We increased the data limits of our Free Plan by 100x and re-thought our online pricing strategy. Here’s why. - Mixpanel
Inside Mixpanel

We increased the data limits of our Free Plan by 100x and re-thought our online pricing strategy. Here’s why.

Pranav Kashyap

TL;DR: we recently released an all-new Free Plan with up to 100K Monthly Tracked Users (MTUs), made changes to our pricing curve, and launched a Startup Program to give early-stage companies more runway for growth. Before we get into the details behind our strategy and approach, here’s a quick overview:

  • An expanded data limit on our Free Plan, from 1,000 MTUs to 100,000 MTUs (or up to 100M events per month), representing an increase of 100x.
  • No more data history limits on all new Free, Growth, and Enterprise Plans.
  • A roughly 60% decrease in pricing for online plans to make product analytics more accessible to everyone.
  • Plus, eligible early-stage startups get $50,000 in Mixpanel credits (or a year of our highest tier Growth plan for free, plus overages) via our Startup Program.

We know what you might be thinking: that’s crazy! Why? 

First and foremost, startups are in our DNA. It’s a journey we know well, and one we’re committed to supporting. 

At the end of the day, our goal is to grow along with our customers while providing value at every stage of their lifecycle—from inception, to hyper-growth, and hyper-scale. But our old plans were too limited for startups to try out the product, and grow sustainably. 

All customer-centric approach

We spent more than 6 months doing a ton of qualitative and quantitative research, including interviews with dozens of past, current, and potential customers, market research, and product analysis.

And we uncovered some pretty consistent themes:

  • Startups wanted to be able to grow as much as possible before paying—and runway for growth was more important than access to advanced features (i.e. in a 5-person startup, everyone has access to all the company’s data already, so the enterprise-grade data classification tools we’d built were of no use to them). 
  • They also wanted to be able to analyze and share long-term trends with investors and employees without coming up against data history limits.
  • Transparent, affordable pricing was important, along with being able to self-serve. Also, many product development teams want to “try before they buy” (and have the technical skills to do so).

We also had input from some very smart folks—thank you Olivia June (VINA), Matt Raoul (Timehop, Nimbus), Kathleen Nisbet (Axios), and Ilya Gnatyuk (digital/product analytics consultant)—who helped us reprice and re-package our features to better serve our customers. 

Below, I’ll walk through the key ingredients of our new plans and pricing strategy, and how we got there.

1. Grow as much as possible before paying

Our old Free Plan only allowed you to track 1,000 MTUs (i.e. unique end users and all their actions) per month. While this was okay for smaller B2B startups, it excluded many in B2C, as well as companies that wished to track anonymous website traffic. 

Our new plan lets you track up to 100,000 MTUs each month. Through our research, we found that this was more than enough for 90% of our customer base. The increased data volume also reduces “range anxiety” on the Free Plan, as most customers said they would be ready to pay by the time they scaled to 100,000 users. Additionally, our Startup Program provides $50,000 in Mixpanel credits to eligible startups so they can extend this runway even further (up to 340,000 MTUs for a year)—and make use of premium Mixpanel features available on our revamped Growth Plans. 

The thinking goes that as our startup customers grow (both in terms of number of users, and depth of analysis) they’d start to see the value in advanced product analytics capabilities, and be encouraged to level up. Things like paywalls and feature gates don’t impact customers until they’re routinely finding value. 

And if a company never grows to the point where our premium offerings would make sense for them, they’re still able to uncover the user insights they need to build better products.

2. Analyze and share long-term trends with investors and employees

A persistent pain point for many startups, we discovered, was that they were frequently fundraising. Prospective investors would ask for long-term metrics, but it wasn’t realistic to just show them product metrics from the last 90 days (the data history limit on our old free plan), and expect them to extrapolate.

At the same time, startups want to be able to easily share insights across their teams so everyone can make fast decisions, with trusted data.

Data history on our Free Plan is now unlimited so you can showcase your performance improvements over time, view retention, and much more. We also removed limits on seats so you don’t have to worry about adding that next team member to your account. 

3. Rest easy with transparent, affordable, self-serve pricing

Startups are busy building amazing things—they don’t have time to go through a long sales process, have Legal run through contract terms, or Procurement negotiate to get cheaper prices (nor do they want to go through a signup process that’s onerous and confusing). Pricing predictability is also key for startups that are cost-conscious.

We made pricing as transparent as possible so you know exactly how much you’ll pay each month. For online (Growth) plans, we also implemented a 60% decrease in pricing across the board to make product analytics more accessible to everyone, built easy-to-understand, persona-based plan tiers, and created a more frictionless online signup process so those who want to can self-serve.

As pricing and packaging expert Patrick Campbell says in this piece by First Round, “Your customer should be able to go to your pricing page and understand the difference between each of the plans in under 20 seconds. Enterprise Ernesto should be able to find the enterprise plan, and self-correct quickly if he’s looking at Startup Susan’s package.”

To be sure, for customers who wish to be led through a more traditional sales experience, there are no plans for this to go away. We simply have more pathways to get to the product that’s right for you, in the way that’s right for you.

Further validation: market research and product analysis

In addition to qualitative user research, we looked closely at a handful of leading product-led SaaS companies we admire, including Figma, Notion, Twilio, Typeform, Miro, Slack, and Zoom. The benefits of a product-led growth strategy to users and businesses are clear—some like OpenView’s Blake Bartlett, would even argue that its becoming table stakes—but there were a couple of themes that stood out to us:

  • Volume limits shouldn’t be a barrier to customers trying to learn and get value from a product. For free plans, this means:
    • Unlimited seats encourage as much adoption and collaboration as possible.
    • Limits indicate value (Zoom: 40-minute meetings; Miro: 3 boards used).
    • Limits manage company costs (Slack: storage limit; Twilio: credits), and they have a workaround (Notion: delete blocks; Zoom: reconnect).
  • And, at every level, users are always able to do the following:
    • Use the core functionality (Slack: send messages; Zoom: have a meeting; Figma: collaborate on a project).
    • See how advanced functionality might make upgrading worthwhile (Slack: 10 integrations, one-on-one calls; Zoom: 40-minute meetings).
    • Upgrade without friction (Notion, Slack: all free users are administrators).

To be sure, we used Mixpanel on Mixpanel to validate our hypotheses about how our customers leverage various parts of the product to analyze their data. We paired this research with the qualitative feedback and market research above to develop plans that align with our user personas. 

Mixpanel on Mixpanel: data on product usage for Free vs. Enterprise plan users. Data is for sample purposes only.

Reassuringly, startup customers are already feeling the positive impact of these changes. Like Luke Thomas, founder of workplace productivity startup Friday:

“For anyone who wants to add product analytics to their startup stack, Mixpanel’s Free plan is A+. Not only is it simple to get started, but it’s also easy to understand what it will cost long-term as our user base grows.” 

And Jeremy Yuan, head of product marketing and analytics at video communication platform mmhmm:

“One of the things that spoke to us about Mixpanel was its cost structure. We saw other tools with fine free features, but the features that you really wanted were behind this paywall and you had to sign up for a big-ticket expense to get those. Mixpanel allows you to graduate that spend. And once we began using it, it was just really easy for us to keep using it.”

All this free stuff begs the question: why upgrade? 

The whole intention behind our new Free Plan is to provide early-stage companies with access to advanced product analytics capabilities that scale with their business. If that means you don’t need to upgrade right away, then we’ve done our job right (and it’s a “risk factor” we built into our new pricing model).

Here’s a quick overview of features you’ll get in the Free Plan, and those you’ll get when you grow. When you find yourself running into these constraints, it may be time to upgrade:

What you get now (100K MTU Free Plan):

  • All core reports are available on the Free Plan (Insights, Flows, Funnels, Retention, and Explore), along with unlimited seats and up to 5 saved reports per user. 
  • All reports on the Free Plan are public to everyone in your project so you can easily share insights across the company, and make decisions faster.
  • Access to all of our data governance features and US/EU data storage.
  • A flavor of our advanced query-time modeling and data enrichment capabilities (cohorts, custom properties, and lookup tables), which are available to use in-line while doing analysis (you’ll need to upgrade to be able to save them).
  • Billing administration access for all users frictionless upgrades (when the time is right).
  • Community support and learning resources via QBQ | The Mixpanel Community.

What you’ll get when you grow (Growth & Enterprise Plans):

  • Advanced Experiment, Impact and Correlation Analysis reports, as well as machine learning tools like Find Interesting Segments.
  • Granular privacy features, sensitive data classifications, and single sign-on (SSO) are possible with Enterprise Plans, where this functionality becomes much more important.
  • Unlimited access to the advanced query-time modeling and data enrichment capabilities mentioned above.
  • Unlimited saved reports with granular visibility and modification settings.
  • Custom user roles and permissions, and access to our legendary support team.

 

Get started with our all-new Free Plan here (or let us know if we can help you choose a plan to suit your needs, now or in the future). Also, we’re live on Product Hunt, so head over and let us know what you think!

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