How Companies Can Get the Most Out of a Freemium Business Model

by Marie Rodriguez

It’s difficult to resist the charm of loose. One key cause user adoption of the Internet has soared globally is the upward thrust of the “freemium” commercial enterprise model — wherein users get to apply primary products or services without cost, but have to pay for a top rate model with additional features.


When executed right, the freemium commercial enterprise version can help force large traffic to groups’ websites, provide a “try before you purchase” enjoy that overcomes user resistance to paying, and convert loose customers to paying clients. Dropbox is a grasp of this model. The employer has 500 million registered users who get hold of gigabytes of unfastened storage. Once they exceed that capability, but, customers are supplied the option to improve to at least one terabyte for a monthly or annual subscription charge. With this model, Dropbox generated $1 billion in revenue in 2017 from eleven million paying character and commercial enterprise users and maintained to grow its person base.

A person can pay the fee without spending dime merchandise. When companies can’t convert enough customers to paying clients, they suffer — something we’ve witnessed with media agencies along with The Guardian, New York Times, Washington Post, and others. Other groups may additionally even fail. So how can companies better position themselves to be successful inside the freemium wars?

Past studies tested that including new, terrific products as premium services can cause clients to raise their perception of the logo universal and be greater inclined to pay for premium alternatives. The Wall Street Journal famously proved this strategy by expanding virtual content, including new paper sections which include Mansion, and introducing activities, which created a club revel in that has quadrupled charges in less than a decade, finishing the paper’s previous reliance on heavy discounting.

However, freemium merchandise regularly subverts this strategy due to the fact customers perceive the blessings of the unfastened product to be higher than what a value-benefit model could are expecting, preferring it disproportionately to other offerings due to the zero-rate impact. Quietly positioned, while clients anchor on unfastened, it could be hard to dislodge them. Thus, in addition to extending the top rate product traces, corporations need also to apprehend purchaser conduct and what they reply to.

In the Software-as-a-Service (Saas) area, this method is called versioning, in which exceptional versions of the top class service or product can be made to be had to the market. Does this strategy work in shifting clients to allow the move of the loose and circulate to top class variations?

Our research posted within the Journal of Marketing assessed the effectiveness of this strategy with the aid of reading the income of scholarly content using the National Academies Press (NAP), which gives loose online PDFs of its book titles, however, expenses a price for paperback variations. We performed a randomized field test of consumer downloads and purchases on NAP’s website between January and August 2016. We tested three unique offerings: 1) the control model, with the free PDF and moderately-priced top rate paperback titles; 2) a test version with the unfastened PDF, reasonably-priced top rate paperback, and a new top rate e-book that cost as much or much less as the paperback; 3) and every other take a look at version with the free PDF, the moderately-priced premium paperback, and an excellent extra top rate hardback with a miles better charge.

We found that extending the premium product line, both with the hardback or the e-book, brought about an advantageous effect at the income of the existing premium choice, the paperback. When clients have been presented a brand new premium product that was of better-quality and better-priced, which include the hardback, they selected the book more celebrated. Adding the hardback accelerated the paperback sales by using eight.9%. That is, they chose the middle “compromise” option extra regularly, transferring far from the free PDF, main to this compromise effect. This is similar to what a shop clerk does while you purchase equipment — they display the lower-quit product and the very excessive-stop and sell you the center alternative.

When customers have presented the lower-great, somewhat lower-priced product, such as the ebook, they also moved far from the free PDF and selected the paperback extra regularly. Adding the e-book extended the paperback revenue through 21.5%. Why is this? Adding a further priced lower-first-class e-book made the paperback look an awful lot extra attractive in contrast, central to higher sales of the book. This is the “appeal effect” that makes the paperback version a dominant alternative. This impact passed off best while the charge of the e-book changed into in the direction of that of the paperback. When the expenses of the e-book had been a whole lot decrease than the book, they cannibalized the paperback sales. So it is vital that the rate of the decrease-quality model is towards the present top class model.

Marketers can use our findings to strategize the way to increase their product lines — from which merchandise to offer to what costs to set — to inspire zero-charge-loving users to pay for premium items. Any organization that makes use of the freemium version, including online media web sites, cloud offerings, or virtual services, can use these studies to pressure product sales and create a more sustainable commercial enterprise.

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