Does the Freemium Model Still Work in SaaS?

The freemium model has been a popular pricing strategy in the SaaS industry for decades. For a good reason: It taps into people's reciprocity principle, which means that when people get something for free, they often feel obligated to give something back in return.

Besides, it just makes sense—it's a way for companies to let potential customers try out their product without any commitment or cost.

But is this pricing model still reliable in 2023?

More importantly, can modern SaaS companies still rely on freemium to acquire customers and drive revenue?

This article will answer that question and potential alternatives to the freemium model.

What Is the Freemium Model?

The freemium model is a type of subscription-based pricing strategy. With it, a company offers a basic version of its product or service for free. Then it upsells customers to higher plans with more features. 

This allows potential customers to get a feel for the product before they commit to a subscription. It also provides an easy way for companies to attract new users and generate revenue.

The freemium model is a great way to increase customer loyalty and engagement. By offering a free version, customers are more likely to invest in the product and be willing to upgrade to a paid version. 

Additionally, the freemium model can help companies to build a more extensive user base, as customers are more likely to try out a product if it is free. This can lead to increased brand awareness and more potential customers.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of the Freemium Model?

The freemium model has several advantages over other pricing strategies.


  • Low barrier to entry: Customers can quickly and easily start using the product.
  • Increased customer loyalty: Customers may be more likely to upgrade if they have already become accustomed to using the product.
  • Increased brand awareness: By offering a free version of the product, companies can attract more potential customers.
  • Increased revenue: Companies can upsell customers to higher plans.



  • It can be challenging to convert free users into paid customers: People may be reluctant to pay for a product they have been using for free.
  • It can lead to lower revenue: Companies may not make as much money from free users as from those paying for a subscription.
  • It can be challenging to manage costs: Providing a product or service for free can be expensive in terms of time and resources.

What Are Some Examples of Successful SaaS Companies Using the Freemium Model?

Dropbox, MailChimp, Slack, and Evernote are successful companies that have adopted the freemium model. They offer a free basic version of their services and then upsell customers to higher plans with more features. 

This has helped them to attract millions of users and generate substantial revenue.

Many smaller SaaS companies have also adopted the freemium model and have seen similar success. 

Offering a free basic version of their services can attract a large user base and upsell them to higher plans. This has allowed them to quickly grow their user base and revenue without investing heavily in marketing and advertising.

Some other companies successfully using the freemium model include Asana, Airtable, Trello, and Notion.

What Are Some Strategies for Making the Freemium Model Work?

Making the freemium model work in SaaS requires careful planning and execution.

Let's explore some strategies for making the freemium model work:


  • Offer a limited free version of your product with basic features. This will give potential customers a taste of your product without overwhelming them with features.
  • Focus on customer engagement. Engaged users are more likely to upgrade to a paid version.
  • Prioritize user experience. Customers enjoying using your product will be more likely to upgrade to a paid plan.
  • Be mindful of the pricing points for upsells. Make sure that your prices reflect the value you are providing customers.
  • Educate users about the value of your product. Make sure potential customers know what features they will get with a paid subscription.
  • Make sure you have a solid customer support system in place. This will help ensure that customers are happy and willing to upgrade.

What Are the Alternatives to the Freemium Model in SaaS?

You can explore other pricing strategies if the freemium model isn't suitable for your business.

Here are some alternatives:

  • Tiered pricing: Offer different plans with different sets of features. Customers can choose the plan that best fits their needs.
  • Subscription model: Charge a recurring fee to access the product or service.
  • Pay as you go: Charge customers based on product usage.
  • Free trial: Offer a free trial period, after which customers must pay to continue using the product.
  • Volume pricing: Offer discounts to customers who purchase bulk or sign up for long-term contracts.


Also, consider combining different pricing models to create a hybrid strategy that works best for your business. For example, you can offer a free version of the product with limited features and then provide tiered pricing for additional features.

No matter which pricing model you choose, it is crucial to consider the customer experience and ensure you provide value to your users. Doing so will help ensure they remain loyal customers and continue using your product or service.

The Future of Freemium Models in SaaS

The freemium model has been an effective pricing strategy for many SaaS companies, but it's challenging. 

Companies need to make sure they offer enough value in their free plans without cannibalizing their paid plans. They need to focus on user retention and provide an easy upgrade path for free users who want more features or content. 

However, the freemium model can be a great way to attract new users and generate revenue if done correctly.


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