A Deadly Secret to Increasing Conversions with Free Trials

SaaS companies want it.  Desire it.  And need it to survive to be successful!

But how do you really successfully do it?  It’s one of the biggest riddles and business challenges to software-as-a-service companies.  It’s the cream of the crop of questions for Saas and Web App marketing professionalls.  In other words, “How Can I Get Those Damn Free Trial Users to Convert to Paying Users?”

Lincoln Murphy of Sixteen Ventures has broken it down brilliantly!  Many SaaS companies obsess or get it wrong when creating their “how to convert trial to paid users” strategy.  For example, one of the biggest concepts SaaS companies debate about and lose focus on is how long should the trial be?

7 days?  14 days?  21 days?  Or even 30 days? 

While some of it may be relevant, in theory, none of it really is.  Why?  Because the free trial strategy is more psychological for the user than the actual amount of time.

What’s important is what you can offer that user in that short amount of time to help make their lives easier and convince them to buy your product with the free trial opportunity.  The free trial opportunity was just the hook to catch the fish—now you have reel it in!  Like what SaaS expert Peter Cohen once told me a while ago over the phone, “If customers aren’t using the application, they’re not likely to be happy about paying for it…”

So what does this mean? 

“The perfect free trial length from the customer standpoint—what you use in your marketing—is one that gives the perception of being long enough to adequately evaluate the product and not feel rushed”, says Lincoln Murphy.  Basically this is your chance as a SaaS company to take that user by the hand and show them how great your product is with every resource and trick you can possibly find.  For example, one cool service to show free trial users right away how to utilize your product is WalkMe—which guides your users interactively to perform any task through customized balloons that overlay on your site in minutes.  Another cool product is LivePerson, which creates meaningful, real time customer connections that help businesses increase conversions and improve consumer experience.

Lincoln Murphy wisely points out that the “free trial experience and using the strategic view of the free trial” should be focused on accelerating customer acquisition.  It’s important that SaaS and Web app vendors fully understand how to fully utilize the free trial opportunity given to customers and to focus on the bottom line—to convert and efficiently create customers for your business!  While the user is engaging with your product’s features, you need to make the experience as fluid, easily and enjoyable as possible, hoping that the amazing experience they are having with your product will make them convert ASAP.  The amount of time for a conversion to take place will becomes less and less as you fine tune your free trial operation.

Omri Erel
Omri is the Head of Demand Generation, as well as the Lead Author & Editor of the SaaSAddict Blog. Omri established the SaaSAddict blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to SaaS and cloud migration.
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