Making the Most of Gifting & Holiday Sales for Your Subscription Business

The holiday season is one of the most important times of the year for your subscription business. Here’s how to make the most of it.


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With the holiday season around the corner, you may be thinking about how to make the most of gifting for your subscription business.

And you should.

Holidays are the most active buying times of the year — whether that’s Cyber Monday generating $3B in sales or the weeks leading up to Christmas and New Years being a huge source of subscriber growth.

Just take a look at Google Trends for subscription boxes around the holidays.

Notice the big trend here? December consistently shows peak yearly interest.

This is interesting for a few reasons:

  1. A rise in search traffic means bigger opportunity to capture new subscribers
  2. High interest during the most popular buying & gift giving time of the year means bigger opportunity to capture gift sales

The bottom lime: the holidays provide an opportunity to make strategic decisions, test, and ultimately increase your revenue for the final quarter of the year.

How to Harness the Holidays (And Sell More Gifts)

If you’re planning for a strong gift-giving season, here are some things you can do to convert more potential subscribers & gift givers:

Optimizing Your Site: Using a Holiday Theme & Direct Visitors to Gifts

A simple way to build a connection with the season is to theme your site & increase direction to gifts and unique gift ideas you offer.

Consider these strategies:

  1. Theme banners, buttons & calls to actions (CTAs) in red, green, and other holiday colors that resonate with your audience.
  2. Create holiday opt-ins (popups, in all their many forms) with holiday designs & promotions
  3. Add gift CTAs above the fold, like on a top banner or specifically mentioned in hero images or hero sliders
  4. Highlight gifts & gift products in the navigation and during your customers browsing experience

Here are some examples:


Try New Holiday Coupons & Promotions

In your email, social and paid marketing, consider tweaking your normal ads and promotional posts to relate to the holiday.

In email, this can mean holiday designs & branding, custom holiday promotional codes, and highly unique incentives to join, like special holiday gifts or credits:

williams-sonoma holiday

On social media, replicate this strategy through uniquely branded and designed posts and sharable images:

starbucks-fall 2015-starbucks
For paid marketing, such as paid Facebook ads, consider trying new ad creatives and targeting new ad sets that relate to holiday shoppers and holiday search interest. You can use the images and campaigns similar to what you see above, or create completely new content.

Suggested guides:

This can also include proactive planning around other holiday promotions, like getting involved in gift guides. It’s growing increasingly common to find subscription boxes among the last minute, unique & easy gift guides often circulated & searched for during the holidays.


Optional: Curate Special Bonus Boxes

Seasonal boxes or one-time bonus boxes are another unique promotion for the holidays.

With seasonal bonus boxes, you have the opportunity to do a few things:

  • Capture a greater share of wallet from existing subscribers (them buying for themselves & for others)
  • Encourage existing unconverted leads to try your service with a lower commitment (one-time bonus box vs. subscription)
  • Draw in completely new subscribers & followers through lead generation around unique promotions associated with special boxes

Plus, with bonus boxes, you can test price points, variations of the number of products/offerings you include in boxes, branding & design, and other value propositions — all without exposing yourself to much risk.

But remember: one-time bonus boxes don’t renew. Try to emphasize gift subscriptions with higher monthly commitments vs. one-time orders.


A Short Reminder: Be Mobile Friendly

54% of shoppers say they’ll do their holiday shopping on their smartphones in their spare moments throughout the day. That’s a lot of gift giving. And it means you need your site to be mobile friendly.

Tip: Working through this mobile friendly checklist by Moz is a great place to start.

The Most Important Step: Choose the Right Gifting Features

There can be operational questions around gifts. One of the most is “Should gift subscriptions renew?”

This can be a difficult question to grapple with: you want to draw in more gift purchases, but you also want those purchases to lead to long-time subscribers with high LTV. How do you choose?

Cratejoy has a new solution that makes this decision simple: Gifting 3.0.

This new feature is great for a few reasons:

  • You can easy choose between always renew, never renew, or let subscribers decide
  • At checkout, subscribers and gift givers can easy be reminded when the subscription renew or decide whether or not to automatically renew with a click of a checkbox

If you’re already on Cratejoy, check out this guide on how to set up Gifting 3.0 and start using it for your subscription business. (Or, you can start a free trial here!)

Plan Ahead for the Holiday

Planning ahead is the most important part of this process — once the holidays are here, it’ll be too late to execute on any of these ideas with optimal results.

Question, comments or ideas? Share them in the comment section below.

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About Jesse Richardson

Jesse Richardson is an author, educator and co-founder of several successful subscription businesses. He focuses on building engaging communities and has been described as "insanely customer centric." Find him in the Subscription School group or at his blog.

14 Responses

  1. Ryan

    Hi Jesse,

    Thanks so much for the amazing guide.

    I am planning to relaunch my subscription business and everything is ready to go now. However, I am just conscious of time as it is 18th Nov – do you think it would be worth waiting till the New Year?

    Thanks so much,


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