How we used FOMO to increase our retention rate by 31%
5 learnings from using FOMO to save users from cancelling their subscriptions
Have you ever worried that you were going to miss out on something great and changed your mind to avoid that dreadful feeling of regret? Like that night out with friends that you decided not to join, but then, driven by a nagging feeling that you were going to miss out on a good time, you eventually did?
If this sounds familiar, FOMO made you do it. FOMO stands for Fear Of Missing Out and it is that feeling that you experience when you are letting an amazing opportunity slip, often inspiring you to take action.
It is exactly this change of heart that can help to retain users. By introducing a “FOMO page” into the Financial Times’ online cancellation journey, reminding readers of the value of their subscription, we encourage users to rethink their decision to cancel and increased our save rate by 31%.
Here are 5 learnings to take away from using FOMO to save users.
- Understand the problem you want to fix
To save users from cancelling their subscription you have to understand why they decide to churn. When you understand why, you can start exploring and testing solutions to address the problems you unearthed.
Looking at why users cancel their FT subscription, we found that the main reason was costs. With users who said they found the subscription too expensive we identified two underlying problems: Users were either unable to afford the costs because their financial situation had changed e.g. job loss, retirement etc, or they were unable to justify the costs of a subscription.
Users who cancel because they cannot afford a subscription might reconsider their cancellation decision if the price or commitment threshold is lowered i.e. you can try and offer them a discount or flexible subscription terms. Users who were unable to justify costs, however, might happily pay the price you are asking for but are unsure about the value they are getting and whether they use their subscription enough. A well designed FOMO page can address these concerns and encourage users to keep their subscriptions.
2. Don’t make readers feel guilty
We tested different concepts of our FOMO page and found that copy versions that made participants feel “bad” or “guilty” provoked negative responses especially if they truly couldn’t afford a subscription. Users also didn’t appreciate the implication of the FT “relying” on their users. They preferred to see a strong, independent voice they can trust to deliver unbiased news at all times.
So when we emphasised the value the FT provided instead, we found that users were more likely to evaluate and reconsider their decision to cancel. Unsurprisingly, users also said they were more likely to consider to re-subscribe in the future when the cancellation experience left them feeling positive.
3. Leverage personalisation responsibly
Personalised data insights come with great power but also great responsibility. By reminding users of how they have used their subscription in the past, you get a chance to highlight features and benefits in a way that is highly relevant to them, creating a more meaningful experience.
We found that users recognised and welcomed personalised content. Data insights that were easy to understand and shareable resonated the most with them, so try not to overcomplicate things. If it needs explaining, it will likely cause confusion and might confirm their motivation to cancel.
Do also keep an eye on edge cases and think about how data needs to be presented to different cohorts ie. how should you share an insight with highly engaged users vs. users who have been disengaged? For example, if you want to convince a user to keep their subscription by highlighting how many times they’ve done something in the past (eg. read an article, listened to a podcast, booked an appointment etc), you need to think about how this is presented to users who haven’t performed this action recently or at all. Explore how you can use this fact to promote content or features that would help them to make the most of their subscription. After all, you don’t want to give them another reason to cancel.
4. Surprise and delight users
While hard facts are great to help users evaluate their subscription, customer perceived value can also be increased through emotional benefits. We identified common themes that surprise and delight users:
- Sense of connection. Think about how you can create a sense of connection or community that users wouldn’t want to miss out on. What do they have in common with other subscribers? Why does it make them special?
- Celebrate achievements. Find a way to celebrate users’ achievements, either on an individual or community level. What have they done well or contributed to since they joined?
- Spark curiosity. Get users excited about your product. Is there something that they have missed (eg. saved content or a feature) or are you planning to launch something that they would love (eg new feature or content)?
- Have fun. Don’t underestimate the power of a smile! Try to make users laugh and leave them feeling great about your brand; even if you don’t manage to keep them, positive memories can encourage re-subscription in the future.
5. Make sure users know your worth
Last but not least, make sure your users know what you can do for them and why you do it better than anyone else out there. What differentiates you from your competitors or other solutions they might seek? Is it your content, core values, convenience or costs? Say it in your own words or find testimonials eg. other subscribers or authoritative figures who can help users feel confident about keeping their subscription.
Introducing a FOMO page to our cancellation journey was a great success from a business and user point of view. We increased our retention rate by 31% and the majority of users appreciated the value from this.
Make sure you identify and address users’ reasons to churn; help them understand what your subscription can do for them and why they need it. No guilt tripping though, try to surprise and delight them instead. Consider this as a trust building exercise and an investment in the future because even if you don’t manage to retain them, users are more likely to re-subscribe when the cancellation experience leaves them feeling positive.