SaaS Free Trial Conversion

Do you have a high percentage of trial signups but a less than stellar conversion rate? The secret to boosting your trial to paid conversion rate is to optimize the heck out of the trial period. 

Offering a free trial is standard practice for the majority of SaaS. And customers have come to expect it. Both you and your prospective customer will gain a lot from the trial. You’ll shorten the sales cycle and the prospective customer will get a “hands-on” experience.

But you can’t rely solely on the strength of your features to convert free users into paying customers. 

In this post, we’ll share tips on how to increase your SaaS free trial conversion rate so you can grow your business.

Create a Smooth Sign-Up Process

It all starts with your sign-up process. 

Create a positive first impression by making the sign-up process as painless as possible. You know what’s painful? Asking a lot of questions during the sign-up. 

Consider offering social logins as an alternative to setting up a unique login. This way, new users can connect with Facebook, Twitter, or Google. That alleviates the pressure on new users to come up with yet another username and password. It also reduces the likelihood that they’ll forget their login information in the future.

Eliminate unnecessary form fields. You may not even need to ask for their email address, and wait until later on during the trial to gather that information.

But even if you decide to ask for their email address, try not to ask for too much more than that. The more questions you ask, the more friction you introduce into the sign-up experience.

Here’s a list of 5 questions you should ask during your new user’s trial period.

Consider Asking for a Credit Card Upfront

SaaS Free Trial Conversion

One thing that you may ask for upfront is the user’s credit card information. Yes, even for a free trial. And no, this doesn’t invalidate our first tip.

Asking for a credit card doesn’t necessarily weigh down the sign-up process. As long as you don’t ask for too much extraneous information, you can still create a zippy, two-question sign-up process (i.e. your email address and your credit card information).

But asking for a credit card before a free trial will stop a few potential users in their tracks. Even though they won’t be charged during their free trial, asking for a card will raise the stakes. Users will know that they can’t just play around with their trial and forget about it.

Asking for a credit card to kick off the trial will dissuade those who aren’t serious about buying or are on the fence.

This option is best for SaaS who are ready to increase revenue and not just attract more users. It’s also good for businesses that spend a long time in the lead nurturing stage.

Deliver the Value Right Away

Whether you ask for a credit card or offer your trial without any pre-qualifications, this next tip is crucial: Deliver the value upfront.

Some SaaS force new users to take an extended tour of their product. While the intent is good (you want to fully introduce the new user to your product), the result can be bad. 

Users may feel overwhelmed by all of the tips and tricks that you’re sharing. They’re expecting to do one thing, but you’re showing them something totally different and possibly irrelevant to their needs. 

Instead of dragging users from one feature to the next, give them the option to bypass the tour and jump right in. Offer a tour, though, because some users may welcome it. And other users may welcome it after they’ve had a chance to play around.

Send a Guided Email But Not Right Away

Emails play a starring role in your SaaS trial period, and your first email is critical. This email comes after the confirmation message. It welcomes the user and gets them excited about using your product. It also sets expectations for what the new user can expect in future emails.

However, because this email is not just a standard confirmation message, you shouldn’t send it immediately after sign-up. Wait a few hours or maybe even the next day before you send out your welcome email. Here’s why:

After receiving the confirmation email, the user will immediately log in and start playing around with your product. You don’t want to stop them by sending an email during this time. Give them a chance to explore before you reach out to them again. 

Email Users Every Day During the Trial Period

A lot of SaaS make the mistake of sending the welcome email and then going silent until the end of the trial. But that won’t help you convert trial users into paying customers. Remember that the trial period is still a part of lead nurturing.

You can’t just ignore those users and hope your app will do enough to convert them. You must actively guide them. This guarantees that they’ll receive a thorough look at what you have to offer.

Send a series of emails every day throughout the trial period. But make each email unique. Share user stories. Provide tips. Highlight different features in your product, and then, at the end of the email, encourage your user to accomplish a specific task. This turns onboarding into a game, and makes exploring your product fun for your users. 

Alternatively, you can send out trigger-based emails in response to a user’s action in the app. For example, if they’ve started using a new feature, send out a list of best practices for that feature. Or you could celebrate when users accomplish a task and hit a certain milestone. Sending out a congratulatory note can make your users feel positive about your product and their progress, and will inspire them to stay connected. 

Send out either the automated “discover our product” emails or the trigger-based emails, but don’t send both because that may be overwhelming to your users, especially on a daily basis.

Survey the Users

Because your sign-up process should be as frictionless as possible, don’t ask too many questions before they start using your product. 

However, after they’ve signed up, you have the opportunity to ask more questions. And do take that opportunity. During the trial, the user’s goal is to learn more about your product and your goal is to learn more about the user. 

Ask one question each day within your app. Use this information to segment your users. (The reason to ask in the app is so that you can ensure that your user answers the questions. They may ignore the emails.)

By the way, it’s a good idea to create customer personas for each type of customer you’d like to target. Learn more about building customer personas here.  

Survey your customers to discover which persona they fit into. Then, after you’ve finished your round of questions (limit it to five questions max spread out over the same number of days), start sending out segmented emails based on their persona. 

Why go through these extra steps?

Different customer personas have different problems and different motivations for using your product. After you’ve discovered their customer persona, you can send more targeted emails to help them discover the right features to solve their problem. 

Your initial series of emails will be general and shared with everyone. This is where you spotlight the top features and ask questions to learn more about the new user. The next set of emails will be segmented and customized to their pain points. 

Send Out a Personal Email

SaaS Free Trial Conversion

During the latter part of your user’s trial period, send a personal note. Be sure to strip away the HTML and send a no frills email that feels authentic. It should look like an email that comes directly from your inbox. 

In this email, ask your new user about their experience. And, at this point during the trial, you already know their objectives with your product (based on the answers to short surveys). So, send out a personalized offer to help them achieve their goals with your product. 

This small note can dramatically improve your user’s experience with your SaaS.

Make It Easy to Purchase

Don’t wait until the end of the trial to hit them with the “purchase” plea. Start during the second half of your trial period. But wrap it in a special prize. Give them a discount.

Oh yes, this tip is controversial. But don’t sigh just yet.

Give them a discount in exchange for a referral. Ask the user to like, follow, and share your page with their friends on social media to unlock a special discount. 

This is a proven psychological sales tactic. If someone does a favor for you (i.e. tells others about you), they’ll like you more. And when they like you and tell others about you, they’ll also be more likely to convert to paid users themselves. It’s a win-win-win. 

They’ll feel good about themselves because:

  • They’ve done a good deed and told others about you (win #1)
  • They’ve won a special discount (win #2)

They’ll also feel good about you because:

  • They’ve become advocates of your brand (win #3)

(You also win because you activate word of mouth marketing, get higher conversion rates, and customers who are more likely to stick around because they’ve told others about you.)

Final Thoughts

Your free trial period is your opportunity to deliver non-stop value as well as learn more about your new user. Use this time to forge an even stronger connection with your users.

Before you go, check out these related posts:

Don’t forget to download this list of 5 questions to ask during the trial period.

We're on a mission to help a million people to get better at fighting failed payments. Become one of them now!