Growth.Design Case Study #013

7 Strategies To Convert More Freemium Users

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Strava Freemium Series 1 of 3:

Pro tip: Use landscape mode!

I was finishing up my run... and trying to film at the same time...

Make sure people come Back

When building a freemium model, make sure to keep retention high by giving real value in your free version.1

The goal is to play the long game and keep users happy.

💎Pro Tip: Treat your freemium as an acquisition tool, not a revenue tool.

1Profitwell, Freemium: It's about acquistion, not revenue (2019)

You know what they say...

"If it's not on Strava it doesn't exist..."

I've been using Strava for almost 3 years now...

Let's see why, and how we can make this flow better!

...So, it's safe to say they nailed the first strategy to a great freemium model which is—

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However, I was never compelled enough to buy the premium version...

And why separate the summary in two sections with two different time frames?

That's a lot of info to digest for someone who's out of breath.

Is this a prediction? a placeholder? or past activities?

Let's see a redesign that could solve those issues...➡️

Psych Level: 40%

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I won't lie, I'm exhausted... Low psych!

Uploading my run on Strava...

Hmm... Ever since they added this graph, I've always been a bit confused...

But, there's still something missing that could take this recurring experience to the next level... That is

So, I kept weekly stats because users are simply more likely to remember what they did last week vs. last month...

Miller's Law

The average person can only keep 7 (plus or minus 2) items in their working memory.1

Luckily, one week has 7 days, meaning people are more likely to remember their gym sessions from a week before.

This makes the weekly stats really motivating; people can suddenly keep track of their effort easily.

1Harvard, The Magical Number 7 (2001), The Most Important Rule in UX Design that Everyone Breaks (2017)

Also added a calculated distance & time variation from the previous week. No brain cycles wasted!

And, as mentioned, it can be motivating to see that last week you kicked your butt on Thursday and Friday!

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There you go! Now, why did I make those design decisions...

But, Strava can't give everything for free... You'll see how a future tradeoff could be even more benefitial...

Investment Loop

When users input something in the product in anticipation of a future benefit, it increases perceived value and loads the next trigger.1

Having personal goals that remind you to exercise is the logical step for Strava to make the switch from being a feed of activities to a lifestyle companion.

1Nir Eyal, User Investment (2014)

...However, it could become a powerful retention feature for their freemium.


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Setting your own weekly goals!

Now, I know Strava currently sells this as a "premium feature"...

Love this summary of my run!

I have all the stats I need...

Just finished uploading my run and now, looking at my stats...

Scrolling down...

...But, it would have been the perfect spot for a subtle reminder that I'm missing out on key premium features.

Subtle Reminders

Once you find the right balance between free and premium, you need to remind users what they're missing out on,1 without interrupting their flow.

💎Pro Tip: Be conscious of how many triggers you want to include. 

1Hubspot, The Ultimate Guide To Freemium (2018)
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...And it could be a bit more explicit as to which stats stand out from this run!

...Those two sections are so similar. So much so, that I'm not sure why one is a premium feature?


This is the first thing I do at the end of an effort: looking at Personal Records (PR)!

The Power of Micro Trials

When you ask a user to switch from freemium to premium, make it easy to experience the value he/she will be getting if they pay. Like giving a free trial except for a specific feature.

In this case, I can only do a wild guess of what this feature can give me, since it looks exactly like the section below.

1Growth.Design, The Power of Micro Trials (2019)

The rest of the page really confuses me...

Let's see how we could make this more enticing to convert users to premium!

Unless, that's a placeholder graph?...

...This feature probably has the highest willingness to pay

Find what motivates people to Convert to Premium

"FREE" will get you a lot of people knocking at your door. Make sure your free product matches the intent of your premium offer to maximize conversion.1

Strava has constant growth due to its freemium acquisition model, however, it seems they're still trying to identify what people are willing to pay for.2

💎Pro Tip: Find out why current premium members pay for your service and reverse engineer their desires!

1Tradeoffs, Freemium (2019)
2James Quarles, Why Strava Is Getting More Social Than Ever (2019)
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And why is this premium widget always present?

That could fireback... More on this in a bit....

Ok first, let's put their full leaderboard feature in the premium offer...

I know, I know... But what if it was the only way to have a clean freemium without ads everywhere?

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So, I used a "pop-up" that could trigger only when a user is pushing the limits of its freemium usage...

Instead of always having a prompt visible in the user flow risking this—


Plus, Strava could mix different CTAs to trigger different motivators... 

...Just the thought of losing to some of my friends 😭... hehe

Banner Blindness

Once you see a CTA that doesn't resonate with you, the subconscious brain starts to filter the information.1

💎Pro Tip: Make sure you keep things dynamic by trying new benefits in your CTAs. You never know what could be the main motivator!

1Nielsen Norman Group, The Original Eyetracking Research (2007)

Ok, let's tweak the Pace analysis widget to see how it could convert more...

Finally, notice how I removed the other premium "Pace Analysis" widget to focus the attention on one upsell at a time.

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Same technique used for the Pace widget...

Showing the complete premium feature once in a while instead of leaving a CTA stale...

Again, having one CTA at a time.

Variability is key when designing prompts to convert to premium!

One last thing for you! 

📝 Don't Forget Your Cheatsheet

Get this free one-pager containing:

  • ACTION ITEMS: 6 key steps to create a meaningful freemium to premium experience worth $$ millions.
  • INSIGHTS: All of the 7 psychological & UX insights covered here (with screenshots!)
  • BONUS: 2 redesigns ideas

Yes, I Want My Cheatsheet!

And, Strava's Freemium To Premium score so far is...

Stay tuned for Episode 2, where I go deeper in the freemium to premium experience.

Before you go, make sure to get Strava's freemium cheatsheet for your daily work...

As we saw...

1) The Retention Experience could be enhanced with user investment and weekly stats

2) The Premium is missing this killer feature with a high willingness to pay

3) The upsell CTAs could be a lot more enticing by showing the actual value that the user will get.


PS: I still strongly recommend Strava!


You completed Growth.Design's Case Study #013:
"Strava Freemium Series Part 1"