Saas · Software

Should we deactivate non users?

Ravi Kiran Salestech Founder, Discovery Stage Investor, Business Model Mentor, #JTBD Fan, Ex Advg CEO @ravitwo

Last updated on October 23rd, 2019

My start-up started testing a new sales engagement software recently. About 20% of people who signed up for the free trial didn't use the app even once. As the test program comes to an end, should we deactivate their accounts? What are the advantages and drawbacks? Comments from real experience would be more appreciated.

Fred Cohen We help grow companies

October 20th, 2019

Even if they never used the app, you can still communicate with them and entice them to try the release version (as an example). They normally should not be "activated" unless and until they start to use the app, and you don't want to mislead others regarding your traction. So keep your statistics up to date and accurate and properly differentiate them. We have the same situation in some of our apps (although our user base is already in a relationship with us by the time they get there). We deprecate older content and apps/access based on our data retention and disposition policy, which you should have and follow.

Clay Nichols Helping other startups grow after launching 2 successful startups.

October 22nd, 2019

I suspect 20% non-use is not all that unusual.

However, might be useful to know why they didn't even use it once.

  1. Forgot about it?
  2. Wasn't what they were expecting?
  3. Had some tech problem?

Jordan I want to end income disparity in a profitable & ethical way (and be home in time for dinner).

October 20th, 2019

From the technical standpoint, one major advantage to disabling stagnant accounts is privacy & security.

Users who don't log in anymore most likely put the service out of their minds. From my experience most users don't think about creating "aliases" for their account (e.g. not using your real name or real email address for their account).

As a business owner of a software service, you need to assume that an attacker already has access to your services, even if evidence doesn't point to it. Even a user's email address or personal name (which--let's be honest--most users don't alias) is more than enough for an attacker to go by.

So, what can you do to minimize the damage?

By limiting the attack surface.

Obviously, disabling all users will get you some angry emails. But, like other suggestions, notifying users that haven't been on in, say, a year, that their account will be disabled will ensure a minimal attack surface.

Mirio E. D. de Rosa Cofounder & CEO with background in brand building

October 20th, 2019

Hi Ravi, your background let me believe you already have a reasonable answer to your query. Nevertheless here are my two cents.

I see two issues embedded in the question:

a. On analytics, I suggest you keep them in and analyze the data accordingly. They are part of the test results and omitting them would bias the results

b. On marketing, I wonder if the inactives have the characteristics you wish in a user. If they don't, in your shoes I'd remove them from the contact list.

Finally, as a service provider removing user without an acceptable reason why could turn against you even if they are not in your primary target group.

So, to make a long story short, my answer to your thread is yes and no. You choose the angle.

Good luck with your endeavors,


Susan Stevie Founder | Healthcare

October 20th, 2019

Hi Ravi,

I'd be more curious about why they signed up and then didn't engage. Acquisition is the biggest challenge and often the greatest spend, and you have 20% who took the first step but not the second. As the CEO in that early stage, I'd engage them in a conversation about why not. Overtime, that knowledge will tell you whether to deactivate. Curious, what sales engagement software did you use?

Ravi Kiran Salestech Founder, Discovery Stage Investor, Business Model Mentor, #JTBD Fan, Ex Advg CEO @ravitwo

October 20th, 2019

@fred @jordan @mirio @susan thanks for your responses and advice. I am forced to 'answer' my own question because this platform doesnt give me an option to respond to your comment directly. Fred's comment, specifically, raises another question in my mind, should we 'silence' all test user accounts as we close test period, gather learning and prepare the release version? Or should we treat test-to-release as a continuous process in order to minimize user disruption i.e. no fresh sign up required?

P.S. @Susan my start-up's product is the sales engagement software... sorry for the confusion.

Amrita Choudhary .

October 23rd, 2019

No, you should target those who are not using your app and convince them to use it back by giving some small attractive offer and make them feel of that the use of app become important to them, and there you go.