How To Convert Free Trial Users Into Paying Customers

Most marketers know, it is a tough task to boost conversations rates. And even if you're converting folks into paying customers, we also know there is always potential...

Most marketers know, it is a tough task to boost conversations rates. And even if you’re converting folks into paying customers, we also know there is always potential to improve. Here’s a quick look at some interesting conversion stats:


  • 66% of the companies that use the free-trial-to-pay model have less than a 25% conversion rate. (Softletter)

  • 65% of companies witnessed considerable improvement in conversion in 2011, which is evidently less than 70 percent in 2009 and 2010. (Econsultancy)

  • Companies typically spend $92 to bring customers to their site, but only $1 to convert them. (Eisenberg Holdings)


The reality is that most companies don’t use effective strategies to achieve higher conversion rates. We give up way too soon on customers who haven’t converted after a period of time (i.e. the free trial period for SaaS companies).

Here are some steps you can take in pursuit of customers who don’t convert the first time around.


1. Use behavioral segmentation.

It’s important to determine which users are low-hanging fruits and which are not worth your time. The best way to this is to use behavioral segmentation. Did a user stay active throughout the trial period, but did not convert? Well, maybe all you have to do is extend their trial period for a little while, allowing them more time to think about it, or may be an introductory rate for the first 1-3 months will make your offer more compelling.

If a user created a free trial account but never engaged much, it may not be worth a ton of effort from your side. The point is this: spend time and energy on customers who illustrate a high propensity to convert, rather than blindly reaching out to everyone.


2. Conduct surveys

Take time to figure why users didn’t convert. What factors affected their decision. Is it the price? Is it the length of the free trial? Did they experience bad customer service?

Conducting user surveys allows you to understand what went wrong. This can help you stop future churn and take counter measures to create a stronger offer. 

Too ensure a high response rate:

  • Ask what you need and only what you need.

  • Keep the language simple and understandable. Cut jargon.

  • Conduct A/B testing to see what format works better.

  • Keep the length of the survey short. According to Survey monkey, “survey abandon rates increase for surveys that took more than 7-8 minutes to complete; with completion rates dropping anywhere from 5% to 20%.”


3. Prioritize engaged users.

If users have high engagement rates, but fail to convert then conduct a phone interview. This particular segment of users who were actively using your product during the trial period are special prospects.

Most of the time, all you need to do is use a personal touch to convert them. An engaged user obviously likes your product, but may have questions, doubts or confusion.  A phone call is a much better way to understand how you can help them.


4. Share testimonials and reviews.

Don’t be afraid to share testimonials and reviews from other customers. 

One reason users don’t convert is because they don’t see the value your product creates for them. So, send them testimonials and reviews from your users. Studies show that 88% of people read reviews to determine the quality of a business. Next, when applicable use mutual relationships to drive good word-of-mouth.


5. Drive engagement with email marketing.

Create an email newsletter, invite free trial users to sign up and share helpful industry tips and new news on a regular basis. For example, at Hiver it sometimes takes us a year to actually convert a prospect into a customer. There are times when a prospect is not engaged following the first email exchange, but started engaging with us after we sent out our newsletter.

We use the newsletter to see if there’s a good fit and to keep prospects informed about our latest offers and plans, etc. Additionally, we share useful industry updates. 

This approach can definitely refresh interest in your product.


6. Revive your landing page.

Update your landing page with new news and relevant features. Your prospects need to be able to see the major steps you business took or is taking, and again, this will refresh their interest in your product. Make sure it is intuitive and user-friendly.

Remove the clutter and make sure there is a clear path on what action to take. Eliminate the distractions and ensure it encourages prospects to take action instead of leading them somewhere else on your site. Meanwhile, make sure the key elements of a landing page are visible and working properly.


7. Create white papers and webinars.

Even if you have nothing new to offer regarding your product or service that doesn’t mean you have to sit idle. Developing webinars, tutorials and white papers can be a great way to prolong engagement. In fact, research suggests 49% of marketers consider webinars, webcasts and ebooks to be very effective, and 92% of marketers considering them to be very or somewhat effective.


8. Consider unconventional campaigns.

Re-engage users with unconventional and relevant social media campaigns. Be creative and create a ampaign for a social cause, share witty and funny videos or invite users to a local event.


Ultimately, don’t be afraid to test things. 

“We listen to our gut, then test what it says.

We create best practices, then test them.

We listen to opinions, then we text them.

We hear the advice of experts, then test it.”

- Chris Goward


This article has been edited and condensed.

Niraj Ranjan is the founder of Hiver, an app that turns Gmail into a powerful customer support and collaboration tool. Connect with @hiverhq on Twitter.


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