Digital evolution

Digital evolution


It is fascinating to observe human behavior. Of great interest to me is the intersection with the practices evolving to deal with the digital world, manifested in all sorts of unexpected ways.

One is the huge range of digital tools now available using the so called ‘Freemium” model. Give away a  subset of the software’s capability for free, thus getting trial and hopefully conversion to the paid versions. This has been very successful for many platforms, LinkedIn, Mailchimp, Surveymonkey, and is increasingly being applied by platforms to generate advertising revenue as they offer free user access to the platform.

On the other hand, over human evolution, there are lots of common characteristics  evident, three in particular that are relevant to any discussion of the freemium model that most would recognise:

  1. People want what they cannot have.
  2. People chase things that are moving away from them
  3. People value what they have to pay for, irrespective of the payment being in effort or some other means of exchange.


At first glance the Freemium software model is  breaking these evolutionary rules, but on closer examination they are actually using them to their advantage.

By making the paid capabilities of the software explicit as free users try to do more and more with the familiarity that comes with software use, they get frustrated with the limitations and upgrade to the paid version.

For small businesses,  whatever the business they are in, from the local retailer to service provider, combining these forces can work for you.

For example, if you want your car serviced, do you want it serviced by the bloke who can fit it in today, or the bloke who is so busy you have to wait 2 weeks?

It might also cost a bit more.

Creating some tension, then enabling people to resolve the tension, generally delivers greater satisfaction with the outcome, as those converted find ways to justify to themselves the value  of their decision.

It has certainly worked with me, and it allows small businesses particularly to experiment at low cost, with nothing at risk apart from a  bit of time.