We’ve written about free CRM accounts before, but we haven’t really covered the reasons why we’re offering such a free CRM account. This blog entry is talking candidly about our reasons to give out a free limited CRM account.
Number 1 – Conversion
Free to paid account conversion. There’s no beating around the bush about it, this is the number 1 reason we and all the other companies out there give out a free account, irrespective of the type of application, CRM or anything else. This business model is called Freemium and it works by giving out a limited version of the application, in the hope the free users will end up paying for more advanced features or plans. While this comes as no news to you, what’s probably not immediately obvious is that this model doesn’t work fantastically well. The reason is that, traditionally, conversion rates across various industries have been very low (10% if you’re lucky). So, if it was just for this, we probably wouldn’t give out a free plan. Which leads into our…
Number 2 – Brand exposure and referrals
This relies on our free users spreading that sought after “word of mouth”, either in the traditional sense of the word, or on social media. Nowadays, there are so many CRM applications and so many applications doing the same thing, that getting in front of potential customers can be really tricky. In a crowded market, picking up a product that’s right for you either involves a lot of research (and while that’s doable, it takes a lot of time and time is money) or a referral from someone you trust. We’d like our free users to refer our product, so that’s a very important point for us, which is why it’s important for us that our free users are happy with the product and the support they receive from us.
Number 3 – Help small businesses
We’re a small business too and we know starting up can be hard. Any help you can get at those initial stages is very important. Our free CRM account is our way to help out small businesses in the early stages. We hope this initial help will be the beginning of a long term relationship and as businesses grow, very often they will turn into paying customers as they realize we have a good product and great, responsive and helpful support. It’s our way of helping out and yes, get our “foot in the door”.
Number 4 – Product management
Our free users help us define the direction for our products, the features that we should prioritize and so on. While we’re prioritizing feature requests received from our paid users, the truth is, with every freemium business model, you end up with many more free users than paid accounts. It gives us a wider user base to help us discover new requirements, see the demand for certain features and so on.
Number 5 – Beta testing new features
Having a wider user base helps us find volunteers and users more interested in helping us beta test new features. Inevitably only a small minority of users are early adopters and the vast majority of users like a stable, mature product. However, as new features are added, the early adopters fill a critical role in helping us beta test the new features.
To answer a few common questions about our free account:
1. Will the free account offering be stopped if the conversion rates to paid accounts are low?
No. As we’ve tried to explain above, it is much more than conversion rates that we’re getting out of our free CRM accounts. We’ll never stop offering them and so, if you want a free account forever, that’s fine with us.
2. Do you pressure people into converting to paid customers?
No. We don’t believe in pressuring customers into doing anything. If they love the product and need more, they will upgrade, if not, we’re fine with that too. So, to that respect, we don’t pressure free CRM account holders:
- We don’t limit the free accounts further
- We don’t email incessantly about upgrading (we might email about new important features, but we do that very rarely – maybe once or twice a year)
- We don’t call unless you explicitly ask us to
3. Do you plan to give more on the free accounts?
Not currently. We might introduce new features as we upgrade the product, but ultimately we are running a business and we need paid customers in order to stay afloat and be a sustainable business, which is what we’re trying to achieve.