Do you have a SaaS business that offers free trials to acquire new customers? Are you struggling to increase free trial signups? You’re not alone.
Figuring out how to improve free trials is one of the big issues in SaaS marketing.
For most SaaS businesses, a free trial is the biggest source of converting free users to paying customers. Here are some statistics that highlight the importance of free trials:
The top 27% of SaaS companies get 25% or more business from free trials.
16% of companies get over 50% of new business from free trials.
The average SaaS conversion rate for optin free trials is 18.20%.
The average conversion rate for an optout free trial is 48.80%.
The average free trial conversion rate for B2C is higher than for B2B.
If your free trial conversion rate is low, that means you aren’t generating leads for your SaaS business and are likely to miss your revenue goals.
In this post, we’re going to show you how to increase the free trial conversion rate with proven marketing strategies. These ideas will help you to grow your user base and expand your revenue potential.
Here’s a table of contents for quick navigation:
Know Your Customers
Focus on ‘True Evaluators’
Use Content to Attract the Right Users
Showcase Your Product’s Value
Show Your Pricing Upfront
Offer Reverse Trials
Create High-Converting Landing Pages
Come up with Compelling CTAs
Use Popups to Improve Free Trial Optins
Offer Easy Signup Experience
Use the Zeigarnik Effect
Use Email Marketing to Your Advantage
Offer Live Chat Support
Track Past Conversions
Collect User Feedback
Leverage A/B Testing
Ask for and Incentivize Referrals
If you want to increase free trial signups, you have to create marketing campaigns that wow your visitors and make them want to go ‘Aha.’
To accomplish that, you need to understand your customers and their motivations deeply. You need a buyer persona that represents your ideal customer.
A buyer persona is a marketing profile that includes details such as:
Why they would use your product or service
Their main goals and pain points
Age, gender, education level, marital status, and other demographic data
What their main information sources are, online and offline
What’s their role in the buying process
When you have a complete picture of your ideal buyers, use this information to tailor your marketing campaigns. Matching your marketing message with your buyer personas will help you increase free trial signups.
You can create buyer personas by:
Surveying your current customers to understand their lifestyle habits, personal biases, online behavior, and goals and challenges.
Sampling your social media followers and learning about their preferences and interests from what they share online.
You can come up with an appealing marketing campaign that resonates with your target audience if you know that customers bought your product to improve their productivity.
Not all free trial users will convert paid subscribers. According to Totango’s findings, you can divide all free trial users into 3 categories:
Accidental signups – Accidental signups make up for 70% of free trial users. But they take no further action after signing up and aren’t interested in using your product.
Potentials – Potentials represent 10% of the total trial signups. But they don’t do much either.
True evaluators – True evaluators make up around 20% of the signups. They have the highest product usage and will benefit the most from it.
Most of the accidental signups are price shoppers. They sign up for 5 other products like yours and settle with the most affordable ones. The potentials are on-the-fence customers who need a bit more time, and convincing, to convert into paid users.
But true evaluators show clear signs of deep product engagement. For example, the right true evaluators often:
Are willing to pay for your SaaS app
Are patient with your shipping dates
Offer constructive feedback
Your free-to-paid conversion strategy should focus on the last group because that’s where the largest share of the revenue will come from.
But how do we identify true evaluators from the others?
You can use product analytics and customer engagement software to capture the ‘aha’ moments of the most engaged users.
Here are 3 product usage analytics tools that can help you with this:
Both Mixpanel and Amplitude have free plans for you to test the product.
You want to make it a no-brainer for website visitors to your site to sign up for a free trial. Targeting your ideal customers with relevant content can help you get their attention.
To create great content that delivers the highest content marketing ROI, you need to:
Leverage search engine optimization (SEO) to use the right keywords in your content.
Generate blog post ideas and case studies to attract potential customers.
Mention all product use cases to tap into your users’ intent.
Grab their attention with great headlines.
Use attractive images to make people focus on your content.
Create outstanding calls to action (CTAs). We’ll look at it in more detail in just a bit.
Promote your content everywhere so that more of the right people see it and sign up.
Customers buy a product for its benefits. Even when they’re signing up for a free trial, they want to know how your app can solve their problems.
Clearly articulate your value proposition on your trial signup page and across all other marketing touchpoints. Think about what your product can do for your customers.
Here are 3 examples of clearly stated value propositions:
These value propositions get to the heart of what your customers want to do and how the products can help them. To create a good value proposition:
Consider the main benefit of your product. Make it the headline of your landing page.
Explain who the product is for and why they need it in the sub-headline.
List up to 3 key additional benefits in your copy, preferably as bullet points.
Add some evidence in terms of numbers, social proof, or other ways to build credibility.
Here’s an example from Groove HQ’s homepage that has it all:
Nobody likes surprises, especially when it comes to pricing. If prospects like the value your product offers, they also want to know what it costs. Yep, even if they are trying your product for free.
Communicating your pricing upfront is especially useful for SaaS companies that offer a freemium pricing model. Unlike the free trial model that expires after a few days, the freemium model allows customers to use some product features for an unlimited time.
Freemium is a favorite among product-led growth (PLG) companies that want to acquire customers by giving them free access to the basic version of their product.
Communicating your pricing on the signup page builds transparency and might even improve conversions. Highrise changed their CTA copy from ‘Sign up for free trial’ to ‘See plans and pricing’ and saw a 200% increase in free trial signups.
To make this work, include the following information in your free trial signup page:
What are they signing up for
How long is the product trial length (or if there’s a free plan)
How much do the paid plans cost after the trial
Here’s how Basecamp handles it. They make it clear what’s included after the free trial and how much each plan costs at the end of the trial:
Reverse trial is a free trial technique used by SaaS brands that offer a freemium product.
This type of free trial allows users to try the full benefits of the paid plans for a limited time. Once the free trial period is over, they are downgraded to the free version of the product with limited features. If there’s no free version, users will lose access to their data after the trial.
Offering a reverse trial is a fantastic way to show users the true value of your product. With reverse trials, the right audience will get hooked on the product during the free trial experience.
The product adoption also goes up if the trial requires users to commit their data, such as adding team members or creating workflows.
Here’s what Travis Bernard of the LA Times has to say on how to increase the free trial conversion rate with reverse trials:
“Users are more compelled to pay because they have experienced the value of the paid product and want to avert the loss. In your marketing, make sure you include language that reminds the user of what they lost.”
Zoho’s Bigin uses the reverse trial technique in its pricing page. It offers a 15-day free trial for 2 of its paid versions:
Pipedrive CRM does the same for all its paid plans:
Pro-tip: Another great way to improve free trial signups with reverse trials is to offer product tours and walkthroughs. It can be a simple overview of your SaaS interface and all the features it offers. Or it can be a 2-minute demo video that explains your product to first-time visitors. Here’s an example from HubSpot.
After you figure out who your best customers are and what resonates with them the most, you can build landing pages specific to their intent.
Landing pages are great customer acquisition tools. When you optimize them properly, they can also rank in search engine results pages. It helps you attract prospects who look up search terms related to the problems your product solves.
You can create separate landing pages catering to different buyer personas you want to target. If you just have a single buyer persona, optimizing your homepage will do the job. According to Nifty Marketing, 76% of businesses use their homepages as a landing page.
To create a landing page aimed at increasing free trial conversions, check out the following articles:
Anatomy of the Perfect Optin Landing Page (Tips & Best Practices)
Optin Page Perfection: Examples & Tools to Boost Conversions
10 Expert Tips for Writing Landing Page Copy that Converts
How to Make & Optimize a Lead Generation Landing Page
Make your landing page even more irresistible by including product benefits, trust seals, social proof, and customer testimonials. These are doubt removers’ that reassure first-time visitors that they are making the right decision by signing up.
Here are a couple of real-life examples. Buffer includes the names of some of its clients and their testimonials as social proof:
Freshbooks does a better job.
Their free trial signup page addresses 7 major things succinctly:
How much money people can save
Who is the product for
Top 3 benefits of using its product
Safety and security assurance
Not requiring credit card information
Assurance about canceling the trial anytime
A customer testimonial from a happy customer
Marketing stands or falls on the effectiveness of your call to action, the marketing element that gets your visitors to click.
CTA might seem like a small nuance in the big scheme of things. But even the smallest factor, like the color of the CTA button, impacts conversions. That’s why it’s so important for SaaS marketers to get it right.
Here are 6 best practices to create great CTAs:
Use action words in your CTA copy.
Focus on communicating the value.
Pique curiosity and anticipation.
Use color contrast to make your CTA button stand out.
Test your CTA’s performance.
When you apply the right principles to your CTA, you will:
Make website visitors curious about your product.
Create a sense of urgency in them.
Minimize the friction in signing up for a trial.
Note that even if you’re offering a free trial, you don’t necessarily have to use the word ‘free’ to improve the trial signups.
You can ask people to try out your product, sign up for a demo, or other wording that might work better. For example, ActiveCampaign uses Get Started:
Substack’s CTA asks people to Start Writing:
Sendbird uses 3 different CTA buttons back to back, asking you to sign up, talk to sales, or request a demo:
Once you’ve come up with a couple of options, it’s best to test to see what’s most effective.
If you already have a landing page that’s driving traffic but suffering from low conversions, you can use popups to improve your free trial signups.
The average conversion rate for all pop-ups is 3.09%.
Top-performing pop-up forms can convert by up to 9.3%.
If your landing page or exciting CTAs are failing to drive conversions, try popups. You can get started with OptinMonster to create enticing popups for your website.
With OptinMonster, the advantage is that you won’t annoy your visitors with a popup every time they land on your website. That will make them leave your site and never sign up.
OptinMonster lets you control that only interested people can see your free trial popup campaign. There are several ways you can enable this with OptinMonster. You can:
Delay showing your popup till you’re sure visitors are interested.
Show the popup only to users revisiting your website.
Trigger the popup to people who are about to leave the website.
As an example, Lifter LMS designed the following popup in OptinMonster. It improved their freemium conversion rate, generated 7,000+ leads, and earned $23,700 in sales.
Prospects won’t sign up with your SaaS product even if they face the smallest friction on your website. For instance, creating a long signup form is a turnoff for a lot of users.
Here’s an example of the signup form that’s too long for the average user to fill out:
Be thoughtful about how much information you need to collect when creating a signup or demo request form.
Yes, it’s helpful to get intent-specific customer data to segment people into different user groups. Lead segmentation helps you offer personalized experiences to boost conversions.
However, long forms can be counterproductive to the self-service user experience. If you just want to get people to sign up, you need less information from them. For example, Brevo just asks for an email address on its free trial signup page:
Once you get users to sign up for free, you have enough time to nurture them and extract the information you want.
Below are a few tips to make your new user signup form simple:
Keep signup forms short, asking for the minimum information required. Since you’re running a web app, it’ll likely be an email address and a password.
Don’t ask for a separate username. Since all email addresses are unique, use that instead.
Consider using single sign-on (SSO) to make it easier for people to start their free trial. It’ll help people who hesitate to create yet another new account.
Don’t ask for payment details at this stage. Help users fall in love with your product first.
SaaS founders like Ada Chen Rekhi agree:
“… free trial with credit card is going to result in a more qualified but smaller number of signups, resulting in a higher trial-to-paid conversion rate downstream than a similar flow that doesn’t demand credit card details up-front.”
Users are more likely to sign up without much thinking when you don’t ask for payment information. Research shows that you can generate more leads and avoid the hassles of refunds when you don’t ask people for credit card numbers.
There’s a cool piece of psychological hack that can help you get more free trial signups: the Zeigarnik effect. The Zeigarnik effect is the idea that people tend to finish tasks they’ve left unfinished.
The Zeigarnik effect works because when we don’t finish a task, its half-done status persists longer in the back of our heads and irritates us until we finish it. Creating a to-do list and seeing through the checklist is the best example of the Zeigarnik effect in action.
In marketing, the Zeigarnik effect works best with 2-step optin forms. First, you get the website visitors to initiate a task by clicking on a CTA. When the Zeigarnik effect kicks in, there’s a great likelihood for them to fill out the optin form.
OptinMonster’s MonsterLinks works on the same principle.
Step 1: You use MonsterLinks to create a link that users can click to launch a signup form.
Step 2: To complete the action, they now have to do is enter their email.
2-step optins work really well. AtHoc used this technique with free demo messaging to increase leads by 141%.
And InternetSuccesGids engineered a whopping 1500 per month increase in subscribers.
If you want to dig deeper, here’s a guide to enabling Monsterlinks on your site.
Email marketing is still one of the best ways to promote anything. It’s also an excellent tool to help you increase free trial signups.
Since over 4.37 billion people across the world use email, it gives you access to a wide pool of audiences. With email marketing, you can repeatedly convert a good portion of your email subscribers into free trial users.
This is why you need to build an email list right now. There are 4 major steps to build an email list:
Design a lead magnet.
Add signup forms across your website pages.
Engage with your email subscribers with useful content.
Nurture your subscribers to sign up for your product or buy from you.
Here’s how to increase the free trial conversion rate with a lead magnet and email marketing in 3 steps.
First, design a lead magnet as an incentive for people to subscribe to your emails. A lead magnet can be an ebook, a cheat sheet, a worksheet, or an in-depth resource that offers value to your subscribers.
Next, create irresistible signup forms and place them across your website pages to promote your lead magnet. You can use OptinMonster to deliver your lead magnet and grow your email list.
Once you start getting leads through this campaign, use email marketing to nurture them into trying your product for free.
Pro-tip: For best results, integrate OptinMonster with your email marketing service provider to start the nurturing campaign and track conversions.
Live chat is an excellent way to create a direct feedback loop with prospects and to encourage them to sign up for your free trial. It helps make sales, too.
According to research by Forrester, with buyers who chat before making a purchase, there is a:
10% increase in average order value.
48% increase in revenue per chat hour.
A 40% increase in conversion benchmarks.
Using live chat can help you discover what information people need to complete the signup. It can also help you convert the ‘potentials’ to ‘true evaluators.’
Want to get started with live chat to increase free trial signups? Check out our guide to the best live chat plugins and software.
To improve your trial conversion metrics, it’s important to know what’s working with your existing trial process. Track existing conversions to see how many people complete your signup process.
There are several ways to do this. You can track conversions:
Within Google Analytics (read how to track OptinMonster conversions)
Within your email marketing software. Here’s how to track conversions with Constant Contact
By using the MonsterInsights forms addon (for WordPress sites)
In OptinMonster, the conversion data is readily available in the analytics. You just need to log in to OptinMonster, go to the Campaign Dashboard, and click the zigzag arrow icon.
You’ll see conversions from the last period and can adjust parameters to see all-time conversions. That’ll tell you if your campaigns are working.
The best way to find out what’s working (and what’s not) is to talk to your website visitors. Collecting your prospects’ feedback helps you meet their expectations and tweak your free trial strategy.
Bharadwaj Giridhar of Inbox Pirates offers the following suggestion:
“Capture why users exit. You might be frustrated because you’re losing a customer, but it’s better to think about what not to do when acquiring a new customer.”
You can collect user feedback through customer surveys, live chat, or in-app questionnaires. Popping up a survey just before people leave can help you find out why some people are ignoring your free trial.
If you’re collecting user feedback through email, remember to follow up. Like cold emails, most prospects don’t respond to user surveys in one go.
Some prospects stop using a SaaS product halfway through their onboarding experience. To avoid free trial churn, send an onboarding email to new users right after they sign up.
Ask them what they’re hoping to get out of the free trial. You can aggregate that data to improve the trial and user onboarding process.
Pro-tip: Want to learn how to collect customer feedback on your website? Read our guide on collecting customer feedback.
When it comes to marketing, data beats guesswork every time.
We’ve already talked about how to increase the free trial conversion rate with the help of product analytics. Now, let’s talk about another great technique, A/B testing.
A/B testing or split testing helps you know which campaigns were most successful in driving trial signups. You can use A/B testing to:
Refine your offers.
Test landing page layout.
Figure out a way to improve free trial signups.
Since split testing is so important, we’ve built it right into OptinMonster. Once you create and launch a marketing campaign with OptinMonster, you can compare the results of two variations of the same campaign without buying a 3rd-party A/B testing tool.
Sometimes, the best way to get new business is to just ask for it. You can offer your existing SaaS users an incentive for qualified referrals to increase your free trial numbers.
Missinglettr does a good job of offering its users renewal discounts if they refer users who actually use the product.
This is an excellent way to make your existing customers happy while expanding your revenue potential by attracting new users to your SaaS platform.
You can segment the free trial users coming via this source into a new group and run an email nurture campaign to convert them into paid customers.
Now you know how to increase free trial signups with proven strategies that can help you improve your free trial signups. All you need to do is apply the ideas you’ve learned today.
Once you’ve increased your trial signups, you’ll want to focus on building your free-to-paid conversion strategy.
Want to drive free trial signups through enticing popups? Get started with OptinMonster! Choose from 100+ ready-to-use templates and launch the perfect campaign within a few minutes.
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