Guide Brand Strategy Ecommerce

How to drive conversions with a digital advent calendar

By Chantel Piper | Marketing Manager, Reflect Digital

LAB Group


The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

Find out more

November 17, 2022 | 8 min read

E-commerce brands can adopt gamification to entice customers this Christmas. Chantel Piper of Reflect Digital reveals how, with a guide to digital advent calendars.

Brown gift box

A digital advent calendar is a great way to incorporate gamification into your festive season strategy / freestocks via Unsplash

Christmas is one of the most competitive seasons for e-commerce, with brands all over the world looking to grow their bottom line. So, how can your business stand out from the crowded online marketplace?

A digital advent calendar can support your entire marketing funnel by adding a layer of gamification to your marketing messages, capturing users’ attention and, through word of mouth, generating fear-of-missing-out (FOMO) among your target audience.

Reaching new audiences

Partnering with other brands to offer exclusive discounts can expose your brand to new audiences who might have otherwise missed your Christmas offers altogether. Journalists enjoy anything gamified and will jump on the opportunity of sharing your digital advent calendar with their readers as part of an outreach campaign, again helping you to reach new customers.

Be careful to not make your calendar too sales-y if reach via publications is your goal. While journalists love a game, they’ll be put off by anything too commercial.

If done right, your digital advent calendar might also get picked up by bloggers or influencers who will share your offers as part of their content, free marketing and word-of-mouth recommendations.

Amplified reach also helps create a conversation which your brand can lead via social media. Social conversation acts as a form of social proof but also drives FOMO among users. Encourage users to share their thoughts on your digital advent calendar via their own channels using a hashtag.

Re-engaging old or stagnant databases

Email databases get stagnant. Every marketer experiences this, no matter how long their email list is. The festive season is the perfect time to cull your database and a digital advent calendar is a great incentive to re-engage those in your lists who might have been left feeling uninspired by previous campaigns.

Try segmenting your database and creating an email series for those who haven’t recently engaged in the run-up to December, promoting what they can expect to see in your advent. When December 1 ticks around, use this opportunity to leverage exclusive messaging to drive those users to your site.

Those who continue to not engage with your brand (even after some amazingly crafted campaigns) should be removed from your list, as should any hard bounces or contacts who have never opened an email from you. Mailchimp is good at ‘cleaning’ contacts (those whose emails have bounced). It’s worth checking if your own system automatically does this or not.

Building advocacy with customers

If there’s one thing e-commerce consumers love, it’s an exclusive discount or offer. There's a phenomenon known as 'hyperbolic discounting', wherein people put an unrealistically high value on the here and now, and an unrealistically low value on the future.

Give loyal customers access to a different set of discounts, or give them secret insight into what offers are coming each day, so they know when to check in and make their purchases, and when to hold out. Scarcity is a great tactic when it comes to creating exclusivity with offers.

This form of VIP messaging can help build advocacy with customers and those are the ones who are going to shout about your brand online, helping you reach their friends, family and followers. Plus, with repeat customers spending on average 67% more than new customers, it’s a no-brainer.

Converting more users: growing your bottom line

We all know that feeling of wanting to buy something but being put off by the price tag, only to be swayed by a 10% discount or free delivery. Now imagine having 24 days of exclusive offers and discounts in the run-up to Christmas.

Digital advent calendars give consumers what they want from your brand: more for less, all while encouraging them to spend more on your products. These interactions also help create memories with users who might not be ready to purchase yet, increasing the likelihood of them remembering you when they are, especially if your advent calendar calendar makes them feel as if they’ve landed on a best-kept secret.

Start thinking about next year's numbers by releasing a set of offers with discounts for early 2023 to get consumers excited about the future, too.

Building new mailing lists

If you include a competition or registration element as part of your digital advent calendar you’ll also get access to new data from users, allowing you to build new mailing lists for marketing in the new year.

Plus, you can use this data to remind users to come back each day; increasing the footprint of your brand in their inboxes and helping you stay top-of-mind while brands all over are also trying to reach your customers.

Gathering consumer insights

Your digital advent calendar doesn’t have to be 24 days of offers. You can mix it up with polls or other incentives. If you’ve got a prize draw for those who open your calendar every day, you know people will get involved.

Polls can give you invaluable insights into your customers, their wants, needs and challenges so that you can then optimize your marketing strategy into 2023.

You can check out our demo advent calendar here.

Guide Brand Strategy Ecommerce

Content by The Drum Network member:

LAB Group

We’re a group of agencies with a simple mission: use pioneering research into human behaviour to advance brands in a way that digital and creativity alone cannot do.

Find out more

More from Guide

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +