How A Bootstrapped Startup Built An Automated Marketing Strategy To Get More People From Free To Pay

Startups often come across two large groups of users that consume resources and are unwilling or see little reason to upgrade their account.

These groups can include::

  1. Those that signup and don’t use the tool. Perhaps because they don’t have enough information, they don’t know what’s the next step to take, etc.
  2. And those that signup, start using the tool, but don’t end up paying the fee to use either because they are not sure if they are going to use it that much to justify the expense, or because it’s out of their budget, etc.

Is there something a startup can do to activate these people, and use them them to grow faster? Here we describe how a startup could utilize ActiveCampaign to avoid having stuck people, people not using the tool, or even worse, using it but not paying for it.

1. The context

Many startups are very product focused — they don’t have a lot of resources invested into sales and marketing so it’s essential that they be able to automate as much as possible and minimize human interaction where it’s not necessary.

One proven strategy is to offer an exclusive coupon for moving to the paid version of an app.

Another strategy is to follow-up with casual users to encourage them to interact with the app more but this needs to be done in a targeted way so that someone gets different calls to action depending on whether they’ve never even logged in, at one extreme, or whether they interacted a lot at one point in time, but haven’t for a while.

2. The campaign and some of the ActiveCampaign features used

Once the team understands and defines their goals, they start to setup ActiveCampaign and integrate their site so they get a marketing program on auto-pilot mode.

How to get more people using the app…

To get started, set up ActiveCampaign’s event tracking and site tracking features which will allow you to know what a user of your app has done, what pages have been visited, what has been clicked, etc. It allows you to log each individuals unique set of actions so you can give them targeted follow-up.

You might define 3 groups of users that haven’t continued using your app:

    • Those users that have not performed any action in the tool.

    • Those ones that have uploaded a .csv and/or created some entries in the tool, but nothing else beyond that.

    • Those ones that after configuring the tools with some personal settings, and playing around a bit with it, they have never came back after the first days of usage.

You could have one automation handle all these cases. The automation takes as starting point the link that every new user has to click when opening an account then:

  • It sends an email with first steps, videos to get started in the usage of the tool – for those that have click in the link but barely done anything else in the tool.
  • Send specific help articles, or video tutorials to perform small actions within the tool.
  • Setup follow-up custom email for those seem to be more interesting/using the tool OR a phone follow-up for those that seem to be managing big accounts.

How the automations looks in its complete view:

How to get more people that are already using the tool to start paying?

Besides inactive users, there are some potential paying users who need a little extra push to pull out their credit cards and subscribe.

You could identify them as:

  • Users that have visited the pricing page several times. (user has visited several times a certain domain or landing page)
  • Users that have logged many times in their short lifetime as users.
  • And those users that come from a specific source: You may know that certain traffic sources convert at a much higher rate than others. For instance, certain ads or referring websites.

You could easily create a segment of users who have viewed the product pricing repeatedly:

You could then create an  automation that sends a small discount (20% off for the 1st month of subscription) and then checks with ActiveCampaign to see if the user has converted. If that’s not the case, you can try to tempt them again with a bigger discount, but also asking him to commit to use the tool more time (50% off for 3 months). This is how the automation looks:

To target those users who have used the app a lot during the trial period, you could use lead scoring to identify them and then begin automated offers:

Based on the page views or events performed within the tool, ActiveCampaign can automatically calculate and assign a score to those users that might be in trial status or have not converted yet. Those that reach a certain threshold score, can be sent a drip campaign or even a manual email follow-up:

For high-converting traffic, you could create an automation like this:


This automation could send targeted content like a case study that is directly related to the referral source they came from. This kind of content will speak to their needs and interests.

You would trigger this email by tracking who is coming from what referral (event tracking) > tagging > send email in an automation.


Get better results from your marketing

Try ActiveCampaign free for 14-days. No credit card needed.