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Written by Richard Farrell
on March 09, 2017

The best way to get a customer to try a new chocolate flavor is to offer them a sample in a shopping mall. Some folk will decline politely, while others will take the sample and walk off with it. The third group comprises people who taste the sample while chatting with you. These may be the only group that will actually buy. Pretty much the same applies to B2B SaaS Marketing. You have to satisfy a need before you can convert free trial users.

CONVERT FREE TRIAL USERS TO PAYING CUSTOMERS

 

The success rate of inbound conversion strategies is less than 25% for 66% of companies. To calculate how well you are doing, divide your total paying customers by your total visitors. In this article, we discuss ways to squeeze free trial customers, so they convert to paying ones before the deal expires.

1. Not Just a Numbers Game

Your aim is to convince a business in free trial mode to signup and start paying before the sampling expires. However, this is more than just a numbers game. You want to make real money too! To do this, you have to invite the right kind of businesses through the gate. Would you rather have 50 clients paying an average $250 each, or 75 paying $100 each? Your free trial conversion strategy starts with shaping your marketing to your target persona so you optimize your financial return.

2. Optimize Your Free Trial Product

There are loads of people out there that walk away with chocolate samples. The internet is also a great place for gaining freebie information. The trick is getting the balance right. This includes deciding where to be on the freemium-free trial dimension. The freemium inbound method provides a dumbed down version. The free trial alternative supplies the complete model, but for a limited period only during which the customer can opt out. I have been avoiding automated opt-ins since I failed to opt-out within the allowed period. The fact I may have been hiking in the Himalayas did not cut it with the supplier.

3. CRM Comes First

The internet has turned us into instant-gratification skeptics. We don’t trust the chocolate salesperson’s motives either. If they attach an opinion survey to the deal, we are suddenly less than interested. Getting qualified leads to sign up requires a similarly light hand. Your invitation to a premium or a freemium trial should never use the term credit card. I personally believe trying to hook customers with black-hat technology sucks. Provide a simple interactive form and a clear call to action so they know what they are buying into. Use something along the lines of ‘sign up with the opportunity to opt out’.

4. Quick Follow-Through

In order to convert users once onboard, it’s essential to keep them moving down the funnel. Research suggests that early adopters are less likely to be price sensitive, and thus more likely to sign up. Therefore, it is essential to maintain momentum. The first step should be a warm and welcoming email, providing reasons to activate the deal. To convince them of good service, thank them the first time they use the product. Send inactive users mini case studies to convince them your product really works.

5. Deliver Customer Lifetime Value

It’s also essential to monitor how well we are doing, even before we begin to think of converting. In fact, they may never convert from SaaS free trials unless you offer them the promise of customer lifetime value. Hence, your lead generation and inbound conversion strategy must involve continuous quality control. Accurate, timeous metrics guide us to what businesses like the most. A goal-bound strategy tracks and measures all engagements. You can only improve your conversion rates when you deliver a service your segment truly wants.

6. Nurture Qualified Leads

HubSpot, that doyen of inbound marketing offers powerful hands-off tools for following up with valuable content. They will fire off your messages about new features once written, and then send timely reminders. In 2014, Forbes reported that email marketing was continuing to be the ‘most effective’ marketing channel and this is still the case. This makes email the ideal way to deliver webinars, tutorials and other relevant content. Email works best when you time it to perfection, and automate the process. Then you can use A/B testing to refine your approach.

Read: 10 Best Lead Nurturing Strategies to Increase Sales Revenue

7. Convert Free Trial Users with Lead Scoring

The next step to take is scoring leads according to position in the funnel, and chivvying them along with appropriate, personalized canned messages. Try stratifying them using personal demographics, industry sector, in fact any aspect that seems meaningful. By experimenting, you will get to know your market better. Having precision metrics and using math marketing will enable you to snipe your targets with an accuracy that can make your inbound methodology remarkably precise.

8. Make it Easy to Upgrade

The psychology of operant conditioning teaches us that reward and punishment shape behavior. This is how circuses teach elephants to dance, and tigers not to eat their trainers. When we want someone to step into our future, it follows that we should make the process as simple, and as pleasant as possible. So get out your keyboard and mouse, and rewrite your call to action. Imagine you are persuading a small child to take cough mixture because they really do need it.

9. Develop a Sense of Urgency

We can get used to most things in life, including boarding school and canteen meals. After a while, they hardly provoke a reaction. This is the bane of the marketer’s life. The only workaround is to up the pressure. Begin by making the point to your qualified leads that it is easy to convert. Then make them a time-based offer of a discount if they act in, say seven days. Alternatively offer them an additional free widget. A lower margin is preferable to failing to convert free trial users at all. 

10. Learn from Your Mistakes and Successes

SaaS marketing is at its best when we introduce an internal feedback loop and honestly appraise our own performance. To deliver lifetime customer value, CRM good practice encourages us to constantly improve our product, and hence enhance the user experience. Remember this. The object of the exercise is not just conversion . We also want to keep users with us for as long as we can.

Of course, some freemium and free trial customers are never going to convert. Some only want to use our product once for a particular project. That is in the nature of eCommerce. There will always be window shoppers. And there will always be people browsing the internet to extend their knowledge.

So don’t be annoyed by the freeloaders and dropouts you encounter along the way. Stay in touch with them. There is always the possibility of a happy coincidence at some time in the future. They may even recommend your SaaS service to other businesses in their network, and thereby provide another opportunity to convert free trial users.

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