Three upselling tactics to convert free app users into paying customers

Most companies choose to launch free apps to the market. Launching paid apps can alienate a lot of their audience.

Launching a free app doesn’t mean companies don’t plan on making money with it. There are a number of stable app monetization models that do not involve using the paid app method.

This doesn’t mean it’s easy to make money with an app. Once users get a taste of the free version, making them pay for certain features becomes a big challenge.

Entrepreneurs and companies with an app in the market would attest to the same. Upselling is not a simple practice by any means. It might be easy for big brands to influence their customers to shell out more money for premium services.

For small companies, making up for the gap in reliability and trust is difficult. People scrutinize a service more when they have to pay money for it. This is why bigger brands have a lot of upselling power.

This piece covers three crucial upselling tactics to convert free app users into long-term paying customers.

Before upselling - Create an investable feature

Converting free app users into paying customers is not a bad tactic. However, the angle and value proposition offered to free users matters a lot.

Users will not pay money for any random premium feature. The services you offer to your free users must actually be something they want.

Let’s take an example. Assume you decide to create an ecommerce app. You don’t want to spend a ton of money on app development and thus choose to turn WooCommerce to Android app using app builder.

Your users can download the app for free. What extra features can you offer to make them premium members?

What are the features online shoppers generally love? The likes of free shipping, regular discounts, and expedited delivery come to mind.

Offering random premium features that users don’t want will naturally hamper your upselling plans. Thus, your first action must be to create premium features that users are really willing to pay for.

Three crucial upselling tactics to create a large base of paying users

The following section covers three important tactics companies can use to convert their free users into paying customers. The three tips provided here can help create a much larger base of paying customers and increase overall revenue.

#1 - Offer a free trial

The main reason stopping people from upgrading to a premium version is a lack of trust. Small companies don’t have enough credit in terms of brand value to simply influence a user into buying a paid plan.

A free trial can help in this regard. It significantly lowers the stakes of the value proposition. This motivates the free app users enough to try out the premium features without actually any money for it.

There are a number of advantages in offering a free trial. For one, it enables users to try out the new features and validate the inherent value they provide. This is a very important step in reducing the trust deficit and making users confident about investing in a premium feature.

The second big advantage is discovering the app users who are really interested in your premium features. A lot of people use free apps. Companies are often unsure which segment of their free users will respond well to upselling campaigns.

A free trial enables them to see which users are most interested in the premium features on offer. They can thus target such users with carefully crafted marketing copy and make them upgrade to a long-term premium plan.

#2 - Choose the right time

Identifying the people interested in a premium feature is not enough. The timing of an upselling campaign coming into force also determines its success.

There is no sure-shot bet when it comes to conversions. Customers are moody and won’t whip out their wallet to even pay for a service they like if the timing is not right.

What does getting the timing right really mean?

There are certain stages of a user’s journey where conversion is difficult to complete. For instance, selling a hosting plan to a user works best when a user’s existing plan is about to expire. It doesn’t make sense to market a hosting plan to users who’ve just bought one.

How does one get the timing to upgrade app users to a premium plan?

The solution lies in app analytics. Companies essentially should look at the stages at which users previously converted into becoming paying customers. This kind of user journey mapping is only possible with the help of top mobile app analytics tools.

Companies have to look for patterns and cycles their app users generally get into before making a purchase. They can then funnel users through the same channels and get the timing of upselling CTAs right.

#3 - Interruption tactics

This is a dangerous tactic, but it can bear fruit if an app has a loyal base of free users.

A lot of apps use mobile ad networks to publish ads on their platform and monetize each user action on the ad. The same mobile apps also offer users the option to remove ads in exchange for subscribing to a premium plan.

The thinking behind this strategy is to frustrate app users to the point where they see no other option besides upgrading to a paid plan.

It is a reasonably good strategy and is used by some of the top apps in the market. Even Youtube asks its users to subscribe to a premium plan in order to remove ads.

The risk here is losing app users because of these interruption tactics. Some users will subscribe to a better plan out of ad fatigue. Others may simply uninstall the app out of frustration.

To make this tactic work, companies have to offer enough value in their app to make sure their users don’t consider the possibility of uninstallation.

Let’s say you have a blogging app. You created it with the help of an app builder to go from WordPress to app for Android and iOS. Next, you start running ads on your app and offer users the option to subscribe to a paid plan to remove the ads

If your app content is not unique and engaging, your users won’t have a reason to subscribe to a better plan. It is cheaper for them to simply uninstall the app.

Thus, it is vital for companies to improve the overall value of their app before using interruption tactics.

In conclusion

Upselling is always a challenge. People don’t often pay extra money for a service they’re getting for free.

This piece presents three simple tactics that enable companies to find some more success with upselling. These are not by far the sum total of all upselling tactics you can use. However, the sound deployment of these tactics can truly create a lot of paying customers.

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