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6 Comments

Advice for weaning early freebie beta users

My SaaS left public beta 2 years ago. Before leaving beta (and honestly, before I had any semblance of product/market fit or a business plan), all access was free.

In the time since, many of these early beta users have upgraded to a paid account, but around 100 have not (est 30k ARR unrealized). To encourage them to upgrade, I have:

  • Shown periodic "select a plan" reminders in the dashboard.
  • Launched new features which trigger a "you need to upgrade" modal when accessed by these users.
  • Sent normal feature launch emails which lead to one above.

I'm now at the point where enough is enough, it's not worth maintaining special cases in the code for these users. I'm sure many of them will never become paying customers and that's fine.

I'm seeking advice on tactics for executing an "EOL" to these plans. Here's my planned approach:

  1. Immediately: Show the EOL date in the dashboard and link to a FAQ with instructions on how to upgrade or cancel (done).
  2. T-minus 45 days or so: email all users an "Action required" link to upgrade instructions & FAQ.
  3. T-minus 7 days: send reminder email.
  4. T-minus 1 day: send final email.

Would you do anything differently? Would you try tacking on any incentives or discounts here? Are there unintended consequences you would worry about (e.g. wean the freeloaders, but get a bunch of negative reviews)? Thanks!

  1. 2

    From the perspective of a user, I think this would be fair. 45 days with a few reminders seems like a good amount of time. The only thing you don't mention here that would concern me is if I can take my data. Depending on your product and how critical the data is, it might be fair to give them no option to export data but if it is important data that they have with your service, it might be nice to let them export it.

    1. 2

      Great observation. That's something I'll definitely prepare for - I could imagine it being an issue for a few accounts. I think I will probably leave it to "if requested" vs offered proactively.

      The product is a sort of niche publishing platform. I designed a "dormant" state into the product as part of onboarding: You can create and edit, etc, but until you select a plan, nothing is published. So I'm thinking I'll place EOL'd users in this dormant state too, so they can review/manually take out their data that way, if desired.

      Thanks for the feedback!

  2. 1

    T-30 day update (keeping notes here since someone suggested it): I have activated the "EOL campaign", reaching out to all customers who have not yet selected a plan.

    So far the response rate is poor: Of 100 accounts contacted, only 1 has signed up after 24 hours. However this behavior is probably consistent with these customers either being extreme value shoppers ("if I don't need to sign up until May 30, why pay sooner?"), or, customers who are never going to pay. We'll know in a month!

    One thing that has not happened: I've not received any angry/confused/deal-hunting emails in response. This is good. Both outreach email and linked FAQ were dry & to the point, not offering a lot of room to negotiate. I basically either want these customers off the books, or on them like any other customer, so I'm glad (so far) it hasn't turned into a customer support issue.

    Net-net, I think these folks understand the gravy train is coming to end.

  3. 1

    Interesting question. The approach sounds solid. It would be interesting to see how the numbers turned out and if the "free-users don't convert well"-statement holds up. Please keep us updated here

    1. 2

      No problem! I’d be happy to keep this thread updated.

      I too am interested to see what the CVR is.. for many of these customers, usage is quite high, and the product is a bit sticky (no easy direct migration to an alternative.) So I imagine many of them haven’t converted since they haven’t had to. We will see!

      1. 1

        Yeah, could be that they just kept going because it was possible.

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