The Freemium Codex


Freemium, as a business model, is not fairly well defined from an academic perspective — that is, its application to, and implementing in, software products is guided largely by existing precedent.

It’s only a matter of time until those precedents — which are essentially best practices — are codified into a framework and taught in universities and in “analyst” / recent graduate programs at large software companies. Until that happens, however, freemium — for better or worse — is largely defined by the most popular articles written about it on the internet.

This list of articles attempts to serve as a codex, or a qualified list of resources, for the freemium business model. The articles are grouped according to the major features of the model as defined in Freemium Economics.


Visualizing the importance of retention in Freemium (Mobile Dev Memo)

User Retention: Yes, But Which One? (Applift)

The 9 Keys to Taming Promiscuous App Users and Increasing User Retention (Helpshift)

Why Flurry’s retention metrics are misleading developers (Pocket Gamer)

What Do Your App’s User Retention Numbers Really Mean? (Fast Company)

How to Retain Users (Quicksprout)

SaaS Churn: Measure Revenue or Customer Retention? (SaaS Growth Strategies)

Why the retention profile is more useful than the churn metric in freemium (Mobile Dev Memo)

What factors influence DAU/MAU? Nature versus nurture (Andrew Chen)

The Maximum Viable Churn Rate For A Startup (Tomasz Tunguz)

Customer Retention Rate Explained For Dummies (Client Heartbeat)

User Retention: 5 Mistakes to Avoid (Startapp)

Why your free-to-play users aren’t coming back (VentureBeat)

Mid-Core Success Part 2: Retention (Gamasutra)

Business Model 101: Understanding Churn… and why Freemium is not a very intuitive marketing model (Next Big What)

Retention rates and their impact on lifetime customer value (Mobile Dev Memo)

Lifetime Customer Value

The role of LTV in freemium (Mobile Dev Memo)

Two Methods for Modeling LTV with a Spreadsheet (Mobile Dev Memo)

Mobile Models: Looking closer at LTV, CPI, & ROI (Jon Radoff, Slideshare)

How to create a profitable Freemium startup (spreadsheet model included!) (Andrew Chen)

Modeling Customer Lifetime Value (Hansens et al, Journal of Service Research)

Customer Value in the Freemium Model (Jim Novo)

How do you calculate ‘Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)’ in different verticals like ecommerce, social networking, content portals etc? (Quora)

The math of money in freemium (Famous Aspect)

How to estimate Lifetime Value; Sample cohort analysis (Jeremy Liew)

Should Lifetime Customer Value (LCV) be Discounted? (Mobile Dev Memo)

Lifetime Customer Value Calculator (Harvard Business School, .xls file download)

The Dangerous Seduction of the Lifetime Value (LTV) Formula (Above the Crowd by Bill Gurley)

Quantitative Literacy: An interview with Wharton Professor Dr. Peter Fader (Mobile Dev Memo)

In-App Marketing: 6 Tips For Maximizing Player LTV (Youtube, Steve Collins)

Measuring Customer Lifetime Value: Models and Analysis (Sing et al, INSEAD)


How to Model Viral Growth: The Hybrid Model (Rahul Vohra, LinkedIn)

A Better Mathematical Model of Viral Marketing (Valerie Coffman, Data Community DC)

The Four Viral App Objectives (a.k.a., “Social network application virality 101″) (Yee Lee)

K-Factor is not an Accurate Viral Measure (Shift 8 Creative)

Virality in mobile gaming, Part 3: Building a virality model (Mobile Dev Memo)

Getting Serious About Measuring Virality (Mixpanel)

Viral marketing by the numbers (Steven Hugg, Slideshare)

The dynamics of viral marketing (Lescovec et al, ACM Transactions on the Web)

Defining Viral Growth for Mobile Apps (Mobile Dev Memo)

The Viral Growth Model and Viral Growth Curve (Brandon Gaille)

Five characteristics of a viral product (Mobile Dev Memo)

The K-Factor, “Growth” and Going Viral (Both Guns Blazing)

Finding your Viral Coefficient (Culttt)

Viral coefficient: What it does and does NOT measure (Andrew Chen)

20 lessons about making viral apps I learned the hard way (Niklas Agevik)


The freemium monetization curve is continuous (Mobile Dev Memo)

12 Critical Mobile Monetization Concepts (Gamasutra)

Monetization Strategies: iOS + Android (John Grotland, Slideshare)

14.5% conversion rate for freemium/In-App-Purchase game utility app (Ariel Sabintsev, Medium)

Freemium Pricing for SaaS: Optimizing Paid Conversion Upgrades (OnStartups)

Clash of Clans – Time Monetization Formulas Demistifyed (Gamasutra)

Making Money with Freemium Apps (PlacePlay, YouTube)

What are the best practices for in-app purchases in iOS apps? (Quora)

App Monetization Options and Best Practices – Whiteboard Wednesday (Localytics)

CSR Racing Dissected (Deconstructor of Fun)

Freemium math: what’s the right conversion percentage? (The Long Tail)

The Key To Freemium Subscription Conversion (Elia Freedman)

Designing in-app purchases that work (Jesper Bylund)

When freemium goes bad, How to fix? (Bright Journey)

Freemium, Conversion Rates and More: AVG CEO J.R. Smith (Sramana Mitra)

In-App Purchases: 3 Ways to Sell App Upgrades Successfully (Sitepoint)

How Rage of Bahamut Monetizes (Deconstructor of Fun)

Mobile Monetization Optimization (Richard O’Connell, .ppt file download)

Freemium Analytics

Minimum Viable Metrics for Mobile (Mobile Dev Memo)

The Game Life Cycle & Game Analytics: What metrics matter when? (HoneyTracks, Slideshare)

Intro to User Analytics (Gamasutra)

The 10 Commandments of Mobile App Analytics (Mobile Dev Memo)

Using Gaming Product Hacks To Maximize Freemium SaaS Growth (Tomasz Tunguz)

The Metrics Aren’t the Message (Gamasutra)

Measure or Die: Analytics and F2P Mobile Game Design (Jeferson Valadares, YouTube)

3 Rules to Actionable Metrics in a Lean Startup (Ash Maurya)

3 Common Mistakes When Looking At Freemium Metrics (Stan Beremski, Slideshare)

Cohort Analysis For Startups: Six Summary Reports To Understand Your Customer Base (With Code) (Tomasz Tunguz)

The pitfalls of industry benchmarks (Mobile Dev Memo)

Is DAU the ultimate vanity metric? (Gamasutra)

Use this spreadsheet for churn, MRR, and cohort analysis (Guest Post) (Christoph Janz, Andrew Chen)

Interpreting the new users drop-off chart (Mobile Dev Memo)

User Acquisition

The click-through rate conundrum (Mobile Dev Memo)

Understanding User Acquisition in Freemium (Kim Joar Bekkelund)

How to calculate cost-per-acquisition for startups relying on freemium, subscription, or virtual items biz models (Andrew Chen)

Are You Using the Right SaaS Customer Acquisition Model? (David Skok)

The 10 Commandments of Mobile User Acquisition (Mobile Dev Memo)

Emerging Strategies to User Acquisition (YouTube)

Can Paid Customer Acquisition Work With Freemium? (Rob Walling)

User Acquisition: An Indie Developer’s Guide (Click Labs, Slideshare)

Small-business customer acquisition for your freemium product launch (Lime Daring)

SaaS Freemium Customer Acquisition Costs (SaaS Growth Strategies)

The Most Effective Mobile User Acquisition Techniques (Sho Masuda, Slideshare)

Launching a free-to-play game: Ladder vs. Trampoline (Mobile Dev Memo)

User Acquisition Secrets of the Top Apps (YouTube)

Leveraging Customer Lifetime Value for user acquisition campaigns (Applift, Slideshare)

Scott Heiferman (Meetup) – User Acquisition and Keeping Them Happy (Scott Heiferman, YouTube)

Brand marketing and performance marketing can co-exist on mobile (Mobile Dev Memo)