Nearly every website, app, program, service, and feature you find online seems to ask you to subscribe or create an account. This includes Facebook, Amazon, Pandora, Netflix, YouTube, Ebay, Etsy, Hobby Lobby, Walmart, CVS, stock sites, news sites, and shopping sites.
Go to their website and they ask you to create an account. Click on a news story and you may get a pop-up box asking you for your username and password. Click on a cool DIY project picture to get more information and you get asked to sign in. Let’s take a deeper look into why websites and online companies do this and what it means for you — and them — if you sign up or subscribe.
Why do they do this?
There are many reasons why websites, online retailers, and service companies want you to subscribe to them or create an account with their brand. The reasons aren’t just for the company’s benefit– subscribing or creating accounts does benefit us consumers as well!
Create Account vs. Subscribe
First of all, there is a difference between creating an account and subscribing to something. Creating an account is simply an identity with a website or service — like an ID card. It is the first step. It may also give you space on their site for your personal content like files or activity. Subscribing is more than an identity, it is a request for content. You want something to access something or even delivered to you, so you subscribe to a service or its author. It is the second step. You need an account to subscribe, but creating an account does not mean you are subscribing to anything.
Subscribing may also involve a monthly charge whereas an account is usually free. Creating an account may get you in the front door, but subscribing is where you get access to the content being offered– which is where the monthly fee comes in. Subscribing to paid content generally involves adding your payment and more personal information, so it is not something you can typically do by accident. Subscriptions may be yearly but they are most often month-to-month and may be cancelled at any time.
Reasons To Create An Account or Subscribe – Customer Perspective
Creating accounts isn’t just for “marketing” purposes or to collect your data. There are several legitimate reasons to create an account with a business, app, or website.
Having an account with a website or service allows your preferences and/or information to be stored for future use, which makes it easier for you in the future.
Your information is also kept private from other users or those who would use your information improperly.
You can also access this information from other devices instead of just the one you used initially by logging into your account.
Subscribing to a service allows you to get notifications when new content is released — such as new YouTube videos on a channel you subscribe to or new pictures posted to Pinterest by one of the people you follow.
Reasons To Create An Account or Subscribe – Company Perspective
While there are valid benefits for the consumer to create an account, there are certainly benefits to the business as well.
Companies can track where you go and what you click on their sites for more customized marketing opportunities.
Customers with accounts and subscriptions are more likely to stay with a website rather than leave for another.
Companies can also protect and police their own websites when their users are registered with accounts because they can allow or deny access and facilitate interactions between users.
How Do You Create an Account or Subscribe?
So how do you go about creating an account or subscribing to things? It’s usually very easy – and in some cases unavoidable – because they want you to create an account with their site/service.
Accounts are typically free.
Find the link or button to create an account and click/tap it.
Enter your email address and create a password to use when logging into that site or service.
Check your email to see if you received a confirmation email. Open the email and click the link to confirm the setup of your account.
Subscribing means clicking a link or button –usually saying “Subscribe”– on the video, post, or page. You must have an existing account with the service in order to subscribe to someone or something.
How Do I Unsubscribe or Cancel My Account?
Aha! This is sometimes the tricky part! Companies make it so easy to create accounts and subscribe to their content, you sometimes have to jump through hoops to not create an account or subscribe. Unsubscribing can be pretty straight-forward — just find the button next to the content or author that said “subscribe” and now it should now say “unsubscribe.” Click that and you will no longer be subscribed. Paid subscriptions are usually a different story.
You should be able to go into your Profile for the website or service by clicking on your picture or avatar (generic icon for you) or a down-pointing arrow next to your picture or avatar. Once in your profile, look for account settings, manage settings, subscriptions or something similar. Otherwise, you may be able to find how to unsubscribe or cancel your account by searching the FAQ, Customer Service, or Support page.
In the case of Facebook, your account only stays deactivated if you do not log in. All you have to do is log in again and your account is instantly reinstated. You must go through an extra step to completely and finally cancel your whole Facebook account — usually involving lots of scary threats about what will happen to all of the data you’ve amassed in Facebook over the years.
Write down the name of the website or service, your account name, password, date you subscribed, services subscribed, cost, and any trial period end date.
Watch your bank or credit card statement (for paid services) so you know how the company charges show on your bank account so you can track them.
Create a separate email address just for your subscriptions as you may invite spammers by using your email address to create accounts and subscriptions.
Share the location of your account records with someone else in case you need someone else to login and/or change or cancel your accounts.