How To Plan A Promotional Campaign

Key promotional campaign strategies needed to plan and execute a successful campaign without burning out your audience and having them keep coming back in through the door all year.

Robbie Fitzwater
Updated on

Being a marketer or an e-commerce business owner, you must be aware of the value that promotional campaigns add to attracting and retaining customers. 

Here at MKTG Rhythm, we have a unique approach to thinking and executing strategies, making them engaging and distinct from others. This ultimately helps drive the desired behavior in your audience.

So, today I’m going to walk you through the exact process and route that we take. The nuts and bolts and nuances of how to think about it, and lastly, the application of our strategies. 

  1. How to Plan a Promotional Campaign?
  2. Best Strategies of Planning a Promotional Campaign
  3. Takeaways

Let’s dive in.

How to Plan a Promotional Campaign?

  1. Planning

So the first thing to do is to plan in advance. It could be months or quarters or more, or however long we need to prepare ourselves and have some type of lead into that promotion.

  1. Set Your Date

Let’s say we have a promotional campaign planned for month X in a particular date range – we would ideally want to set those dates early to prepare way ahead of time.

  1. Determine your Audience

Then, we also want to understand who our audience is? Who are we going to get on board with.

  1. Reverse Engineer your Buildup

Once we have that figured out, we can later reverse engineer our understanding to lean into the whole process and plan the dates out really smoothly.

This would enable us to communicate everything to our audience ahead of time, and have them engaged and ready when that point is reached.

  1. Ask for Opt-in

Next comes the step of making them opt-in, which requires building momentum over time.

So, to earn an opt-in, we have to build a wave of promotion leading up to our actual promotional event and then maximize its potential.

  1. Build Momentum as the Event Gets Closer

When talking about building momentum, I always mention my music or movie analogy. Take Taylor Swift for an example when she’s doing something new – she’s going to promote it many times over until the actual event comes up. That’s the kind of enthusiasm we also want to borrow.

So, during the course of the month leading up to our promotional campaign, we ideally want to be communicating again and again what we have to offer. Or, at least teasing that out by saying, ‘Hey, we’re going to be doing something unique. Do you want to get on our VIP list, and have early access?’. This might make them join the list – in that case, so you got the opt-in, an easy win! And it doesn’t take any skin off the game for you. 

Farm House Tack - VIP Signout

Later on in the month, you can share something more to keep them engaged. This could contain a primary call-to-action explaining the exact reason for the email or a secondary call-to-action if you’re sharing a piece of relevant content.

The closer you’re getting to the main event, the more consistent you should be in your efforts. In addition, remember to prioritize your VIPs by granting them early access. Make their experience unique and distinct because they are likely more engaged and enthusiastic than non-opted-in individuals. Ensure they feel acknowledged and valued, letting them know you hold them in higher regard.

So, again, we should be getting more consistent with our sending routine and like I mentioned Taylor Swift earlier, how she keeps her audience posted when she’s about to release something new. This way, the more momentum she builds around it, the more anticipation is developed. That is why when the event comes up, in her case, when a new album is released or tickets for a tour start selling, they sell out in a few minutes as opposed to weeks or months or not even selling out at all.

"It was like a golden ticket for me" gif

We should approach our promotional campaign in the same manner. It’s crucial to begin working on it well in advance of the event.

  1. Vary the Messaging and Value Proposition

The next thing we want to be thinking about is how to vary the messaging during this promo window.

If it’s a really high-frequency sending time like Black Friday/Cyber Monday, we may be sending up to 3 times a day. So how do we sound exciting and engaging each time? It’s not always easy but it’s doable. 

Think about it, do you have a relevant piece of content that fits in line with the context that can be used as a Trojan horse? What other value propositions or angles can we take? Do we have information on how certain audiences engage with certain things? Do we have multiple segments who want to engage with this promo? Those are all different things we need to be considering.

Also, how do we promote it? How do we build a value proposition around it? And then how do we think about this strategically in the way that it fits with everything else?

And then farther in, we want to be really making sure that we’re driving action and engagement.

Best Strategies of Planning a Promotional Campaign

On the opening of the promo, we want to be sending to a really broad list. Sometimes we’ll even include unengaged segments that we haven’t sent to in a little while. We’re going to include them there because again, we want to open this up as broad as it can be.

After making the broad announcement, we will promptly retract it, excluding those who have already made a purchase during that period. We aim to avoid bombarding them with irrelevant and unnecessary messages. 

Then, after this initial send, we can send a follow-up, or maybe 2 emails that first day to ensure we get enough people on. And I would suggest using a plain text email because deliverability-wise, those perform at a really high level. And we want to make sure that we’re getting those into an inbox as opposed to a newsletter or promotion tab.

So sending as a plain text is one of those things that really helps increase the chances of getting their attention. Especially if we haven’t sent to them as frequently before.

When doing it for promo, the duration might span a few days. However, maintaining consistency throughout an entire week could pose a challenge. Four days are kind of a sweet spot because that gives us just the right time to build momentum – not too much, not too less, and hopefully enough to circle back around and reach people who are busy on weekends.

Typically, I like to start on a Friday and end on a Sunday or start on a Friday and end on a Monday – all of these work. We’ve even tried starting on Thursday and ending on Sunday, and it has proven successful too. So, that 4-day window has always worked well for us.

Also, we want to be incorporating content into this window – how do we do that? How do you incorporate content as a Trojan horse? To do that, you can share a piece of valuable content and add a secondary call-to-action mentioning, ‘Oh, yeah and by the way we have the biggest sale going on around that category in case you want to check out’.

Farm House Tack - Secondary Callout

It gives us a way to maximize that promo window. And as we get farther in, we may be saying, ‘Hey, last chance or tomorrow’s last day.’ 

We’re also probably going to be merchandising this differently, too. If there are multiple items or multiple different things included, we want to be going different ways around it.

We may be able to do that to two different audiences based on what they’re going to receive from it. Even if this is more of a B2B angle, let’s say this is a webinar. Think about the value propositions we can offer to different segments in the audience. Consider how each segment will find unique value in it. That’s how we want to be thinking about this. 

Again, bringing different angles to this is going to help us think about how it’s going to perform. Maybe sending one to two emails on the intro/opening day, one email the next day, one email that Sunday, and then when it’s ending, and maybe two emails on the last day.

Then through the last email, at the bookend of Sunday morning, we want to open it up to a broader audience. Even if they have already made a purchase in that window, they may want to purchase again. This will make sure it’s available for them if they want it. 

Once done with that, we’ll start compressing again and bring the sending activity back to our typical list. We won’t include the unengaged segments, as they don’t help us that much.

My analogy for sending to unengaged segments is like trying to pick up a spouse at a bar really late at night. You’re probably not going to find someone you want to marry in the long run. The closer you get to the last call, the more dodgy it gets.

You should ideally think about it like, hey I want to use this every once in a while but not make it a habit.

So, this is how you can maximize that promotion while it’s happening, take different angles, experiment with sending methods, etc. You may even be sending from a persona if they’re used to hearing from X, Y, Z from the brand or business. This might be a great way to zig and zag. 

For instance, those plain text emails are a really great way to reach out to them as the founder or the owner. And if they know you, there’s a personal relationship there which makes it a great way to do this. 

So, make these emails fun and engaging. You don’t have to be boring or super regimented and focused on call-to-action. Instead, make sure you’re offering some value, and building it up, and promoting in a way that your audience finds helpful.


Hopefully, that wasn’t too much, guys. I can go for hours on this, but this is how we start to think about this in terms of offering this value proposition.

When we think about this from a bunch of different angles, we gain more firepower. It helps ensure that we’re strategic in building this up to perform the way we want it to.

Apart from adopting the concept of pre-event momentum and leveraging the promotional window like Taylor Swift, another crucial aspect to consider is sharing captivating content prior to initiating promotional messages. This helps capture audience interest and sets the stage for a more receptive response. This is a window where we want to be playing the hits. If we play the hits here, people are going to be extremely engaged by the time the promo campaign rolls around.

And then afterward, we can get back to re-engaging our audience. That’s where we’re also sharing good quality content. It’s going to keep that audience back engaged.

We’re not focusing too much on selling right around then. Instead, we’re trying to re-warm and re-engage our list because even though they’ve hopefully not been burned out completely. We just want to pull back on the selling and resume sending value-added content. 

So, playing the hits before and after your promotional campaign is a great way to keep your audiences engaged and warmed up until the next time we have something like this.

Also, when planning these, make sure you have at least 6-8 weeks between these large promotions. And don’t do these too frequently. If you do, when everything’s always on sale, nothing is ever on sale, and you train your audience to expect it.

So, don’t do that too frequently because nobody likes to have an audience that expects it all the time. It’s not going to be an asset for you or your business. It’s not going to help anyone.

I hope this helps. And if you guys have any questions, let us know! We love talking about this stuff. 

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