Freemium and Frictionless

Challenge:  While companies are chasing freemium and frictionless sales motions, they are missing the main point.

It’s clear that the freemium sales model, where prospects can download products for free, has taken off.  Successful companies like Dropbox are clear winners, but will this work for enterprise B2B marketers?  Well Box, Zendesk, Atlassian, Splunk and others prove that it certainly can.  It’s obviously a marketing model that works.  Prospects try a free version and upgrade to a more robust, paid version easily and seamlessly. This breathes life into ‘see-try-buy’ or frictionless sales models.  So is that all we need?  Freemium sales model is our salvation?

The challenge is that you can’t automate or accelerate a bad experience.  What is important to deliver is a positive and engaging customer experience, and it must be enticing very quickly.  Your prospect must be able to easily understand how to use your product and find it engaging right away.  If they need training or other have requirements to meet, you may be setting yourself up for disaster.  Your prospects will freely download your application only to be confused and wander off – not upgrading to the paid version.  In this outcome, you have just proven why yours is not the right solution.  Even if you convert a small portion of users, you’re building up a base of prospects who now ‘know’ that your solution is not the right one.

So you need to consider a few things as you pursue a freemium strategy.  First, do you have a process where your prospects will be highly successful in their free trial of your product?  If the product is not immediately intuitive and usable, can you provide supporting materials to make their usage successful?  Then, do you have a process either inside the product or as a separate communication path to help them explore your product and ensure a successful outcome?  Finally, what is your process to monitor usage and outcomes from your trial/free users?  How will you know if the process is working?  To quote Stephen Covey, “Start with the end in mind,” or in this case, start with a plan to measure success.  This may be tracking trial usage, getting usage surveys, measuring conversion rates and more.

Strangely enough, your path down a freemium model may start with improving or adding components to the product itself.  A more fool-proof usage process will drive greater success.   Constant learning and adjustment will yield great results and hopefully drive that hockey-stick growth curve we all seek.

Lesson: Charity starts at home.  Give a hard look at your product before chasing a freemium model.


Author: Larry Stein at TechMarketingStrategies

For the last 20 years, I have led demand generation teams supporting high growth technology companies. Now working as an independent consultant, my responsibility is to apply best practices in the creation of these programs. My goal is to enable marketing teams to become self sufficient with a data driven culture of KPI's, test and measurement in service of achieving company revenue targets. My approach is to work with senior management identifying objectives and wildly important goals. With these in mind, we work together to build programs, processes and systems that will reach these goals along with the measurement KPI's to evaluate progress. Along the way we will enable the team to manage and maintain these systems so achieving these goals becomes a natural cadence of the marketing organization.

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