Customer-centric Growth by Lincoln Murphy

How to Offer Both Freemium and Free Trials

free-trials-and-freemium-primaryI got this question from a SaaS vendor about offering both Freemium and Free Trial options and I wanted to share my response to him with you.


Our current app has two pricing tiers – free and paid. Simple pricing has its advantages!

We’re coming out with a major redesign of the product (plus new features) in early 2012 and need to decide how many pricing levels to have. So far, the discussion is free plus two pricing levels.

I have also questioned whether we should continue to have both Free and Freemium, as this combination seems to be the minority case.

And here was my response to him…

Steve… thanks for the question.

You’re right that having a Freemium version and paid version w/ Free Trials is not common, and while I have seen it more lately, only 7% of those I’ve surveyed report having both Freemium & Premium w/ Free Trials, so it is pretty rare.

That doesn’t mean it is a good or a bad thing, though… just that it is rare.

But to make it work, there are a couple things you need to make sure you do if you continue going down that path:

  1. Clearly understand the psychological differences between Freemium – free forever – and Free Trials.
  2. Have a clear path to conversion for BOTH Free Trial users and Freemium users.

Where most companies fall short with Freemium is the same place people fall short in everything else… they fail to map out how – once you have someone’s attention – you can move them through to becoming a customer.

Whether that takes 14 days in a Free Trial or 6 months as a Freemium user, you need to know what that path looks like and actively move the user closer to becoming a customer every day.

And if you have a Free Trial that ‘downgrades’ to the Freemium version if they don’t convert – which is what most vendors with this hybrid approach do – you need to have a clear idea of how to move them back to becoming a customer again, or how to get them to spread the word for you, or how to monetize / leverage / productize them in other ways.

Otherwise, why just let them hang out as a free user – after they didn’t become a customer the first time around – and waste resources?

What’s the quid pro quo for on-going free use of your product?

But you should also work diligently to get those in your Free Trial to convert rather than failing to convert and falling back to the Freemium level.

Should You Pivot to Profit and ditch Freemium?

For immediate consultation and advice on pivoting away from – or otherwise optimizing – your Freemium model, schedule a 60-minute meeting with me via Clarity. If you feel a more involved engagement is required for me to help you, email me with the specifics of your situation (as much detail as you’re comfortable giving) and we’ll setup a meeting to work through the particulars.

– Lincoln

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