17 Genius Tips to Convert Free Trial Customers to Paying Users for Saas
We recently discussed the reasons why your startup doesn’t get the press coverage you desire, before that we had looked at the tips to help you cold-email better. If you followed the strategies and managed to get some attention from the media, you probably got new signups for your product. If you are a Saas company, who depends on a freemium model to eventually convert free trial customers to paying users, you know how difficult it is to convert most of the free trial customers to paying users. We look at 17 tips that will help you increase your conversion rates:
1. Sending personalized and human welcome emails
The welcome email you send to free trial customers may break or make the process of converting them to paying customers. New customers will feel more welcomed and connected if you addressed them by their names. When they are signing up for the free trials, they already gave you their first and last names. Addressing them using their names brings them closer to actually listening to you.
It’s also important to take a friendly tone rather than sounding too formal and serious. When signing off use your name, and indicate the position you hold at the company. It’s also advised to provide links to your personal social media profiles. The customers may never use the social media profiles but it goes a long way to show them that whoever is communicating with them is human and not some auto responding robot.
Sending emails from the CEOs has always proved to work better because the most important figure in the company is communicating with the customers and showing that he is available for them. This makes the customers feel special and will be more receptive when you get to the selling point.
2. Avoiding sales call-to-actions in welcome emails
Call-To-Actions (CTAs) in the welcome email should avoid too much selling. In fact, at that point you don’t need to sell anything to the freemium user, what you need to do is create a rapport with them. Evidence suggests that sending sales pitches in welcome emails to attempt to convert the free trial customers to paying customers mostly fails. You don’t expect them to buy anything at that point because they are yet to test the product.
What sales CTAs do is send these trial customers away because at that point asking for their money takes all credibility away from you. Give the sales emails and CTAs a few days depending on how long the trial period is.
3. Sending welcome emails from email addresses that users can reply to
When you receive emails from email address that have an annotation to them saying “do not reply to this email,” does it not suck? I have seen emails like these and even when they come from large companies like Google or Facebook, it still sucks.
Sometimes customers want to send you information or ask questions, allowing them to reply to you gives them assurance that their issues can always be resolved because you are easily reachable.
When sending welcome emails, having an email address that users can reply to is usually a pro-tip; we look at that in the next point.
4. Offering help and asking users why they signed up
In your welcome email always offer the customers a chance to receive help directly from you. If they moved from another company to you, they are probably looking for something they hope to find in your company.
Asking users why they signed up gives you a lot of insights to their expectations. There are two reasons why that is good; a) It allows you to develop your product with the customer issues in mind even as they continue with the trial offer, b) You will be more knowledgeable on issues that each customer is facing helping you to send customized emails to them in future.
Back to our previous point. If you have sent welcome emails from email addresses they can reply to, all they have to do is click on reply and pour their hearts out to you. Win-win.
Better still, if you decide to use SMS as your means of welcoming new users, good for you. After all, SMSs can never be ignored as much as emails do.
5. Sending emails customized to customer behavior
During the trial period, you will realize that various free trial customers behave differently. Some customers will go off the radar completely and stop using your product. Other customers will use your product just occasionally while others will be actively using your product every single day.
All these groups of freemium users should be approached differently, and any communication done should be respective of how they are using your product.
Sending customized emails like that ensures that you are not asking users who are actively engaged with your product why they left. It’s also a sign of having effective communication systems in your company, and customers love that. The most important thing however, is that this system allows you to send customers appropriate messages that apply to them.
6. Move from a small ask to a bigger one
In the consequent communication that you make, don’t jump from a welcome email to asking for payment for a premium plan. That’s a big ask. It’s usually advised to take the customer to the big ask slowly and appropriately. The best example to use in this case would be Dropbox.
When you first sign up for Dropbox, they inform you that you have 2GB of free space. However, by inviting your friends, you could increase your free space from 2GB to something bigger depending on how many of your invited contacts signup. This is the first small ask for Dropbox. Notice how there is no money involved?
It’s a small ask but it markets Dropbox through the invites while also gaining the inviting user more free space. The second request from Dropbox is where they ask you to upgrade from the free plan for more features and space.
As you can see, Dropbox moved from a small ask to the actual point where money is involved. At the point where the money comes in, the free trial customers are already seeing benefits of using Dropbox. They will probably sign up if they need the premium features, or just keep inviting their friends to increase their storage space.
7. Create a sense of urgency
Making your free trial customers feel like they should do something now or it will be too late to do it later will get you more conversions as well.
Let’s say, its 2 days to their free trial expiry date. Sending them a message to ask them to upgrade or they could lose their data creates a sense of urgency. They end up signing up so that they can continue keeping their data while also getting advanced features in the premium model.
8. Provide irrefutable offers
In the middle of the trial period or during the final days, research shows that creating irrefutable offers for your engaged users can lead to a lot of paying customers.
For example, offer 30% off the normal standard plan rate if they chose to sign up immediately. Everyone wants to save on a purchase if they can and a 30% discount would make them signup especially if they are actively using your product and know that they will need the advanced features sooner or later.
9. Set exciting goals during the freemium period
When customers are motivated towards achieving certain goals while using your platform, it leads to them using the platform more often than they would have. Goals give them motivation when they know there is a reward.
You could set a milestone that once beaten, they get an extended one week of using the product for free. When they use the product more often to achieve set goals, they realize how much your product comes in handy making them easy to convert to paying customers after the trial period.
10. Personalized In-app communication
Communication inside the app is very effective in terms of keeping the customers even after the free trial period. When you occasionally send them personalized in-app messages to guide and provide them with tips for getting better results with your product, you increase customer happiness which may lead to more converting customers.
You could also use the in-app messages to introduce the customers to the premium features while helping them discover new features that they didn’t know existed on your platform.
11. Use an email drip campaign
Email drip campaigns help you to take new users from the signup process to converting them from free trial users to paying customers. If wrongly used, it won’t be effective.
It’s advised to do A/B testing to see which campaigns convert better on what parameters. Again, ensure appropriate messages go to appropriate customers in your drip campaigns.
12. Employ a sales team
Most founders do not like to sell their products because most of them are into building the platform rather than marketing. If you are this type of founder or CEO, employing a sales team that uses the product data/metrics to sell your product could go a long way in keeping more customers from the freemium models. If you are not good at doing something, don’t force it, just delegate to the person who is good at doing it.
13. Balance freemium and Premium models
Do not provide too much under the free model because that jeopardizes the premium model. If you provide too much, people won’t see the need for buying a premium especially in cases where a free model doesn’t have an expiry or trial period.
On the other hand, giving too little under the free model might lead to less customers moving from free to paying because they just don’t see why they need to. It’s therefore important to strike the right balance between your offerings and features for the free and paid plans.
14. Provide clear ‘getting started’ instructions after signup
After your customers have signed up for the free trials, it’s important to provide clear instructions for how they should move from there. Do not leave your clients stuck after the sign up because their initial experience with your product determines if they continue using it.
Clear instructions can also be sent via email or through in-app messages at various points on the platform as they interact with the platform’s features.
15. Communicate frequently with engaged users
Engaged free trial customers need to be kept in constant communication. Keeping in touch with them creates a connection with the company. It’s easier to eventually present them with a CTA asking them to upgrade their plan.
16. Free presentation and demo webinars
Conduct free weekly presentations and demos in webinars that are later accessible for people who couldn’t attend. Sometimes, demonstrating a product’s features and how they can help your users can lead to more conversions than trying to sell it via emails.
17. Ask for feedback
Feedback from customers is important. It allows you to build your product for the customer. Reach out to the users who dropped your product after the free trial or even a few days after signing up, ask them why. Their feedback will help you keep your next customers.
Have anything to add to this article? Let me know in the comments section below.
Originally published at press.farm on January 5, 2016.