Six Tips to Turn a Free Trial User into a Paying Customer
As the SaaS (Software as a Service) market grows, the competitive landscape grows with it. If you’re the owner or marketing manager of a SaaS product with a free trial program, how can you ensure trial users snap up your subscription offer instead of the dozens of others they may be fielding?
First, consider the reasons people fail to subscribe after their free trial expires:
- They didn’t have time to use the trial.
- They never learned how to use the product.
- They don’t have the budget.
- Or they just don’t see the value of your offering, which can mean any of several things: competitors offer something better, the user was the wrong audience for the product, or you fell short of communicating the product’s value.
If you believe you’re experiencing a communication breakdown with your user during the trial period, here are some tips for overcoming the challenge:
Nurture the user through personalized, automated emails.
Set up automated email drip campaigns to keep the trial in front of users. Ensure emails within these campaigns are triggered by user behavior (ex. the user hasn’t logged into their trial) instead of arbitrary time periods (ex. three days have passed since the user signed up).
Start with a welcome email.
According to Experian, welcome emails have four times the open rate and five times the click rate of other email promotions. Take advantage! Deploy your first email immediately upon trial signup. Use this as an opportunity to welcome the user, offer some quick-start tips, and “introduce yourself.” If possible, the message should come from a real person who can be reached by email, rather than a generic company account.
The welcome email is also an opportunity to gather information from your prospect. Consider including a quick survey question – ex. “Why did you sign up?” – with pre-set options the user can select. Depending on the sophistication of your drip campaign, the answer could trigger emails that more successfully tie your product’s value proposition to the user’s needs.
Offer tips and tricks throughout the trial, as well as training sessions if possible. The emails should also educate the user on new features, features that are soon to launch, or features they may have missed.
Make sure the emails are mobile-optimized, with shorter subject lines and large, easy-to-tap buttons. And, of course, include a strong, clear call to action in every email. But remember…
Don’t ask too much too early.
Don’t push your user to subscribe too soon. Early emails and communications should take small steps and prioritize non-committal asks, like “Try it now” or “Explore this feature.” Free, simple, and straightforward.
Continue to build the relationship over the course of the trial. Ask for feedback. What is the user enjoying about the trial? What are they struggling with? Make it easy to answer with simple buttons or a small text box. Even if the user doesn’t subscribe, this data could help you evolve your product or the trial experience.
During the back half of the trial, begin to ease the user into bigger decisions: “Ready to subscribe?” Make the case for a long-term commitment while continuing to promote features and tips.
As the trial nears its end, sweeten the deal to gently push the user past any remaining hesitations. Offer special pricing for the first month, or a discount for people who end their trial early by subscribing. Messaging during this phase should also create a sense of urgency – without being too pushy.
Make it insanely easy to subscribe.
One click to subscribe? Great. Two clicks? Good, but don’t make it much harder than this. Every click, complication, or block of copy is an opportunity for the user to change his or her mind. The fewer clicks, the fewer barriers to buy. Ensure signup forms are short and engaging, and that the payment process is user friendly.
Follow up if the trial expires without a purchase.
Follow up with an email that feels more personal. Offer to extend the free trial. Ask questions to gain insight into what didn’t connect. Help them see the value. And if they just aren’t the right fit, move on.