7 Tips to Help Subscription Retailers Dominate Black Friday and Cyber Monday

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Last updated
Apr 30, 2020

We all know that the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend is when customers spend a boatload of money while shopping for the holidays. Some wait all year for this weekend--and they’re hungry for those almost too-good-to-be-true deals.

As a result, there’s now an expectation for retailers to slash their prices and offer deep discounts on their offerings, making up for smaller margins with higher sales volumes.

The trouble is: That’s not a very smart long-term play for customer retention--especially for subscription merchants.

Danny Taing, founder of subscription box company Bokksu, agrees.

So what should brands with subscription-based products do? What are the other options aside from offering up deep discounts?

Glad you asked. We’ve got some great ideas for you from some of the smartest people in the e-commerce industry.

1. Offer Subscriber-Only Perks to Boost Post-Holiday Loyalty

The holidays are an exciting time for shoppers to buy and try new things (like subscription boxes!), but you want to keep those customers around after the holiday shopping season has wrapped up.

Research shows that the average consumer keeps subscription services for just 125 days, so it’s possible the new subscribers you acquired over the holidays might not be around when spring arrives.

In addition to this, the lifetime value of customers acquired during Black Friday and Cyber Monday is typically lower than that of customers acquired during other times of the year.

To increase the longevity and lifetime value of subscribers you acquire during this busy shopping weekend, implement an exclusive subscriber-only tier within your loyalty program. Exclusive perks that those who aren’t subscribed can’t access will give your customers more reason to remain with you for longer.

“For example, health and wellness subscription retailer Dr. Axe uses LoyaltyLion and ReCharge together to offer their subscriber tier free shipping, double reward points on all purchases, and early access to new products,” said Fiona Stevens of LoyaltyLion.

2. Get Rid of Coupons and Incentivize Subscriptions

Black Friday and Cyber Monday don’t have to be about deep discounts and crazy coupons. Instead, consider offering perks around subscription products to drive long-term relationships and recurring revenue.

Matthew Parvis, founder of clothing brand Fresh Clean Tees, said that because his business had the margins to offer a nice price cut in order to boost top-line revenue, they decided to experiment with coupon-less deals during Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

During Black Friday and Cyber Monday, they offered subscribers was 25% off their subscription--not just off the first order, but 25% off all renewals as long as the customer was actively subscribed.

Aside from marking down prices across the board, you may also consider including gifts with purchases or adding single products to boxes so your customers can gift those items to friends and family.

3. Focus on the Customer Lifecycle

It can be tempting to go for the quick sale during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but if you want to keep subscribers for the long haul, you’ll need to think about the entire customer lifecycle--not a one-off purchase.

“Prepare your entire sales funnel with a customer-centric focus so each subscriber feels like they're a part of your mission, not just a number in a sales funnel, says Chase Alderton of ReCharge.
“Focus on the customer and the dollars will follow; focus on the dollars and you'll experience heavy churn.”

He explained that in the e-commerce environment, touchpoints are plentiful--starting from when a potential customer is targeted and shown their first impression of your brand all the way through when that customer converts and can manage their subscription.

He recommends writing copy that makes customers feel welcomed, sending onboarding emails that drive empowerment, and showing cross and upsells that bring value to extend the customer lifecycle and boost customer retention.

“Retention for subscription customers is key,” he said. It’s also a good idea to have additional retention nets set up (like good dunning campaigns, for example) that will help address any credit card billing issues that crop up after the holidays and will reduce your risk of losing new customers to this easy source of churn.

4. Enable Prepaid Subscription Gifting

Subscriptions really are the gift that keeps on giving.

Thomas McCutchen of Scoutside says that’s why it’s a good idea for merchants to incentivize their subscription-based products around the holidays. How? By offering pre-paid subscriptions at a slightly discounted price. “Prepaid subscriptions are great for individuals or to give as a gift, and they dramatically increase average order value,” he said.

By enabling prepaid gift subscriptions in increments of three, six, or twelve months, you can let shoppers give you a foot in the door with brand new customers (that may eventually turn into loyal subscribers, brand evangelists, and number one fans.)

Yana Moser of Box of Style agrees that thinking with the gifting mentality is a smart move during this busy shopping weekend.

“We see a lot of members shopping the member marketplace and getting add-ons with their winter boxes,” she said. “They load up their carts and then give those extra items as gifts because those products are all offered at exclusive member discounts. So it's really a win-win: They're giving great gifts to people, but they're also getting great discounts.”

5. Use Landing Pages Over Product Pages

Black Friday and Cyber Monday is chaotic for shoppers--they’re bombarded with information about deals, discounts, and limited time offers.

The good news is: Subscription merchants can leverage e-commerce landing pages (instead of mere product pages) to create a clear, focused value proposition around their different product offerings with a distraction-free conversion funnel.

“Shoppers will have their attention pulled in a million directions during this weekend,” said Jordan Gal of CartHook. “Make sure you get your value proposition and core messaging across by sending paid traffic to a dedicated landing page instead of to the product page inside your store.”

Data shows this is a must-have when it comes to conversion rate optimization: Compared to optimized landing pages, product pages can reduce purchase likelihood by 50%. Using a tool like CartHook, you can quickly build and launch landing pages for your subscriptions to convert more customers.

6. Leverage Your Loyalty Program

For subscription merchants, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are a great opportunity to spur engagement in an existing loyalty program. You know customers are spending, so why not give them a reason to spend with you?

Raj Nijjer of Yotpo explains:

The bottom line: You can make your loyalty program do some of the selling legwork on this holiday shopping weekend (without offering a deep discount.)

7. Don’t Ignore Your Current Customer Base

Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals don’t have to be all about attracting new, first-time customers. Instead, think about how you can tap into the established relationships you have with your existing customer base and incentivize them during this busy shopping weekend.

It’s a smart play, considering data that showed over half of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales in 2018 came brands’ existing customers. 

Think about engaging your current customer base with early access to new products, subscriber-only deals, or exclusive upsells that reward them for being on board with your brand.

Reward your existing customers by giving them special perks that thank them for supporting your brand year-round--not just during the holidays.

Sell More Subscriptions on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Florent Schmahl of Shoelace has a nice piece of takeaway advice for subscription merchants that sums up what we’ve covered here.

So wise.

With the tips we’ve outlined here, we hope you have some good ideas for Black Friday and Cyber Monday that will let you think less about slashing prices around your subscriptions and more about creating long-term relationships with your new and existing customers.

Remember: You want to keep your subscribers around long after the holidays are over.