How Do I Drive Subscription Renewals with Season Announcements?

Ask CI

Ali Blount AUTHOR: Ali Blount
Aug 15, 2023
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For every arts marketer, season announcement time brings with it excitement and anticipation, but also apprehension as one considers the responsibility of filling all of those new empty seats.

With season announcements come subscription on-sales (or memberships or packages or whatever type of similar program your organization offers!), and given that subscriptions are in decline, renewal season requires all that much more strategy when your plate is already full.

In fact, as you’re reading this, you very well may be doing a great theater mask impression: 🎭. But fear not! With CI’s tips, you’ll be all smiles and strategy by the time you’re done reading.

HARNESS THE POWER OF PROMOTED POSTS

It’s 2023, which means excellent social content is a must. But who should you target with your posts? The most crucial segment to engage in these early on-sale days are your past subscribers, a.k.a. your low-hanging fruit.

While many of these individuals will be ready to sign up the moment you announce, many others will require a bit more reminding and convincing. One simple method to help make your case is to show up in their feeds with anticipated, relevant, and targeted social media posts.

  • Cross-Channel Efforts Convert. We know: centering content in your on-sale strategy seems so obvious, but so many organizations aren’t taking advantage of this tactic, often hoping that an announcement email alone will do the job. A study about cross-channel coordination found that email openers who also saw a Meta ad were 22% more likely to purchase than those only reached by email.
  • Promoted Posts Get Eyeballs. Paid social posts help you meet audiences where they’re at. After all, Americans spend over 2 hours per day on social media!
  • Renewal Campaigns Are Budget Friendly. We talk a lot about how it’s far more expensive to acquire new audiences than to keep them. Often, acquisition work takes center stage at the expense of renewal efforts, but focusing on renewals is equally important and incredibly inexpensive. Renewal prospect lists are relatively small in size, so it doesn’t cost very much to saturate them with relevant promoted social posts.

During the American Repertory Theater’s (A.R.T.) 2023–2024 subscription presale—open only to renewing subscribers—we ran a brief Meta campaign targeting a list of these patrons. The ad they were served was a dark post with a reminder to renew, and it could only be seen by these users in their feeds; it never appeared on the A.R.T.’s timeline, grid, or stories. We spent $230 on the campaign, which yielded great results.

The Results

8k impressions $19k subscription revenue 8,100% ROI

DIAL INTO DATA-DRIVEN MESSAGING

Beyond being cost-effective, renewal campaigns are a great way to start testing your messaging before you broaden your efforts into acquisition. Steppenwolf Theatre Company ran a one-month renewal campaign on Meta in May for $900.

Among the various promoted posts in the flight, one that drove a nearly 6,000% ROI was a standout. It had a purchase conversion rate that was 66% higher than the next-best post! Steppenwolf can now refine its messaging for subsequent subscription campaigns based on this data about what performed well—and what didn’t.

4,300% Total Campaign ROI, 6,000% ROI on Select promoted post

DRIVE KPIS WITH A DIVERSE ON-SALE STRATEGY

The big lesson here: don’t put all your eggs in an email basket. While email is an incredible tool to alert your subscribers that it’s time to renew, it should be used in conjunction with social media. By combining forces, you can amplify the strengths and effects of both—and ensure that you’re bringing back as many patrons as possible as you head into your new season.

TWO IS BETTER THAN ONE FOR RENEWALS

Just as email + social are a powerful duo for the renewal season, so is your organization + CI! Let’s talk about crafting the perfect digital strategy to fill your seats and drive revenue with you renewals. Don’t have time to create content for promoted renewal posts? You’re in luck–we do that, too.