6 ways to improve free trials conversion rates of your SaaS application

If you run a SaaS business you probably love your product: so unique, so useful, so innovative...so why are your trial users not buying your application after the free trial?

Read this article to understand 6 ways to improve the conversion rates of your free trials and your revenues!

What is a free trial in the SaaS business?

Free trials allow users to try a SaaS product for free for a limited period of time. The goal of free trials is to show users the value of the service in order to convert them into paying customers. In other words, it does not matter how many trials you activate, what matters is how many users turn into buying customers at the end of the trial (conversion rate)

According to an article by Lincoln Murphy, there are 2 kinds of free trials: opt-in free trials and opt-out free trials.

1- Opt-in Free Trials can be started without a credit card. In these trials, users opt-in to a subscription by providing payment details during or after the trial is over.

Vendors need to get people into the trial and quickly get them to the point where they start paying for the service.

2- Opt-out Free Trials require a credit card to get started. Users have to actively opt out of or it turns over to a subscription at the end of the trial.

The biggest challenge is getting people to activate the trial, since you are asking users to give you their credit card before they start using your product. This is especially difficult when users do not know you, because you need them to trust you enough.

Typically, opt-out free trials have higher conversion rates on the first renewal after the end of the trial. Also, you should consider that you may have high conversion rates at the beginning simply because sometimes users forget about these activations, but then they unsubscribe.

In the B2B business, the opt-out free trial usually improves the quality of the leads because only highly motivated users complete the process. At the same time, it decreases the effort in terms of customer engagement and conversion.

6 ideas to improve your free-to-paid conversion rates

Best-in-class B2B SaaS companies are able to convert 25% of free trial sign-ups into paying customers.

Getting there is a lengthy process, but here you are 6 ideas to improve your free-to-paid conversion rates:

1- Focus on the product not on the “Start free trial” button

Sometimes software vendors fail in providing enough information about their application, but they do not forget to add the “Start a free trial” button everywhere. However, they should keep in mind that potential customers do not know their software. That is why it is so important to add information about the ideal customer, features and benefits and, possibly, screenshots and videos. This could help to avoid this typical situation: users land on the website, read a few compelling sentences and agree to start a free trial, but then they realize that the application is not as they expect and they are not willing to pay and continue using it after the free trial. Vendors should pay more attention to their free-to-paid conversion rate that to the number of trial activations.

2- Do not sell snow to an Eskimo

There is nothing to do: to sell a product you need to identify the right target for it. This means that only the right users should activate the free trial. To get to this result vendors need to know the potential customers: who they are, what they do, who the decision makers are, how to reach them, what are their needs, where to find them and so on. Knowing the target is essential to define the right messages and the right tone of voice. To improve conversion rates, make sure that the right target is activating the free trial.

3- Keep in mind the buyer’s journey

Software vendors should never forget about the buyer’s journey. Offering a free trial at the wrong step of the journey would be extremely counterproductive: sometimes users are just not ready to start a trial, and vendors should be able to identify when they are. Free trial should be offered only to the right target, at the right moment. When they sign up for the free trial, users should already know how the product suits their needs, which are the benefits and features and why it is different from other similar services.

Also, vendors should identify when is the right moment to convert their free trial users into buyers. The aha moment is when customers realize the value of a product: at that time they are ready to pay for that service.

4- Make sure users use the application in the right way

Again, software vendors know their applications, but users do not. Even if developers think it is easy-to-use and intuitive, users may find it confusing and hard-to-use. To make sure they understand how it works, vendors should nurture their leads. Potential buyers need to be educated and engaged and emails are one of the best way to reach them. A welcome email at the beginning of the trial and a few emails with useful content to help users get value out of their trial can make the difference. Also, emails should encourage users to access the product and test certain features.

5- Add a free demo

This idea is useful especially when it comes to complex services. In some cases, vendors need to train users because their product requires a little extra effort. Leaving users all alone with a complex product they cannot use means that they will start using it, they will not understand what to do and so they will leave. This is where direct interaction with customer could pay off: a brief call/chat could help customers to understand the product and its benefits.

6- Avoid too long (or too short) free trials

Setting the right duration of the free trial can be tricky. The 30-days free trial is getting the standard in the SaaS business, but vendors should find the right length that works for their application. They may have higher conversion rates with a 15-days free trial or with a 40-days free trial: there is no golden rule about it.

Typically, complex products require longer trials, but there is only one way to identify the best length: measure and test. Vendors should use analytics to see when users log in, if they use the product only on the first week and then they lose interest or if they use it more and more.

Testing different trial length will allow to identify which one has the best free-to-pay conversion rate.

 

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