online Advent Calendar Campaign. So, if you want to make an Advent Calendar online, read on!
1. Main goal
Firstly, as with any other Interactive Experience, you’ll want to identify your main goal. Normally, for external purposes, your main goal is one of the 5 most important reasons why to create an Online Advent Calendar:
- Increase Brand Awareness
- Increase Engagement
- Positively Influence your Brand Image
- Boost Christmas Sales
- Grow your Email List
However, you can also create an Interactive Advent Calendar as an employee satisfaction tool to follow the best HR practices. No matter if it’s for internal or external use, identifying your main goal will help you choose the main direction when designing your Interactive Experience.
We have a blog post covering 4 main Online Advent Calendar ideas. Make sure to check it out if you are unsure of how to use it yet!
2. Overall Design
The first crucial step when creating a Virtual Advent Calendar is to focus on the general design before you dig in and become more specific. That way, you’ll make sure you are designing an Interactive Experience that is consistent with your main goal.
How many days do you want to include in your Online Advent Calendar?
Do you have to have a door (box) for every day in December? Do you want to stop on the 24th or 25th? Would you rather have only 4 doors, one per week?
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, a Wheel of fortune with a chance to win a discount. Then, 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 your country!
What is your background image?
Similar to a traditional chocolate advent calendar, an Online Advent Calendar generally contains one background image on which you’ll have your daily or weekly doors. 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 must make sure the calendar somewhat 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: 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 it’s a no brainer. You’ll want to add a gated lead form before participants can open a 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 don’t leave any potential participants behind 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. 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 product(s)?
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, of course). Will you add product placements to your Online Advent Calendar? If so, you need to discuss where you would like to add your placements: to the bottom of each daily experience, or on the right side? As a banner on the top?
Or, maybe you prefer to keep your Virtual Advent Calendar Marketing Campaign 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, the fun can begin. 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 Interactive Experiences that are rotating. You could also go bold and have a different Interactive Experience for each door.
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 involvement than others. But, you can also keep it simple and only have discount codes and surprises.
Once you have decided which Interactive Experiences you want to add to your Online Advent Calendar, you need to consider the different contest(s) 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
It would be best if you also considered 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)
Finally, you need to select the prize(s). The prize(s) should be attractive for your target audience and somewhat 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 think about having contests within your Interactive Advent Calendar, check out our article on How to Run a Successful Online Contest.
Once you have reflected on your Virtual Advent Calendar and thought about the overall design and all the small details, it’s time to design a mock-up. You’ll generally leave that part to your designer. But, the more precise you are when explaining what you want to your designer, the more she/he’ll come up with a design that fits what you have in mind. That’s why you shouldn’t skip any steps along the way.
If you need some inspiration for the mock-up, take a look at our marketplace and search for Online Advent Calendar on the left menu.
Now that your designer has done the magic, 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 Christmas Advent Calendar and the experience of your IT department with Interactive Content, 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(s) practicalities.
That’s why, most of the time, it’s more beneficial to use an Interactive Content Platform to build Online Advent Calendars. At Dot.vu, you can find our Advent Calendar Maker, with which you can easily create your own Online Advent Calendar. We have been designing and building Online Advent Calendars for many years. By choosing our Interactive Content platform to implement your Online Advent Calendar, you’ll be sure to be satisfied. And it would be way cheaper and faster than asking your IT department.
Once your Online Advent Calendar is ready and looks amazing, you might think your job is done, but it isn’t. Like with any other type of content, you need to promote your Interactive Content both before and during December.
Before December, you should create a fuzz 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 all December. For example, you can name the daily winners in Interactive Social Media posts. Of course, you should also send daily reminders (by emails or notifications) to participants to unlock the daily door.
Create your Online Advent Calendars using Dot.vu
As you probably figured by now, designing a successful Online Advent Calendar can be quite tricky. There are many things to be considered. That’s why it’s essential to follow the steps in this blog post.
If you need any help, don’t hesitate to contact us. At Dot.vu, we know marketers can be extremely busy, especially in the weeks preceding Christmas. So, if you want an Online Advent Calendar, but you don’t think you have the time for it, no worries, we can take care of all of it for you. Just book a meeting with an Interactive Content expert, and we can discuss your idea together.
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