Optimize freemium conversions with onboarding

Contributors

@paul-boag


Business Benefits

Activate and onboard your freemium users to increase conversion from freemium to paid.


Use emails to make a good first impression and encourage your users to make the most of your product.

Use testing to determine what type of email onboarding works for your product. For example, highlight features that freemium users find valuable in your email. You can also use email to point them to helpful documentation or guides. Demonstrate the value your product provides by introducing your users to your dashboard and suggesting helpful tips for getting started. Get them using your product as quickly as possible.

Use in-app messaging to capture your users’ attention and provide them with information about your product.

You can use in-app messaging to set up targeted tooltips, tours, and related articles at set points in the user journey. Provide users with information when they click on a paid feature. Explain the benefits of these sections, so users understand how they can level-up their usage. For example, for Mixpanel’s in-app Flows section, they use a shroud over the premium feature and explain Flows’ potential instead of just blocking it off. Users can even go on to watch a video and learn more.

Retarget freemium users that have taken certain actions that indicate they are likely to upgrade.

Analyze freemium user data to identify when and where the user is most likely to upgrade and tailor your marketing accordingly. Gather pre-qualifying information from your users to retarget users that have taken certain actions. For example, if you know that a particular cohort of users work in ecommerce but have not signed up for the paid plan yet, show them testimonials and case studies of your successful ecommerce customers.

For example, when SuperHi recognizes that a user has been looking at their pricing page, they provide the user with another offer. This retargeting strategy allows them to stay top of mind and ultimately drive users to become paid customers.

Personalize your website to bridge the gap from “Eh” to “Aha!”

Build out targeted modal messages that appear in-app based on the information you know about your users. These messages should be personalized and emphasize the point that your paid plans have even more to offer. Showcasing relevant user stories upon login or suggesting relevant integrations make the user onboarding experience smoother.

For example, with the qualifying questions Dropbox collects, they begin to show targeted popouts as your free space decreases, knowing that you are working with a professional team and needing it. These pop-outs create a sense of urgency.

Offer customer calls and assistance.

Experiment to determine what works with your target audience in your industry. For example, most users do not want a call during their sign-up process. During the warm-up process, 80% of sales calls go to voicemail when a user is onboarding. Customer calls can be beneficial is when selling to larger accounts. Give people the option to get in touch on their own terms. For example, Atlassian does this with their product discovery sessions. They offer product advice that the users can ask for using their online form.

Ask prequalifying questions, so you can then personalize the first screen your users sees.

Ask the following questions when users sign up:

  • How big is your team?
  • What industry do you work in?
  • What department do you work in?
  • What’s your main goal with our tool?

Based on the answers to those 4 questions, you can then personalize dashboards, forms, or email templates.

For example, Typeform wants its users to find a form template that suits their users’ needs so that they can find value as quickly as possible. Upon sign-up, their users are taken through a short survey that allows Typeform to show you the best forms for your needs.

Use in-product tours to show users how to use your tool and to discover the right features, at the right time.

Give users an option via the button to continue their tour or walkthrough at a later time. For example, Slack uses automated onboarding tours to get users to do one action that will get them to stick around for the long-haul: communicate. First, you communicate with the Slackbot, then users can invite their team and start creating channels, demonstrating the platforms’ value.

Find and highlight sticky features using Amplitude or Mixpanel data analytics platforms.

To determine your sticky features ask, what parts of your product make people stay?. These are features that gently lock people into your tool. For example, an integration with a data-provider, or a user inviting three people to their plan can make them stay for much longer.

For example, compare features usage with Amplitude or Mixpanel to find the sticky features that increase the retention rate. Then, highlight the benefit of these features to your free users, to encourage them to upgrade to a premium plan. For example, you can do this in-app by adding a tooltip that prompts users to engage with these features.

Build soft friction points to create positive friction.

For example, Pinterest uses positive friction by deliberately adding friction to the sign-up process by asking the user to follow a minimum of five interesting topics. Then, they nudge users to install the Pinterest browser button before taking them to their page.

Positive friction works because increased effort invested in building a product goes hand-in-hand with how likely users will be to stay. For example, Trello integrations add soft friction points to their freemium product. Users go through the process of learning how to integrate with their chosen tool, get the information flowing between the two, and then enjoy the benefits of their improved workflow.

Use limited time offers and premium feature trial periods at the right time.

Apply the BJ Fogg model to freemium conversions by evaluating ease of use, value proposition, and prompts by asking the following:

  • How are your users finding your product?
  • Are they lost, or have they successfully adopted your tool?
  • What will users gain from upgrading to a premium tier?
  • What will nudge users into making the leap to payment?

Use limited-time offers by offering a discount over a longer period of time to increase lifetime value and ensure that users stay longer. For example, Headspace offers a 40% discount on an annual subscription. The habits built over that year make it difficult for users to cancel their subscription after that time period.

For example, for active cohorts of freemium users who use free features to the maximum, offer them a limited trial period of premium features. For example, Canva does this by offering trials of their Pro plan for free.