Best Strategies For Upgrading Your SaaS Users

A Look at Client Upgrades in Subscriptions

Ultimately, your pricing model will guide your strategy to upgrade your SaaS users to the next product tier, so it is important you make a clear differentiation between the main transition types out there.

  • Freemium to Paid. Freemium models give users access to a limited version of the product in terms of features, and while they can be useful in gaining a large customer base they are not desirable in the long run. The freemium offering is meant to get users to experience your product first-hand and motivate them to organically upgrade to the premium version.
  • Free Trial to Paid. Free trials provide users with access to the full product, within a certain time limit, usually, 7, 14, or 30 days. This model can be used to accelerate growth through new acquisitions, although converting free trial users to paying customers usually takes more sales and marketing resources. To drive the users down the funnel, more nurturing campaigns and sales enablement are involved within the time-limited trial period.
  • Maximizing Paid Subscriber’s CLV. Once you have secured a paying user, your goal will be to have them renew their package, but also convert them to a higher paid tier at some point in their customer journey. This will most likely amount to upselling a more advanced product plan.

Increasing Revenue from Existing Customers

To develop a pricing structure that encourages upgrades, SaaS companies must understand where their users perceive value. Customer surveys of SaaS users have revealed that value is placed on additional sales they received, contacts made, reporting functions, productivity improved, and other indicators of their ROI.

Make Sure Your Onboarding Experience is Stellar

During the onboarding period, your goal is to nurture and lead users to that “aha moment” when they can see how your solution really solves their problem, and how the premium/paid version of the solution will be even more effective in addressing their needs.

Nurture Your Customers as They Grow

After your free trial and freemium users have subscribed, it’s critical that you learn about how their growth plans and progress could align with your higher-level product offerings. When this alignment is done correctly, the upgrade process becomes more organic and your clients will seek out upgrades of their own accord.

Personalize the Product Experience

Once you know who among your paid, free trial, and freemium users is using particular features, you can target those customers for upgrades to the next level of service. Use analytics tools to understand behavior and make upgrading to the next level simple and seamless, something users can do immediately as they keep working.

Use Self-Service and Assisted Service in Concert

Make it easy for your users to purchase your product upgrades by offering clear upgrade paths, and have self-service enabled for all your users (especially if you are a long-tail SaaS player).

Don’t Forget Promotions

While we warn against devaluing your product with over-the-top promotions, customers do love a good bargain. Segment your users based on their activity, demographics, or industry sector , and customize promotions just for them. A timely discount can also work well after a free trial period.

Keep Your Customers Engaged

There are multiple strategies to keep your customers on board and happy with your products or services, including the following:

  • Provide them with insights about how the product has helped them.
  • Identify features that users have access to but are underutilizing and show them how to leverage those and what results they will bring (a video tutorial could do this job very well).
  • Enhance the onboarding efforts with educational content, anything that can help them better understand how the solution works and how it can work to solve THEIR problem — whether it’s blogposts, eBooks, videos and webinars, infographics, a knowledge center, etc.
  • Create content based on the stages of the buyer’s journey. For freemium and free trials, we recommend introducing a survey and asking users what they want to achieve with your product so you can trigger specific campaigns with useful resources for achieving their goals.
  • Leverage milestone notifications and customer success stories when upgrading lower tiered subscribers to higher plans, to remind paying users what they have achieved with you so far.
  • Continue to educate freemium/free trial users who convert to become a paying customer on how to use your solution to its full potential.


Getting your existing users to upgrade to a higher tier is a matter of careful planning, continuous process fine-tuning, and nurturing. Ultimately, users should feel they need that transition to a higher tier to be able to maximize the outcome of the product. In addition, making the transition should be as seamless and easy as possible will increase the likelihood of them converting to a higher tier. Read our eBook to discover the full picture and start better monetizing your existing users.



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2Checkout (now Verifone)

2Checkout (now Verifone)

2Checkout (now Verifone) is the leading all-in-one monetization platform for global businesses built to help clients drive sales growth across channels.