Subscription Campaign Best Practices 2018

February 25, 2018 Sarah Chapman

Now that most of us are in the midst of subscription season, your organization may want to consider the best way to advertise your available packages to your patrons. A well-crafted subscription campaign can help your organization stand out from other nearby arts organizations and can start a Subscription Best Practicesdeeper, more long lasting relationship with your patrons. Let’s take a look at why it’s beneficial to use digital ad campaigns to promote your subscription packages, the types of digital subscription campaigns, and creative/call-to-action (CTA) best practices.

Benefits of Digital Subscription Campaigns

While you can use traditional advertising methods to promote your subscription packages (billboards, direct mail, etc.), an online subscription campaign can be beneficial for many reasons:

  • Extended brand presence during off-season
    • Stay in front of lapsed, current, and potential future patrons with your brand. Get the message out early to drive conversions during a longer consideration cycle
  • Ability to target patrons by audience segment
    • Serve to custom audiences with unique messaging
  • Promotes multi-performance commitment
    • Promote a season line up early to help drive ticket sales for multiple performances
  • Cost-effective
    • A digital campaign has a lower CPM and higher frequency compared to direct mail campaigns
  • Works in synergy with other efforts, i.e. direct mail, email, telemarketing
    • Compliments/boosts performance of other marketing efforts and provides early support of future Single-Ticket campaigns while driving awareness


Types of digital Subscription Campaigns

Renewing Subscribers:

Primary Goal: Driving renewals from current season subscribers

Target CRM¹:  List of patrons who are current season subscribers

Suppression CRM²:  List of patrons who have already renewed their subscription package

Lapsed Subscribers & New Membership Acquisition:

Primary Goal: Driving commitments of first time subscribers, win-back lapsed subscribers from previous seasons, upgrade multi-ticket buyers to subscribers

Target CRM: List of lapsed subscribers, previous single and/or multi-ticket buyers from past 1-3 seasons; Newsletter & Email opt-ins

Suppression CRM: List of current season subscribers and upcoming season subscribers


CTA and Creative Best Practices/ Examples

When making your subscription package creative for display or social media ads, there are tried and true strategies for the visuals and call-to-actions.

CTA Best Practices:

  • Customize it for different audience types, such as renewing subscribers, lapsed subscribers or new member acquisition.
  • Use it to emphasize the benefits of subscribing. Since a subscription package is a larger investment or time and resources than a single ticket, you want the CTA to be especially enticing and informative so that your potential subscribers know what is in it for them if they subscribe.
  • Highlight the savings available for subscribers if you don’t have other specific benefits to highlight. For example, use CTAs such as: “Buy More and Save!” or “Save 35% with a Membership!” or “Choose your own package!”

Creative Best Practices:

  • Know when to leverage programming versus benefits in your creatives. A big Broadway tour coming to town, or a member benefit such as a premiere seating may help entice someone to make the plunge to finally purchase that subscription.
  • When designing a banner ad, be careful not to overcrowd the ad with too much text, i.e. do not list all of the available shows/products in the subscription package or all of the subscriber benefits on a single banner.
  • To help entice patrons to subscribe, you may try listing one benefit per banner size (discounts, meeting the cast, etc.) to maximize space and your message. Odds are patrons will likely see multiple banner sizes over the life of the campaign, so they will eventually see all of the benefits.
  • Try to keep your CTA and logo in similar positions and visible on your banners to create consistency. This helps make your ads recognizable to patrons and creates a cohesive brand presence.
  • Other creative formats like video or Facebook/Instagram News Feed Carousel ads can help showcase programming and/or subscriber benefits.


CTA and Creative Examples:

Renewing Subscribers:

Use language that is more direct and also highlight an incentive, like a discount or savings for renewing early or by a deadline.

CTA: “Don’t lose your seats!”, “Guarantee your seats!”,“Subscribe Today” or “Click to Renew” “Save Now”

Arts Club Theatre Display Example:

Dallas Symphony Orchestra 2016/17 Season Display Example:

Dallas Symphony Orchestra 2016/17 Facebook Mobile Example:

Lapsed Subscribers / Multi-Ticket Buyers:

Give users a reason to come back or upgrade to a subscription by promoting the package savings or type of experience (highlight benefits like free chocolate, free parking, or early access to add ons).

CTA: “Don’t Miss Out” or “A Season of Premieres!”, “There’s something for everyone”, “Season of Laughter”

Performing Arts Fort Worth Display Example:

New Membership Acquisition:

List various subscriber benefits across various ad units or on the landing page. You can show varied package options, ”Choose your own 3.”

CTA: “Learn More”, “Check out our Lineup”, “Subscribe and Save”, “There’s something for everyone”, ”compose your own”, or “Choose and save”

Nashville Symphony Display Example:

A Contemporary Theatre (Seattle) 2016 Display Example:

If you are interested in learning more about subscription ad campaigns, you can read our blog post “3 Tips for Driving Subscription Sales for Arts Marketers,” check out our case study “Cal Performances: Driving Subscriptions with a Multi-Channel Approach,” or reach out to us at