HelpSpot Free Edition - Soft launch and commentary!

For the first time in 12 years I’ve decided to make HelpSpot (my help desk software app) available for free.

We’re not actually going to start pushing this until next week, in large part because I’m going to BaconBiz this week (yeah!). However, I thought it’d be useful to share it here with some of my thinking and get everyones feedback as well. I intend to write a post to the larger HelpSpot community in the next week or so.

So, why free now? Well, there’s a few reasons.

First, it’s part of a wider strategy to make HelpSpot more accessible. Customer service is done by people beyond the help desk (ideally) with managers, developers, founders all involved. We’ve already priced HelpSpot in a way that made customers explicitly pay for those people. Since you had to buy individual licenses there was never really a simple way to add in that new person or that outsider who occasionally would be useful to include.

I really wanted to change that so we explored changing our pricing model in general. As I was doing that, I started thinking that charging for the small teams also had many downsides. Sure, it left some truly small teams out in the cold due to price but that’s not what got me to change my mind on offering a free version of HelpSpot.

What did that was the idea that I know we’ve always grown most from expansion of existing customers. HelpSpot making it’s way into other groups within the same organization. By offering a free version we can help facilitate the process by allowing teams using the paid version to easily get other groups going on the free version with no approval processes or other BS.

If the 3 free users is enough for them long term then great. However, like I mention above support is rarely only about the actual people responsible for writing the emails. There are many others who should be in the help desk with the front line people.

The free edition lets them build out small free help desks throughout their organization. Some of them will expand and given our new pricing model that’s focused on tiers rather than per-user it should make that transition logical and simple.

That’s the heart of the decision but here’s a few other secondary items of importance.

  • Teams of 3 or less are a very small part of our revenue so the risk is low on that front
  • We’re limiting support to forum only to help keep support costs inline. I’d like to change this eventually to provide full support on free installs, but I want to see what that’s like first.
    • This has a secondary benefit of increasing the usage and hence SEO on our HelpSpot forums
  • SEO for free help desk software :eyes:
  • Increased usage overall should create more social media mentions, blogs posts, etc. I have a few ideas to try and help this along, but since it’s always kinda random I don’t put a lot of value on this.
  • Why not! I like helping out the little guy.

Having previously ran free limited versions of my own software my Initial thought is “Eeeek!” - but do keep us informed.

(Just one example where I struggled was figuring out who was going to be a free user and who was a potential bigger fish - when you get support calls like “please help bob here who can’t actually read more than 3 entrances and barely knows which way up a keyboard should go install this thing as we’re sure to buy lots” it matters a lot).

1 Like

Yeah, support around installation will certainly be the trickiest bit and hardest place to push back when needed. On the upside, I like the added focus that will give to that part of the product and on us making that as easy and clear as possible.

Hi Ian,

Just wonder with this free edition launch will you consider like allow other company resell helpspot ?
since now we can let the client to run it for 3 person first and sell them as a helpdesk service.

Hi Knight,

We do have a partner program and partners who send people that end up using the free version, but convert to a paying customer within 90 days would still earn their commission.

I don’t have any plans to add true reselling though. I want to maintain the customer relationship.

Hi Ian,

Ya, I saw that partner plan, but what I suggest more like allow local partner to host and support helpspot.
for example, I come from Singapore, what If I can provide hosted helpspot @ Singapore server and do the support for the local client and do profit sharing with userscape, doesn’t something like this help to expand helpspot?

You could definitely use the partner program for that. Have your customers sign up through the partner link. You could also be charging for other services.

1 Like