Nothing lasts forever. Unfortunately, there will come a day when even the most loyal of customers cancels their subscription to your service. There are many reasons why this might happen, but what’s most urgent at this point is how you handle the situation with a cancellation email.
On the other hand, in a business setting, a situation might arise where you need to cancel an event. Perhaps it’s a webinar; maybe it’s a business fair. Whatever it is, if it needs to be canceled, an email will be required to be official.
Sending a cancellation email to an ex-customer or would-be event attendee doesn’t have to be scary. Think of it like ripping off a bandaid. Do it quickly, cleanly, and try not to burn any bridges. Here’s everything you need to know about cancellation emails in business.
How do you gracefully cancel an event?
When you cancel an event, there are a lot of factors at play. Whether it’s a sore subject or not, the would-be attendees to the said event should be informed and updated on the situation.
Simply sending an email as a notice that the event has been canceled isn’t enough, nor is it a good look for your business. You have to approach the situation with grace. In terms of emails, that means apologizing, explaining the situation (in not so many words), and offering something to make the situation a little less dire.
In light of recent events, canceling events has become common practice, and there are plenty of examples out there. Take Facebook F8 in 2020, for example. Due to COVID, they had to cancel their famous in-person event. This is the cancellation message they put out there.
As you can see, they fill the message with grace and sincerity, letting the attendees know that they most certainly do not want to cancel this event. The message is filled with details about the situation and even gives the attendees a way to sign up for the virtual event in the near future.
For a lot of people, this was a challenging and scary time. Facebook took the bad of the situation and turned it into good for many people by bringing a solution to the table.
Tip: You can send one-off emails with the Encharge broadcast feature.
How do you write a cancellation email?
What about when a customer cancels their subscription? What do you say to them? The truth is that a lot of different companies handle this in different ways. Depending on the language and tone that you use for your brand, your cancellation email might look slightly different from everyone else’s.
That being said, there are a few tips that you can follow to make sure your cancellation email gets the job done. Here are those tips in no specific order:
1. Make them an offer
It is entirely possible that the customer is not happy with the price they’re paying for your subscription. It could just come down to budget cuts. It might not be that they want to cancel because they dislike your service, but simply that they cannot afford it anymore. For that reason, it’s a good idea to offer them a discount. Take a look at this example from Calm.
As you can see, there are no gimmicks here — a simple offer with a nice big CTA. If the customer was unsure about the price, this is a good solution to get them rehooked.
2. Suggest an alternate subscription
Maybe the subscription tier is why they’re canceling. Maybe they’re paying too much for features or services that they don’t need. Or, they could be looking for something more. Instead of canceling their subscription entirely, maybe they just need a downgrade or upgrade. Take a look at how Grammarly handles this situation.
Instead of sending the customer on their way, Grammarly takes this opportunity to upsell. Of course, it’s not a great idea to simply ask them to start paying more. To combat this, Grammarly highlights a hassle-free money-back guarantee and turns a would-be gloomy situation into one where everybody wins.
3. Offer a downgrade to a free version
A free user is better than no user at all. Although they aren’t paying, a free user has the potential to convert, or in this case, re-convert. They still offer insight into what could be improved about your tool and give you the gratification of knowing that your tool is indeed worth using. Here’s how Avocode does it.
All-in-all, there’s nothing fancy here. Avocode is confident in its ability to be useful, and they prove it by offering a free trial to any canceling customer. They know that if the customer stays, they can continue to advertise through a drip campaign and increase that user’s chances of re-converting over the next 30 days.
4. Express sorrow in their cancellation
Just because a customer wants to cancel doesn’t mean that they have not or can not bring value to your brand. Although you may have many customers, and one cancellation is not going to break the bank, it is still a big deal. Let them know that they will be missed. Look at how Spotify does it.
What’s unique about Spotify in this instance is that it has unlimited potential for re-conversion. People come and go, but music and the need to listen to some tunes will always be there. Although the customer might want to cancel now, that’s not to say that they won’t come back in the future for one reason or another.
Because of this, and because Spotify does not want to burn any bridges, they offer a sincere message that expresses the fact that the customer will be missed. At the end of the cancellation email, they add a CTA if they change their minds and a little message that says, “We hope to welcome you back soon!” This lets the customer know that even upon their return, they will be welcomed.
5. Keep it short and sweet
As much as you’d probably like to sit and explain every little reason why the canceling customer needs your subscription, it’s best to keep it short and sweet. At this point, the customer is fairly sure of their decision, and they don’t need a lecture.
The best advice would be to keep the message short and to the point. Let them know that they have successfully canceled, that they will be missed, and that they will be welcomed with open arms if they ever want to return — something like this example from Pandora.
There are no long paragraphs here. Just a simple explanation and a short message. There’s no need to get emotional. Remember, rip it off like a bandaid, but be graceful about it.
Cancellation email subject lines
One thing that many people struggle with is coming up with a good subject line. It has to be simple enough to get the message across but not so simple that it gets glanced over. There are many iterations of cancellation email subject lines that you can use, but here’s a shortlist for your convenience.
- We’re sorry to see you leave!
- We’ll miss you!
- Before you go…
- Your subscription has expired
[insert brand name]subscription has expired
- Your free
[insert brand name]Account Cancellation
- Premium account cancellation from
[insert brand name]
- Please confirm your request for cancellation
- Following up with your cancellation
[insert brand name]account will be deactivated in 30 days
Odds are that if you’ve canceled something recently, you’ve seen some sort of variation of these examples. That’s because they work, and there’s no need to fix what isn’t broken. On top of that, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
Depending on the situation, there are different needs for each of these cancellation email subject line examples above. Use them as you see fit, and feel free to copy and paste.
Cancellation email examples
We’ve gone over a few niche examples of cancellation emails above, but now it’s time to dive into a few more. Again, most of these emails will follow the same formula, but I encourage you to pay attention to each example’s language and try to correlate it to the brand itself.
LinkedIn cancellation email
LinkedIn is well known as a platform that offers business professionals and brands alike a way to connect with others. What makes LinkedIn unique over a platform like Facebook, for example, is that you can pay for premium access to a lot of helpful features. For some, this is a wonderful tool that offers insight, but it’s not always practical, hence the need for a cancellation email like this.
As you can see, LinkedIn hits pretty much all the points we made before. It’s short and simple, hits them with the sincere headline/subject line, and gives them the option to revert the cancellation with a CTA.
Squarespace cancellation email
It’s estimated that 2.7% of all websites are created using Squarespace. 2.7% isn’t a massive number in any standard setting, but when we’re talking about the seemingly unlimited number of websites out there, that’s a number to be proud of.
Squarespace goes through a lot of cancellation emails daily. Sometimes people cancel their subscriptions, or sometimes, they cancel their G Suite account tied to said account. Either way, Squarespace is ready with a cancellation email like this.
As you can see again, a lot of those points are hit. It’s short and to the point, and it gives the user all the information they need. What makes this particular example neat is that they list the next steps for the account. For someone that may not be so tech-savvy, this is a huge bonus that definitely relieves some of the stress.
Hulu cancellation email
Hulu is one of the world’s leading subscription-based streaming services. It is estimated that they have over 43 million users, which means that they run through cancellation requests, unlike most other companies out there. Sometimes, users just can’t find anything they want to watch and can’t justify keeping a paid subscription. Here’s how Hulu handles it.
This email serves as a confirmation that the Hulu account is indeed canceled, but it also serves as a final touchpoint between Hulu and the user. As you can see, they are very genuine about their users and wish them well in their departure. They thank the user and even state that they hope this isn’t the end of their business relationship. It’s a simple way to let the user know that they will be missed.
Newsletter cancellation email
For a lot of businesses, cancellation emails don’t always mean a user isn’t paying you anymore. Sometimes it means they’ve unsubscribed from your newsletter. This can happen for a lot of reasons, but it’s always a good idea to send a confirmation email once the action is taken.
This example from PsyBlog showcases how to inform users of their newsletter subscription cancellation. What’s important for many people who cancel is that they are assured that no more emails from you will arrive in their inbox. As much as that might sting to hear, you should let them know by saying something like they have above, “We have removed your email from our list.”
That being said, sometimes these things happen by mistake, which is another good reason to have these automated emails ready to fire when a user makes the action to unsubscribe. They ask if it was a mistake, offer some explanations as to why this could have happened, and give them a quick way to subscribe again.
Slack downgrade email
We mentioned a few scenarios above when a “cancellation style” email is needed. We also mentioned that sometimes a user might just need a downgrade or upgrade to meet their needs. For this situation, you should try your best to inform the user of the new parameters of their account. Take a look at this example from Slack.
A few things to note here. Yes, this email is considerably long. For a tool like Slack, an email like this is needed. It details all the features of their free version, which the user has just been downgraded to. It also details all the features that they’ll be missing out on.
For a lot of people, they may not understand the impact that a downgrade could make on their team. Slack is smart by comparing the two plans in a single email like this, as it really puts the usefulness of their tool into perspective.
HelpScout account cancellation email
Unfortunately, sometimes accounts will need to be deactivated due to inactivity or nonpayment. There’s really not much you can do here other than rip that bandaid off. HelpScout handles this situation gracefully in this email.
Emails like this are still necessary because users may not be aware of the situation. If the payment isn’t going through, it could mean that their card has been declined or their account information has changed. In either case, a short email like this can solve the problem.
Instead of canceling the account right away, give them a series of emails that lets them know beforehand that the payment period is coming to an end and that you’ve tried their payment method several times. Give them a way to check their information, let them know how long they have to solve the issue, and of course, offer all the help you can.
That being said, it might just end up being canceled in the end. It’s okay, but try your best to prevent this from happening well in advance.
How to send an automated cancellation email
Encharge supports a number of automated triggers that work directly with your billing provider:
As well as triggers for Pabbly, Chargify, and more.
To send an automated cancellation email all you need to do is connect your billing provider (like Stripe) to Encharge and build a flow using the Canceled Subscription trigger step like this:
Conclusions and takeaway
No business wants to see a cancellation request pop up in their CRM. As you’ve seen above, there are many reasons this could happen, and none of them is good news for the company. But, they can and most certainly will happen.
The best advice anyone can give you in this situation is to handle it with grace. Follow all the points we’ve listed here, and take these examples as inspiration. Make sure you send out these cancellation emails in plenty of time. If there is an issue or mistake, you want to give them plenty of time to respond and resolve said issues.
For all your automated cancellation email needs, look no further than Encharge. Encharge offers a simple solution that allows you to send emails based on behaviors and actions. This means that as soon as the user sends that cancellation request or as soon as the missed payment threshold is passed, you can send an automated email to get the conversation started.