Holiday SMS Campaigns for Subscription Brands

Holiday SMS for subscription vertical

Holiday SMS Campaigns for Subscription Brands

Table of Contents

Between 2014 and 2018, subscription boxes took off in a major way, growing by 890%. That accelerated growth has led to a majority of consumers now reporting having a subscription of some sort.

Subscriptions as a holiday gift have also come a long way from the “Jelly of the Month club” made famous in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Subscription gifts are highly popular across a range of niches, including wine, magazines, gourmet foods/snacks, health/beauty products, books, and apparel. Even subscription services—such as streaming TV—have become popular holiday gifts.

The trends point to media subscriptions still dominating the field. While 4% of consumers are box-only subscribers and 11% are box and media subscribers, 35% are media only subscribers. That means media subscriptions are especially popular, even among those who have box subscriptions of some sort. (Note: “Box” in this context refers to physical products, including brands like Blue Apron.)

The subscription industry is undergoing rapid growth. But there’s also a lot of ground left to cover. If roughly half of consumers have no subscriptions like those listed above, SMS marketing during the holidays may be an ideal entry point for subscription brands—even jellies of the month.

Primary Model or Ancillary Product? How Different Brands Use Subscriptions

Some brands are built entirely off the subscription model, including Blue Apron and Netflix, two of the largest examples of box subscriptions and streaming subscriptions. But it’s not a binary choice. This is especially relevant for any SMS marketer for subscription services during the holiday season, when a single purchase may lead to upselling and cross-selling.

Here are some of the strategies modern brands use:

Enticing with a simple box, upselling the subscription.

Take Hubble, a daily contact lens brand. The goal of Hubble is to get customers to sign up for a recurring product. But that doesn’t mean Hubble only uses that recurring subscription to bring in new customers. They also offer ancillary products, such as the $1 Hubble Box, to give customers a sample. By combining an ancillary product with its primary model, Hubble draws in more engagement.

Focusing on subscription as a primary model.

Battlbox, a camping and survival supply subscription service, understood that leaning on their subscriptions as a primary model meant high lifetime value for each new customer. That led them to create a customer rewards program that allowed them to acquire new customers in exchange for $20 in merchandise value offered via the rewards program. But with their eye on long-term growth, this was a great trade-off, highlighting just how valuable it can be for subscription brands to use promotions (like the holidays) to build a steady supply of subscription-based customers.

Notable Campaigns from the 2019 Holiday Season


The direct-to-consumer pet food brand uses monthly themes to sustain interest in its subscription model. In December of 2019, that meant a “Muttcracker” holiday theme, complete with holiday-specific snacks and chew toys. To coincide with this offering, BarkBox created a viral video campaign and photo shoots in which dogs shared screentime with the Saint Louis Ballet. The marketing efforts even included behind-the-scenes looks at the campaign productions.


The subscription service capitalized on sentimentalism and the holiday spirit with ads revealing both classic and modern content on Disney for “celebrating the season.” Disney+ also made sure that its subscription services were easy to gift, either in the form of a gift card or a physical package.


Wine is one of the most popular subscriptions to gift. What’s notable in the way Winc approached its holiday season is that it offered specialized discounts for the holidays—capturing the influx of gifts during the season in a strategy similar to Battlbox.

Subscription Brands Who Are Executing SMS Well

310 Nutrition

Offering meal replacement shakes and nutritional supplements, 310 Nutrition has a similar market to UMZU. They approach their outreach and SMS campaigns in a similar way to many of the apparel brands in the previous chapter, creating a community based around rewards points. The idea: keep SMS customers around by offering them exclusive deals. Keeping these customers around happens through retention efforts like rewards, or even joining an Influencer Platform that 310 Nutrition uses to spread its message online.

Like many of the other community offerings here, 310 Nutrition creates reward points for referrals. This is an effective way to promote via SMS, especially given its high open rates: when a customer already has their phone out, it’s easier to forward a text to someone else.


With avocado hair products, NaturAllClub is working to retain and boost loyalty with existing customers through SMS by incentivizing their subscription offering and promoting a 25% discount via text for those who sign up for recurring shipments. For customers who love the product, this method for promoting subscription around a replenishable product makes a lot of sense.

Activities ranging from saunas to cryotherapy to facials all saw an increase in 2019, according to ClassPass, with increased searches on a month-over-month basis. This trend extends to both self-care activities at home (which we saw with the popularity of Peloton), as well as products designed for better self-care at home. With COVID-19, we can only expect that demand for these activities and products will rise in 2020.

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Fantastic Texts makes it easy to browse and discover the best *real* text messages from hundreds of ecommerce brands. We just added a Black Friday / Cyber Monday section, just for you. 

Best Practices for Subscription Brands During Cyber Monday and Black Friday

Cyber Monday and Black Friday are inflection points for subscription brands: a chance to connect with a customer who might last until the next holiday season and beyond. Here’s what we’ve noticed the best subscription brands doing to keep people happy via SMS:

Capitalize on BF/CM by sending messages at the right time.

We’ve noticed that text messages tend to be heaviest on Black Friday and Cyber Monday during the lunchtime hours, especially earlier in the day. That’s when brands are competing for attention. People are on the hunt for discounts. You need to have your campaign planned in advance so that your text campaign can capitalize on these times and draw maximum attention. We also noted that 1 p.m. Eastern Time was the most popular time of day for sent messages.

If you work in an industry typically boosted by the holidays, be ready.

Our own data found that home goods, for example, can expect a 14% boost during the holiday season across all product revenue, while typical numbers are anywhere from 1-4%. Beauty, for example, came in at 4.2%. If you work in an industry with exceptional CM/BF performance, every dollar invested preparing will generate that much more ROI.

Kickstart your holiday SMS

BFCM at PostscriptDownload Postscript and get set up with pre-loaded holiday automations for free.

Kaleigh Moore
Written by Kaleigh Moore

Kaleigh Moore is a freelance writer for ecommerce companies.