Challenge: converting free to paid users

WooCommerce, the core plugin, is free, and is monetized via payment partnerships and extensions. In December 2018, we dug into usage data to understand how well we were monetizing the base of WooCommerce users with extensions.

We found that only approximately 30% of active stores were using paid extensions, and that stores that used extensions were, in general, somewhat more successful. Store were likely to add paid extensions either right off the bat, or when they reached certain success thresholds in monthly or total sales. This suggested that some store owners knew what they wanted at the get-go and bought it, while others waiting until they had some proven success to invest in additional website features, which we validated with qualitative research.

From this data, I hypothesized that more stores could benefit from paid extensions, but weren’t aware of their options early enough in their journey.

Solution: inform users about paid offerings within the product

When a users sets up WooCommerce, there were a couple of ways to discover paid offerings:

  1. Within WooCommerce, users could click on to the ‘Extensions’ navigation item, which meant they knew the term and that it could solve their problem
  2. Outside of WooCommerce, users could Google and potentially end up on

While these were strong discovery channels, they required a heavy lift on the users part, both in knowing where to look and what it was called.

A users journey from starting setup to being a successful user with a paid product had a lot of potential drop-off points:

I reviewed on-site and in-product data and created a model to determine where our greatest leverage point was – where could we add something to educate users about their options? Based on the data, I determine that in-product suggestions on other core screens were our biggest opportunity.

I advocated for this opportunity with our leadership team, shifted our development teams priorities to allow us to focus on it, and secured a designer to help us think through solutions.


When the feature was initially included in the beta release for WooCommerce 3.6, there was strong feedback from developers in the open source community about one of the placements – they felt it was intrusive on the screen. In response, we remove that placement, made opting out of suggestions more obvious, and wrote a blog post for our developer audience explaining our rationale.

The experience was a good lesson in the importance of engaging the developer community, and planning communications explicitly for them.

After we adjusted for the full launch, we received no negative feedback from store owners. Within the first month of launch, this feature became the #4 revenue-driving campaign for the Marketplace.

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