The complete 12-month marketing plan for contests, giveaways & promotions (2018)

The complete 12-month marketing plan for contests, giveaways & promotions

As a marketer, you know how important it is to plan ahead. Whether you’re a small business owner promoting your products or services, an account manager or marketing expert creating digital marketing campaigns at an advertising agency, or anyone else trying to promote a brand online, you know that the more prepared you are, the more successful your marketing campaign is.

Now is the perfect time to map out your digital marketing plan for the next three, six or even twelve months.

I’ve come up with some examples of ShortStack campaigns and email marketing ideas you could implement each month. I’ve also included tips that will help you decide which type of promotions and contests to use for your online marketing strategy.

Before you get started with your plan, it is important to determine a goal for your online marketing. These goals might vary by platform. For example, for your Instagram marketing, you could be looking to increase brand engagement, while campaigns on your website are focused on driving sales. Here are a few resources to help you with determining your goals:

Don’t forget to consider what you have done in the past. Evaluate your online marketing strategies over the last year to figure out what worked well and what didn’t for your business. Not sure how? Check out our blog posts, How to Measure your Instagram Marketing Performance and The ROI of Social Media, for some tips. Then, use this information to create your digital marketing plan for the year. Your plan can be adjusted as the year goes on, so think of it as a living creature rather than a document set in stone.


Digital Marketing Idea: Ask for feedback

Many folks use January as a “fresh start,” making it the perfect month to take a bit of a breather from all of the holiday contests and product marketing. However, don’t be caught with your pants down! You still need to be doing something to move your business forward.

Were you promoting your product or service heavily during the holiday season? If so, now is the time to ask your paying customers for some feedback. What do they like about your product? Is there an area where you can improve your service? Who ARE these customers anyway? This is all valuable information you could use later in the year while developing new products, streamlining your services or dreaming up new marketing ideas.

SHortStack's Survey template

ShortStack’s Survey template

Marketing Automation Idea: Promote feedback campaign via email

Put those emails lists you built over the holidays to good use! If you think many of the folks on your list were customers, send an email asking them to fill out your customer survey.


Digital Marketing Idea: Host a giveaway

In February, while you’re working on learning a bit more about your customers via the feedback campaign you ran in January, try running a giveaway. Giveaways are easy-to-implement, and they help boost brand awareness. Plus, a giveaway is a good way to grow your mailing list. However, in order to host a successful giveaway, you need to promote it. Try a few of the ideas listed in our blog post, 40 Ways to Get the Word Out about your Campaign. Most of them are free!

ShortStack's Giveaway templateShortStack’s Giveaway template

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Marketing Automation Idea: Send entrants an autoresponder with your business information

Folks who submit entries to your giveaway are well on their way to becoming customers (if they aren’t already). Don’t miss the opportunity to tell them more about your business — send an autoresponder after they submit your form. The autoresponder should confirm their submission to your contest, as well as provide entrants with more information about your business, such as a link to your website, your physical address, etc.


Digital Marketing Idea: Use a deal to promote your products or services

March is often a bit of a transition month. The first day of spring makes folks think of warmer months ahead, and many businesses are promoting new products. Give customers a little nudge to try out your new products or services.


Offer them a discount in exchange for their name and email address. Better yet, encourage them to share the discount with their friends. The more folks who submit their information for the discount, the more people who are signed up for your mailing list for future promotions.

ShortStack's Reveal Hidden Discount template

ShortStack’s Reveal Hidden Discount template

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Marketing Automation Idea: Reminder to redeem deal

A few days or a week before the coupon you created is set to expire, email the people who submitted their information reminding them to use their coupon. Be sure to give folks enough time to redeem the coupon, but use a subject line to create a sense of urgency that the deal will not be lasting much longer.


Digital Marketing Idea: Promote brand engagement with a personality quiz

You don’t always need to give something away in order to draw attention to your brand. Take a page from the Buzzfeed playbook and create a personality quiz! Your personality quiz could be brand-related, think “What kind of beer are you” for a brewery or “What is your spring style” for a clothing store, or the quiz could be just for fun. When using our Personality Quiz template, you can require quiz takers to submit their name and email before they can see their results — another great way to build your email marketing list!

Personality Quiz template by ShortStack

ShortStack’s Personality Quiz template

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Marketing Automation Idea: Email to entire list with product reviews

Do you have folks who love your products? Spread the word! Promote some of your most-loved products by sharing the positive reviews with your mailing lists. Each week or month, feature a few of your top-rated products and what people are saying about them.


Digital Marketing Idea: Collect UGC with an Instagram hashtag contest

Instagram can be a powerful tool for brand engagement. In May, give a hashtag contest a go. With a hashtag contest, people enter by simply posting their photo to Instagram with the hashtag that you specify. When entrants post their photos, their Instagram followers will see the entries. This serves as a bit of word-of-mouth advertising for you. Want to learn more about hashtag contests? Check out our blog post, How to Run a Successful UGC Hashtag Contest.

ShortStack's Instagram Hashtag Giveaway template

ShortStack’s Instagram Hashtag template

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Marketing Automation Idea: Email announcing contest

Use this opportunity to encourage mailing list subscribers to connect with your brand on Instagram. Send an email announcing the Instagram contest, and suggest people follow your Instagram profile for upcoming contests, too. The more ways you can get in front of your customers, the more likely your brand will come to mind when they are out shopping or looking for a service provider.


Digital Marketing Idea: Create a product or services gallery

How will your customers know what you offer if you don’t list your products or services anywhere? This is why it’s important to create a product or services gallery. For each of the products or services you wish to highlight, add a photo, a description and a link to your website where people can either learn more or buy now. Be sure to keep the content fresh by updating it every month or quarter, depending upon how often your offering changes.

Product Gallery template

ShortStack’s Product Gallery template

Marketing Automation Idea: New product or service highlights

Do you have a new product or service? Share news about it with the world! Or at the very least your email list. Subscribers to your list are interested in your business and what you offer, so keep them in the know.


Digital Marketing Idea: Free product samples

Do you have confidence that folks will love your product, if only they could TRY it? Why not give out some free samples? Create a campaign where the first 10, 150, 500 (you decide) people who submit their information will receive a free sample of your product. After all of the samples have been given away, encourage folks to come back with their review of the product in exchange for a coupon.

Limited entry giveaway template

ShortStack’s Limited Entry Giveaway template

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Marketing Automation Idea: Email with coupon for full-size product

After people receive their product sample and submit a product review, create an autoresponder that includes a coupon for the full-size product. The email should also include information on where the product can be purchased, and a link to your website.


Digital Marketing Idea: Collect UGC with a photo contest

User-generated content is a very powerful tool. Creating a contest where people submit their own content is good for engagement, and it can also help build a community around your brand. Try creating a photo contest, where people submit a photo to enter, then ask people to vote on their entry to win. This will spread the word about your brand to folks who want to win, and to their friends who are supporting them by voting.

Multi-Stage Photo Vote Contest

ShortStack’s Multi-Stage Photo Contest template

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Marketing Automation Idea: Reminder to vote

If you are running a photo contest where voting opens on a specific day, send an email to entrants reminding them to vote. Encourage them to share their entry with their friends by including their referral link in the email. This will make it easier for people to find the entry they submitted.


Digital Marketing Idea: Ask customers for their opinion

Having a hard time deciding on a new logo, a potential new product or an exclusive discount? Ask your customers what they think! People like sharing their opinions. When you ask folks for advice, they become invested in your business. For example, if a bakery asks which type of fall-themed cookie they should make, the people who cast votes are likely to go in and give the winning cookie a try.

ShortStack Template – Voting Poll:

Voting Poll Template

Built with ShortStack’s Survey template

Marketing Automation Idea: Email folks to participate in the poll and share the winner

Create a bit of hype around your poll and send out an email asking folks to cast their votes. After voting has finished, be sure to share the results! Better yet, send out a coupon so they can try the winning product or service and enjoy the results!


Digital Marketing Idea: Instagram Interactive Gallery

I don’t know about you, but when I scroll through my Instagram feed and see a product that I like, I want to know right then and there how to buy it. The trouble is, Instagram makes it difficult to link folks to your products. To solve this problem, give an Instagram Interactive Gallery campaign a go. This campaign will allow you to pull in Instagram posts and link them to either a URL or an action within your ShortStack campaign. Then, all you need to do is post the campaign URL in your Instagram bio and direct customers to the link in your posts.

ShortStack’s Instagram Interactive Gallery template

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Marketing Automation Idea: Email with holiday wishlist items

It might seem early to send an email with holiday ideas in October, but trust me. People start making their holiday plans in October, and you can bet people are beginning to consider what to buy their friends and loved ones (or what to put on their own lists). Holiday wishlists are a way to signal to your customers what products are “in” this year, making it easier for them to decide what to purchase.


Digital Marketing Idea: Win Your Holiday Wishlist

Shoppers like it when businesses create holiday wishlists, as it takes some of the thinking out of their purchases. A win your wishlist campaign allows you to share your “wishlist worthy” products and gives your fans to win some of your products. Heck, your customers might even add some of your products to their REAL wishlists. To make this easy, set up an autoresponder that will email folks their wishlist after they submit the entries, so they can easily share it with others.

ShortStack's Win Your Wishlist template

ShortStack’s Win Your Wishlist template

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Marketing Automation Idea: Email announcing Black Friday sales

You’ve been working hard all year to build your email list, so now is the time to leverage it! Send an email to your list announcing your Black Friday deals. Or, if you really want to wow ‘em, let them in on a few pre-Black Friday specials that are exclusive to subscribers.


Digital Marketing Idea: Holiday Multi-day Giveaway Calendar

The holidays are all about giving, so why not end the year with a bang? A multi-day giveaway calendar lets you easily give away a different prize each day for whatever time period you choose; 12- or 24-day periods are popular during December. Requiring people to return to your campaign over and over again to enter your daily drawings will ensure your brand is on their mind when they are out doing their holiday shopping.

Multi-Day Giveaway Calendar Template

ShortStack’s Giveaway Calendar template

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Marketing Automation Idea: Last-minute gift inspiration and offer code

You’ll likely be collecting a bunch of leads over the course of your multi-day giveaway. Be sure to send out a few emails during the month. Share some last-minute gift inspiration, and provide an offer code for free shipping, a discount on their purchase, or whatever you think will make your customers happy.

Remember, ShortStack campaigns are just one part of the digital marketing puzzle. To ensure the success of your campaigns, you will need to use the other tools at your disposal, such as SEO, posting on social media, online ads, etc. Our blog is overflowing with helpful tips and advice for implementing successful online marketing campaigns perfect for both new and experienced marketers alike.

If you’re unsure of where to start, feel free to reach out to our support team: We’re happy to help you with some ideas that are specific to your business.

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