One really difficult part of being a product manager is quantifying your impact. Very rarely can you point to something and say
Yep, I did that. Just me on my own little lonesome.
Seeing that you can impact revenue directly is especially great. What follows is a short in the trenches story of one such moment in my career.
Building & growing a market-leading freemium B2B SaaS product was one of the most enriching experiences of my career. With a freemium tool comes a heavy dose of self-service functionalities as we can’t support all the people who would signup for the tool. Naturally, product manages a lot of the growth initiatives apart from the actual product functionality. This is an awesome (in both senses of the word) responsibility.
While it sounds interesting and glamorous, it’s not really. Most of the time, you are spinning your wheels. You try 15 things and one works….partially
Once in a while, things become a little more urgent and you have to hope for a hail mary pass. In one of our weekly business review meetings, we saw that our conversion rate was trending down continuously for more than 3 months.
This set off alarm bells and turning the conversion rate back around became our top priority. Since the onboarding that a new user gets when they signup play a huge role in their decision to stay with a tool like ours, I decided to focus my effort on understanding the flow as well as I possibly could.
Onboarding users, especially for a freemium product is pretty straightforward. You have to communicate the value they would get from the tool as soon as possible (if you can help them actually see get some value that is when better), next you need to effectively close by making your ask (pay us money for providing this value). Having said that are literally more than a million ways you can do either thing in any given product. Like I said, none of this is easy.
In this particular case, we had a standard 14-day free trial during which the user got to play around with the entire product. After that time, they had to make a choice - get downgraded to the free version or upgrade to a paid plan. But to my astonishment, I realized that when the 14-day trial period expired, we were never asking users to make that choice! If anyone had still not made a decision after the 14-day trial period, they were automatically downgraded to the free plan.
Now, one thing to understand is…the more sophisticated users would be nurtured by our in-house sales teams so this wasn’t a problem that was costing us a whole lot of money but it definitely was affecting our long-tail revenue. Users who could potentially have been converted to paying customers were being lost simply because we never asked them if they wanted to pay us for the service we provided.
So I got right to work. I created a banner that asked the users to make an explicit choice, continue on the free (and restricted plan) or upgrade to a paid plan. The user had to make the choice to continue using the product. I could do this using our onboarding tool AppCues and it took me all of 30 mins to take it to production.
I monitored the data closely over the next few days. In the four weeks since we ran this test, we had $4000 worth MRR (Monthly Recurring Revenue) closed through the banner that I set up. At which point we made it permanent. That sounds small but it amounts to $48000 in revenue over the course of the year; nothing to sneeze at for 30 mins of effort and something I can always point to and say I did that.