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Buffer’s fixed but subtle push-to-paid banner

A free trial of a product’s premium subscription might bring all the leads to the yard, but getting users to commit isn’t easy. If a brand doesn’t remind users of its product’s premium benefits during the free trial window, it risks users leaving the platform.

Social media management platform Buffer keeps its Pro subscription top of mind for free trial users by placing an upgrade reminder at the top of the dashboard page.

Here’s how Buffer gets free trial users to become paid customers:
A way to upgrade without delay Right after the free trial signup, users land on the “My Organization” page, where they can connect their social media accounts to Buffer. On this page, Buffer informs users how much time they have left to use Pro features for free. The “Upgrade Now” button stands out and encourages free trial users to take action.

Buffer also prompts free trial users to upgrade by highlighting Pro plan exclusive features. The dashboard, for example, lists Pinterest as a premium social account. For free trial users who need to connect their Pinterest and Buffer accounts, there’s an “Upgrade to connect” CTA link right above the Pinterest section.  

An unobtrusive reminder to subscribe

Once free trial users connect their desired social accounts to Buffer, they land on the Publish dashboard. Here, Buffer uses Appcues to create a simple, tooltip-driven onboarding flow that guides users through the product.

No matter what the user clicks within the Publish dashboard, a navy blue banner with a royal blue "Start Subscription" button is always there, close to the top of the page. There’s also an "Upgrade" CTA right underneath the banner to the right of the content tabs. These elements are permanent fixtures during the free trial stage, but they aren’t in the way when users complete tasks on the platform.

A quick rundown of feature and cost benefits

Clicking the subscription button on the banner launches a full-screen modal overflowing with UX goodness. A bulleted list outlining the Pro plan's perks serves as a greeting to users. If users didn't get to use all of the features during the trial, the modal gives them more reasons why upgrading is a great decision. Buffer also clearly lays out the two payment options, drawing the user’s attention to the annual option by preselecting it.

A complementary product upsell  

So far, we’ve focused on the Buffer Publish Pro plan, but there’s also an additional paid product that Buffer directs users to during the free trial—Analyze. There’s an Analyze tab next to the Publish tab on the dashboard. If users click on the Analyze tab, they’ll get a chance to sign up for another 14-day free trial.

Signing up for the Analyze free trial takes users to the Analyze dashboard. At the top of the dashboard is a familiar sight—a navy blue banner. The copy in the Analyze banner is a bit different than the banner on the Publish dashboard. This time around, users see how much time remains in their free trial, a CTA button urging them to add billing info, and the opportunity to “X” out of the banner and remove it from the dashboard.

Why this is really good UX:

  • The subscription CTA banner stays at the top of the page in a prominent location, but it isn’t distracting.  The banner serves as a low-key reminder that the premium plan’s benefits only last if the user subscribes.
  • Users aren’t required to do much extra work to subscribe. They don’t have to dig around the site to find the billing page to upgrade, because the CTA banner is always on the dashboard. And when users click the CTA on the banner, there isn’t a subscription form with a ton of fields to fill out—just a line to input their card information.
  • Buffer nudges users towards a year-long commitment by preselecting and highlighting the price of an annual Pro plan membership on the upgrade modal. For users hesitant about paying the upfront yearly cost, Buffer’s already done the math and shown the annual plan's cost savings.
  • For free trial users not ready for the annual commitment, the copy in the monthly subscription button reminds them that they can cancel at any time. A monthly subscription with a money-back guarantee is a low-risk investment that just might push users to pay for the premium features.