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Growth.Design Case Study #010

9 Ways To Boost SaaS Revenues With A Better Upgrade UX

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Story Duration: 5 min

It happened a few days ago

I was just sipping on a latte in a coffee shop in Montreal…

…that's when I received this unexpected email from Zapier

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Usage-Based Pricing

Zapier's "Tasks" are a great example of a value metric1. It's a metric that…

  • is aligned with customers' needs
  • is growing proportionally to usage
  • is easy to understand

Find out what's important to your customers and build your pricing around that value metric to maximize upgrades.

Fun fact: Improving your monetization growth lever is 4x more efficient than improving your acquisition strategy. 2

1 SaaS Pricing and Value Metrics, Chargebee (2019)
2 The Only Pricing Model You Should Be Using, PriceIntelligently (2019)

We're happy Zapier customers because it saves us a lot of time, but…

… we have some critical automations. Missing even a single Task would be very bad for us!

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So I quickly grabbed my laptop out of my bag and…

…opened the dreaded email.

Despite the rush, I took a moment to analyze Zapier's upgrade flow

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This subject line psyches me up right from the start!

"Action Needed" makes the urgency obvious.

As for the body of the email…

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Loss Aversion

We hate losing or letting go of what we have (even if more could be had).

Using a visual anchor to reinforce loss aversion (e.g. illustration, progress bar) is a great way to maximize the engagement rate of your users.1

1Prospect Theory & Loss Aversion, NNGroup

That introduction is a fair "white-hat" ransom. 

It motivates me to take action now, but—

—why not illustrate it?

An overfilled bar would be a clearer   way to alert me of this potential loss:

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Overall, the biggest problem is that this email's core message is urgent, but…

…its design does not convey that gravity.

Four elements are responsible for this…

Be Clear, Not Exhaustive

Emails that are critical to your customers should convey urgency and have one clear call-to-action

This is better for your customers & it might lift your email conversion rate by 27%1 (or even up to 232%2).

I redesigned this email to give you an example, you can view it here:

View Experimental Redesign

(... or just press on your keyboard)

1Email A/B Test Guide, CampaignMonitor (2019)
2A/B Case Study, VWO (2019)

  1) 💬 Wordiness of content
  2) 👀 Divergent call-to-actions,
  3) 💼 Link to apply for a job (!?),
  4) 🐦 Social media icons.

They simply don't fit with the urgency of the situation.

Shortened copy by 57% and formatted for scannability

Simplified footer
(remove "hiring" & social media)

Simplified Email.

- Lift click rate by 6%


Title conveying urgency and
visual reminder of the loss

Single call-to-action focus & use of button for increased visual weight

powered by Growth.Design

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Alright—now let's upgrade our account and unlock our Tasks!


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Hmm… nothing in this interface reinforces the urgency of our dozens of unexecuted tasks…

The only way to quickly see our task limit is by clicking on our avatar. {click}

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Anyways, let's find the upgrade button

{scrolling down}

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Which plan is the right one for us?

Nothing here refers to our Task limit and those buttons are hard to differentiate

I'll have to keep scrolling… {scroll}

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Woah. That table of features is exhaustive.

I'd happily upgrade just because of our Task limit.

Do I really need to read all this stuff…? {scroll}

Checkout Optimization

Your checkout experience should be optimized differently between:

  1. 💳 First Upgrade
    from "Free/Trial" to "Premium"
  2. 💸 Following Upgrades
    from "Premium" to "more Premium"

Focus the journey of your customers around their most pressing pain point (my Task limit in this case). This will maximize the conversion rate.1

View Experimental Redesign

(... or just press on your keyboard)

1Upsell Strategies, Hubspot (2018)

Simplified Checkout


- Lift click rate by 3% for upsell cases


Minimal header to avoid
"Leaks by Links"

powered by Growth.Design

Reminder of the usage limit for availability heuristic

Highlight of the most relevant metric and plan for the customer

Visual hierarchy of buttons

No scroll (to maximize focus, while still offering a "see all" option)

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Ok. Let's upgrade to the 10,000 tasks plan.

I think it was this
4th column…


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Hmm… the 15 header links are distracting me from this crucial checkout step.


Less Links, Less Leaks.

Trello's Case Study showed us that navigation links are useful, but they can be an excuse for your visitors to leave.

Removing your header & footer navigations in your most critical pages (e.g. signup, checkout) may lift your conversion rate by 28%. 1

1 Hubspot, Statistically Significant Split Test (2014)
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Ahhh…! There it is!

Clicking this button should finally execute our pending Tasks…

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Oh, the confettis are a nice touch!

(…and they also take my focus away from the 156$ bill!)

Peak-End Rule

We judge our past experiences almost entirely by their peaks (pleasant and unpleasant) and how they ended.1

Zapier could leverage that even more by celebrating the fact that their new customers will be saving time (not just "upgrading" as their copy says).

Something along the lines of:

"Cheers to even more time saved thanks to your new Tasks!"

1Wikipedia, Peak-End Rule (2019)

Now I just have to make sure our Tasks are executed.


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Feedback Loop

Your users typically upgrade to the premium version of your product for very specific reasons.

Have the end of your checkout UX reassure them that their problem will be solved… or else you'll receive unnecessary customer support tickets.

View Experimental Redesign

(... or just press on your keyboard)

That's when I realized that the held Tasks were not executed by default…


…how do I know if our Tasks are safe now?

Task Reminder


- 95% click rate

- Less support tickets

- Increase Task usage


powered by Growth.Design

Friendly reminder right after the upgrade is completed to make it easier for customers

Fallback option for power-users who want to manually validate

One-click action for convenience

Psst!… want to get access to all of our case studies? 

Psych Level

📝 Don't Forget Your Cheatsheet

Get this free one-pager containing:

  • CHECKLIST: 9 essential tactics for a great checkout experience (in a short list)
  • INSIGHTS: All of the 7 psychological & UX insights covered here (with screenshots!)
  • BONUS: 3 growth experiment ideas that might save up to 300,000$/year to Zapier

Yes, I Want My Cheatsheet!



Customer Journey

So far, here are the key moments in Zapier's upsell experience...

But the lack of coherence between the email's call-to-actions & the overly exhaustive landing page confused me.

(we still love Zapier though! ♥ )

A catchy subject line and the importance of Zapier for our business psyched me up right from the start.

The payment page was pretty straightforward despite the 15 navigation links.

The animation of confettis was a nice celebration, but…

…it wasn't clear if the held tasks were executed after the upgrade. I ended up having to contact their support. (Thanks Melanie Ryan from Zapier for your reply!)

Your retweets are always appreciated!

Just click here to do so:

🎉 Congrats! You found the secret slides!


You completed Growth.Design's Case Study #010:
"Zapier's Upsell"