College students enjoying streaming media subscription. Student seed programs are a great strategy for subscription-based companies to acquire younger customers because college students have a customer lifecycle preference of 10 years.

Gated Offers Help Seed the Next Generation of Subscribers

Posted on Aug 28, 2018 · 4 min read

Younger subscribers are the holy grail. Every subscription-based company wants them, and who wouldn’t? Targeting that demographic brings you your next generation of customers.

Plus, the opportunity is big. Twenty-six million students in the U.S. are either enrolled in or bound for college, and they have $560 billion in spending power.

Powerhouse Brands Are Leading the Charge

When it comes to enticing younger subscribers, leading companies are setting a high bar with a host of eye-catching gated student offers:

  • Spotify offers students 50% off their premium service.
  • CBS All Access is giving students 25% off a limited commercials monthly subscription.
  • Comcast’s student deal is for 25% off Xfinity TV bundled with an Internet package.
  • Student packages for NFL Sunday Ticket start at just $24.99 for four months.
  • And college students can take advantage of academic rates to subscribe to the New York Times for $1 per week, and the Washington Post for $5 every 4 weeks.

The one thing these marquee brands all have in common is a student seed program– a simple yet powerful marketing strategy that helps acquire long-term customers in three easy steps:

  1. Give students the opportunity to subscribe at a deep discount.
  2. Nurture them during their financially lean years by maintaining the discount.
  3. Convert them to full price when they graduate.
91% of students would be more likely to shop with a brand that provides a gated student discount.

Why Is a Student Seed Program So Effective?

Seeding the market with a student offer is becoming a go-to strategy for digital marketers – as it should be, thanks to its proven success across a range of subscription businesses.

Student seed programs accelerate the acquisition process. When students are given access to a gated, exclusive offer, 54 percent say they feel excited and 91 percent would be more likely to shop with a brand.

They leverage students’ brand loyalty. Establishing a positive relationship with students when their brand affiliations are still forming makes them stay for the long haul. Deloitte found that college students have a 10-year customer lifecycle preference, and 60 percent of millennial consumers said they are “often” or “always” loyal to brands that they currently purchase.

Seed marketing creates brand enthusiasm that’s contagious. College students are highly social; when they find a service they love at a great price, they’re keen to spread the word. Eighty-three percent of shoppers 18-34 years old say they would share a gated student discount with friends and family.

Student conversion rates are high. Our work with major brands has shown that students regularly convert from student discount to full price at rates of 90 percent or above. One leading music subscription service consistently converts student subscribers at a rate of 98 percent.

College students using a gated student offer to sign up for a box subscription.

Student Verification Ensures Your Program’s Success

A successful seed program relies on your ability to seamlessly verify a student’s eligibility without interrupting the sign-up process. This is the key to success for brands like CBS All Access and Comcast, who use SheerID’s Digital Verification Platform to attract and retain the loyal and profitable group of student customers. Today, the platform can verify more than 180 million students at colleges and universities in over 100 countries around the world.

Digital verification is a seamless part of the in-brand purchase process and requires only a few pieces of information (e.g. name and college email) from students, who can then immediately redeem the offer. It’s a frictionless sign-up process that makes it easy for students to convert.

It also prevents discount abuse, which for some companies can be as high as 35 percent. And if you only require a .edu address for a student to redeem an offer, you risk losing money to graduates who keep their .edu addresses long after they’ve graduated, and you miss out on the 34 percent of students who simply don’t have a .edu address

By using authoritative data sources backed up with document review, digital verification ensures 100% coverage. It’s a powerful tool to fight fraud, including protecting student offers that are shared with non-students. It also allows you to regularly reverify students’ eligibility for your offer, and to offer students interim discounts or encourage them to convert to full price when they graduate.

A college student enjoying a streaming media subscription she purchased using a gated student discount.

Ready to acquire young subscribers who stay for the long haul?

Contact us to learn how you can implement a student seed program that helps you acquire and retain high-value customers.

For more information on how your subscription business can take advantage of gated offers, read our previous blogs:

How Comcast Is Beating the Subscriber Game

How CBS All Access is Fighting Churn

Tony Coray by Tony Coray