You’ve built a great product that solves a real problem for your users. You’ve launched it to the world and attracted thousands of free users who love it. You’ve also created a premium version that offers even more value and benefits.

But there’s one problem: your free users are not upgrading to your premium version. They seem happy with what they have and don’t see the need to pay for more.

How do you convince them to take the leap and become paying customers?

The answer is simple: show them what they are missing out on.

In this article, I’ll show you how to use disabled premium features to create Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) among your free users and drive them to upgrade. This is one of the most effective ways to convert free users into premium users that many successful SaaS products use.

Let’s dive in.

What are disabled premium features?

Disabled premium features are features that are visible to free users, but not usable. They usually have a lock icon or a label that says “Premium only” or something similar. They also have a link or a button that leads to the upgrade page or the pricing page.

The idea is to show free users what they are missing out on by not paying for your product. This way, you can:

Educate them about the value proposition and benefits of your premium features
Create curiosity and desire for your premium features
Trigger FOMO and urgency to upgrade
Increase retention and engagement by showing them more ways to use your product

How to implement disabled premium features in your product

Implementing disabled premium features is not hard, but it requires some careful planning and testing. Here are some steps you can follow:

  1. Identify your most valuable and differentiated premium features. These are the ones that solve important problems for your users, provide unique benefits compared to competitors, or generate high revenue for your business.
  2. Decide where and how to display them to free users. You can show them on the main dashboard, on specific pages or screens, or in context of certain actions or workflows. You can also use different formats such as icons, banners, tooltips, pop-ups, etc.
  3. Design clear and compelling calls-to-action (CTAs) that lead to the upgrade page or pricing page. Make sure they explain why the feature is valuable and how it works, and use words that create urgency and emotion, such as “Unlock”, “Don’t miss out,” “Try now,” etc.
  4. Test different variations of disabled premium features and CTAs using A/B testing tools such as Optimizely or Google Optimize. Measure their impact on key metrics such as click-through rate (CTR), conversion rate (CVR), average revenue per user (ARPU), etc.
  5. Analyze the results and iterate based on feedback and data.

Examples of products that use disabled premium features

Many successful SaaS products use disabled premium features as part of their growth strategy.

For example:

Slack shows free users how many messages they have left before reaching their 10K limit, which encourages them to upgrade to avoid losing their chat history.
Dropbox shows free users how much storage space they have left before reaching their 2GB limit, which motivates them to upgrade for more space or invite friends for referrals.
Spotify shows free users ads between songs, which annoys them enough to upgrade for ad-free listening.
Grammarly shows free users basic writing suggestions but hides advanced suggestions such as tone detection behind a paywall.

These examples show how disabled premium features can create FOMO and drive conversions by highlighting what free users are missing out on.

Benefits and drawbacks of disabled premium features

Disabled premium features have many benefits for both SaaS businesses and customers.

Some of these benefits are:

  • They increase awareness and education about your product’s value proposition
  • They create curiosity and desire for your product’s benefits
  • They trigger FOMO and urgency to upgrade
  • They increase retention and engagement by showing more ways to use your product
  • They generate more revenue by converting more free users into paying customers

However, disabled premium features also have some potential drawbacks that you should be aware of.

Some of these drawbacks are:

  • They may annoy or frustrate some free users who feel like they are being teased or pressured
  • They may create confusion or disappointment if they don’t match user expectations or needs
  • They may reduce trust or satisfaction if they seem too aggressive or manipulative
  • They may cannibalize your organic word-of-mouth or referral growth if they discourage free users from sharing or recommending your product

Use disabled premium features with caution and moderation. Don’t overdo it or abuse it. Make sure you balance the value you provide to free users with the value you ask them to pay for.

Disabled premium features are a powerful way to convert free users into premium users by creating FOMO and showing them what they are missing out on.

However, they also have some risks and challenges that you should consider before implementing them in your product.

The key is to identify your most valuable and differentiated premium features, display them in a clear and compelling way, test different variations and measure their impact, and iterate based on feedback and data.

If you do this right, you can turn your free users into paying customers with one simple trick. 🚀