The Hidden Costs of Offering Lifetime Access to Your Digital Products

Felicia Chanell
Felicia Chanell
I craft high-converting funnels for impact-focused experts, coaches, and creators. On a mission to help experts build wildly profitable businesses with funnels that convert and systems that scale.

Black Friday/Cyber Monday is around the corner and there are sure to be a ton of special offers/deals on WordPress software, digital products, and more.

It’s a popular practice for SAAS companies to offer lifetime access to their products or software.

The allure of “lifetime access” deals is undeniable. As a consumer, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of securing unlimited, permanent access to a product or service. 

But as a business owner, the landscape looks quite different. While lifetime access can seem like a promising marketing tactic, it might not be the most sustainable or strategic approach in the long run.

The problem With Lifetime Access:

Unpredictable Revenue Stream

While offering lifetime access might provide a significant one-time cash boost, it’s not a predictable or sustainable form of income. The beauty of recurring revenue lies in its predictability, which aids in forecasting, planning, and ensuring business stability.

Rising Customer Expectations

Customers who pay for lifetime access naturally expect continuous updates, improvements, and unwavering support. As the years go by, meeting these expectations can become an increasingly expensive endeavor.

Creativity Constrained

Lifetime access can unintentionally put a business in a bind. If you’re always catering to lifetime members who were introduced to an original version of your product or content, it can stifle innovation and updates. After all, no one likes backlash, but the desire to avoid it shouldn’t hinder progress.

If the challenges of lifetime access have you reconsidering, let’s go over some alternatives that might better serve your business goals.

Alternatives To Lifetime Access

One-Time Purchase with Renewal Discounts

Encourage customers to come back by offering renewal discounts. This way, you can reward loyalty while ensuring a steady revenue stream.

Tiered Access

By providing varying levels of access at different price points, you can cater to a broader audience and offer upgrades or introduce new premium tiers over time.

Subscription Model

Perhaps one of the most popular and effective models in today’s digital age. Whether monthly, quarterly, or yearly, subscription fees ensure users always have the latest and best of what you offer, while your business enjoys a predictable revenue flow.

If you’re a business owner that has found yourself in a position where you’ve promised lifetime access but can no longer honor that commitment, it’s a challenging situation. However, approaching it with transparency, empathy, and fairness can help prevent potential damage. 

What To Do If You Promised Lifetime Access

1. Assessment & Legal Review

Before taking any steps, evaluate the situation. What’s the root cause? Financial strain? Technical issues? Understand the problem thoroughly.

Before making any decisions, consult with a legal expert to understand any potential liabilities or breach of contract issues.

2. Consider Alternatives 

If you can’t continue with full product/service access, maybe you can offer a scaled-down version for lifetime access members.

Open a channel for customers to share feedback. This can provide insights into how your audience feels and might even yield some solutions you hadn’t considered.

Grandfather Existing Users. If feasible, allow existing lifetime users to maintain their access, but don’t offer it to new users. This way, you fulfill your promise to existing customers but move towards a more sustainable model for the future.

Offer Compensation. Even if you can’t maintain lifetime access, consider offering compensatory benefits:

  • A refund (full or partial) based on how long they’ve had access.
  • Extended access for a specified period without additional charges.
  • Discounts on other products or services.
  • A transition to a discounted subscription model for those who had lifetime access.
  • Provide Support: Customers might have questions or concerns. Set up dedicated channels (like an email helpdesk or a hotline) where they can get clarifications.

3. Open Communication

Honesty is the best policy. Reach out to your customers and explain the situation candidly. They might be more understanding if they know the reasons behind the decision.

Use this experience as a learning opportunity. Understand what went wrong, why the promise couldn’t be maintained, and how to avoid such commitments in the future.

If you were thinking about offering lifetime access to your course, product, or service consider the alternative suggestions instead.

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Felicia Chanell
Felicia Chanell
I craft high-converting funnels for impact-focused experts, coaches, and creators. On a mission to help experts build wildly profitable businesses with funnels that convert and systems that scale.

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