Build great mailing lists with an Advent Calendar

With an advent calendar you can quickly get those subscriber numbers up

GDPR has been merciless regarding email marketing. The initiative is of course very important, but the strict requirements around who can be contacted via email alongside the new privacy rules mean that many companies with newsletters lose up to 80 percent of their subscribers.

If you’ve sent opt-in emails to your subscribers and received fewer responses than you hoped for, you might be reading this in the hope of restoring your reader numbers.

Fortunately, Christmas is just around the corner.

With a digital advent calendar, you offer prizes in exchange for contact information

An online advent calendar allows you to showcase your products and services by giving the users an opportunity to open a new door every day in December, behind which lies an offer or a chance to win a prize. It’s a hit every single year and for good reason.

As an example, Christiania Glasmagasinet had a total of 46,000 participants for its advent calendar, and during the registration every one of them had the opportunity to consent to receiving newsletters.

Almost 50 percent (22,000) of them agreed to receiving the newsletter! And if you play your cards right you can expect similar numbers for your news emails.

How to use a digital advent calendar to build contact lists

You should start promoting your advent calendar a few weeks before December through relevant media such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Google Ads. The advent calendar can be integrated to make it easier to share the advent calendar (and individual doors) on Facebook with the touch of a button. You can embed it on your WordPress page via a simple plugin or direct installation.

By sharing the advent calendar as widely as possible you can expect to clock up many registrations before the advent calendar is even launched. It’s also often smart to use pages like On sites like this, people sign up for all sorts of calendars in the hope of winning, and if you have a product that can be sold to a broad target group, there’s a greater chance that more of these participants will be interested in your newsletter.

What’s more, you can give the participants the opportunity to share the advent calendar on social media or via email, and make it easy for them to invite others in their network to participate. You can also encourage sharing by offering further prizes.

Increasing the odds of winning or offering incentives also help to attract more participants. For example, the people who participate the most – or participate every day – can enter a draw for an additional prize. In this way you increase your participation rate and opportunity to gain new subscribers to your newsletter. It may come as a surprise to hear that most participants need daily reminders via email. During a test of our advent calendar, we failed to send reminders on one single day and participation dropped by 30 percent. So you can rest assured that reminders work!

Finally – remember that you can also use the advent calendar to access other information about the participants (with their consent of course). Not only do you gain relevant knowledge about the types of offers and content your participants are most interested in, but you can also use forms to enquire about other things such as industry, job title, areas of interest etc. You can then use this information to tailor the advent calendar to each individual recipient.

Also read: Competition guide – tips and tricks

Checklist for the optimal building of contact lists with an advent calendar

Below we have outlined the most important criteria for a successful advent calendar:

  • Get started with advertising your advent calendar as early as possible (about three weeks before December)
  • Promote the advent calendar on social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Ads, X)
  • Allow participants to tick ‘Yes please’ to newsletters every time they open a door
  • Make the calendar easy to share with others and reward the participants for doing so
  • Include special offers and special bonuses for those who participate frequently
  • Send daily reminders via email
  • Collect relevant information about the participants with their consent

If you follow the above tips, you’ll have at least 24 chances in December per participant to collect/gather dedicated subscribers to your newsletter. Then you’re ready to start the new year with a bang!

Try our Advent Calendar for free