Case study

Increasing user activation for Buffer

When we disbanded our growth team at Buffer one of the final experiments the growth team worked on was removing all on-boarding from the Publish product (which is the main Buffer product). Over the past year the Publish team have been re-building the main dashboard from scratch, so we haven't had the resource to build out a new on-boarding experience.


Late last year we saw a decline in M.O.M growth in upgrades from Free to Pro which is a key area for our MRR. So we decided that working on a new on-boarding experience for Free customers (we could also replicate this for Pro and Business users as our Free plan is the base plan) would be a great opportunity to get our growth rate back up.

Defining the value of the Free Plan

We wanted to move fast on this project so we decided to use our intuition from past research and dig into the data to help define the value of the Free Plan.

From past research, we knew that people usually signed up for the Free Plan as a way to test out Buffer on a few social accounts. Prior to using Buffer they would typically manage their social natively and spend a lot of time going from network to network to create their posts. So a big reason for them signing up is to save time by creating content in one bulk session for multiple networks and then leaving it to go out throughout the week.

While we had heard this many times on previous calls, we still wanted to double it check it matched the quantitative data. So we looked at the data for Free Plan users who had signed up in the past 30 days.

We looked at the following data points:

  • No of social accounts connected

  • No of posts created

  • Web extension installed - Yes or No

  • Mobile app installed - Yes or No

  • Did they upgrade to Pro

The insights we found backed up our theory that people get more value from posting to multiple social accounts and we also found that people who create more than 15 posts in the first 7 days are 50% more likely to upgrade than those who don't.

How do we help people create more posts in their first 7 days?

Encouraging people to create content is difficult, the current first experience with Buffer is just an open composer in an attempt to encourage people to create content.


Instead of thinking how we can get someone to create their first post we looked at the other metrics to see if we could identify common patterns in users who upgrade in the first 7 days.


From this we found that users who add 3 social accounts and install the web extension we're much more likely to create more 15 posts in the first 7 days. We also saw that upgrades within this cohort were even higher.

So instead of focusing on getting the users to create their first posts we wanted to highlight the benefits of connected 3 social accounts, and adding the web extension which enables them to share content from anywhere on the web.


Here's a few screens from the new on-boarding experience:

Instead of taking the user to the dashboard after connecting their first social account we encouraged them to connect up to 3 social accounts.

From there we introduced a modal explaining the benefit of installing the web extension.

We then used various tooltips based on events to help orientate the user into their new experience. This one explains how they can post to multiple social accounts in one session.

These queues might feel a little obvious but a key reason why people choose Buffer over our competition is our reputation for an intuitive product and a personal support experience and we wanted to reflect that care through in how we guide our users in their first experience with Buffer.