For the past 5 years, subscription-based services have grown 100% – every single year. This includes delivery services like Birchbox and Amazon Subscribe & Save, as well as digital streaming like Netflix and Spotify. In many cases, these brands have built emerging empires through digital alone, thriving on social media ads, TV spots, and word of mouth from enthusiastic customers.
But while TV and digital can be effective, often there is a plateau. To reach a broader audience and differentiate from other similar companies, brands need to do more. And, time and time again, experiential is the answer.
Experiential marketing is defined as “consumer-oriented (brand) experiences, often promotional in nature and geared toward more general audiences.” And companies of all types, from TV and tech to beauty and fashion, are using these tactics at an ever-increasing rate. Yet, often brands imagine experience marketing as a one-dimensional stunt that succeeds in generating brand awareness and little else. But in reality, these activations have come a long way. They are ideal places to gather consumer contact information, start long-term consumer relationships, and drive revenue. And when marketing subscription services, brand activations can do double duty in expanding their client base and driving data collection and/or immediate customer acquisition.
Don’t believe us? Below are three ways that subscription companies can take their services offline for maximum results.
Create an in-person education and service hub
When marketing subscription services that are technology-oriented, often there is a learning curve, and disarming consumers who might be intimidated at the onset can be a barrier to acquisition. For new tech brands, awareness is also critical, as many consumers may not know the tremendous benefit a service could provide. Experiential lets brands educate consumers, dispel objections, and explain services face-to-face in a personalized way.
Chase for Business utilized a Social Media Genius Bar, modeled after Apple’s popular service and support bar, in retail stores for Chase For Business. The finance giant was looking to connect with more small business owners at their conference and the bar was a great way to cater to their desire for more personalized attention. Conference attendees signed up for a 20-minute slot to discuss all things online marketing. The activation was wildly popular, and Chase now uses it at all of their business conferences.
This activation succeeded in that the “help desk” did not only surround Chase’s product, but dispensed free advice related to their core offering. And in addition to brand ambassadors, who can encourage and facilitate signups or lead generation in real time, these activations can also include interactive kiosks where attendees sign up for an event-only offer on their own time.
Ready, set, (signup) and go!
Getting consumers to part with their precious personal information on-the-spot requires one of two things. One, they are so motivated to get the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that parting with their details is a small price to pay. Or two, they are so busy having fun that they barely even notice that they are giving anything away. With brand-relevant immersive activities or experiential gamification, both can be achieved.
Gamification “is the process of taking something that already exists – a website, an enterprise application, an online community – and integrating game mechanics into it to motivate participation, engagement, and loyalty.” When brands design activations around a game, contest, or immersive activity, consumers will often happily provide an email address to comply. From there, they can be sent additional information about the brand, new customer offers, and more to nurture them toward a sign up.
Recently, meal delivery service Blue Apron executed a series of brand events throughout the U.S., all of which varied in order to expand their customer base and reach new and different types of people. From “Besties and Baes” which coincided with Pride Week to movie nights that included games and food sampling, Blue Apron hosted a multitude of interactive experiences that let consumers be as playful or low-key as they wish. Other subscription brands can host similar events, and by including a “register with an email address to participate” element, they can get immediate and actionable consumer data. Moreover, here at A Little Bird, all of our experiential programs capture consumer preferences and behavioral elements. These ensure our brand clients (and our agency) are equipped to extend brand engagement well after the activation via personalized communication with consumers, wherein we can ultimately drive and track conversion.
Do good for the community to see even greater results
Many consumers are socially-conscious and love to support brands who are socially aware and engaged. Many nonprofits also have large and loyal followings themselves. Partnering with an organization that fits well with your mission and purpose is a great way for your brand to do good for the community and enables consumers to feel like they’re a part of giving back to their community as well.
Design a brand activation that encourages consumers to participate in an activity that benefits your favorite cause, such as the Citi-sponsored Taste of the Nation event, which benefited the No Kid Hungry campaign. Each time an attendee posted a photo of their favorite food or drink from the event using the hashtag #citigiving, the company donated a meal to kids in need. Subscription brands can incorporate a giveback with an offer redemption or service sign up, which could take place on the spot at the brand activation. But there is no need to stop there. Encourage user generated content through a hashtag or photo opp at the event as well. Who knows? You might even make InStyle magazine’s list of subscription services that give back.
Whether your brand has recently launched or is looking to grow, experiential marketing adds dimension when marketing subscription services, help you acquire new users, and reach a larger audience. Experiential is more than just brand awareness – in strategically incorporating elements in which consumers will happily provide contact information or even sign up on the spot, these brand events can be a regular part of your consumer acquisition arsenal.