A lifetime deal is a familiar thing in the IT industry. Whether you offer a service, membership, desktop or web–based software, self-hosted, or something else, there is always a lifetime deal running for everything. Many of you know I used to work for Themeum – an Ollyo (former JoomShaper) brand.
Right after I joined the Themeum team, a new flagship plugin called Tutor LMS was about to release to the worldwide web. I skipped WP Page Builder, WP Crowdfunding, and the WP Mega Menu plugin. Because there were too many things to learn before I started working on promoting those products. So, I chose Tutor LMS as it was just starting to come out of the incubator. It was easy for me to get information about the plans, how they worked, the targets, and our expectations from them.
The emergence of the lifetime plan
Right after we launched the paid version of Tutor LMS, people started asking us if we had plans to introduce an LTD via email, Facebook page inbox, and comments. At that time, none of us knew how lifetime deals work and how WordPress plugin companies handle it. I have been working in the WordPress community since 2012 and have heard this term a few times but never had to plan a campaign for lifetime deals.
As there is a new product, there was a rush regarding blog content, customer support, product testing, and I, too, was just getting to know things at the office. So, I had no spare time to learn about LTD campaigns at the office. I just looked briefly at a couple of pages I found via Google Search. I was instantly convinced that this could increase sales and development a lot!
The team was on a reserved mindset regarding pricing. We just had a long meeting the previous week regarding the price of our products. I needed solid points to convince everyone that lifetime pricing is risk-free and will not increase any stress on our current team setup. I saved some time from my sleeping hours and made a 9-point list. Those were solid enough to convince the team the next morning.
All of the team members were against a lifetime plan. Their major argument was that we would lose yearly renewal revenue as these would be a one-time payment.
My argument was-
- We do not have any revenue in the first place. So, we can’t lose something we don’t have! We need to get customers and active installations first to lose yearly renewal. We alone cannot make a product perfect. We need actual users who will deploy the product in an actual environment.
- No extra workforce is needed for LTD customers. Regardless of the number of installations a customer has, they are going to ask the same questions. I mean, if someone faces any issue on 1 website, he will face the same with 100. And for us, fixing an issue for 1 website and 100 is the same. So, no extra workforce required. No extra stress for having LTD unlimited plan customers.
These are the nonsensitive information I can discuss here. The rest of the seven points were about the pricing, discounts, affiliate commission, lifetime of a WordPress plugin, the amount and time we need to make a futureproof plugin, alternative options for revenue and continuing the development, etc. If you are a marketing professional and interested to know about these things, get in touch with me. I will share all my understanding and findings with you. I believe in sharing knowledge and open source. So, I will try to answer all your questions without hiding anything.
But I don’t think it’s necessary. If you are already working in the industry, you can calculate the numbers and find the other information on Google.
The lifetime deal buyers
After running the campaign for only one month in one Facebook group, I can’t help but stereotype the LTD buyers. Here are some of the common characteristics I have found in them-
- The get them all guy– they will try to find every single product on your website and ask if you are offering everything with the deal. We posted a deal about Tutor LMS, which is a plugin. But people were asking about our theme bundle. Some of them even tried forcing us to include themes with the plugin. We were offering the plugin at half price, and still, they wanted more.
- The married to the product guy – they will push you to integrate the products they already purchased even if they are not related in any way. Even if those products and services are very unpopular and don’t make any sense, they will ask you for integrations and will not move 1 inch leaving that product aside. And a couple more will join him, supporting the demand because they bought that too!
SaaS companies suffer a lot.
We were very safe because of the price tag and the category. We didn’t have to take any liability for the hosting architecture, space, or management. Because of the relatively larger price tag, very few people bought the deal, all of whom were agency owners. So, they knew what they were dealing with and the liabilities involved.
But for, SaaS products such as SEO, content marketing, video hosting, and other services, were in big trouble due to the low price and a large number of customers.
A hosting company launched a deal for 79 USD for web hosting in AppSumo. Everyone needs hosting for their website, so thousands of people bought the deal over one week. The company owner couldn’t resist the large amount of money he received. So, he kept increasing the number of codes and ended up with an even larger amount of support emails.
When you run a lifetime deal, it is easy money within a very short period. But announcing a lifetime deal for a generic tool below 100 or 50 USD is like unleashing the Kraken that would eventually rip your ship apart!
- If you are selling something generic like a noise-canceling app or a video editing app, “not so tech-savvy” people will buy the deal and bombard you with support emails.
- There will be too much misunderstanding regarding what is expected to work in what way and whose fault it is when an issue appears.
- You can surely get a good amount of money within a short period. But with customers comes customer support. You cannot hire more support staff in one week and pick up the speed as people buy and send emails and increase the live chat queue.
- In most cases, the waiting time for support will start getting longer, and people will start requesting refunds out of frustration. So, your empire will fall off faster than it took to take shape!
What things to consider before lifetime deals or any kind of large discount
- If you are a SaaS company, ensure you have enough support and marketing staff to cover 24/7 all the possible channels. If not possible, then try covering at least the US and EU office hours with existing staff and have some contractual staff on standby if things start picking up pace.
- The server and other resources are available and set to handle the extra load. Like if you’re a hosting company, you must have the automated acquisition option enabled and running smoothly or at least have a day’s worth of space reserved for the crowd.
- Be extra careful not to break things. Test as much as possible and ensure nothing major can break for common use cases. Companies offer LTD in the early stages, I know. But your product or service can have fewer features but not something that does not work or something that can make the entire system or service unusable. People leave faster than they came and take hundreds of others with them. Even one unhappy customer can harm the entire campaign. So, you can not take a chance with anyone.
- Research! Research! Research!
Try knowing about the customer lifecycle for your product or service, their lifetime spending amount, their lifetime for your product or service, legal restrictions, norms, expectations, pricing strategy, and refund policy.
- Don’t go to AppSumo or any other platform unless you don’t have any other option. There are a ton of platforms out there that allow you to pitch your product or service without spending a dime. You can search “LTD” on Facebook and join the groups. You can also request sites to list your deal. You can also try remarketing to your website visitors. I am against AppSumo because of its ridiculous commission rate and service.
Lifetime deals are a double-edged sword in the IT industry. While they offer the potential for rapid revenue and customer base expansion, they also come with a unique set of challenges that need proactive handling. My journey through launching an LTD for a WordPress plugin has been enlightening. It has taught me that a successful LTD campaign requires a careful balance of strategy, planning, resource management, and, above all, the courage to face the unknown. The path might be fraught with obstacles, but with the right mindset, every hurdle can be transformed into a stepping stone towards success.