Picture of Frederrick Hamann
Frederrick Hamann

5 ways subscriptions will try to make you stay

Have you ever tried cancelling a subscription? Then you’ve probably met some of the strategies that the companies behind the subscriptions are using to keep you as a customer.

40 percent of all subscriptions are cancelled again after a while according to the consulting agency McKinsey & Company. More than 33% cancel it less than three months after signing up and over 50% cancel within six months.

This is bad news for the companies depending on the booming subscription economy as keeping you as a customer is essential to lowering their churn and making you a profitable customer. That’s why we see more and more creative ways to keep you when you are about to cancel your subscription. Here are some of the most common ways:

Giving you a discount

Once you’ve pressed the cancel subscription button you suddenly get a new deal from the company. A big discount if you stay! This is of course tempting, so the psychology behind it will make you reconsider your cancellation. You might even take out your calculator to see if this is a good deal or not. We’ve even seen some subscriptions giving an even bigger discount if you say no to the first discounted proposal.

Showing you what you’ll lose

“If you go, you will lose access to our archive of over 100.000 articles,” or “Stop: If you leave us you will miss out on the upcoming season of…” are just some of the ways the subscription companies will try to keep you. The Fear Of Missing Out or FOMO lives in all of us, so it’s a common tactic used within the subscription economy.

Playing on nostalgia

Several subscriptions will tell you how long you’ve been a member right before you cancel. You might think that this doesn’t do anything, but according to for instance the ad agency Ogilvy’s behavioural science unit this is no coincidence. As an example their Vice Chairman in the UK points to the ‘Member since’ text on the American Express card. This makes you feel like you’ve been a part of something for a while – and don’t want to leave.

Letting you press pause

A lot of subscriptions will let you put your subscription on pause for a set number of months. This can be good for you if the subscription for instance is a seasonal product, which you primarily use during summer, winter or something similar. But basically the subscription in this case is hoping that you will reconsider your cancellation thoughts.

Asking questions with solutions

Subscriptions work with so called offboarding or cancel flow experiences. An important part of it can be to know why you’ve chosen to cancel your subscription. This is done with a multiple answer questionnaire where you can say, that you cancel because of the price, because you’re not using the service enough and so forth. Some subscriptions go a step further. Once you’ve said that you’re cancelling because you’re not using the service enough they show you a new feature or ask if you tried so and so in the product. This can make you reconsider if you want to cancel.

Canceling a subscription should be as easy as signing up for a new service. The companies behind the subscriptions should do what is appropriate to make you stay, but in the end the choice should be yours. Remember that. So be aware of the often psychological tactics being used.

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