Hello, my dear internet service for which I am about to cancel my subscription.

You want me to stay? Then don’t do THIS!

Hello, my dear internet service for which I am about to cancel my subscription.

What I deeply despise on some “I am signing out of a service”-procedures — Facebook, Amazon, LinkedIn, you name it — is the unnecessary behavior to make the soon-to-be ex-subscribers additionally feel guilty.

“You really want to cancel the subscription and lose all your friends?”

“Sign-out and you lose access to all your benefits.”

“Cancelling your subscription probably leads to bad breath, itching rashes, and being kicked out of human society ONCE AND FOR ALL.”

Do you still want to go?



Wouldn't you much rather stay with us? 🥺

Nope, I’m out. But please allow me one more question:

What the fuck?

Oh wait, there is this guy from the marketing. What is he saying? It doesn’t matter? The numbers prove him right and most users cancel the cancellation process because of this fear-driven call to action?

Let me explain two things:

  1. The user only motivated by fear will often stay in your club. But he's actually a sad, fearful user, and who wants sad, fearful users anyways? What? A lot of the modern internet services, if not most? Damn!
  2. If the user figures out your marketing strategy and realizes this form of subtle fear-mongering — and I bet a lot of your customers do — then you are not going to see them ever again. You're blowing your chance.
  3. Users who have understood this calculated principle, unsubscribe, and then walk off are sometimes the “angry internet guy” type of users. They are angry. They are on the internet. And they write a lot. You see, I’m writing this piece now. And I’m going to spread the “love”. Negative feedback multiplies easily a lot.
  4. Wouldn't it be much wiser and more forward-looking to meet the people who want to leave your platform at eye level instead? Honestly, sincerely and empathically?

OK, that’s four things, I’m sorry. Four things worth considering.

I unsubscribed from LinkedIn’s Premium Gold Career Master of the Universe–thingy earlier, and I had even considered staying a little longer. But after being showered in their fear appeals, the matter was clear to me. When LinkedIn wanted to know the reason for my decision, I wrote them that I might have stayed if they hadn't given me such a bummer at the first thought of quitting the service.

The principle of fear can also turn in exactly the other direction. But maybe that only applies to this obscure, introverted guy here at the keyboard, who knows.

Hello, fear, my old friend.

Sure, fear is one heck of an old common denominator of being human. It worked pretty well for a long period of time in our history but, oh boy, persuading people with fear to overturn their decision, after all, is so 40,000 BC. Why not convey good, honest feelings? Fear as a means of motivation is always and universally the most clumsy, short-sighted, and helpless solution.

To the guys who are creating these fear-pushing unsubscribe routines: People are smarter than you think. And they are more soulful than you think. Just be honest and empathic. No one will blame you.

“Sad to see you go. What’s the problem? Can we help? It’s ok. Farewell. If you need us, you can check in anytime again. Much love, yada-yada-yada.” Something like this. Happy appeals for happy ex-users. No one actually really wants to get in a bad mood.

You can give your users at least a bit of trust. And if your financial situation is really that bad and if you need every single subscriber to avoid going broke, then probably the internet business, in general, is not the right distribution market for you.

It is unnecessary and counterproductive to give users, that are thinking about leaving, an awful conscience. They already have a reason why they are dissatisfied with something. Why hit them again?

So, do you really want to persuade me to not cancel my subscription? Keep your head down, accept the boat sailing away, and just be honest. Don’t do it with fear. Just, don’t do it. Leave the door ajar.

Otherwise, I will probably never come back.