Good Freemium version limitations

Dear colleagues,

Two of my competing products switched to Freemium model. I am thinking of the same.

What great limitations in a freemium software have you seen?

What limitations in a freemium software that you used pushed/convinced you later to pay for the product?

How long did it take?

As for me I purchased a help authoring software because of a watermark in the CHM and PDF (it took me about 6-8 months).

And purchased a music learning app because of the popular songs that were in the paid version (it took me a week or so).

Not a direct answer to your question, but here’s a question worth asking: Why are you thinking of switching to Freemium? Just because some competitors did? Or because this is a strategy you want to try?

(BTW: some of my competitors offer Freemium, but I’m not tempted at all to do the same.)

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I don’t think I’d follow and switch to freemium straight away. I see this as an opportunity to change your website to advertise your product with phrases like “There’s a reason we’re the best: because you get what you pay for!” and so on. Another one: “We charge a fee because you’re not our product, and we don’t want to bombard you with ads or shut down in a year.” Make the customer think about what free really means.


Why are you thinking of switching to Freemium?

Basically, because I don’t want to loose the market share.
Imagine, my trial period ends on the user’s PC, but competitor software continues to work even in a crippled freemium mode.

My example is WindowsCommander, now called TotalCommander. It has just one skippable nag dialog at the start and that’s it. I use it daily, since mid 90s. Since I was just a poor student in poor east European country I didn’t buy it for at least 10 years, not until I started earning decent money. Not the kind of timeline you should make plans for :slight_smile:

Now back to question on why you would want to go to freemium. I don’t think typical paying customer installs 2-3 competing products and compare them. Life is too short for that. I assume we’re not talking about something which costs a lot of money. If it costs reasonably for target market, it’s a matter of marketing (to get to customer first), and quality of product during trial to convince customer to purchase it. You should think from perspective of paying customers, you shouldn’t care much if other competitors have much more free users. Yes, bigger market share is a kind of marketing, but users searching for free are not very good customers in the first place.

But this is all theoretical. Maybe we’d have better insight if we knew actual products we’re discussing here.


I think this is the best (and maybe only really good reason I can think of) to go freemium. It provides you with a longer timeline to nurture, gain trust of, and get to know your customer base. We’re kind of freemium with our WordPress plugin, and it provides us with a ton of insights into what podcasters and WP users are looking for. Tough part sometimes is filtering out the noise from the true needs.

Smart folks that I think a lot of us respect like Hiten Shah and Patrick Campbell swear by freemium as a marketing and customer acquisition channel. And I’d agree. If you have a model where it makes sense I’d absolutely try it.

How hard is it for users to get value? Do they require a lot of support?

How much do users interact with other users in a way that can spread the word?

How hard is it for users to get value?
It is not that easy to users to get value using our product. It takes some efforts. Like imagine a C++ compiler or AutoCad. It is a good thing, but you need to write code / learn how to draw drawings to get a result. But those who got the result and increased their sales with our tool seems very happy and buy upgrades regularly.

Do they require a lot of support?
Some of them are writing to our support engineer. Mostly paid users. But it seems our support engineer can handle twice as much requests.

How much do users interact with other users in a way that can spread the word?
Not much. Some of users who achieved good results with the software are eager to share their knowledge and mastery on some chats and internet forums.

From what you say, it seems like a tough fit for freemium. :wink: