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How to Improve Your SaaS Free Trial

By Emily Smith on Mon, Apr 4, 2016

Research shows that best-of-breed SaaS companies are able to convert 25% of free trial sign-ups into paying customers. This means that even the best companies are losing a staggering 75% of sign-ups without making so much as a single dollar.

Today I’m looking at 5 things your company can do to improve the efficacy of your free trial, and improve its conversion rate.

1) Make it Easy to Sign Up

You want to make it as quick and easy as possible for the user to sign up for your free trial. What information do you need to know about your user in order for them to successfully get started using your service? Ask for that – and nothing more.

As a general rule, as the number of form fields increases, conversion rates decrease. At this early stage of a customer’s relationship with your service, a long or complicated sign-up process can make the difference between them signing up, or not. 

2) Provide Value from the Outset

The free trial is make-or-break for you and your new user. It’s the point where they discover whether or not your service provides a real solution to the problem they need to solve.

You want to get the new user to the ‘aha!’ moment (where they experience first-hand value provided by your service) as quickly as possible. Getting real value from your service right from first use is what will keep users coming back for more.

3) Support Your Free Trial with Additional Information

It’s important to remember that once a user signs up for a free trial, your job isn’t done. Your free trial needs to be thought of as the next stage of lead nurturing: you need to continue educating and providing additional value to your new customer.

For example, emails offering helpful pointers about how to use various features of your service, or highlighting specific functionality they aren’t using yet, will provide further education about how to use your service, and also to help the user generate more value from your service.

4) Make it Easy to Make the Purchase

As far as possible you want to make it easy and frictionless for a trial user to sign up for one of your paid packages. Don’t hide the option away behind an obscure menu item.

Furthermore, don’t wait until the end of the trial period to encourage the user to sign up – this runs the risk that the trial will lapse without them noticing, and they’ll get out of the habit of using your service.

Instead, make sure that billing options are clearly displayed during the free trial, so it’s easy for the user to choose the paid plan they want to use – but make sure they aren’t billed until after the end of their free trial. 

5) Make it Easy to Cancel (But Find out Why)

It’s important to remember that even the best tools won’t be right for everyone. So you should also make it easy for your user to cancel their free trial.

Whatever you do, don’t try and trick anyone into converting to a paying customer – don’t take their credit card details on sign-up for the free trial, and then automatically take payment if they don’t cancel. This will reflect negatively on your service.

If a user chooses to cancel their trial, this provides you with a valuable opportunity to gain insights about what was missing from your service, or what factors played a part in the user deciding not to use your tool.

Feedback from lost opportunities is often more valuable than feedback from your best users, as it will indicate areas that can be improved upon, and help provide direction for future development and functionality.

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