Netflix: A single email made me cancel my subscription

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Or: What we can learn from Netflix even in this case. (Published April 20, 2022. English version on LinkedIn)

(True story) April 20, 2022, 6:30 a.m.

"Alexa, my daily recap."

"Netflix announces that they have lost 200,000 subscribers. The stock subsequently lost 26% of its value ..."

Was there a happy undertone? All kidding aside - but the news put a sleepy smile on my face. Not because I wanted Netflix to fail, but because I'd had this blog in the drawer for a while and wondered if it was relevant or if I was just an oversensitive marketer. Well, here's my story:

On January 19, 2022, I received an email from Netflix stating. Price increases were announced in Switzerland. I read the message, texted my husband, got his OK and announced our subscription. What had happened? Why do I think this email was a customer retention disaster?

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The headline!

"We are updating our prices - and this is why". Reminds me of a Clickbait: "This person is super-rich - and this is how they did it." While I appreciated the honesty, a negative feeling was already coming from this headline. Who wants to be informed that something is getting more expensive? And the wording! Update. Do they expect me to automatically run the price increase in the background, like Windows updates? Or click "OK" to accept new T&Cs without reading the details? Well, I read on, because I was curious about the promised reasons.

What we can learn from Netflix in marketing automation in this case.
What we can learn from Netflix in this case.

What do I get out of it?

Now this: "Your membership becomes more valuable - with stories that cheer you up, move you, or simply make your day a little bit better." That was it, the whole rationale. Stop. At the bottom of the message, I found images of movies and series ... the momentarily hot ones that, except for one, I had no interest in. However, I had already seen that one movie. Shouldn't Netflix know that? Netflix, which especially with Personalization advertises? That promises us "your recommendations to refine, so you can watch more series and movies you love?" (see this Netflix blog).

Please - Netflix, you have my unconditional permission to email me to let me know that you will be adding this fantastic science fiction movie or this wonderful travelogue about my dream destination. Just for me. I expect nothing less from you - and yes, I am a big fan of the GDPR.

My neighbor gets a better price!

The Swiss love to look across borders to understand if there is a cheaper offer abroad. Although it's not possible in this case, it's still worth comparing. So I googled and found out that Price increases for Netflix worldwide due to previous Adjustments were under discussion in the USA and Canada. I had overlooked the fact that Netflix had already announced them for Switzerland a few weeks ago. My mistake. On the other hand, a German magazine article published just the same day quoted Netflix this way: "Price increases are country-specific."

The magazine didn't expect any increase in other countries for the time being (which later turned out to be a wrong assumption, but hey...). Netflix prices in Switzerland were already good 25% higher than in Germany ... Why should we pay even more? Somehow I felt a bit ripped off ...

The wrong message at the wrong time?

Even Netflix can't predict what the virus will do or what a government will decide. But as a company that has done a great job of entertaining people - myself included - during the crisis, perhaps they should have paid more attention to what exactly is going on in the countries where they do business, where they communicate with customers.

Also on January 19, the Swiss Federal Council announced - as expected - that it would extend the COVID measures for the moment, but that it would review this again on February 2 and probably lift some. Hooray! Light at the end of the tunnel! Life was starting to "get back to normal"! Like many fellow humans, we made plans to go out with friends, go to the gym more often, ... well, maybe not ... definitely do anything other than watch TV at night. (This article appeared one day after my blog). So: Why not save a little every month at the expense of Netflix and enjoy a delicious appetizer in one of Switzerland's excellent restaurants in return?

Call-To-Action: Cancel, please!

I read on. "Questions? For more information, visit our Help Center or contact us. Also, you can manage your membership at any time by visiting your account." I appreciate that they mentioned this option - unlike other media where it takes half an hour to figure out how to cancel your subscription. The Simple click attracted me magically. Did they want me to quit? And then this next sentence! "Thank you so much for choosing Netflix." Sounded like goodbye. Because at this point, I had already decided to leave.

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If Netflix used the same approach in other countries and other customers shared only a fraction of my thoughts, then it's no wonder Netflix lost so many of us. Still: I still can't believe this happened in the age of persona-specific messaging in digital marketing. Let's learn from this and do much better! Especially when it comes to explaining price increases and the value of our services.


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