Breaking Down the Confluence.VC Funnel: How We've Made Our Free-to-Paid Conversion Rate 4x Better Than the Industry Average

The average freemium product has a 2-5% free-to-paid conversion. We currently convert over 12% of our members from free-to-paid which has allowed us to scale our MRR over the past four months. 


This guide is meant to share some things that have worked for us so that you can apply them to your own funnels.


Confluence.VC Funnel


High-level on how our business grows:


  • Be easily discovered by the right people through content and word-of-mouth
  • Make it easy for those people to navigate our website and apply to join the community
  • Accept members that meet our membership criteria
  • Provide accepted members with huge amounts of value for free
  • Encourage free members to upgrade to a premium plan when they want to get more out of their membership
  • Offer the best premium product as possible so that paid members never leave and they tell others to sign up


Leads (website traffic, newsletter readers, podcast listeners)

High-level takeaways:


  • SEO is a long-tail game. The more content you put out, the more domain authority you control. The more domain authority you control, the more leads you can expect.
  • Find growth tools. These have longer shelf lives than other forms of content and allows you provide something of value to new visitors by escaping the content treadmill. Good examples of this are job boards, directories, and calculators (more examples in this piece).
  • Best way to be discovered is to continually put out more content. Aggregators reward those that put the work in. You can’t expect for people to find you if you only share something once a quarter (unless that one piece of content goes viral, which is unlikely).
  • Find a good content writer. Writing good content takes time, so if you’re short on time but long on money, find somebody to do this for you. Give them a list of topics to write about, start adding it to your blog. Play around with a few writers before committing to one for multiple assignments. 
  • People love lists. Lists attraction attention, and they’re also some of the easiest content to produce. If you have databases, share takeaways of those in written form with good headlines.
  • Recycle your content. Read this. You don’t have to keep churning out content if you find ways to recycle. Do this by sharing show notes, recapping podcast talks, or linking to previous content in new pieces.
  • Stick to a schedule. People will forget about you if you don’t. Depending on the type of content you’re sharing, you should be aiming to put something out at least once a week. 
  • Always be providing value. People don’t give their attention to those that are constantly selling them something. If you do have something to sell, make 90% of the content valuable to the reader before introducing any sales.



High-level takeaways:


  • Embed signups forms in other forms of content. This meets your audience where they are and makes it easier to drive leads into signups.
  • Clean up your landing page copy. Headline should give a clear explanation of what you do and make visitor want to learn more.
  • Provide social proof. People follow people. Prove that other people or businesses are using your product, and watch what happens to your conversion rates.
  • Only include one CTA on your homepage. More links = less actions taken. Optimize through reduction. 
  • Emojis help. For one reason or another, emojis help with engagement. Play around with including them within your CTA to make the button look more inviting to click on.


Accepted members (free)

High-level takeaways:


  • Establish a vetting process. We have criteria of who we let in, so this is the most manual part of our funnel. If you have a vetting process, I would recommend batching and setting aside time once per week to do this (we onboard new members every Wednesday).
  • Build a trust profile. People in this step of the process already trust us enough to apply. Now we want to build up enough trust for them to start paying us.
  • Leverage email sequences. To build a trust profile, we send over four emails over the first seven days walking them through how to get the most out of their free membership plan. Within each email, we hint at the premium plan if they want to get more value from us.
  • Remind them of the social proof. We covered this in the last part, but it’s important to re-emphasize this to free members. Saying something like “Join 1,600 other investors from firms like X, Y, Z” is much more compelling than “Upgrade your membership”.
  • Finish email with offer too good to ignore. After the first four emails, we send one more email inviting members to join for a risk-free period. If they put in their card information, they can play around with their membership for 30 days, and we give them a full refund if they decide they don’t see enough value to keep paying after those 30 days pass. 


Accepted members (paid)

High-level takeaways:


  • Give them one action step to get started. Establish what the core asset of your community, steer new members to that asset, and give them an action item to do. For us, our core asset is our Slack group, so we invite new members to the Slack group, and we encourage them to invite themselves in the #intros channel because they are much more likely to be found there.
  • Act as a facilitator. If your paid members follow your action item request, reward them for it by introducing them to other members. Nobody knows your members better than you, so act as a facilitator to make some magic happen.
  • Remind them of other features. After they have joined the discussion, funnel them to other parts of your community where they can find value. We have a member directory, job board, perk board, a place for personalized intros, and a private talent network. Sending all of this immediately will flood members with too much information, so we spread it out over the course of a few weeks. 
  • Pitch your price as a bargain. People buy things for one of six reasons (necessity, convenience, security, FOMO, identity, or happiness). A dollar amount cannot be placed on any of these reasons, so as long as your price establishes the outcome, it is up to the buyer’s discretion as to how much they are willing to pay for that outcome. If your free-to-paid conversion is too high (>12%), you are probably underpricing your offering.


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