Want to boost your software’s free trial conversions? Managing trials often feels like a tightrope act. Attracting the right users, fending off misuse, and maintaining a healthy cash flow are just the tip of the iceberg. Nail this aspect, however, and you’ll lay the groundwork for sustained growth and a competitive edge.
What Is a SaaS Free Trial?
A free trial lets potential customers try out your software for a limited time without paying. Although some companies offer trials where you have to pay a small fee, This article talks about the ones that are 100% free.
So what happens in a free trial? A user signs up. Immediately, the software springs into action. It gathers basic details like name, email, and sometimes job role. This isn’t just busywork. This data customizes the user’s trial experience and fuels future marketing campaigns. Next up: automated welcome emails. These often include a quick-start guide or tutorial. The goal? To help users hit the ground running.
Now, let’s talk about analytics. During the trial, the software keeps tabs on the user. It tracks login frequency, feature usage, and more. Why? This data isn’t just numbers. It’s a treasure trove of insights that helps refine the product and improve user engagement, all aimed at boosting those all-important conversion rates.
Different Types of Free Trials
You’ve got choices. Here are some of the main types of free trials you’ll see:
- No credit card required: Users can try the software without giving any payment info.
- Pay upfront: Users need to give payment details first but won’t be charged until the trial is over.
- Basic free version: Your software comes in a free but limited version that could lead users to upgrade.
- Demo then trial: A quick demonstration guides users before they get to use the free trial.
- Point system trial: Make the trial more engaging by letting users earn points for doing tasks, which can lead to rewards.
Choosing Your Trial Type
Three key things will help you identity which trial type is best for your SaaS business:
- How hard is it to use: If your software is complicated, maybe start with a demo, then offer a free trial.
- What’s important for your business: If you want higher-quality leads, maybe get their credit card details upfront.
- How long it lasts: The more complicated your product, the longer you might want the trial to last to give customers time to explore.
15 Ways to Boost Free Trial Conversion Rates
1. Fill Your Product with Life
A blank screen tells your user nothing. It’s hard to see potential in an empty space. So, add some content or sample data to help them see what’s possible. For instance, MuseScore gives new users a ready-to-use musical score. Canva does the same by offering design templates right off the bat. Make your product inviting and easy to dive into.
2. Customize The Trial Experience
People want something that suits their needs. Use data to personalize the user journey. Custom emails and product tours based on user behavior can make a world of difference. Feed relevant case studies based on the user’s role or industry. If your sales team has this information, their conversations become more meaningful.
Ways to personalize
- Custom onboarding emails based on user actions.
- Product tours tailored to different user personas.
- Help pop-ups for users who seem to be struggling.
3. Get the Trial Length Right
Everyone’s doing 30-day trials, but is that what works for you? Find the sweet spot between giving enough time to explore and pushing them to decide. A/B test with different lengths—say 7 days, 14 days, and 30 days. ProdPad cut their trial to 7 days and doubled conversions. Sometimes, less is more.
4. Listen to Your Users
Sometimes the best advice comes from those who didn’t buy. Don’t ignore them. Reach out for feedback, both to customers who stayed and those who left. Did they get to the “Aha!” moment? If yes, but they still left, you might be attracting the wrong people. Time to look at your messaging. If they didn’t find your “Aha!” then they probably didn’t understand how to use your product. Fix this by removing friction in the interface.
Ways to get feedback:
- Send an email when the trial ends. Make it personal.
- Give a survey link or open-ended reply option.
- Always answer. Thank them and maybe share your action plan based on their feedback.
5. Implementing a PLG-Focused Sales Strategy
In a Product-Led Growth (PLG) approach, the product does the heavy lifting. It sounds like your free trial or freemium model aims to convert product-qualified leads (PQLs), who are essentially users that have experienced enough value in your product that they’re likely to convert to paid users. This method often results in higher-quality leads and potentially a quicker sales cycle.
6. Finding the Right Feature Balance
Your focus on finding the right balance of features in the free trial is crucial. Too little and you risk users not seeing the value; too much and they can become overwhelmed. Using past onboarding data is an excellent idea. You might also want to incorporate user feedback or session replay tools to understand how users interact with your product.
7.Use Activation Checklists
Activation checklists not only serve as a guide but also act as a psychological commitment mechanism. When people tick off items on a checklist, they feel they are making progress, which motivates them to keep going. If they complete your activation checklist, they have already invested time and energy into your platform, making them more likely to commit financially too.
Ways to implement these checklists:
- Use behavioral analytics to see where users are dropping off. Based on the outcomes, a walkthrough or tooltip might help.
- Consider having nested checklists. For example, “Set up your first project” could expand to smaller tasks like “Name your project.”
- Use the data you have about the customer (industry, role, etc.) to suggest checklist items that are tailored to their use-case.
8. Gamify The Experience
Gamification can be a double-edged sword. Overdo it, and it looks gimmicky. Underdo it, and it might not be compelling enough. The goal is to incentivize actions that align with the core value of your product.
Ways to implement gamification:
- Don’t give points or badges for actions that don’t contribute to user activation or retention.
- Consider a tiered system where higher-level rewards are not just harder to attain but also bring more value to the user, such as unlocking a premium feature for a week.
- Allow users to share their badges or points in a community setting, creating a bit of competition and social validation.
9. Personalize Usage Reports
Why let your users guess the value they’re getting from your product? Instead, send them personalized usage reports. Aim to dispatch these toward the end of the trial. Here’s why it works: users receive concrete evidence of your product’s value, delivered right to their inbox.
Tips to personalize usage reports
- Use metrics like “time saved” or “tasks completed.”
- Include qualitative data, like positive team feedback.
Imagine you offer a project management tool. A usage report could showcase metrics like tasks completed and time saved. You could also include a snippet of positive feedback from team members. This method combines hard metrics with social proof. Together, they make a strong case for conversion.
10. Feature Highlights through Email Sequences
Features make your product special. But not all users explore beyond the basic ones during a free trial. So, guide them. Use segmented email sequences to spotlight powerful, lesser-known features. Don’t just announce the feature; explain its value through a specific use-case.
Tips to consider:
- Pick features that solve a problem for the user.
- Use case studies to illustrate the feature’s impact.
Say you offer an email marketing platform. One advanced feature could be ‘A/B Testing for Email Campaigns.’ You could send an email featuring a case study. Maybe A/B testing led to a 25% increase in open rates for another client. Provide a how-to guide for setting up an A/B test. Now, you’ve educated your user and given them actionable steps. Both increase the likelihood of conversion.
11 .Spotlight Social Proof
Social proof isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a powerful conversion tool. Your prospects may like what they see, but sometimes they need a little external validation. Who better to provide that than customers who’ve had a great experience with your product?
When incorporating testimonials, zero in on those that discuss the problems your product or service has solved. Even better if these endorsements come from people in the same industry as your trial users. These relatable success stories can tip the balance in favor of conversion.
12. Conduct Live Webinars
Towards the tail end of the free trial, that’s your moment to make a significant impact. Invite your users to a live webinar. It’s the perfect venue to clarify any doubts, share pro tips, and demonstrate the undeniable value of your product. Users can ask questions in real-time, making it an interactive and dynamic experience.
Not everyone can attend live webinars due to scheduling conflicts. So record them. Once recorded, send the webinar to those who couldn’t attend, along with a compelling, time-sensitive offer. This becomes your final, persuasive pitch for conversion, one they can consume at their convenience but can’t afford to ignore.
13. Lower Your Upgrade Churn Rates
Churn during the upgrade process isn’t just about losing a customer; it’s about missing out on an upsell opportunity. When a user is on the brink of leveling up their engagement with your product, the last thing you want is to lose them due to a frustrating user experience. The journey from free trial to paid subscription should be seamless, intuitive, and rewarding for the user.
A well-designed user interface doesn’t just make your software look pretty; it keeps users engaged, guides them effortlessly through the upgrade process, and increases your retention rates. It’s not merely about aesthetics; it’s about creating a frictionless environment where the user feels comfortable enough to invest more.
14. Ask the Tough Questions
Yes, your freemium model should make users fall in love with your app, but don’t let that romance cost you your business model. There’s a delicate balance between offering enough to entice users and giving away so much that they have no incentive to upgrade. If your users are satisfied with the freemium offering, what’s compelling them to pay for additional features?
Pro Tip: Take a hard look at your freemium offerings and ask the tough question—what value does upgrading provide to the user? Make sure that the benefits of a paid subscription are not just incremental but transformative. The value addition should be so clear and compelling that users would feel they are missing out by not upgrading.
15.Improve Sales Follow-Up
In the B2B sector, follow-up isn’t just good practice; it’s often the linchpin in conversion. The right user experience design can streamline your follow-up processes to be more targeted and efficient. You can set up automated triggers based on user actions throughout the free trial period, enabling your sales team to respond efficiently.
FYI: UX design isn’t just about what the end-user sees. It extends to in-house processes that can benefit from a streamlined user experience. For instance, redesigning our welcome dashboard made it easier for our clients to navigate, allowing them to serve their customers better. When your team can work more efficiently, your users reap the benefits, making it a win-win situation.
Improving your SaaS free trial conversion rate is a multi-step process. Many factors play a role. Yet, a top priority should be offering an excellent user experience during the trial. Start by letting users sample premium features. Follow that with balancing your freemium offerings. And don’t forget the value of timely sales follow-ups. Each touchpoint with the user matters. Make the most of them all.