Should Subscription Sites Let Subscribers Opt-Out of Auto-Renew?

When it comes to best practices, auto-renew has long been the favored child for increasing retention rates.However, print subscription marketers often tell me they feel uneasy about this marketing tactic since it’s foster parent “subscribe ’til forbid” was a long-established worst practice in the magazine world.That may be why I was recently intrigued by a subscription site that defaulted to auto-renew but let subscribers opt-out of it:

Opt out auto renew

So, is this a good idea?The answer is: It depends on your publication. And you should allow testing to help you arrive at your answer.Definitely, having subscribers on auto-renew for digital subscriptions is the best practice. Marketers with print legacies should calm their fears since consumers are well-acquainted with auto-renew because of SaaS subscriptions and telecommunications providers.But, as Eagle Publishing found out, auto-renew at birth helped the retention rate of only three of its 11 financial newsletters. The other newsletters actually saw a drop-off in conversion rates.Eagle Publishing then chose to offer auto-renew on some publications but not others. When I presented this example at the Financial Publishers Roundtable in Austin last October, another publisher said that their company sees auto-renew as a condition of doing business with them and is willing to lose a few subscribers over it.If you’re concerned that auto-renew will drop your conversion or retention rate, then offering the opt-out above makes a lot of sense.But don’t employ it blindly. Start with testing auto-renew at birth. If a drop-off ensues, test offering the opt-out.And then let us know how it goes!

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