Five Minutes to a 10x Increase in Conversions

Bidsketch is a SaaS based product I launched just a few months ago. It’s proposal software made specifically for designers.

It’s only been live about six months, but I’ve tried a lot of things to increase conversions. Mostly, they’ve been centered around A/B testing since I was trying to more efficient converting users before I looked at increasing traffic.

Some of the things I’ve tested:

  • Taglines
  • Signup button text
  • Button designs
  • Number of plans
  • Plan details
  • Page headlines (pricing page)

You get the idea.

While I saw some improvement in a couple of areas, the increase in conversions was minimal. And as you can imagine, my revenue didn’t have much of an increase either. Not to say that I’m done with A/B testing, there are several tests I’ve been itching to run, but everything I tried paled in comparison to the one thing that resulted in ten times the number of paid conversions.

So what did I do to get such fantastic results?

I killed my free plan.

Yep, I killed a critical part of my sales strategy. I was freaking out when I did it, but I went ahead and gave it a shot. And with that simple change, I went from a 0.7% conversion rate on paid plans, to a 6.5% conversion rate while having the same exact number of users stick around past the 30 day trial period.

Increase in conversions on paid plans:

Paid vs. Free

When I speak of conversions, know that I’m talking about conversions from my pricing page.

Also, keep in mind that I ask for a credit card upfront;  so there’s more friction to my signup process than most people say you should have.

Free plan? Nope.

Credit card required to try? You bet!

The result? More conversions than you can shake a stick at! Not really, I still have my day job, but a ten times increase in conversions certainly helps.

What About Converting Free Accounts?

When I initially made the change, I was worried that I wouldn’t get any paid signups which would’ve been pretty bad considering that I didn’t have those free account users signing up anymore.

The problem with free users is that they don’t convert to paid plans very well. Sure, I’ve only been live for a few months and the goal with these users is to develop a long term relationship so when they need to pay for an account, they do it with you. Still, in the best case scenarios you’re looking at a 2% upgrade conversion rate with SaaS apps like mine.

That didn’t stop me from trying to convert those free users when they were coming in. I tried all sorts of things but most of it had little impact if any.

A few things I tried to convert those users:

  • Added additional upgrade prompts (at the key places when performing certain actions).
  • Sent promotional emails offering discounts.
  • Gave 15 days to try Premium features for free.

The best I was able to achieve was a 1% conversion rate on upgrades. Not that great considering how much time I spent trying to convert them. Now, compare that to the five minutes it took to kill my free plan.

What This All Means

So, given everything that I’ve learned from this you might expect that I would have regretted launching with a free plan. I can’t say that I do.

There was a nice benefit to having that free plan for the first few weeks: I had plenty of users to give me great feedback on how to improve Bidsketch. Plus, due to my launch strategy, the first week of my launch I had more people sign up for the paid account than the free one.

What I do regret is hanging on to my free plan once conversions to my paid plan started slowing down. Luckily I didn’t let it go for too long before I decided to experiment by removing that plan.

As of this moment, my conversion rate has dropped a bit due to a pricing test I’m running. The good news is that revenue has gone up! I’ll be blogging about that in a few weeks once I feel comfortable that those number aren’t a fluke.

3 thoughts on “Five Minutes to a 10x Increase in Conversions

  1. That is a fascinating study! I do agree – often if it’s free with no pressing urge to convert to paid people will just stay with free forever. i like that you took the chance and it paid off! Good job 🙂

  2. Thanks! 🙂 It’s certainly not intuitive from a relationship building perspective, or if you’re looking at what conventional wisdom says in this space, but the numbers tell the real story.

  3. Wow, another great article. If I did not read this I would not think that stopping the FREE version of an offer would result in increased sales. A very bold move that paid off dearly. Only a 1 % conversion on the FREE accounts makes it a little easier to drop that version. It is also very surprising that the conversions were so low on the FREE accounts.
    Thank you for sharing such detailed information.

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