The Best Freemium Software We've Ever Seen and Why

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One of the best words ever coined by the internet is: Freemium.  Part “free” - which everybody loves - part “premium” - which everybody also loves.  Freemium is the best of both worlds, allowing users to have their digital cake and eat it - and not pay for it.  But not all Freemium products are created equal. Below we’ve rounded up our favorite Freemium solutions and shared a bit of insight on why the Freemium offering gives the company a strategic advantage - instead of just giving everything away for free.

Hubspot CRM

  • Why we love it: People on revenue generating teams get overwhelmed easily.  There’s just too much to do.  Hubspot CRM (including basic marketing and sales features, plus email integration!) makes it easy for firms of any size to organize their prospects, opportunities, and customers with the forever free CRM.  Packed with a surprising amount of functionality, this Freemium offering has all of the features a sales and marketing team need to understand the best path from here to revenue. Did we mention it's free? Well, it is. Forever.

  • Why it guarantees success for them:  The number one challenge in software sales is demonstrating value to the prospect.  The twist on that challenge is that anything worth paying for typically takes time on the scale of months to deliver real business value.  Not a problem if you’ve got a healthy pipeline of new deals and strong renewal base. So what if you don’t? These days you’re almost required to use digital CRM technology to get that steady state of incoming cash.  Hubspot Freemium CRM fills that gap, asking nothing of the user, offering everything they might need to get to a place they could eventually afford a higher tier of Hubspot service.  It’s truly a freemium experience that pays for itself.

Mailchimp

  • Why we love it: Aside from the endlessly hilarious “Jailblimp / Maleshrimp” ad campaign, Mailchimp has been a fixture in the early stage startup tech stack for quite sometime.  One of the reasons Mailchimp became so sticky is that they offered a freemium easy-to-use marketing automation platform that actually helped business get started in digital marketing.  With forms and templates and insights and subscription management, Mailchimp helped set the tone for usability and transparency in marketing technology.  They did it with a forever Freemium offering, capped at some 2000 subscribers.

  • Why it guarantees success for them: Mailchimp did for email marketing what Google did for search.  They both built a great tool, focused on user experience and value, giving it away to the public for free, forever.  This act of digital kindness made Mailchimp a core addition to every tech stack - and for a while the Mailchimp name was synonymous with Email Marketing for digital neophytes.

Asana

  • Why we love it: Well for one it’s free. For two, there’s no trial expiry. For three, every time you’ve argued with someone about whether tasks should be displayed on a board (like Trello) or a calendar or a nested list you both wasted time not using Asana Freemium.  Task views, email notifications, nested tasks, in-app conversation, Slack integration, the list goes on. And it’s all free for up to 5 users, forever. If you’ve got a team in the norming phase, or you’re trying to manage an agency, Asana is the solution you’ve been waiting for.

  • Why it guarantees success for them: Like the solutions we’ve discussed above, Asana offers 90% of functionality for a limited scope, free, forever.  Unlike, Hubspot and Mailchimp, Asana offers a low barrier to entry for teams new to project management software. The product team is not going to start using Hubspot CRM - they will likely not have a need.  The engineering team will, similarly, never have a need for Mailchimp. Both are marketing solutions for marketing users. Asana breaks the mold by offering a tool flexible enough for engineering, product, marketing, success - well, the whole company really. And that’s the beauty.  They create their own stickiness by leveraging the interconnectivity of work. Well played, Asana; well played.

Flowmap

  • Why we love it: Idea mapping has been an awkward set of technologies for a very basic (and common) problem.  Google - amongst others - took a stab at a solution, but has since buried it in the landfill of misses (along with Google+).  Flowmap gets idea mapping right by putting some pretty strong guardrails on the kinds of flows you can create - and helping you create them.  Need an easy way to communicate a process? Need to show your CEO how the website will be connected? Flowmap is your go-to.  

  • Why it guarantees success for them: If it’s difficult to communicate value in software, that goes double for Idea Mapping.  Once you have you map, why would you pay for the software behind it? Flowmap overcomes this challenge by helping users to see that many of the things we do at work are actually flows (that can be mapped). Ready to change a process? Flowmap. Ready to design a campaign? Flowmap. Ready to train the sales team? Flowmap.  Get it? Flowmap took a low value category of solutions and made real connections to business value in the product. That’s something worth paying for all day long.

Google Analytics

  • Why we love it: Google Analytics is a must have. It's a powerful tool for insight into your owned digital properties and it’s always free. Plus - and this is a big plus - it connects to a world of other Google web apps, like Tag Manager, Optimize, Ads (which are all free by the way).  You cannot own a website and not have a solution like Google Analytics. Paid solutions like Adobe Omniture, GA360, and Segment.io start in the tens of thousands of dollars. For a vast number of users, that just isn’t viable. For - literally - everyone else, there’s Google Analytics.

  • Why it guarantees success for them: If you didn’t know much about Google, you might think all they do is create Freemium software.  That is both beautiful and a bit unnerving. Recently, public attention in the US has focused on the vast number of companies capturing and monetizing web user data: Google is chief - for better or worse - among them.  Analytics as a Freemium offering is particularly effective as a tool for monetization because it calls attention to the value of web traffic. When business users start to understand the connection between web traffic and money, they want more web traffic.  How does one acquire more web traffic? Google Ads. :thinking_face_emojii:

It’s no accident that all the companies we listed above are marketing companies (or somehow serving the marketing industry).  More and more marketers are waking up to the idea that a valuable experience is worth more than a million ads. Product teams and leadership teams need to recognize that Freemium solutions are not a threat.  In fact, quite the opposite. As we’ve shown above, Freemium offerings can build a brand (Mailchimp), open a new market (Asana & Flowmap), or straight up drive new revenue (Hubspot & Google). If you’ve got a complex solution that delivers core business value, but you’re having difficulty demonstrating that value at scale, consider developing a Freemium product.  When done right, Freemium is more than just a fun word to say: it’s a competitive advantage.

As always, don’t forget to ask for help.  C2B suite has been in the product launch business for 10 year, with hundreds of successful product launches on our record.  If you’ve got a question it never hurts to ask.

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