See your cold prospects through the freemium lens

Freemium isn’t easy. The huge challenge for most freemium models is the conversion to paying customers. The margin for error and implications of getting that wrong are more acute than in a conventional MQL funnel. However, it provides a unique audience for businesses that are part-advocate, part customer in waiting. A holding pen that most marketers would envy.

In our experience of lead generation for customers, the habits of freemium selling serve the ‘rest of us’ well. In fact, as content marketing and the notion of audience building has matured, the parallels between the two become clear.

In a typical B2B sales cycle you need to keep prospects warm. They have expressed some kind of interest in your business. They may have read a lot, visited pages on your website, demoed a product, etc.

What is the difference between the time invested in downloading a freemium web-conferencing application, or downloading a piece of content on the subject? Not much.

However, convention describes one as a customer and one as a potential lead.

Freemium marketing is certainly more confident and active amongst its ‘nearly’ customer group because the buying signal is stronger.

Or is it?

When you last downloaded something as freeware or on a trial, did it blunt your sensitivity to being hassled by a salesperson? Did you resign yourself to being sold to? Probably not.

The fact is that freemium marketers are more ‘on it’ with the club they have built because there is a sense that they are on the cusp of being a paying customer – it encourages good habits with your audience: analysis, segmentation, reverence, respect and familiarity to name but a few.

We contend that content-led prospects should be understood in the same way. It’s not just about a lead score or a sales call. These people have actively participated in your business. They are a group to be nurtured as advocates, to be learnt from and to be engaged with in a considered fashion.

That’s not the reality for many B2B businesses. Cold lists are often in the deep, deep freeze before the sell-by date is looked at.

See those people through the freemium lens. See them as a precious commodity. Approach them as a community and not a list. Understand their wants and needs. These are valuable lessons we can learn from freemium marketing – for free!