The holiday season is one of the happiest times of year — unless you’re a business fighting for attention. Consumers rush store shelves for their favorite gifts, igniting a fierce battle among companies for customer consideration. That competition carries over to the digital world as subscription apps look to engage new users.
With the right holiday marketing, subscription services can experience significant user growth. If you’re looking to boost subscribers during the festive season, here are some essential insights and tips to consider.
Lean into the cultural moments
Some holiday promotions are obvious, whether it’s hot dogs on the Fourth of July or Netflix horror movies around Halloween. Beyond these more straightforward tie-ins, a strong holiday marketing approach is to focus on the essence of what the celebration is truly about.
For instance, Christmas trees and Thanksgiving turkeys abound from November through December — but at the core, these holidays emphasize friends and family. This atmosphere is perfect for group discounts, family plans, bundles, and other promotional tactics that highlight getting together with those you love.
Education tool MasterClass is a prime example of a service that markets its gift-giving in that affectionate tone: “Inspire those that inspire you.” The company even offers premium bundles for groups to share in the same subscription, serving as a way to create memories and foster communication among friends, families, and even co-workers.
Another case is New Year’s Eve — aside from champagne and noisemakers, the date is synonymous with new beginnings and self-reflection. For subscription apps that involve fitness, wellness, or other forms of self-improvement, this holiday offers a huge marketing upside coupled with serious earning potential.
Take Babbel, the language-learning subscription service — a common New Year’s goal. Not only have they promoted past holiday seasons with multilingual celebrations of Christmas and Hanukkah, but they also leaned into their self-improvement angle with a massive, half-off lifetime subscription sale in 2020. The international bent for Babbel also speaks to the importance of keeping global holidays in mind. Observances like Diwali, Ramadan, and the Chinese New Year are celebrated by a significant portion of the American population and have even greater reach overseas.
Vodafone, a popular international phone service provider, made headlines for its Send #YourWordsNotForwards campaign, which helped people create more personalized Diwali messages and well-wishes instead of copy-pasting regurgitated words they found on the internet. The move sparked headlines and conversations around genuine familial connection, serving as an excellent bit of brand-building for the service giant.
Time your promotions wisely
The holiday marketing battlefield demands careful planning and timely deployment. Don’t wait until the last minute — even a few weeks in advance might be too late. For example, people often joke that Christmas ads kick off before Thanksgiving, but the fact is these marketing decisions are supported by hard data imploring businesses to get a head start.
Advanced preparation is essential for holiday purchases. For instance, 56% of people plan to finish holiday shopping before December starts. Try implementing discounts, flash sales, or other well-timed promotions to entice new subscribers. One option is via Facebook’s Discovery Commerce, which helps generate consumer interest in products or services. The feature can be an effective ad buying strategy for early social media placements and user conversion. Using data analytics and customer personas, you can determine those less-explored areas where your customers exist and get an early foothold in online holiday shopping.
Another reason to plan your promotions in advance? Unexpected customer service issues. While physical subscription services may deal with larger supply chain issues and e-commerce backlogs, digital subscription apps can experience problems relating to the technology itself. Stay conscious of payment method outages, customer service hiccups, and other potential IT clogs.
Getting ahead of these tasks costs money — whether it’s landing those sought-after ad buys or equipping your customer service for the coming onslaught. Consider securing non-dilutive funding sources, like Braavo cohort-based funding (CBF), for a financial boost. With CBF especially, subscription apps can take advantage of cash infusions today by selling their subscription futures based on their strong long-term retention metrics. These forms of raising capital are specifically designed for consumer subscription services to invest in themselves for major growth opportunities, providing a capital boost just like the one holiday seasons provide.
Think outside your marketing comfort zone
Holidays are some of the best times to expand outside traditional spending comfort zones and instead connect the spirit of giving into a bigger brand statement. Take Netflix, which launched a team-up with Big Brother Big Sister for the launch of its Christmas animated film, Klaus, to provide gifts and a “write to Klaus” letter campaign that perfectly played off of audience sentiment.
Elsewhere, Amazon Prime promoted its popular show Marvelous Mrs. Maisel with an eight-night Hanukkah partnership with Lexus, hosting a series of pop-up events to garner eyeballs for its subscription streaming service.
Promotions around non-major holidays are worth exploring for unique media buys, too. A great example is Progressive Insurance’s Parentamorphosis Father’s Day activation, a nod to their famous TV ad campaign about users buying new homes and “turning into their parents.” Plus, this tongue-in-cheek engagement leaned into the holiday through a partnership with personalized video service Cameo, providing curated messages to fathers and would-be parents across the country.
Stay committed to new and existing users
Don’t forget: Getting those sign-ups early via innovative holiday marketing tactics doesn’t mean the job is over — your business lives and dies on retention, making the onboarding process a pivotal point in cultivating these new relationships. As we’ve seen across consumer and business services, 32% of people would cut their subscription short after just one bad customer experience. With the influx of new users from holiday marketing campaigns, make sure to invest in customer service resources to prevent friction for fresh sign-ups.
The marketing season can go beyond the holiday itself, too. The rush to take advantage of post-holiday sales leaves plenty of room for additional and late marketing pushes, with younger demographics especially engaged in this shopping period — 66% of those between the ages of 18 to 34 being somewhat or very interested in these sales.
These consumer aftershocks are the run-off of the cash gifts, gift cards, and other spending boosts shared during the holiday season itself. Often underlooked, these first few weeks after these key holidays have sneaky potential to acquire further users and build off the momentum of the previous sales period.
Seize the season
Holiday marketing should not be an afterthought — the season is ripe for user acquisition and a wave of new customer cohorts to propel your subscription app business into a fresh fiscal year. If you’ve planned your marketing budget accordingly, you’ll have the means to execute a consolidated and thoughtful holiday campaign.
Customers want to purchase from and subscribe to brands that share their values. These celebratory moments are perfect for capturing that emotion, attracting new eyeballs, and building on goodwill sentiment that endears you with your subscriber community.