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6 Powerful Follow Up Emails to Transform Your Free Trial Conversion Rates

By Ryan Law on Fri, Aug 19, 2016

Most free trial users never become customers. In fact, the average SaaS company sees an end-to-end conversion rate (from visitor to paying, retained customer) of between 0.6 and 1.2%.

Thankfully, it isn't all doom-and-gloom.

We've already covered a dozen strategies for improving your customer onboarding process, and in the case of many free trial users, a simple, well-timed follow up email is enough to nudge them towards customer status.

So today, I'm exploring an arsenal of 6 powerful follow up emails you can use to start improving your free trial conversion rates.

6 Types of Free Trial Follow Up Email

1) The Free Trial Extension Email

Every free trial user is different.

Some will spend a few minutes playing around with your software, and feel ready to commit to a paid plan. Others will spend their entire free trial digging into each and every feature, and ready themselves to commit only when their free trial ends.

Then there's a subset of people whose decision-making process is longer than your free trial.

As long as these users are active and engaged, offering to extend their free trial by a few days (or weeks) can often be enough to nudge them towards a paid plan - something that accounting SaaS Freshbooks regularly use to great effect.

email-marketing-freshbooks-2.jpg

2) The Educational Email

Even with an awesome onboarding process, many free trial users fail to convert for one simple reason: they couldn't use your software to solve their problems.

In these instances, you can improve free trial conversion rates by sending an educational follow up email:

  • Analyse their usage data to identify a particular outcome they're trying to achieve, whether that's inviting extra team members, or creating a new project (their Desired Outcome).
  • Send an educational email, outlining step-by-step instructions for achieving it (known as Success Milestones).

These educational emails can be used in conjunction with a free trial extension, helping free trial users to understand the value your solution can provide.

3) The Discount Email

Some free trial users will err over the price of your solution, and may be willing to commit to a paid plan if you offer a discount. 

Though potentially effective at generating paying customers, this tactic is less effective at generating retained paying customers. Price negotiation is a good sign that your customer doesn't fully understand the value of your solution; and once you've devalued it with a discount, they'll always be looking to negotiate on price.

4) The Secondary CTA Email

If you're convinced that a paid account simply isn't on the cards, it can be worth driving free trial users towards a secondary call-to-action (CTA), like an eGuide download or blog subscription.

Although these users haven't become customers, you're making the best of a bad situation. Instead of parting ways for good, you've managed to add an extra bit of value, and encourage them further down the funnel - making them more receptive to sales communication in the future.

5) The Account Hibernation Email

When all roads are closed to you, it's time to wind-down the free trial. But what should you do with all the data your users have left behind?

First and foremost, it's important to avoid deleting their usage data: the threat of deletion isn’t a strong upgrade incentive, and it makes it harder to re-engage with the app after the free trial has ended.

Instead, opt for a process of account hibernation:

  • Make their account “view only” at the end of the trial.
  • Without any further action from the user, archive their data a week or two later. 
  • Email your user to tell them that their data is safe and secure, ready to be picked-up again at a moment's notice, whenever they're ready to subscribe.

An important caveat: it's a great idea to make their data available on request. After all, it's their data. For a great example of how to handle this, check out SaasCase:

"Can I Export My Data If I Leave SaasCase?

Absolutely, it’s your data – just contact us if you decide to stop using SaasCase and we’ll happily prepare a data export for you within a day or two."

6) The Free Trial Feedback Email

It's a simple fact of life that the majority of your free trial users won't become paying users: often as many as 80%. But instead of languishing in despair, why not treat these free trial drop-outs as a source of product insight?

When all else is lost, send a short email survey to gather valuable data, asking simple questions like:

  • "What stopped you from becoming a paying customer?"
  • "Were there any features you felt were lacking from the software?"
  • "Do you have plans to solve your problems using another tool or solution?"

We'll never be able to convert 100% of free trial users to paying customers, but with the help of a simple, carefully chosen follow up email, we can make sure we learn from the experiences of every single user. 

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