COVID-19 has penetrated nearly every aspect of our lives and there is no precedence or template for how to respond to this ever-changing situation. Consumers are challenged with layoffs, shelter in place and quarantine orders, plus struggling with how to work from home while juggling the needs of their daily lives.

Showing empathy and providing flexible access to your products and services is critical right now. 

In this post, we’ll provide two highly effective options to help retain subscribers in these uncertain times: pause a subscription and postpone a subscription.


Pause a subscription

When consumers may be facing financial difficulties, they often look at canceling their subscriptions as a quick fix. However, many subscribers realize that they only need temporary relief and would be willing to pause a subscription instead of canceling it. Research shows that 51.7 percent of U.S. consumers — approximately 14.2 million people — who identify as likely to cancel their current subscriptions would be interested in using pause features, if available

For this reason, it’s paramount that you offer subscribers the option to pause a subscription. Giving subscribers the ability to pause their subscription is a smart way to avoid voluntary churn and reduce the marketing costs required to win them back at a later time.

By providing subscribers options and flexibility, you allow them to address their immediate needs, such as reducing costs, while protecting your bottom line and recurring revenue. In times of crisis, consumers appreciate and remember companies that are there for them and are likely to return as paying customers once things improve. In fact, our data says that one-third of paused subscriptions are reactivated. 


How pausing a subscription works 

When subscribers pause their subscription, the subscription remains active until they reach the end of their current billing period. At that point, the subscription moves into a paused state. Since most subscriptions are paid in advance, this allows subscribers to use the service that they’ve already paid for.  

Using Recurly, a subscription can be paused in the Admin Console or via the API. To learn how to pause a subscription right from your Recurly dashboard, check out this helpful tutorial. 

Now we’ll discuss postponing a subscription and the difference between pausing and postponing.


Postponing a Subscription 

We’ve seen how important giving subscribers the ability to pause a subscription is and postponing a subscription is very similar. Postponing a subscription provides your subscribers the flexibility to take a break and provides your business with the ability to prevent churn. The biggest difference between pausing and postponing a subscription is that postponing a subscription enables subscribers to move their subscription’s next bill date forward or backward any length of time while still maintaining access to your services.

For example, during the crisis, some utility companies are postponing billing dates for their customers to ensure their power stays on while enabling them to navigate any financial straits.


How postponing a subscription works 

By default, your subscribers are billed on the anniversary date of their subscription signup. If this date needs to change for any reason, a subscription can be postponed. This is the same thing as changing the subscription's next bill date. A postponed subscription will receive no further subscription invoices until the postpone date occurs unless you make an immediate subscription change.

When a subscription is postponed, the bill date will be permanently modified for all future subscription bill dates. 

Using Recurly, you can postpone a subscription via the Admin Console or the API. To learn how to postpone a subscription right from your Recurly dashboard, check out this helpful tutorial.  Via the API, you would use the Postpone Subscription call. Learn more


Wrap up 

By offering your subscribers the ability to pause or postpone their subscriptions you can help them navigate through these uncertain and challenging times which is the hallmark of a customer-centric business. Please reach out if you have questions or need any help.