State of Subscriptions: The acquisition chapter

Unique insights. Industry trends. Churn benchmarks.

15 min. read

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What’s inside this acquisition trends chapter?

  • Unique acquisition benchmark and trends data from Recurly’s customers such as Twitch, TIME, Sprout Social, FabFitFun, Paramount+, and Sling

  • A breakdown of common acquisition strategies such as free trials, coupons and promotions, gift cards, and gift subscriptions and how they’ve evolved over time

  • A deep-dive analysis of how these acquisition numbers impact the trajectory of the subscription industry and how to respond like an expert

  • The most prominent acquisition trends of the year, along with the overall impact of Recurly on the results of our customers’ acquisition tactics specifically

From January to August 2022, consumers signed up for 22 million free trials.

Acquisition is one of the biggest goals for every business and especially subscription businesses. If your goal is to increase subscriber count, you need to know what tactics to deploy to get those numbers up. From free trials to coupons to gift cards, recurring revenue businesses have plenty of options to entice consumers and encourage them to sign up for a subscription product or service. The difficulty for most businesses is understanding which of these strategies is the most effective for their specific audiences, and having a subscription management and recurring billing platform to help you identify and understand your ideal subscribers is key.

You need data to make informed subscriber acquisition strategy decisions, and this acquisitions trends report is the answer to your problems.

With the help of Recurly, 44% of our customers’ subscribers were acquired through trials.

Leading subscription brands use acquisition benchmark data and consumer trends to understand the impact on the industry and their business. With this information, you can create a robust acquisition strategy that covers all aspects of subscription plan management, personalized offers, and more. Gathering insights from more than 2,200 recurring revenue businesses and over 50 million active monthly subscribers, Recurly has created this acquisition report detailing the year’s latest benchmark data and trends, as well as:

  • How these findings are impacting your business and the subscription industry as a whole, plus how to forecast and respond proactively to developments

  • The factors influencing changes in subscription conversions, from economic pressures to consumer preferences, and how you can use this to your advantage

  • The tools and resources you need in a subscription management and recurring billing solution to improve your acquisition efforts year after year

Everything you need to know about acquisition trends in the subscription industry (and what you’re likely missing out on) can be found in this detailed report. Download our State of Subscriptions: The acquisition chapter now to keep a good thing growing.

Want a sneak peek of this acquisition chapter? Keep reading.

Free trials

From January to August 2022, consumers took advantage of 22 million free trials from 803 participating subscription sites managed by Recurly’s merchants. Free trial starts were measured at the subscription level, where an account with two free trial subscriptions would be counted twice, for example. Out of the 803 sites, 33.2% of them offered free trials with the average trial length being 30 days. 

Overall, the average site-level conversion rate was 37.5%. At an industry level, the Digital Media and Entertainment sector had the highest conversion rate of 43.6%, while Consumer Goods & Retail had the lowest conversion rate of 31.5%.

In general, when conversion rates are broken down by duration, free trial lengths less than or equal to seven days had the highest conversion rates of 40.4%, whereas trial lengths longer than 61 days had the lowest conversion rates of 30.6%. By industry, Consumer Goods & Retail saw the biggest difference in conversion rates depending on the trial length and Software saw the least change.

87.4% of free trials required billing information, and of these trials, the average conversion rate was 39.0%. The average trial length for trials requiring billing details lasted 29 days. Of the trials that did not require billing information, the average conversion rate is 12.0%, with an average trial length of 39 days.