How to Convert SaaS Free Trial Users into B2B Customers

— October 11, 2017

How to Convert SaaS Free Trial Users into B2B Customers


Your company offers an exciting technology product that’s leaps and bounds ahead of the competition. If you could just get your prospects to try it out, they would no longer be able to live without it.

It’s exciting when they sign up for free trials. But then, what do they do? In many cases, they never use their trial.

How will they ever know what they are missing?

To say the least, it’s frustrating. While it may seem as if you’ve accomplished your goal when someone signs up for a free trial, there’s inevitably a big gap between the number of people who sign up and the number who become customers.

It’s not just true for your business. It’s an industry-wide phenomenon.

According to Ada Chen Rekhi, who rounded up data from multiple companies, when companies do not require credit card (CC) information upfront, free trial to paid conversion rates range from the low single digits to a rare 25 percent.

How to Convert SaaS Free Trial Users into B2B Customers

What do these numbers tell you? Companies need to focus more on engaging prospects during the trial. That’s because a small improvement in trial-to-sale conversion rates could have a substantial impact on revenues.

Two prime ways to increase engagement are via nurturing emails and conversations, either on the phone or using online conference solutions.

  1. How to Use Emails to Engage Free Trial Users

    The more personal your emails, the better you’ll do. That means emails should come from a person, not a company.
    Start your nurturing email series with a welcome email. It’s more powerful than you probably realize. According to research from Experian, welcome emails are four times more likely to get opened than other promotional emails. Also, they receive five times the click-throughs. To get the most impact out of them, make sure you use the word “welcome” in your subject line.How to Convert SaaS Free Trial Users into B2B Customers
    Based on the chart above, more than eight percent of those who receive a welcome email land on the website as a result of it. That’s engagement, and that’s your goal.

    To create a sense of urgency in your welcome email, remind the user how long their free trial lasts. Also, since everyone’s busy and wants any new task to be as easy as possible, provide clear instructions as to how they can get started using your product.

    You should send several emails during the trial to keep users engaged — up to two or three a week. Entice trial users with ideas about how they can benefit from using the tool. Or set up a mini-course that spoon-feeds information on how to use your product. Also, get them excited by telling stories about what your clients have achieved.

    Last but not least, send reminders when the trial is about to end. You can include a special offer with an expiration date to create a sense of urgency.

  2. Encourage ConversationsBecause it’s inexpensive, email has become a go-to strategy. There are, however, significant advantages to scheduling a phone call or an online conference. Even in today’s digital age, people like to talk to others and to know there is someone they can reach out to when they need help. That’s especially true when they need to learn how to get the most out of new technology in the cloud.

    Plus, you can best help your free-trial users if you know their goals and concerns. And the only way to gain a full understanding of them is to have a conversation. Once you’ve listened to the problems they’re trying to overcome and the opportunities they want to exploit, you can show them how to use your product successfully to achieve their objectives.

    So schedule a time to talk with users about your solution. Point them in the right direction so they can achieve their goals. In doing so, you’ll not only be able to demonstrate the value your product offers but also you’ll start to develop a relationship.

    Yes, it costs more to converse with people one-on-one than to shoot out emails. However, it increases conversion rates. But will you receive a positive return on investment by adding in telemarketing to your sales mix?

    To find out, do an A/B test. Take your free trials and split them into two groups — A and B. Nurture the A group with emails alone. For the B group, add in the opportunity to speak with a rep, whether on the phone or via an online conference. At the end of the month, crunch the numbers to determine whether the increased conversions from telemarketing generated enough revenue to justify the higher cost of sales. Make sure you use the average lifetime value of a customer to do this calculation.

    As you move forward, you can optimize your calling strategy. For example, use your marketing automation system to determine which trial users are most engaged. Focus on calling those who have opened a couple of emails and clicked through to your website. Alternatively, look at company size and demographics to determine your best prospects. Then, reserve the white-glove treatment for your most sought-after accounts.

  3. Nurturing Increases Free Trial ConversionsThe moral of the story is that once you receive a free trial sign-up, it’s not the time to sit back, relax and let things take their natural course. This is when the hard work begins. Use emails and phone calls to increase prospect engagement, helping them to achieve their goals. In so doing, you too will likely meet your objectives of increasing your free trial conversion rate.

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