Subscription Campaigns in the Digital Age

July 21, 2015

Catwalking/Getty Images

While last summer was the season of retro eyewear, our spring and summer months have always been about digital subscription campaigns. Trust us—it’s just as cool!

We’ve been leveraging the power of display, Facebook, and YouTube to drive renewals and reach new prospects to deliver strong results. While direct mail has always been the go-to for selling subscriptions, we want to show how you can bring your campaigns into the digital age with some impressive results. Unlike 70s shades, digital subscription campaigns aren’t just a passing fad.  

Facebook Carousel Ads are perfect for a subscription campaign. You can highlight multiple productions in your season or benefits offered to subscribers. These eye-catching ads are also great for driving traffic to your subscription pages and some of our clients have seen click-through rates double that of a standard image post.


Your season content is dynamic—shouldn’t your advertising be the same? YouTube is the perfect platform to show rather than tell your prospects the value of subscribing for the coming season. Bravo! Vail used a 15 second video that was viewed by more than 2,000 highly-targeted and valuable prospects. This campaign drove a competitive click-through-rate, helped generate direct sales, and boosted performance of the accompanying display campaign.


Subs Campaigns in Action
This summer we worked with New York City Ballet to take advantage of Facebook’s innate ability to serve the right message to the right people at the right time through a highly targeted and customized digital campaign to support subscription sales.


We took NYC Ballet’s targeted email segmentation (including renewals, lapsed subs, and multi-buyers) and targeted those patrons on Facebook with strategic messaging that spoke to their relationship with the organization. Beautiful imagery and engaging video content helped us achieve an ROI of over 2,000% and a cost per acquisition of just $33.


We’re also managing a 25th Anniversary Season subscription campaign for Signature Theatre that includes robust acquisition of new subscribers through a strategic display campaign. In addition to targeting site visitors and other bottom-of-funnel prospects, we're using Google’s Custom Affinity targeting to reach prospects at the top of the funnel.

While this campaign is ongoing, we’ve currently generated an ROI of over 3,000%. This is particularly impressive given our goal of reaching acquisition targets, which are more expensive to convert. Custom Affinity targeting is performing amazingly well with a click-through rate of close to 1%, which is driving traffic directly to Signature Theatre’s subscription pages.


Tips and Best Practices
The last thing you want to think about are subscriptions after your campaigns are over or close to it. But it’s never too early to plan for next year. Here are some tips and best practices we’ve found that work for digital subscription campaigns:

Tell a Good Story. Use a compelling organizational voice for renewals and thumb-stopping imagery to draw in new subscribers. Give your fans a good reason to become loyal patrons. 

Think About Your Subscribers on a Personal Level. Are your benefits, package options, and messaging catered to your subscribers, or your organization’s internal structure? Remember the KISS principle? Apply it here—but change it to Keep It Simple (for your) Subscribers.

Segment, Segment, Segment! Did we mention segmentation? This will allow you to serve the right message to the right people at the right time.

If It’s Digital, Measure Something. Many subscriptions are purchased off-line but that doesn’t mean you can’t measure the success of your digital campaigns. Create KPIs that work for your organization and compliment your analog marketing efforts. 

For example—if you can't track through to conversion on your site, measure key page views in the subscription purchase path. Or ask your box office staff to gather information on which channels influenced the subscription purchase to help tie subscription sales to the correct marketing touch points.

Have you used digital marketing campaigns to sell subscriptions? Let us know!

Social Media Strategy, AdWords/Search Engine Marketing, Data-Driven Display


Jane Whitty
Capacity Interactive

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