"Don't underestimate the power of personalization. By offering customized pricing or package options, you can make your product more attractive to individual customers and increase the likelihood of a successful upgrade"
When you're a SaaS business, upgrades and downgrades are part of the daily routine. You might have a customer who starts with a free trial, and then chooses to upgrade because they want to add more users, or they want access to advanced features. Or you might have a customer who wants to downgrade their plan because they're scaling back and no longer need as many features.
How do you ensure that your customers are getting exactly what they need? And how do you make sure that you're always offering them the right plan for their needs?
To help you out, we've put together this list of six different ways that you can upgrade your customers (and reap the benefits).
Upselling is a technique of selling a more expensive product or upgraded version of the product that the user is currently using.
One way to upsell your customers in a way that benefits them is by offering add-ons or upgrades to their current plan. These value-based upsells are designed to add more value for your customer. Think about what you can offer that would enhance their experience with the product and make them feel like VIPs. For example, if you run an online course platform, you can offer one-on-one coaching calls with professors and create an additional revenue stream for your SaaS company.
Another way to think about it — adding discounts while charging more can be a great way to make your users upgrade their plans.
The "Exclusive Offer" Template
Dear [customer name],
As one of our top customers, I wanted to extend an exclusive offer just for you. For a limited time, you can upgrade to [premium plan] and save [25%] off your first year.
This premium plan will allow you to:
- Access our full library of [premium features]
- Integrate with [premium integrations]
- Get dedicated support and onboarding
Let me know if you would like to take advantage of this exclusive offer for our most loyal customers. It's only available for a limited time!
Sincerely, [Your name]
Create Multiple Product Tiers
You can create multiple product tiers with different features, price points, and customer segments in mind. For example:
Many SaaS companies use this freemium model, which has proven successful in providing value while also allowing you to upgrade customers who need more functionality from the product.
Scoop Up Similar Tools Into Your Own Software
Don't have to juggle multiple tools.
In addition to getting more bang for their buck by buying a SaaS bundle rather than individual tools, customers will save time by streamlining their workflow. Rather than juggling several different SaaS tools at once (with each having its own user interface and learning curve), they'll need to know just one software suite to do everything they need. They'll also appreciate how simpler it is to log into just one dashboard instead of many different ones throughout the day.
For example, Salesforce Essentials bundles CRM and sales productivity tools together into one package that costs less than $30 per month per user. Another example is Microsoft Teams: Microsoft has bundled its Skype video conferencing software with Word processing and spreadsheet software like Word Online and Excel Online; cloud storage like OneDrive; email; calendar; class collaboration software like PowerPoint Online--really the list goes on and on!
The "Try Before You Buy" Template
Hi [customer name],
I wanted to let you know about a special 30-day free trial we're offering for [premium feature].
As a valued [company] user, you can enable [premium feature] in your account and use it free for 30 days to see if it's right for your business before committing.
Here's what you'll get with the trial:
- [Benefit 1]
- [Benefit 2]
- [Benefit 3]
There's no obligation to continue after the 30 days. Let me know if you have any other questions!
Best, [Your name]
Create a Tiered Onboarding Process
A tiered onboarding process is a strategy for onboarding new customers that splits your new customer's first experience into three distinct phases. The idea is to make the onboarding experience as smooth and pain-free as possible, which will help build your customer's trust in you and gain their loyalty.
Building on what we said earlier about creating a seamless experience, the first phase of a tiered onboarding process is essentially an introduction phase where the first thing right after determining if their solution fits right is to teach them how everything works. The second phase then happens as soon as the user makes sense of the primary feature set and is keen to explore the platform comprehensively. This phase also makes sense when there are multiple options before users can decide on one product/service to sign up with (think different subscription tiers). The third phase comes later during trial usage or at the end of trial usage once the user has committed completely by becoming a recurring customer. This is also the time to subtly introduce the benefits and value of going with an upgraded plan. There are many software products out there that do not use a tiered onboarding process, which means that each time an account is created, there's no preparatory step before moving on to subsequent steps because every user starts from square one and has no idea what kind of support he would receive as far as certain features of his application/product go until he speaks with someone directly about those things.
It's a great practice to personalize and customize the onboarding process and break the whole process down into easier to digest chunks.
The "Last Chance" Template
Dear [customer name],
Our 25% off promotion for [product] upgrades ends tomorrow at midnight. I wanted to give you one last chance to save!
Upgrading now can help you:
- [Benefit 1]
- [Benefit 2]
And you can get 25% off your first year if you upgrade by [deadline]. Let me know by tomorrow if you'd like to take advantage of this limited time offer!
Thanks, [Your name]
Add A Personal Touch To Every Upgrade
The more individualized you can make your customers' experience, the more likely they are to upgrade. When you're reaching out to a potential customer, write a personalized email instead of sending a form letter. Think about what would appeal most to that specific person—for example, if you're talking to an email marketing manager, emphasize how your product will help them with better delivery and open rates in today's privacy-focused world. Often, it helps to add an intriguing hook that makes the reader curious about how you'll solve their problem. If someone hasn't responded within two weeks, follow up with another personalized email and try adding something unexpected. For example, include an image of the custom solution they requested or send them a video where you explain why your solution is best for them. This level of personalization usually results in increased engagement and even upgrades—but make sure not to send too many follow-ups!
Once people have tried your product and become customers, there are lots of other ways to personalize their experience and encourage upgrades:
The "New Feature Release" Template
Hi [customer name],
We're excited to let you know that we just launched [amazing new feature] in [product]!
As one of our loyal customers, I wanted to offer you early access to try out this new feature before we release it publicly next week.
[Briefly describe what the feature does and how it will benefit them.]
Let me know if you'd like to upgrade your account to enable [new feature] right away. For a limited time, we're offering 20% off upgrades to customers who want early access.
Best, [Your name]
Create Seasonal Deals And Discounts For Premium Features
Create seasonal deals and discounts for premium features. Offering a deal is a great way to get your users to upgrade, but you don't need to offer it to everyone. Be strategic about who you offer the discount or deal to; only offer it to free but recurring and activated users who have engaged with your product. You can also use this strategy during holiday seasons like Christmas, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, or New Year's Eve. This will make them feel special – like they were chosen – and increase their chances of converting into paying users.
Offer discounts on upgrades during a user's free trial period. Another option is offering a discount when someone signs up for your free trial, but only if they upgrade before their free trial ends. This helps motivate people who might be on the fence about upgrading because they'll know there's a limited time window, and if they don't act now, they'll lose out on the discount forever! People are more likely to take action when there's an incentive involved and urgency around something important like money being at stake. Don't forget to show those customers what’s in it for them by creating urgency within your messaging!
SaaS businesses can find new ways to increase revenue by creating multiple product tiers, providing discounts and free trials, adding personal touches, and more.
Think Outside the Box for Creative Upgrades
So far we've covered some standard tactics for upgrading SaaS customers like discounts, free trials and pricing tiers. But to really stand out, you need creative upgrade offers that catch customers by surprise.
Here are some outside-the-box ideas to spur upgrades:
Reward customers when they upgrade with surprise bonuses like:
- Free month of service
- Donation to charity in their name
The element of surprise and delight creates positive associations with upgrading.
Create VIP experiences like:
- Exclusive workshops
- Early access to new features
- Private demos and onboarding
Special treatment makes customers feel valued and gives them bragging rights.
Partner with complementary tools and offer bundled deals like:
- 50% off partner tool with annual upgrade
- 3 months free partner access
- Single sign-on integration
Joint offerings provide more value without costing you much.
Leverage peer pressure by highlighting upgrades from colleagues. For example:
"5 teammates have upgraded this month. Don't get left behind!"
People are wired to fit in so this plants an upgrade seed.
Reward loyal users who hit usage milestones like:
- 500 support tickets submitted
- 1 year anniversary
- 100,000 API calls
Recognize commitment and reinforce value.
The key is surprising customers in innovative ways beyond standard discounts. Test and iterate to discover which creative tactics resonate with your audience.
Upgrade Touchpoints Beyond Renewals
Too often, companies only think about upgrades around renewal time. But you should continuously market upgrades across the customer lifecycle.
Here are some examples of upgrade touchpoints:
Onboarding: Educate new users on higher tiers
Feature releases: Highlight capabilities in premium plans
Support emails: Mention useful upgrades for common issues
Usage emails: Recommend upgrades based on usage patterns
In-app messages: Notify users about add-ons
Payment emails: Include upgrade CTAs before billing
Churn outreach: Upsell to prevent cancellations
Winback campaigns: Offer deals to reactivated users
Expansion calls: Discuss upgrades proactively
Success reviews: Display power user testimonials
NPS surveys: Ask follow-up questions to identify upsell opportunities
The more you promote upgrades, the more they stay top of mind. Meeting customers where they are with relevant upgrade messaging is crucial.
Make Switching Plans Easy
Finally, reducing friction in the upgrade process is key to driving conversions.
Here are some UX best practices:
- One-click upgrades in-app and via email
- Preview premium plans before committing
- Seamless data migration across plans
- Prorated billing with no penalties
- Self-service downgrades to prevent lock-in resentment
The easier you make it to upgrade and downgrade, the more customers will do so. Eliminate any speed bumps across the upgrade experience.
Small frictions add up quickly and can derail purchases. Audit your own upgrade process and identify areas for smoothing out rough edges.
There are many creative ways to spur SaaS upgrades beyond the basics:
- Surprise bonuses delight customers
- Special events make users feel valued
- Partnership bundles provide more value
- Peer motivation leverages social proof
- Usage-based offers reward loyalty
Promote upgrades across the customer lifecycle - not just around renewals. And reduce friction in the upgrade process with self-service and seamless UX.
Test out-of-the-box upgrade tactics that are tailored to your audience. Doubling down on upgrades can unlock huge revenue growth potential for your SaaS company.
1. What are the benefits of upgrading my SaaS customers to a higher tier?
Upgrading your SaaS customers to a higher tier can provide several benefits, including:
- Increased revenue: Upgrading customers to a higher tier means they are paying more for your product, which can significantly increase your revenue.
- Improved customer satisfaction: Higher-tier customers typically have access to more features and better support, which can improve their overall satisfaction with your product.
- Reduced churn: By offering more value to your customers, they are more likely to stick around and continue using your product over the long term.
- Competitive advantage: If your competitors do not offer similar upgrade options, you can stand out by providing more value to your customers.
2. How do I determine which customers are the most likely to upgrade?
To determine which customers are most likely to upgrade, you can look at several factors, such as:
- Usage patterns: Customers actively using your product and engaging with its features are more likely to upgrade.
- Feedback: If customers have provided positive feedback or requested additional features, they may be more inclined to upgrade to access those features.
- Company size: Larger companies may be more willing to pay for higher-tier plans, while smaller businesses may prefer lower-cost options.
- Industry: Certain industries may require more robust features and thus be more willing to upgrade.
3. What are some effective strategies for promoting upgrades to my SaaS customers?
Some effective strategies for promoting upgrades to your SaaS customers include:
- Personalized emails: Send targeted emails to customers interested in upgrading, highlighting the additional features and benefits they would receive.
- In-app messaging: Display messages within your product to customers eligible for an upgrade, providing information on the benefits and how to upgrade.
- Limited-time offers: Offer time-limited discounts or other incentives to encourage customers to upgrade.
- Feature gating: Restrict access to certain features to higher-tier customers, creating a desire to upgrade to access those features.
4. How do I decide which features to include in each tier of my SaaS product?
When deciding which features to include in each tier of your SaaS product, you should consider the value each feature provides your customers and the cost of development and maintenance. You can use customer feedback and usage data to determine which features are most important to your users and which are most likely to drive upgrades. It can also be helpful to analyze your competitors' offerings to ensure you provide unique and valuable features to your customers.
5. What should I do if a customer is hesitant to upgrade?
If a customer hesitates to upgrade, you should try to understand their concerns and provide additional information to address them. This may involve providing more details on the additional features and benefits they would receive, offering a free trial or demo of the higher-tier plan, or providing additional support to address any concerns they may have. It can also be helpful to ask for feedback on what prevents the customer from upgrading, as this can help you improve your upgrade process and offerings.
6. How often should I review and update my SaaS pricing and tier structure?
You should review and update your SaaS pricing and tier structure periodically based on factors such as customer feedback, market changes, and the performance of your existing plans. It can be helpful to conduct regular surveys or focus groups with your customers to understand their needs and preferences and to analyze your competitors' offerings to ensure you remain competitive. Depending on the size of your business and the complexity of your pricing structure, this may be done annually, quarterly, or even more frequently.
7. How can I track the success of my efforts to upgrade customers?
To track the success of your efforts to upgrade customers, you can use several metrics, such as:
- Conversion rate: Measure the percentage of eligible customers who upgrade to a higher tier.
- Revenue: Track the revenue generated from upgraded customers to determine the impact of your upgrade efforts on your overall revenue.
- Churn: Monitor churn rates for upgraded customers to ensure that the upgrade is not leading to increased churn.
- Customer satisfaction: Survey upgraded customers to determine their level of satisfaction with the new plan and features.
By tracking these metrics, you can identify areas for improvement and adjust your upgrade strategies accordingly.
8. Can I offer discounts or other incentives to encourage customers to upgrade?
Yes, offering discounts or other incentives can be an effective way to encourage customers to upgrade. However, it is important to ensure that any discounts or incentives do not negatively impact your revenue or profitability in the long term. You can consider offering time-limited discounts, special promotions for new features, or bundled packages that provide additional value to customers who upgrade.
9. What should I do if a customer decides to downgrade after upgrading?
If a customer decides to downgrade after upgrading, you should try to understand their reasons for downgrading and address any concerns they may have. This may involve offering additional support or training, providing more information on the benefits of the higher-tier plan, or exploring other options that may better meet their needs. It is also important to monitor the reasons why customers are downgrading and make any necessary changes to your pricing or plan offerings.
10. How can I prevent customer churn after an upgrade?
To prevent customer churn after an upgrade, you should focus on ensuring that the upgraded customer is receiving value from the new plan and features. This may involve providing additional support or training to help the customer make the most of the new features, offering regular check-ins to ensure their needs are being met, and providing ongoing updates and improvements to the product. It is also important to monitor churn rates for upgraded customers and make any necessary changes to your upgrade process or offerings to minimize churn.