I’m usually not into the whole “call out other applications when they do something I dislike.” That is, unless it’s something that I think is unethical or straight up dangerous or stupid.

We all have our boundaries.

To that end, I won’t be mentioning a specific application in this post. But I’m going to be using one as an example of how not to upsell your product.

Fine, Don’t Upsell Your Product

Recently, I was using an application that allowed me to store a set of data online. The service uses the freemium model which, in their world, works like this:

  1. You’re free to use the service as long as you stay within a certain bandwidth limit.
  2. If you hit the limit, we’ll warn you.
  3. You have the ability to delete files to make more space and continue using the service.

This is pretty common in our space, right? But things have changed. Before I go too much into detail, here’s the copy from the product’s landing page that invites users to sign up. In my case, I was going to be a light user so this is what they presented to me:

Individual hobbyists creating the occasional [file]. It’s free and no credit card required.

Bingo. Exactly what I needed.

But then one day, I hit the limit – for the first time, of course – and the service presented me with this message:

Hey, you’ve hit your … quantity limit. We have bills to pay and no one likes a freeloader, c’mon now.

Emphasis mine. So you invite me to use the service for free and then you call me a freeloader.

#LOL I wouldn’t classify myself as an expert at marketing, but I don’t think this is the way to do it.

Upsell Your Product

Is this how to upsell your product?

In short, the strategy is:

  1. Invite people who will be light users of our system to use it for free (in hopes they use it more than they  plan).
  2. When they hit their limit, insult them after they’ve signed up for one of our offerings.
  3. Ask them to sign up.

I think this is where people say Profit! Instead, I believe this drives users to a competing product. And that’s what I did.

The Takeaway?

Like I said at the beginning of this post: I don’t usually write about other services unless they do something stupid.

And here I am writing about one.

I shouldn’t even have to write this particular section, but for those who are reading this, running their own business, or sharing their own product, then the moral of the story is this:

Don’t invite people to use a tier of your service that you offer and the insult them when attempting to make the upsell.

You’d think this would be common sense, right?

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Join the conversation! 9 Comments

  1. LOL The perfect response to that upsell is a switch! I’d do the same haha!

  2. Not quite right. Here’s another example.

    Signed up for a trial on a CDN service.
    Reached the usage limit.
    The account was deactivated and AFTER that, they sent an email informing me that I should pay if I want to keep using the service.

    Served CSS resources through the CDN service and a high-traffic website was broken for 3 – 4 hours.

  3. Ha, I saw it more like tongue in cheek humour, made me chuckle.

    I get how it comes off as rude, and perhaps without any previous personalised communications where rapport was built, this would seem aggressive. If I’d had a good service from them previously, I’d personally continue using them and just put it down to misplaced humour. If it actually bothered me, I’d feedback to them directly and see how they handle the situation and then make my decision based on that, but that’s just me. :)

    • Ha, I saw it more like tongue in cheek humour, made me chuckle.

      The humor wasn’t missed, for sure, but it also wasn’t appreciated given the changes that this particular company has made over the past few months – maybe even the year. I don’t remember how long it’s been.

      After some point, you just get tired of it and move to something else.

      I get how it comes off as rude, and perhaps without any previous personalised communications where rapport was built, this would seem aggressive.

      That’s the thing – there wasn’t a lot of communication. It was basically emails and notifications badgering me (and other similar customers) to start paying. I wasn’t even abusing the service. I was performing with the limits for the plan that was offered.

      If I’d had a good service from them previously, I’d personally continue using them and just put it down to misplaced humour. If it actually bothered me, I’d feedback to them directly and see how they handle the situation and then make my decision based on that, but that’s just me. :)

      I think that’s a fine way to go about it. For me, I was already kind of walking the line between two services and this just ended up pushing me in one direction a bit more.

      — Tom

  4. Some marketers try to be cool and hip about things like these. They forget how bad of a user experience it can be.

    BTW. You might want to switch to JumpShare. I am not sure if it is what you need, but I am pretty sure, once you install their Mac App, you’ll be hooked. For me it is the best possible way to quickly host screenshots, screencasts, notes or voice recordings.

    • Some marketers try to be cool and hip about things like these. They forget how bad of a user experience it can be.

      Yeah, I mean I’ve a sense of humor for sure. I’m the guy who drops memes in posts and has a tumblr solely dedicated to gifs, even.

      But I guess we all have our boundaries.

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