80% of the free trial users just fade away and never become paying customers (source).
How can SaaS startups tap into such a huge volume of prospects and successfully convert them into paying customers?
Of course, there are some tips and ideas, which I have mentioned below, but the ultimate takeaway is for you to not fade away from your customers’ mind and to stay connected throughout the trial period.
Here are my tips:
1. Send how-to-use mails and feature updates
Don’t leave the customers alone during their trial period. Stay in touch with them and offer useful advice.
Engaging with them frequently, especially with the inactive users, will give you a better shot at converting them.
Also, update your free trial users with your latest feature updates. Your email must contains images with a proper explanation so that even layman can understand it. Here is the example how SproutSocial team updated their users about latest features update in an interesting way.
Did you know that 90% of the leads go cold after 1 hour of their subscription? (Source) In order to counteract this, not only do you have to send a welcome email, but you must also make sure to check-in with them frequently, of course don’t be annoying about it though!
Here are some ideas on how to stay in touch:
- Send them How-to-use tutorials about your product/service.
- Send an explanation email of your features update.
- Give them tips and tricks – for example, if you are an email marketing service company, send them emails such as ‘Tips to write great email’ etc.
- If nothing else, you can send a ‘we miss you’ email after week with quick hacks/tips. (Here are some good blogs about emails)
2. For engaged users, extend the free trial period
If you see that a user is actively using your product, or has just begun to do so, then extending their free trial period would be a smart move. Your user may not be quite ready to make the big move yet, and it is perfectly fine for you to give them more time to do so.
Not only does it instill good faith between you and your customer, but it also improves the chances of their conversion.
Do this: Send them an email to let them know that you are extending their trial period, this way you can renew their interest in your product. See our example:
In the email, make sure to include:
- A comment or two from your happy customers.
- Statistics of your performance in the market, better if the data is latest.
- Request for product feedback.
3. Create a sense of urgency
Let’s admit it, most people don’t act without an incentive; a sense of urgency can be a great incentive.
For example, you will have better success when you say,
‘ A special discount on our product just for you – expires in 12 hours’
‘We have a special discount for our special user’
Infact, at my startup Hiver, we ran A/B email testing on creating a sense of urgency to convert our free trial users, we realised that the Email B, which used responsive words such as ‘Act now’, ‘Ends in 10 hours’ written in red had 3 times the conversation rate of the email which had no sense of urgency at all.
Here are some tips on how to create a sense of urgency:
- Creating scarcity of the product.
- Putting time limits on the offers.
- Using responsive words like Act Now!, Hurry!, Expires in 1 hour! etc
- Make the responsive words red for better results. Why? Here.
Here is a little more information on how to create urgency for better conversions.
4. Send behaviourally triggered emails
Customers are rarely alike. One customer may sign up and use your service actively, and the other customer may not even bother trying it out. Therefore, when reaching out to your free trial users, you must understand that it is impossible to create a single email that fits all. Again, A/B testing can be a great way to understand what works and what doesn’t.
Generic emails have much less impact than the personalized ones, and hence behaviorally triggered emails help you address every customer personally. Triggered emails have a 152% higher open rates (source), a considerably significant difference.
Depending on the size of the company and the customer base, you can choose to create any number of behaviorally triggered emails. See this email of Slack.
Here are a few examples:
- You can create a feedback request email for an active user.
- Send a ‘we miss you’ email for a user who was active for the first 2 days and then become inactive till 10 days.
- Send ‘Did you try this feature?’ email to a completely inactive user.
Here are many more categories of triggered emails you can create for better conversions.
5. Ask for a feedback, better if it’s live
One of the oldest and yet the most powerful tricks in the book – checking in for feedback will not only give you very useful insights and ideas to work on for your product, it can also refresh your user’s interest in the product. It is a way to politely remind them of you.
Sending feedback emails could work, but another better way with higher probability to get to a customer is making live feedback calls or sending feedback texts.
Users may not pay attention to a feedback email from you and may not take the time to respond, but when you make it easy for them by sending a short text or making a quick phone call, you have a better chance of seeing results.
Text messages have a 98% open rate, while email has only a 20% open rate. (Mobile Marketing Watch) and 90% of all text messages are read in under 3 minutes.
A simple feedback request text like ‘What can we do better for you?’ is a great way to go.
All of these ideas and strategies will bring you results, but you must scale those results against the investment.
You must always stay focused on the ROI and never go overboard trying to convert everyone that tries your product.
Ask yourself these two questions:
- Are you not letting go of a customer who has the low probability of converting, quickly enough?
- Are your results bringing in more money than you are spending on the pursuit?
Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all answer, you must experiment and see what works best for you, keeping the ROI in mind.