Converting more free trials means building trust with prospective customers and lowering the cost of customer acquisition. Free trials are also becoming increasingly necessary for SaaS companies looking to create long-term contracts. They even increase customer satisfaction by helping your customers grasp the value of SaaS services.
That being said, not all businesses know strategies and how to use them for converting more free trials to secure paying clients. It’s not enough to simply hand over the software and ask them whether they want to purchase it once the trial ends. Building conversion requires high involvement and clear communication by both parties.
Luckily, Todd White, cofounder and VP of Sales at GUIDEcx, recently hosted a webinar with Bryan Neale, founder of Blind Zebra, to discuss the keys to converting more free trials. In the webinar, they identified four strategies:
- Overcoming low trial adoption rates
- Engaging others in the decision process
- Deciding when to extend a free trial
- Remembering the most important step: the setup
By following these guidelines, your SaaS company will be on track to convert its free trials to paid engagements.
1. Overcoming a Low Trial Adoption Rate
The best indicator of a happy ending to the trial process is a successful beginning. As shared in the webinar, the main barrier to trial conversion occurs when the potential client fails to explore the trial software. Even if they have requested the trial, they still might struggle to put in the effort required to actually see whether it will fit their needs.
The same goes for the client’s employees. They may be unmotivated to test the software because they feel they are too busy or that the system is too complicated. To overcome these difficulties, you must plan ahead. Anticipating and preparing for these challenges will increase conversion and help your prospective customers to see the real value your software can provide.
Here are two ways that you can increase your trial adoption rate:
Make a Plan
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Before the trial starts, meet with the client to discuss what to do if they or their employees are slow-moving with the trial. This is crucial to helping them have a good, productive experience with your software.
Make a plan with the client that specifies how to handle low adoption.
Ask yourself these two things:
- How will they react if their employees haven’t used it by a specific date?
- How will they remind themselves to use the program?
By creating guidelines, the client is more likely to have realistic expectations, anticipate and manage challenges, and trust you as a service provider.
Schedule Check Ins
Following up is also critical to the success of converting more free trials. Let your client know that you’re investing a lot of time into the trial, so they should, too. Once they understand your level of commitment, they will be more likely to commit.
Schedule three phone calls with the client before the trial starts. These calls should occur at the beginning, middle, and end of the trial. During the calls, ask the client what questions, concerns, and successes they’re having with the trial.
If the client admits to not exploring the trial by the second call, don’t reschedule it for when they’ve begun using the software. Instead, use the second call as an opportunity to guide them through the software. Set them up for success, and you are far more likely to see the conversions you desire. Frequent, scheduled follow-up is the key to conversion.
2. Engaging Others in the Trial Decision Process
As you develop your plan for overcoming low adoption rates, you may wonder how to get your client’s employees to take the trial seriously. After all, they may not be the main stakeholder in the decision or have much extra time. However, by making them feel important in the decision-making process and engaging them with a clear roadmap, these employees will become valuable assets to your free trial strategy.
Use an Irresistible Word Set
In the webinar, Todd White and Bryan Neale shared that at least five people from the client’s team should be involved in every single trial you offer. Involving more people means extra exposure for your software and new contact information for additional stakeholders within the organization. However, don’t allow anyone to begin using the free trial without showing them a product demo. Making sure they have accurate expectations for the service will prevent confusion and disappointment.
Once you have five users, invite them to participate in the trial using an “irresistible word set.” Asking employees for their input will make sure all ideas are on the table. By motivating the client’s employees to participate in the trial, you’ll set yourself up for success.
Brand Your Implementation Process
Another step to improving trial participation is to brand your implementation process.
By creating unique names, metaphors, and visuals for your software implementation process, it will become more user-friendly and engaging.
Not to mention adding your logo, brand colors, and style to make the experience consistent with the rest of your business efforts.
3. Deciding When to Extend a Free Trial
Extending the length of a free trial can also help you land conversions. However, giving an extension without clear boundaries can harm your conversion rate. In general, there are two main reasons your customers might ask for an extension: a) they haven’t tried it out yet, or b) they want to advocate the program internally.
To help you get the most out of a free trial extension, Todd White and Bryan Neale have provided the following guidelines:
Define an Extension Policy
Don’t go into a trial extension without creating and adhering to an extension policy. This policy should include a predefined timeline outlining the end of the extension. Additionally, do not award the extension unless the client tells you exactly what they’re going to do with it within that time frame that they haven’t already experienced with their current trial.
If they don’t accept your conditions, move on—it’s better to invest your time and effort into someone who will work well with you. After all, not everybody is part of your target audience. Adhering to these guidelines will help you to prevent fraud, save time, and increase conversions.
Recognize Buying Triggers
In deciding whether to extend a free trial, you’ll also need to identify your buying triggers. For example, if your client has put five major projects into your software program, completely filled out optional profile information, or done something else with your software that represents a significant time investment, it may be time to upsell them instead of allowing them an extension.
Inviting your customers to take the next step is key once you can tell that they are invested in your product. As you recognize buying triggers and stick to your extension policy, you will be more likely to gain conversions.
4. The Most Important Step
In studying these tips to increase conversions, you may have gathered the most important aspect to a successful trial: the setup.
While some SaaS companies may stress about the product working, actually getting their customers to use it is far more important.
As shared in the webinar, setting up the trial in a way that helps the prospect be clear about your process helps both parties. If you want conversions, start with solid planning and clear communication with as many people as possible.
Correctly setting up free trials will help you overcome low adoption rates, engage stakeholders, and remove extension ambiguity. As your SaaS company creates action plans, engagement strategies, and extension policies, your trial conversion rate will increase dramatically. Don’t wait to get started! Your customers and managers will thank you.
Want to learn more about converting more free trials? Watch the webinar with Todd White and Bryan Neale.