Making the Premium Pitch: Freemium Marketing Strategies in B2B – Part 3

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series on B2B Freemium strategies, I explored how B2B SaaS companies are using Freemium models to win corporate customers by climbing inside the heads of IT buyers.

The key of course to successful Freemium strategies is getting your customers to convert from the Freemium version to the paid, Premium version. This is putting aside the idea that the Freemium version could be treated as a continuous loss leader, offered merely to attract attention and expose potential buyers to other offerings.

Generating those Premium conversions then will challenge your marketers to think differently about the role of marketing in customer engagement.

5. Balance recurring value with the enticement to get more

The Freemium user of a B2B product is not quite a customer and not quite a lead.

That’s the genius of the Freemium model, but it’s also the curse.

The genius is that if you have done it right, you have a user who is engaged and getting value from the SaaS offering. So you have their attention and presumably they have a positive view of you and your offering. That’s better than pretty much any qualified lead generated by traditional marketing.

But the curse part is that you need to keep providing that user with value so they continue using the offering and building the relationship with your company. If they don’t see continuing value, then they go away.

You’ve lost their attention and the opportunity for the upgrade to Premium. Worse, if you happen to reach them via marketing once again, they will remember you as that free offering that wasn’t even worth using when it was free. That’s about the most unqualified a lead can be. It’s like an “anti-qualified” lead.

So the key is to keep providing useful functionality that brings true value to the user. Then at the same time, dig deep into that user’s behavior and “customer journey.” You need to understand what pain they are trying to solve and exactly when they will be most receptive to the Premium pitch for conversion.

Mapping their journey means examining their entire experience with your offering, including before they ever became aware of it. That means asking questions like:

  • What problem were they dealing with and trying to solve?
  • What were they looking for when they found your offering?
  • Why did they sign up? What value did they see?
  • Why did they use it?
  • Why did they keep using it? (and hopefully they did)
  • How are they using it day to day?
  • Which particular tasks / features / functions are they using the most?
  • What features and functions have been a struggle for them, or are ignored?

Understanding this level of your user’s behavior and journey will enable you to uncover key touch points along the experience where they may be most receptive to a particular part of your Premium offering.

As I noted in Part 2 of this series, there are a range of incentives that can be part of a Premium package, from training to reporting to pay-as-you-grow utilization.

If you have truly mapped the customer’s journey and experience with you SaaS offering, you wi uncover which of these incentives will be the right enticement to expose at the right moment.

6. Making the Premium Pitch

Of course, it’s marketing’s job to make prospects aware of the free version. 

But marketing also should be exposing the Freemium users to the right Premium upgrade offering at the right time in the user’s journey.

So this requires planning and executing a series of precise and relevant Calls to Action, and exposing them to users at appropriate times and in ways that don’t turn them off or send them away.

So your Premium Conversion Call to Action campaign should include elements such as:

Customer journey targeting: Populating the content exposed at every stage of the customer journey through the Freemium experience to highlight those benefits: customer portals, newsletter e-blasts, “did you know?” pop-up tips and de-activation claw-back messaging.

Customer touch conversion: Arming and coaching contact center and customer care agents with messaging to convey the benefits of Premium during customer contacts. 

This again requires a balance between providing continuing Freemium version value and the push to upgrade. Users contacting customer care are typically having a problem, and the solution they don’t want to hear is about having to spend money.

Social: Encouraging Freemium customers to share their experience on social media. If your Freemium version is delivering genuine value, this can produce a massive word-of-mouth boost. B2C game companies are masters at this, mainly because the games are embedded in social media platforms and give users direct rewards for marketing them to their friends.

But B2B technology buyers visit discussion boards for vendor products, use LinkedIn to discuss projects and technologies, and will even post about business topics on Facebook. I’ve helped clients raise a surprising number of highly qualified leads from such posting campaigns.

User-targeted account penetration: A model mentioned in a previous post focuses on having individual users or teams in a company sign up for the Freemium service. Once enough of them use it, it becomes an easy step for the IT manager to take a look at the product and consider the Premium version for using it across the company.

B2B Freemium Strategies that Work

Are you launching a SaaS product? Converting a traditional premises based software product to SaaS? Or considering a Freemium marketing strategy?

We enable technology companies to launch market-disrupting SaaS products, penetrate new markets with Freemium offerings, and capture leadership positions. Contact us to learn more.