Online service providers have been exploring and deploying\u00a0freemium business models for years. Freemium, of course, is the business model where you offer at least two\u00a0levels of service. \u00a0The first level is a free version. Then you add one or more paid premium levels that include more functionality,\u00a0additional\u00a0features or add-on services. It's a combination of free and premium offerings -- hence the name\u00a0"freemium." The term was popularized starting in 2006. That's when venture capitalist Fred Wilson wrote about it on his influential blog: "Give your service away for free, possibly ad supported but maybe not, acquire a lot of customers very efficiently through\u00a0word of mouth, referral networks,\u00a0organic search marketing, etc., then offer premium priced value added services or an enhanced version of your service to your customer base." Wilson called it his favorite business model and asked his readers if there was a name for it. \u00a0A few days later Jarid Lukin of Alacra named it freemium. \u00a0The name stuck, and startups and established companies alike have been all over it ever since. But how popular is the freemium online business model with those who count, i.e., the buyers? According to research by by the Amsterdam-based, technology platform\u00a0provider Avangate, online services are popular with U.S. consumers -- and freemium is a potent\u00a0attractor. \u00a0 Consider this: 63% of U.S. consumers use online services everyday. More than half pay for those services. More than half like freemium models. Consumers\u00a0also like plain old free -- as in free trials. \u00a0In the survey, among the factors that increased the chances of consumers buying\u00a0an online service, 58% chose free trials. Of course, it's not just free that attracts people. \u00a0Other things matter to consumers. \u00a0They want the flexibility\u00a0to choose the parts of the offer they want. \u00a0They also expect good customer support. For startups and established companies new to\u00a0providing freemium online services, there's more than immediately meets the eye with the\u00a0business model. \u00a0For example, do you\u00a0know exactly what it will take to\u00a0convert free-version users to buyers of\u00a0premium services? \u00a0Do you have the kind of\u00a0smart\u00a0technology that encourages people to upgrade to premium and makes it easy to do so? If you don't, you could end up giving away a lot for free. \u00a0Those premium level(s) you offer may not get many takers. "Freemium is an entry point to start proving the value of your online service," says\u00a0Ed Chuang,\u00a0a spokesman for Avangate. \u00a0Intelligent automated reminders, grace periods and incentives to upgrade are among the techniques that service companies can use to encourage people to purchase the premium level. \u00a0 It's also about flexibility, speed and experimentation. \u00a0"The important thing about offering a freemium model is not only that consumers expect to be able to try before buying in the new services economy, but that you have to be able to rapidly experiment, tweak and continuously optimize," Chuang\u00a0adds. Avangate's survey was conducted with over a thousand respondents across the United States in May of 2014. \u00a0A visual representation of the survey results are below. \u00a0You can find more analysis about the survey and its implications,\u00a0on the Avangate website here.