4 steps to prepare a successful holiday subscription offering


June 11, 2024

Subscriptions are the gift that keeps on giving. Learn how to create holiday subscription offerings that keep your customers happy year-round.

Holiday subscription offering

Most retailers have the “most wonderful time of the year” circled in red on their sales and marketing calendars — and for a good reason. Fifty-seven percent of American consumers shopped online to the tune of $211.7 billion during the 2022 holiday season. However, few companies take full advantage of a particularly profitable niche: holiday subscription offerings. Subscription boxes are the gifts that keep on giving and make great selections for consumers looking to dazzle their friends and loved ones with recurring presents.

Subscription programs are potential goldmines for online retailers, but success is not a given. Ecommerce platforms that specialize in single-instance purchases need to find ways to package and market holiday subscription packages in a way that makes it worth the effort. Companies that offer existing subscriptions must tailor their standard package with a new holiday-specific offering to draw fresh attention and capture new customers.

Companies who are properly prepared with a high-value holiday subscription offering stand to convert gift subscribers into long-term customers. Here are the four steps you must take to create a high-performing holiday subscription offering that builds loyalty and boosts revenue.

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1. Identify Your Holiday Subscription Offering

Holiday gifts are supposed to elicit joy in those who receive them, so you need to identify what you can offer consumers that’s worth purchasing. A successful holiday subscription offering balances three vital dimensions: term length, package content and package pricing.

Term Length

A holiday offering will need a term limit, allowing the gift-buyers to purchase a limited-length subscription without being on the hook for payment indefinitely. Typical subscription options involve month-to-month renewal to give consumers the flexibility to continue or cancel at will. But holiday shoppers hesitate to purchase long-term, indefinite or premier-level subscriptions due to cost or concerns over whether the gift will be well-received.

The easiest way to accomplish this is to allow shoppers to buy a holiday subscription upfront. It limits the buyer to a single transaction while removing the pain point of asking them to keep a credit card on file. This method also sets you up to receive a nice influx of cash in the last few weeks of the year.

Package Content

Your holiday offerings shouldn’t differ greatly from your normal offerings in terms of content. Gift subscriptions act as samplers, showing new prospects what they could expect if they became full-blown customers. Companies that sell scented candles shouldn’t suddenly deviate to bath bombs.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t add a little extra sugar to sweeten the deal. Consider adding one-time gifts or complementary items to a holiday package to give your holiday subscriptions extra value. A scented candle company might include holiday-specific scents or add decorative candle holders to a subscription to spice things up.

Package Pricing

Once you know what you’re selling, you’ll need to determine how much to sell it for. Americans only spent an average of $870 total on holiday presents in 2022, so it’s unlikely they’ll want to spend half of their budget on a single gifted subscription. Offer discounted rates on short-term subscriptions if you want your holiday offering to be considered alongside traditional one-time purchases.

Discounted holiday subscriptions are more forward-thinking than they first appear. Smaller price tags lead to smaller immediate bumps in revenue. But remember: the holiday offering is merely a sampler. The truly lucrative aspect of selling discounted holiday subscriptions is in their ability to capture new prospects and increase the likelihood of eventually converting them into paying subscribers.

2. Prepare To Launch Your Holiday Subscription

The digital and physical logistics of offering a short-term subscription get complicated fast. Dedicate time to ironing out the details to avoid having a blue Christmas. Namely, you’ll want to address these three tasks:

Invest in a Subscription Platform

Many companies have hobbled together a half dozen different tech tools to get their subscription services off the ground. Other businesses have yet to start a subscription service and lack the necessary software to build one. Both types of companies will need to look into an all-in-one subscription management platform to ensure the success of their holiday subscription plans.

Look for a subscription management platform that enables your ecommerce company to:

  • Set up flexible subscription models without a developer
  • Integrate with existing payment solutions
  • Manage subscription accounts and recurring billing
  • Enable self-management through the customer portal

Ready Your Website

People can’t buy a subscription if they don’t have a place to buy it from. You’ll need to build an appropriate landing page to highlight your holiday offering. Include appealing and seasonally appropriate imagery, subscription details and pricing to give gift buyers all the essential info they need. Don’t forget to highlight the value and limited-time nature of the package.

Why subscribers opt out

Get a Jump on Your Inventory

Any problem, like a delay in delivery due to an inventory supply issue, negatively impacts the customer experience and decreases the likelihood of conversion. Companies that have identified the contents of their holiday subscriptions ahead of time know what items are needed. Order any non-perishable inventory ahead of time to avoid stock outages.

3. Build an Effective Holiday Marketing Campaign

Now it’s time to spread the word. Use every channel at your disposal to let prospects know that your product or service makes an excellent gift — and that you’ve built a unique holiday subscription just for the occasion.

Gifted subscriptions pose a unique challenge, as there are two distinct audiences you must keep in mind while building campaigns. The first group is consumers who’ve never purchased from your platform and must first be made aware of your product and services through social media, digital ads, blogs and the like.

The second audience you know quite well: existing customers. These consumers are familiar and satisfied with your product to the point where they’d consider buying a holiday subscription package for their friends or loved ones. (Or even for themselves if a holiday offering is your company’s first step into subscription services.)

One effective way to target your regular customers is with in-app or on-site messaging. Announce your holiday subscription package at sign-in with a colorful modal window, or draw attention to it at checkout with a banner. You should also create an email announcement for your existing customer base to position your holiday subscription as a great treat for loved ones.

One final way to encourage existing customers is to offer an incentive. Customers who already have a standard subscription could receive a free month or a one-off gift for purchasing a gift for relatives. The value of the customers you ultimately convert from holiday subscriptions to standard subscriptions will ultimately offset the cost of these incentives in the long term.

4. Engage and Dazzle Your Subscribers

All these steps lead to the most important one: convincing your holiday subscribers to convert to long-term subscribers. Recipients of gifted subscriptions view their subscriptions as free, so you’ll need to deliver a stellar experience to convince them to start parting with their own money.

Much of this work is done before a single holiday offering is sold. You must pick enticing inventory to include in your subscription, and you must plan ahead to avoid any interruptions in service. This will show holiday subscribers that their investment in a standard subscription would be rewarded with punctuality and items of real value.

You also must strategize how to actively impress your customers in the short period in which you have their attention. There are several simple, cost-effective ways to do this:

  • Personalize your subscription. A report from Twilio revealed that 60% of consumers would become repeat customers of businesses that offered personalized experiences. Write thank-you notes using the customer’s name and include them in your delivery.
  • Deliver the promised goods at the promised time. This should be prepared before ever selling a subscription. Show subscribers that an investment in a standard subscription would be rewarded with timely, high-quality deliveries.
  • Give customers access to their online accounts. Self-management allows customers to choose their preferences and have visibility into their account status. Make sure to include an easy renewal feature to make subscription extensions as easy as possible.

Hold Down Customers Past the Holidays

The 2023 holiday shopping season is approaching, which means time is running out to get your lucrative holiday subscription offering plans off the ground. The effort to create these packages is worth it, as a successful launch nets a tidy sum of cash to end one year and a batch of terrific prospects to start the next.

Unwrap all the benefits of subscriptions. Read the Guide to Holiday Ecommerce Subscriptions to prep your site for the most magical time of the year.

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