108: UX world-domination

I have yet to see a satisfaction survey site that made me want to get out my wallet or give it a try. They are usually charging by the month or by the test or by the project. And the offer is just extremely boring. None of them make me go “cool! gimmee!” Most have barriers to entry “like writing a survey” or setting up credit card accounts, trial periods, etc. Those are all intimidating, frustrating, and burdensome. Bad UX.

Skype has an interesting strategy. Their service is free. You can upgrade to professional quality services. You don’t have to have a credit card to get in. Only 6% of their customers are “paid subscribers” the other 94% are all leaches. Yet, those 6% provide 100% of their profits. Essentially, $100 per year per paid user.

Microsoft bought Skype for $8.6 Billion. The annual revenue is not quite $1 billion. How much is profit I don’t know. It took only 8 years to get to that point. Phenomenal.

Skype eliminated their competition with a preemptive first strike at market dominance. They weren’t the first online telephony company but they were the first to go FREE.

It is called the “free plus paid services” business model. It all depends on how compelling of a value proposition Skype makes for users to upgrade.

About 35% of Skype’s users are businesses (probably small businesses). And not all of those are paid. This is also important because business users are more likely to pay for advanced features, rather than sucking up the free version only.

The question is what compelling value proposition will entice free users to convert to paying users. Answer: Remove all barriers to use then upgrade.

We aren’t selling to consumers –we are selling to programmers, project managers, and marketing managers (development teams). Business people with profit motives. But first they need to toy with it.

The point is Skype used “free” to go viral. The cost of acquiring customers was small compared to the usual sign-up conventional phone services. What they bought with “free” was cheap marketing. Without it, they never would have gotten out of the gates.

My gut says we have to give something away to make it big. Something compelling like unlimited tests and access to the dashboard –but lock up the “details section”. The real pros will want the whole enchilada. Those who came just to play could careless but as long as our overhead is minimal it’s okay. We have to encourage playing. We have unlimited bandwidth. We have limited data storage but can make it time-limited (expiration of access). The dashboard is relevant (juicy) but not as much as the “details”. It is a good and pretty indicator (qualitative assessment). It has value but not everything.

Let them sample all they want of the nutrition-less but still charge $50 per project to taste the main course. We sell the add-on from the dashboard. We give them repeat but expiring access to the results.

I think this is required for fast “world-domination”.