The Ultimate Guide to Recurring Revenue Campaigns

by Liz Huff Second Street

What are recurring revenue campaigns?

Securing a big sponsorship for a single contest is great, but then you have to do it again and again each month. Recurring revenue campaigns are streamlining your sales process as you turn a single promotion into bigger dollar buys and annual deals.

These campaigns are 9-12 month opportunities sold to a single presenting sponsor such as a year-long top teacher campaign sponsored by a local bank or a road trip giveaway sponsored by a local car dealership.

Locking in an advertiser for a recurring revenue campaign is not only more efficient for your sales team, but it also means a larger chunk of revenue.

Benefits of recurring revenue campaigns:

  • Generate significant revenue
  • Give advertisers a chance to align with your media company
  • Sell now and you’re set up for revenue success for whole year
  • Much more efficient for sales team
  • No physical prize needed
  • Great for advertisers with larger budgets that want to own a program affiliated with the media company
  • Collect tons of engagement and provide a great opportunity for database growth
  • Community tie-in is a win for your media company and the advertiser

Ideas for Campaigns:

You’ll want to start by picking a theme that resonates with your audience over an extended period of time. Consider a topic to tie into other initiatives you’re already planning.
Here are some of our favorites:

Check out these 8 Fantastic Ideas for Recurring Revenue Promotions


There is never a bad time to start a recurring revenue campaign. You don’t have to kick the campaign off in January or any specific time – they make sense year-round! Determine what 9-12 month block you want to run the campaign and give yourself enough time to get everyone on board and execute properly.

Advertisers to target:

Recurring revenue campaigns are great opportunities for incremental revenue from current advertisers by building it into their current package. Plus, be sure to target advertisers with bigger budgets that spend all year long like::

  • Hospitals
  • Financial Institutions
  • Education
  • Automotive
  • Grocery


Check out St. Louis Magazines’ recurring revenue campaign sponsored by a local children’s hospital!

The sponsorship package:

When you build your sponsorship package, be sure to include your sponsor prominently across all elements of all the assets you have available:

  • Core Media (print or on-air)
  • Digital (website ads, mentions in your app, etc.)
  • Email (invite emails, thank-you emails, etc.)
  • Social (consider sponsored, paid posts)
  • Recognition of the winner (on-air, print, etc.)
  • Event recognizing all the nominees and winners

Need help building your sponsorship package? We’ve put together media-type specific sales one-sheets for monthly grocery giveaways, athlete of the month, hometown heroes, and many more!

Download sample kits by media type



The success of your campaign depends on getting your whole organization on board. They may have objections like:

    • “That’s a lot of money to ask for…”
    • “Why should I focus on this/why is this important?”
    • “How do we keep it fresh?”
    • “My advertisers don’t like contests.”

Explain how every department will reap the benefits from the success of the campaign!


When selling recurring revenue campaigns, you may encounter some objections from advertisers such as:

  • “We’ve tried media advertising before and it didn’t work”
  • “Am I going to get the right audience?”
  • “This is a lot of money to ask for…”
  • “How do I know if it’s working?”

If so, it’s a great chance to remind them of the continuous value of the campaign!

Monthly check-in:

One of the benefits of recurring campaigns for your advertiser is monthly campaign performance reports. You should meet with or call your advertiser monthly to share:

  • Engagement numbers such as entries and votes
  • An updated list of opt-ins
  • Reporting of answers to any lead-generation questions
  • Performance recap (spots, print ads, social media posts, etc)

monthly check in from STL Mag

Registration Page:

The registration page of your promotion is where you collect valuable customer data.

User/Audience Data

Recurring campaigns are a perfect opportunity to collect standard customer information like name, email address, and phone number but also targeted information like zip code and birthdate. This info is then used to segment your database by leveraging all the consumer data you collect and sending specific emails to a group of people who will likely be engaged in an email’s topic.

Email Opt-ins

Your email database is the gift that keeps on giving and recurring revenue campaigns are a great way to grow that list. Users interacting with your campaign are prime candidates for your newsletter – don’t miss that opportunity to collect their opt-in!

Be as clear as possible when creating your opt-ins. When people sign up for your list, they should know what they’re going to be receiving and about how often they should expect the emails.

Lead-Generation Questions

Lead-generation questions are one of your most valuable opportunities in promotions. These questions allow your advertiser to ask users important questions to learn who they can sell to and when they can contact them. These can be specific to your advertiser’s products and services for determining if a user is qualified or gauge interest in the services or products an advertiser offers.

We recommend including one lead-generation question per month. Change it out each month to gather valuable customer information and collect more in-depth information from returning users.


Prizes for these campaigns don’t always have to cost you money. Running a story around a campaign (Incredible Kid photo contest, Favorite Firefighter ballot, etc) means a prize of community recognition, or their photo being shared (on-air, on your site, etc) can easily be enough to encourage participation.

To drive engagement, try also including a small physical prize for one random participant. Keep this prize universal to attract more users, like a gas or grocery gift card.

Also, it’s important to keep the prize the same each month of your campaign. Not only to help establish the campaign brand but also to keep your team from having to re-write your contest rules each time.

Determining winners:

Should your winner be chosen randomly, by a vote, or by a panel of stakeholders? We’ve seen them all but we recommend structuring your campaign to include a voting phase. This way users can campaign for votes which leads to your campaign seeing tons more overall engagement! This way people will campaign which will drive more and potentially new users to your site – they’ll tell their friends and family, post on social and email everyone they know to campaign for votes.

Monthly winners announcement:

Don’t let users who engage with your recurring revenue campaign miss out on the next round! Email everyone who participated to announce the winner and encourage them to submit and vote in the following month. This is a great chance for the sponsor to share timely content in that email, too.

How to run long-term:

Here are two of our favorite ways to sustain the excitement of your recurring revenue campaign:

  • Change the campaign theme each monthly or quarterly
  • Mix up the promotions schedule to reach new people

Campaign Renewal:

You should always keep renewal top of mind. Mid-way through your campaign, it’s time to talk to your advertiser about renewing their contract. Give your current sponsor the first right of renewal and a deadline. If they choose not to renew, you are free to pitch to another business.

It’s important you do not sell the same package year after year. Not only will that get stale but, more importantly, the value of the package increases each year!

Evaluate the performance and list growth of the campaign. You have proof of performance and the value of/from the campaign. Show your advertiser everything they got from this year-long multi-media campaign and be sure to include engagement stats, social, core media reach, lead generation data, opt-ins, and all that you did during the year.

Update the package price at the end of the campaign to reflect the performance of the previous year.

How to make this a company wide initiative:

The success of your campaign relies on your entire company buy-in. You’ll need to show how each department will benefit.

  • Sales team will be able to sell more efficiently and generate bigger dollars
  • Editorial team will love the huge database growth, additional content, and community tie-in
  • Marketing will collect valuable audience insights

The key here is that this is one annual campaign with everyone on board. Once everyone is aboard, it’s set it and go!

How to tie this campaign into existing company initiatives:

Find something your company is doing to highlight people in the community and create a recurring revenue campaign around it.

WSAZ-TV out of Huntington, Virginia runs a ‘Student Athlete of the Week’ photo sweepstakes with a local Wendy’s franchise. The on-air campaign highlights standout athletes in the community each week and they added this photo sweepstakes as a new way to engage their community and find users/submissions. Those voted weekly winners receive ‘Wendy’s for a Year’ and a commemorative plaque.

A local Buffalo Wild Wings in Florence, Alabama sponsors an ongoing ‘Player of the Week’ campaign with mid-size radio station WSBM-AM. Local football players are nominated and each week the community votes for their favorite Player of the Week. The winners are announced live during the stations’ sports talk show.

Both of these examples incorporated their campaigns with current initiatives for a fantastic way to engage their community and drive significant dollars.

How to get started:

Get your team on board

  • Sales team will be able to sell more efficiently and generate bigger dollars
  • Editorial team will love the huge database growth, additional content, and community tie-in
  • Marketing will collect valuable audience insights

Get your team on board

  • Look for current projects and/or key initiatives that could benefit from a recurring revenue campaign
  • You want the campaign to be something everyone in the building cares about

Pick a theme

  • You want a theme that resonates with your specific audience

Set a timeline

This is a full-year campaign that needs an organized plan for both you and your advertiser. Make sure you have a strategy and calendar for things like:

  • Campaign structure
  • Advertiser deadlines
  • Promotion/marketing schedule
  • Rotation of advertiser lead-generation questions
  • Content for announcement emails

Identify the best prospective advertisers

  • Identify the top five prospective advertisers to sponsor the campaign, be picky and go for the best
  • These can be current clients or new advertisers

Build the package

  • Create the campaign with your advertiser’s goals in mind
  • Include all of your assets-focusing on those that will drive the right audience
  • Be sure to include your sponsor prominently across all elements of all the assets you have available

Pitch to advertisers

Key details to pitch:

  • Tons of exposure across the media company’s channels
  • Annual campaign aligning with media company
  • 12 months of rotating lead generation and consumer data
  • Great opportunity to engage community engagement opportunity
  • Incredible branding and exposure all year long


  • Remember this is not just about your advertiser, it’s about your media company, too. Don’t miss the opportunity to brand the campaign
  • Utilize opt-ins to grow your database and audience insights
  • Build a marketing plan to keep the campaign fresh and exciting

Advertiser Contact

  • Set up monthly calls or in-person meetings with your advertiser to share engagement stats
  • Consistent contact will make renewal simpler


  • Starting renewal conversation three months before contract ends
  • Give your advertiser first right of refusal with a deadline
  • If they miss out, move on to the next