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
- 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.