As the result of one email, we have acquired 30 percent more paid users and increased our monthly revenue by 25%. How, you ask?

Let’s Start With A Little Background…

At the end of the last year, Quote Roller decided to switching from its freemium-based business model to a trial-based subscription. The reason was simple – we didn’t have enough cash flow to grow and to deliver superb experience to our users.

As a company, we try to be as open as possible with our clients. When we decided to announce that we were moving from a free to a paid subscription service, we started a thread on our blog. As a result of this announcement, we had 200 emails and blog comments in a matter of weeks.

We really appreciated that so many of our clients took the time to send us emails with their ideas, concerns and expectations because, after that feedback, it became clear that the suggested pricing model just wouldn’t work.
Once we reworked the numbers, we posted another blog post, but this time also emailed out a newsletter, ensuring the engagement of even more users, who’d probably missed the first announcement. The new numbers suited our customers’ expectations much more.

But those were just the customers we’d heard from. We still had a huge user base of free users who hadn’t responded to either of our campaigns.

So We Ran A Test

What if we said the free plan was to be discontinued? How many people would really bother to convert to paid users? We were not killing the free plan entirely, since the old users were to be grandfathered into it.

So for our test, we sent out very short email, which appeared to be sent to each customer personally:

Dear Andrew,
Here is Mikita from you’ve signed up for. In case you forgot what it is Quote Roller helps to create sales proposals online.
We plan to discontinue the free plan. I wonder if you’re still interested to use the application.
A lot of things have changed in the app. I’d really appreciate if you can give it another look.
I’d love to provide you with 50% discount in case you decide to continue using the app.
Please let me know if you’d like to keep the account.

The open rate was three times higher than our other newsletters. We sent about 10,000 emails to test this approach and got more 1,000 replies – a rate of more than 10%!

The Results

We chose to use customer feedback to adjust our business model, and that choice:

  1. Helped to sell over 300 paid subscriptions.
  2. Helped us get honest feedback from customers on what they needed from our product in order to justify the price.
  3. Brought in lots of feedback on why they were on the free plan and hadn’t upgraded before.
  4. Taught us so much more about our customers!

We kept everyone who asked for it on the free plan. We also got three clients to blog about Quote Roller in exchange for a year of free paid subscription. Pretty darn good results from just one email!

Since then, we’ve been using email as the primary tool to let our customers prioritize our pipeline. As it happens with most startups, we’re used to arguing in-house about what features to build now and what to postpone. After our experiments last year, now we rely more on client feedback by creating quick surveys, asking clients to pick three out of the 12 items they feel are most important.

We are blown away by the responses and suggestions our clients have contributed. The most important features were actually easier to build than the complicated ideas we’d first scheduled on our own.

We’ve learned that email continues to be best way to reach customers when done right. It’s so easy and cost-effective to implement email marketing, and the results can be tremendous. And we’ve learned that asking your customers is a great way to move forward, and doing it via email can achieve better results quicker.