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Bootstrapping to $13 Million with Freemium and Free Trials: SurveyGizmo CEO Christian Vanek (Part 6)

Posted on Sunday, Sep 11th 2016

Sramana Mitra: I have a few questions on this. First, talk to me about your freemium strategy. What did you offer for free and what did you offer for premium?

Christian Vanek: What we offer for free now is probably too much. That comes back down to the cultural problems in my organization. I tend to undervalue software so we tend to give a lot of it away. One way that we competed against the other freemium products was we didn’t limit the number of responses you could collect. We didn’t limit the number of questions or pages. We’ve tried various mixes over the years. That made us incredibly popular because you could do so much with our software.

Then we realized that there were things that were things that were important to our core audience and that those would make good tiers and levels within our freemium product. It was difficult for us because we were talking about a pain point. We had created a culture of rapid customer service. Our culture was to eliminate pain and not to strategically use it to help customers understand our value to move from one level to another level where they might be paying a little bit more. That was difficult for us. We learned that branding and the ability to launch on multiple platforms was worth a tier. Collaboration, integration, and enterprise features was worth another tier.

Sramana Mitra: Highlight for me the key conversion points.

Christian Vanek: Brand recognition gets people to convert. The thing that usually gets a free customer to go to a paid customer or gets a visitor to a website is a 7-day or 14-day free trial. We haven’t noticed any better conversion with 14 over 7. We also tried 30 at one time.

Sramana Mitra: It’s not exactly freemium. It’s free trial.

Christian Vanek: It’s free. You have a free-forever plan. If you would like to try one of the higher plans, you could try it without paying for it for a little while.

Sramana Mitra: So the higher plan is free trial. What’s in the higher plan?

Christian Vanek: The ability to hide SurveyGizmo is one of the key ones. You can change your URL to any domain that you have. You can style it with your own logos and colors. We even built it so you can put in the URL to your website and SurveyGizmo will grab the colors and styles from your website. Things like that are basically the first tier desire that the customer has.

As they grow and become more comfortable, they want things like higher volume thresholds for API usage or more integrations with Salesforce or any of the other integration platforms. One of the selling points that we found really worked well for us is there is no contract. Even the monthly products that you can get in our industry is still an annual contract. Many of them don’t even bill monthly anymore. For us, you can turn us off whenever you want and come back whenever you want. All of your data will still be there. That was a good retention piece for us.

This segment is part 6 in the series : Bootstrapping to $13 Million with Freemium and Free Trials: SurveyGizmo CEO Christian Vanek
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