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How to Convert Account Sharers without Alienating your Users

Effective strategies to convert account sharers into paying customers without pushing away the people who love your app the most

Josh Pindjak
Josh Pindjak
Senior Product Designer
How to Convert Account Sharers without Alienating your Users

Account sharing represents $10+ billion per year opportunity for subscription businesses as it is fundamentally more users loving your product than are currently paying for it. The challenge of how to make the most of this opportunity while not negatively impacting user experience is something that streaming services to B2B SaaS and beyond face.

The State of Account Sharing in 2024

Most people have probably first encountered account sharing prevention via a popular streaming service, such as Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+. Recent research shows that about 55% of Gen Z adults are account sharing. It’s no surprise either: 53% of households have over 4 streaming services!

Netflix has been one of the first large companies to put forth a concerted effort to prevent account sharing, and it’s already paying off. Netflix recently added an additional 9.33M paid subscribers in Q1 2024.

[1] Emarketer “More than half of adult Gen Zers are password-sharers”, February 28, 2024
[2] Leichtman Research: March 20, 2024
[3] Netflix Shareholder Letter: April 18, 2024

It’s not just B2C companies like Netflix and Disney working on account sharing. B2B companies are also capitalizing on the exponential growth of converting account sharing users to happy, paying customers:

  • Prominent education platform Chegg added tens of millions from converting account sharing.
  • A B2B customer of Upollo found over $5m in ARR expansion opportunities within the 30 days of starting to detect account sharing.
  • A real estate startup found that at least 5% of their users were account sharing. For many of these accounts, there was an average of 5 users behind each shared account!

Detecting Account Sharing

To be able to convert users who are account sharing, you first must know who is account sharing. We won’t cover account sharing detection in this article, but here are some ways to detect it: Monitoring unusual login patterns, device fingerprinting, and analyzing user behavior. Here at Upollo, we have a robust approach to detecting and preventing account sharing. 

Once you have a system for detecting account sharing you can now use the strategies below to turn one paying user into many.

7 Ways to Deal with Account Sharing

Display an In-App Message or Popup Modal

When to use it: When a user's activity triggers suspicion of account sharing, display in-app messages or modal windows to alert the user and prompt corrective action.

Best practices: Clear messaging, easy-to-follow instructions, and a straightforward path for users to remediate the situation (e.g., upgrading to a team plan or verifying their credentials).

Example: Spotify’s in-app message when account sharing is detected, outlining a value proposition for upgrading to a Premium Family account. Tapping on “Try Family” seamlessly leads users directly into an upgrade flow.

Spotify account sharing notification
Example from Spotify

Irregular Forced Log Out

When to use it: As a one-time measure to disrupt active account sharing and prompt users to take appropriate action.

Best practices: Provide clear explanations for the forced logout, instructions for regaining access, and options to upgrade or verify credentials.

Example: LinkedIn’s forced logout notification, explaining the reason and providing a link to regain access or upgrade to a team plan. We actually think this example could be improved, so we added our own version below to show you what we suggest when communicating with your users.

Linkedin account sharing notification, alongside a suggestion for improved copy.
Example (Left) from LinkedIn. Our rewrite is on the right.

Regular Forced Logouts 

When to use it: Not recommended as a regular practice, as it can significantly disrupt user experience. However these forced logouts are sometimes appropriate in certain contexts, for example in a design or editing tool. If multiple people are logged in, this can cause the user to lose data or changes they’re making to a document.

Best Practices: If used, warn the account-sharing user upon logging in that they'll log out the original account holder, giving them a chance to take corrective action. 

Example: In Webflow, if another person logs in on the same account, the original account holder will be immediately logged out with a notice that they’ve been logged out for security reasons.

Webflow's forced logout notification
Example from Webflow

Require Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

When to use it: When account sharing is suspected, requiring Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) can help verify the user's identity and deter unauthorized access. Companies can also utilize OTP (One Time Password) technology to ensure the person who signed up for a service is the same person logging in.

Best practices: Clear communication about the requirement, easy setup process, and options to remediate if the user cannot provide 2FA credentials.

Example: Taking cues from B2B SaaS companies using 2FA, Netflix has been implementing temporary access codes to let their users log in from multiple locations. These codes expire after 15 minutes.

An email from Netflix that says "Your temporary access code"
Example from netflix

Email Alert or Announcement

When to use it: As an initial notification to alert users of suspected account sharing and outline the company's policies. Use automated emails if you have a particularly high volume of people suspected of account sharing, or if your company policies have changed recently to not allow account sharing.

Best practices: Use straightforward language, clear instructions for remediation, and options for upgrading or verifying credentials.

Example: Many streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and Disney+ all utilize automated email notifications when account sharing is detected, outlining the company's policies and providing a link to manage account access.

A mass email from Netflix informing their users that Account Sharing is no longer allowed.
Example from Netflix

Email from a Customer Success Manager (CSM)

When to use it: Usually reserved for high-value accounts or customers with suspected widespread account sharing. Have your CSM add an item to your QBR (Quarterly Business Review) or more commonly, this can just be a simple, personalized email directly to the customer.

Best practices: Understand common objections (e.g., cost, lack of team support), offer solutions (discounts, temporary promotions), and maintain a non-confrontational tone.

Example: A sample email template that a CSM can use to reach out to a customer, acknowledging the suspected account sharing, and offering a solution (e.g., discounted team plan).

Subject: Better Collaboration with Our Team Plan

Hey {Customer Name},

Over the last few weeks we have seen {x} number of devices using {your or specific person on the teams account}. This looks like more than one person is using this account.

Is this expected? If it is not, please change your password immediately and enable 2 factor authentication as per our guide. If this is expected, we are so thrilled that your team is getting value from our {type of plan} plan.

You can invite additional team members in Settings > Team or you can upgrade to our teams or enterprise plans which make it even easier to bring the whole team onboard with SSO, team join links and more.

Let me know if you liked to jump on a call to learn more about how to invite team members or upgrade to our teams or enterprise plans.

Best regards,
{Your Name}

As a Last Resort: Account Deactivation

When to use it: Only deactivate users when there are very serious consequences for account sharing.

Best Practices: Clearly state the reasons why a user’s account is being deactivated. 

Example: Uber has implemented technologies and preventative measures to ensure their drivers are not account sharing. When you book an Uber, you trust that the driver displayed in your app is the same one behind the wheel.

An email informing an Uber driver that their account has been deactivated due to account sharing.
Example from Uber


On building a great user/customer experience:

  • Don't be accusatory or confrontational; maintain a positive and understanding tone. You want these people to expand their usage, not turn them away
  • Be transparent about your company's policies around account sharing.
  • Make it clear how and what users need to do to get into a good state.
  • If awareness alone is not enough, add just enough friction to encourage the person account sharing to take corrective action, but avoid creating excessive barriers or frustration.
  • Deal with account sharing implementing user-friendly prevention strategies, and offering tailored solutions when it makes sense in the context of your product or service. 

On achieving great revenue growth outcomes:

  • Account sharing is an opportunity to turn the viral spread of your product into revenue growth.
  • Short term rewards can be useful to encourage or ease the burden of change.
  • Remember, users who share accounts often do so because they love your product and want to collaborate or provide access to others.

By understanding account sharing prevention from a user's perspective and implementing measures with clear communication and a focus on customer experience, companies can effectively address this issue while fostering positive relationships with their users.

Need help with account sharing? Sign up to try Upollo for free or schedule a demo.

Read the Report: Upollo SOC 2 Type 1
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About the Author
Josh Pindjak
Josh Pindjak
Senior Product Designer

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