After working long and hard on a freemium app, publishing it on the store and polishing it day after day, there’s just one thing we developers yearn for: increasing our freemium sales.
Good sales are not only a confirmation that you made a nice product. It’s what will allow you to keep working on your app and improve it over time. Without sales, it’s difficult to justify spending more time in a project.
Here in TimeTune we’ve been trying different approaches since the beginning. Converting free users to premium is not easy. But with a few tweaks it’s possible to optimize the process and get more conversions for your freemium app.
In this post we’ll explain five tips we’re currently using. These strategies have been thoroughly tested and we can say… they work!
But before we start, there are a couple things that go without saying:
- Your app must be good. If your product is not good enough your conversions won’t be either, no matter what tips or tweaks you implement.
- Your app must be properly priced. A price too low or too high might be what’s preventing your users from making the purchase.
In other words, you need to make sure first that your lack of sales is not due to external factors or a poor implementation.
OK, let’s go with the tips!
#1 SET THE PROPER BARRIER
When designing a freemium product, you decide where the barrier between free and premium is going to be placed. Basically, what you do is offer some features for free and hide others behind a paywall.
But what happens if this barrier is not properly placed?
If you put too many features behind the paywall and offer too few for free, your app will not differ much from a paid app. People will tend to think the free version is unusable and they’ll feel deceived. In addition, you’ll receive a ton of low ratings.
Unfortunately, we’ve seen too many apps following this approach (and wondering why they don’t have more sales).
We think it’s better to offer plenty of functionality for free and a few premium features (at least at the beginning). This approach has an obvious advantage: you’ll grow a huge user base.
A big user base will allow you to increase your sales in the future. After all, this is why the freemium model was invented. Have many people for free and only a few as paid. When you later add more premium features, many of your free users will be ready to buy.
So remember: place the barrier in the proper place to grow a big user base.
#2 GIVE ENOUGH REASONS TO BUY
The opposite might be true as well. Have you ever found yourself using the free version of an app, wanting to support the developer but not finding any advantages in the paid version?
This happens more often than we think.
If your premium features are not the right ones (or you offer too few) you’ll hurt your sales. People will lack incentive to buy and they will just stay on the free version.
In TimeTune we currently have three premium features: the routine programmer, importation of calendar events and extra themes for the interface.
Although none of these features is necessary to use the app, they are certainly useful. A user wanting to go premium finds true value on the paid version.
So it’s a win-win. Free users don’t feel they’re missing anything essential while paid users enjoy the added comforts of the premium version. And every time we add a paid feature, freemium sales automatically go up.
So give your users enough reasons to buy. Otherwise, your sales will suffer.
#3 ADD MULTIPLE PURCHASE POINTS
The more places a user can initiate the purchase process in your app, the better.
This is a strategy followed by many top players in the store, like Todoist. In Todoist, every time you try to access a premium feature they don’t just show a warning message. They offer the option to start the purchase right there too.
And this works wonders for freemium sales. Users are much more inclined to buy when they’re offered the chance at the right moment.
In TimeTune, when we made the change from a single ‘Buy Pro Version’ button on the main menu to several purchase points (one for each premium feature) the difference in sales was more than notable.
If we had just disabled our premium features (making them not clickable) we would have missed a lot of opportunities to make the sell.
#4 REMOVE FRICTION
One of the best things we did in TimeTune to increase our freemium sales was to remove friction from our purchase process.
To eliminate friction from your app, just remember this: the less hoops a user has to go through to buy your product, the more sales you’ll make.
This strategy can involve several things:
- Reducing the number of taps a user has to do to start the purchase.
- Making your purchase points more prominent.
- Changing full-screen purchase options to simpler dialogs.
- Anything that can make the purchase as accessible as possible.
This is how we did it in TimeTune:
- We added a purchase point (a calendar icon) to the action bar. One tap and a premium dialog appears. Another tap and the purchase starts (other apps like Todoist and Evernote can require 3 taps and some swipes to do the same).
- We changed a whole full-screen purchase section to a simple dialog. The full-screen section had a long explanatory text where the user had to stop and think. The dialog has a simple text, a ‘Learn more’ option and the purchase button.
(Step 1, the user taps on the calendar icon; Step 2, the user taps on the ‘Buy Pro Version’ button)
We noticed an increase in freemium sales right away.
So make the purchase process as simple as possible, but not so simple that the user gets lost. If the user tapped on our action bar icon and the purchase flow started without more explanation, he would get confused (and pissed!).
#5 ADD PERMANENT CALLS TO ACTION
The concept of call to action is more common in website design, landing pages and blogs. It basically consists in adding clear and prominent buttons that lead your users unequivocally to the actions you want them to perform.
This approach can be implemented in mobile apps as well, but we see a lot of missed opportunities in the store.
In our app we added two permanent calls to action to the action bar:
- A heart-shaped icon to prompt the user to leave a nice rating. When a user installs the app for the first time and sees this icon, he will click on it, always. It’s like a magnet.
- A calendar-shaped icon to lead the user to the purchase process. When the user clicks on it, a dialog appears explaining the calendar sync premium feature and showing the purchase button.
(Our two main calls to action)
These icons stay there until the user takes the related action. They are constant visual reminders that don’t really annoy the user, because their messages only appear when the icons are tapped.
Currently these calls to action appear on the main section of our app. But given the effectiveness of the approach we’re planning to add other calls to action to additional sections.
The freemium model is a highly efficient way to make people buy your product. But keep in mind that your freemium sales will not only depend on how good your product is.
All processes can be tweaked and improved. Your purchase process is no different. Test as many things as you can to increase your freemium sales.
And if you find a new tip, let us know too! 😃
Thanks a lot for reading!