A tough question for many startups is how to transition non-paying early adopters into paying customers. Trying to squeeze money out of people who have taken a risk with your service and provided valuable feedback along the way is hard.
The reason for this blog post is that I’ve recently been through that early adopter annoyance. I signed up to a free beta for a product that looked interesting and for a number of months got a decent service for free! Being enthusiastic about the service I provided good feedback which (I’m told) helped the service to improve. A few weeks ago I was informed that the free beta would be stopping and everyone would be migrating to a paid plan. There was the offer of a reduced deal for beta users to ease this pain. My immediate reaction was to feel annoyed, I put this down to something going from being “free” (free can evoke powerful emotions) to paid for and the sudden change in value to me. I supposed my relationship with that company also changed from being more of a helper to someone that they wanted to get money out of.
Now, I want to make clear that I don’t have any distain for this particular startup or think that their service is bad value for money. I think that startups have to be very careful when going through this transition phase. Early adopters are often very enthusiastic about a particular product. If you can keep them happy then they will often evangalise about your product much more effectively than you ever can, for almost free!
If you’re transitioning to a paid for service then make sure you keep your early adopters happy!