Almost 86% of B2B companies offer a free trial. How come?
What makes free trials so appealing?
First, you need to understand that customers don’t sign up for a free trial simply to check out your product and its features. Instead, they want to see what they can gain from it.
In other words, the main question they ask when they look at your product is: ‘’How can I benefit from this?” And free trials allow them to get answers to that question without deeper commitment.
Or, to put it differently, free trials will enable you to demonstrate your value first-hand.
Once you manage to convince new users they can’t live without your product, you’ll have the perfect opportunity to convert them into paying customers. This is essentially the only reason SaaS companies have free trials.
So how can you convince customers to use your product more and extract value from it? Here are some practices that helped companies increase their free trial conversion rates.
Use Live Demos to Reach the “Aha!” Moment
One way to demonstrate how your product will make potential customers’ lives easier is through live demos.
Live demos help you show potential customers how your product will solve their specific needs first-hand. In this way, they’ll know exactly what to expect from your product if they decide to become a paying customer.
Other SaaS founders have also seen the benefits of live demos during their trial periods.
For example, Monica Lent (the founder of Affilimate) uses live demos to help new users get to their Aha! Moment. This is the time when the customer realizes the value of your product for their use case.
For Lent’s product, it was beneficial to show users how to use more complex features, which they couldn’t do on their own. In the end, live demos helped convert a lot more users right after the free trial period.
With a short presentation, you can demonstrate efficient use of different features and tools to guide the customer to their Aha! Moment.
Once customers realize the benefits of your product, they’ll have no trouble paying for it.
Don’t Ask For Credit Card Information
For most SaaS companies, asking for credit card info is detrimental to increasing conversion rates.
You might be tempted to do that simply because it signals a commitment on the customer’s part, and you think it will make them more likely to stay after their trial period ends.
That’s not true.
Most of the time, those that do pay after the trial period ends do so because they simply forgot they signed up in the first place. So, they’ll churn soon after their first charge.
These sales numbers might look good in the short term, but they don’t help with your conversion rates in the long run.
This is also backed up with statistics:
Even Lincoln Murphy, a leading SaaS expert, doesn’t encourage opt-out free trials that are accompanied by asking for credit card info. To him, this only adds unnecessary friction to the entire conversion process.
Instead, if you want higher conversion rates, you need to eliminate the moment a customer might hesitate to start using your product.
This means that, when you don’t ask for credit card info beforehand, you’ll benefit from more sign-ups.
The simple reason for this is that customers are less trusting about giving away their information beforehand. Why should they give you their valuable data before they know they can benefit from your product?
So let people see what your product can do for them for free before asking them to commit.
Build a Knowledge Base
What could make users stay loyal to the company after the trial period expires?
The answer might surprise you. Almost 88% of people say they’re far more willing to stay with businesses that invest in user education.
Or, to explain it further, companies that actively ensure their customers know how to use their product will have more paying customers at the end of the trial period.
One solution to this is creating knowledge bases. You’ve probably seen pages like these on numerous SaaS websites.
The great thing about them is that a vast majority of SaaS users frequently use knowledge bases when they’re learning how to use a new product.
Knowledge bases are comprehensive collections of articles, videos, and how-to guides that help users find solutions to their problems. They allow customers a wide range of information they can use. And the best part?
Knowledge bases are always available to your trial users! As a result, your customer service won’t have to work overtime to help your trial users with their problems.
In other cases, new users might not even want to contact customer service if they encounter troubles with your product. So, you can enable these types of customers to find solutions on their own.
In the end, knowledge bases allow you to guide your users and engage them, encouraging them to stick with you after their trial period ends.
Motivate Product Usage with Checklists
Simply put, you need to find ways to connect your product to the user’s objective and demonstrate how you can help them accomplish their goals.
An excellent tool for that is a checklist. Checklists is a simple visual representation of tasks that users need to complete. Most conveniently, it’s also a concept everyone is familiar with.
Users know how checklists work and what’s expected of them, so they’ll quickly and intuitively work through the tasks to complete them. It’s a great way to help your users learn to use your product with minimal cognitive effort.
When you break down the learning process into simple steps, you give your customers enough information without overwhelming them. This creates a more pleasant experience with your product, which encourages the customers to keep coming back to it.
Furthermore, when you get your users to complete tasks connected to the value of your product, they’ll get to their Aha! Moment faster. So, checklists can help you make your product stickier.
Remember that using a new product is intimidating for most users, so use checklists to encourage them to make progress in a tangible way.
Create a Sense of Urgency
Encourage your users to convert faster by creating a sense of urgency. The most popular way to do it is to limit the length of your free trial.
According to Databox’s latest research, most SaaS companies prefer trials lasting 7 to 30 days.
Although the length of your free trial depends on a variety of factors, such as the complexity of your product, as a general rule, if you want better conversion rates, you should make the trial period shorter.
Making a product available in the free trial only for a short time implies scarcity and exclusivity. It signals to the user that they will miss out on something valuable if they let this opportunity pass them.
Or in other words, it will create a sense of urgency and push the new users to convert sooner.
Here’s how limiting free trials worked for Nityananda Rao, CEO of AcTouch Technologies (ERP software for manufacturing companies).
At first, the company offered a 30-day free trial. However, they realized they had a problem when it became obvious that their trial users would simply wait out that 30-day period and then never come back.
So the company decided to reduce the trial period to 14 days. Again, the same problem occurred.
Customers waited for the trial period to expire before converting. They extracted value from Rao’s product, but they had enough time to change their minds before expiration pushed them into committing to the product.
So, the company’s next step was to reduce the free trial to 7 days. This turned out to be a great decision, allowing the company to start closing deals within as little as three days. Customers found value fast and they converted a lot faster.
In a nutshell, short free trials will attract the customers’ attention, and you’ll have an optimal time frame to showcase your value. That way, after your free trial ends, you’ll have more paying customers.
Unlock Paid Features for a Limited Time
For better conversion rates, also consider unlocking your paid features for a limited time and give the customers a taste of what else they can accomplish.
But first, we need to clarify the difference between a freemium and a free trial. The term freemium refers to the business model in which users can use a SaaS product for free but with limited features.
In contrast, free trial users can use a full-featured SaaS product but during a limited timeframe.
Freemiums have one major drawback, which is that they generate a lot of ‘’freeloaders’’, i.e., a lot of users who will use a product but never pay for it.
Some companies, like Slack, have successfully managed to balance business growth with a large freemium customer base. But that’s not the case for most SaaS businesses.
If your paying customers can’t cover the expenses needed to maintain your freemium users, it’s time to consider converting some of those freemium users. A good strategy is to show them what they can gain from a premium version of your product.
Duolingo is a good example of how successful this tactic can be.
Duolingo is a language learning platform that offers freemium and premium account options for its users. With a premium account, users benefit from an ad-free experience, with personalized lessons to work on their mistakes, and progress quizzes, among other things.
Duolingo freemium accounts are more limited, yet this doesn’t discourage more than 30 million users from using the platform. So, to increase their number of paying customers, Duolingo introduced a limited-time offer for freemium users to try out their premium features.
Freemium users have seven days to explore the benefits of premium features when they’re learning a language. This gives them enough time to see everything else they could accomplish, which encourages them to convert after the offer ends.
Does it work?
According to recent data, Duolingo increased its conversion rate from 3% in 2019 to 5% in 2021.
This means that they grew from 900 000 to 1.8 million paying customers. In addition to that, their revenue almost doubled since they introduced a premium plan.
Keep in mind that this method only works if you offer enough value in your premium plan so the customer can easily make the switch. Premium plans should give customers enough reasons to stick to it and make freemium a lousy choice to accomplish their goals.
Send End-Of-Trial Emails
Have you ever unexpectedly received one of these emails?
If you have, you’ve probably signed up for a product, stopped using it after a few hours, and then completely forgotten about it. Don’t worry, it happens all the time.
The email presented here is a method to entice free trial users to give a SaaS product another chance. It’s a reminder that a user signed up to try out a product, and now they have a limited time to take action before the offer expires.
These email reminders are critical to pulling undecided users back to your product and demonstrating value again.
Or, to put it in the words of Vitaliy Verbenko, Business Development Manager at Helprace, end-of-trial emails are your last chance to convert a customer.
According to him, your conversion rates will be higher if you send end-of-trial emails that nudge customers to respond and evoke a sense of urgency.
In Helprace’s case, they used to only send trial-ending emails on the very day of the expiration. However, once they started emailing users a few days before the free trial ended as well, their response rate grew by 200%.
What you can learn from Helprace is that reminding users of your product is crucial if you want to entice them to use it. That is the only way you’ll get undecided users to see value in your product and become paying customers.
Make It Easy to Upgrade or Downgrade the Subscription
If you want to help your free trial users upgrade their plans, you have to make the process extremely easy.
The first thing you should do is put yourself in your customers’ shoes. How do they become a paying user and reap the benefits of the full product? Where are the main obstacles?
Once you find the main points of friction that can make customers rethink their decision, you must remove any unnecessary steps, so the conversion process happens faster.
For instance, you can copy Integromat’s method and have a dedicated page for managing the customers’ subscription plans.
This customer is currently on Integromat’s Standard plan, but the company allows an easy downgrade and upgrade process.
We should point out that it’s important to keep downgrading plans an option. Sometimes customers might come to the conclusion that they’re spending too much on a product they’re not using enough, but they want to continue with limited features.
So, you should give them that option.
If you don’t give your customers the ability to downgrade, they might abandon you completely. Nobody wants to spend their money on a product they aren’t using to the fullest.
Instead, they will find someone who can give them the desired results but for a lower price.
Allow them to downgrade, and rest easy in the knowledge that you can convince them to upgrade in the future, which is a far better option for your business.
The key takeaway is to make the upgrade and downgrade process straightforward to ensure a better customer experience. This way, you keep users happy and make your conversion process faster.
Use Chatbots to Proactively Handle Objections
Customers want to solve their problems immediately, but sometimes they don’t want to search for solutions on their own. That’s why website chatbots are a great way to supplement knowledge bases in handling customer concerns.
When they face an issue, they’ll simply use a chatbot to get it resolved.
To emphasize how valuable chatbots are, allow us to point out recent research shows that 71% of customers first look for chatbots to get their questions answered. Not only that, customers also use them to access content, book meetings, and make purchases.
The best part about chatbots is that they significantly increase customer satisfaction. They allow you to quickly answer user questions where a customer service agent would take hours or days.
And great customer experience is also a vital factor trial users consider when deciding to commit to your product.
Furthermore, chatbots will help you answer the most common questions users ask during the trial period, such as: “Where can I find this feature?” and “How do I log into my account?”
However, keep in mind that, ultimately, some of the things that worry your new users include dilemmas like: ‘’Is this product worth my time?” or “Does the price justify the outcomes?”
The effective use of chatbots will ease their concerns and show your users that paying for your product is a worthwhile investment.
Your free trial is the perfect opportunity to utilize different tactics to engage new users. Not only will you make them use your product more, but you’ll be able to convince them you’re the solution to their problems.
Remember that getting people to sign up for free trials is easy but convincing them to pay for your product is more challenging.
Even having the best product on the market means nothing if you can’t show how your customer will succeed using it. Implement the tactics we’ve outlined in this article to present your product’s value, and you’ll easily convert new users once their trial period expires.