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How to Quickly Convert Trial Users Into Paying Customers

by Ashli Norton

Want to know the secret to converting trial users to paid customers? I’ll answer it in one word: communication.

It’s not enough to have a robust website with video tutorials and a well-stocked knowledge base. Sure, that helps, but you also need to reach out to users personally and make them feel like you’re a human. 

We’ll get into the nuts and bolts below, but let this be your guiding light: people want to buy from other people that they trust. One way to build trust with new users is to talk to them via email, SMS, and push notifications. 

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Did you know that 66% of the companies that use the free-trial-to-pay model have less than a 25% conversion rate. Why? Users enter the SaaS equivalent of the Bermuda Triangle. They enter the trial and are never heard from again, and that’s mostly because companies fail to keep in contact.

And the first three days are the hardest. If you can keep a user active within your SaaS for at least three days, they are four times more likely to convert. 

Luckily it doesn’t take a full sales and support team to reach every user. With just a good behavior-based messaging tool and awesome copy you can reach out to every user automatically.

Let’s look at these seven ways to engage and prime users for conversion using email, push notifications, and text messages:

Emails

1. Send a welcome email 

Did you know that around 75% of users expect a welcome email after sign up? Not only are they interested in your product, they’re giving you permission to share more information with them.

When a customer enters a trial, automatically send a welcome email. And send it within the hour after they sign up. 90% of leads go cold after one hour. New users will often tinker around with your service and forget about it. Sending a welcome email establishes your relationship. 

In your welcome email, be personal. Send from an email address that the user can reply to. Tell them how often you’ll be emailing. Be sure to include why your service is valuable. Leave the email with an open offer to assist them. (That’s your call to action.) Expect some users to write you back and be sure to answer them.

A welcome email like this could help onboard and convert more users:

email Example welcome 1

Hey {{Customer Name}}, 

I just noticed you signed up and wanted to say thank you. 

I also wanted to reach out and help you get started. Is there anything you’re confused about or need help with? 

I’m always here to help, but I’ve included a link to a few helpful videos to get you started. 

Please email me anytime. I’m here to help!

-Jill at Autosend.io

2. Send out emails to engage inactive users

Send out emails to engage inactive users. For example, after 2 days, send out a best-of tutorial, or a list of tips on how to get started with your service.

Most people stop using your app because they don’t know how to use it. 

An email like this should help and engage inactive users:

email Example inactive1

Hey {{Customer Name}}, 

Here are ways you can use our app to help you save more money. 

  • Import your bank statements (this takes 2 minutes)
  • Tell us your favorite stores so we can find coupons for you (this takes 3 minutes)
  • Tell us about your next purchases so we can find the best deals (this takes 5 minutes)

If you click here, you can start setting these up now and have them save you money forever. 

You can also get attention from inactive users with a “We miss you”email. For example, if a user isn’t active after 2 days, remind them that they’re missed and what they can get from your app if they come back. 

Hey {{Customer Name}}, 

Where have you been? We’ve added a few new features that you haven’t had the chance to try yet. These could really help you meet your carbon footprint reduction goals.

We’ve added: 

  • a meat-free recipe search that helps you eat lower-impact meals
  • public transit map to help you find a different way to get around town
  • a bike rental search you can use while you travel

Just click here, sign in, and you can start using these features in seconds. 

Your email shouldn’t just be about how cool your app is. Your only goal is to get people using the app again. To do this, remind them why they signed up and how your app can help. Make sure you add a call to action to your re-engagement email. It needs to be something that gets the user excited to come back. 

Good call-to-action examples for your re-engagement email are:

  • Create your {{date productName}} now
  • Try it out now
  • Grab yours now
  • See it in action
  • Watch this video now

3. Offer a Trial Extension

The trial extension isn’t meant for every user. Users who are already inactive by the end of the trial won’t be swayed with more time.

A free trial extension is for that segment of your users who are active every day throughout their trial, but churn as soon as the trial is over. 

Here’s an email you could send to active users to invite them to extend their trial:

email Example trial Extend1

Hey {{Customer Name}}, 

I noticed your trial just ended, but you’ve been enjoying our app quite a bit. 

Do you need a few more days to use our trial? I’d be happy to give you a few more days. Just let me know.

For these users, you can also send out an email asking for feedback along with a trial extension. Pay attention to the feedback, because that information will help you convert future users.

Text Messages

You may be thinking, why should I send by text when I can talk to users by email? 

Two reasons:

It’s less competition. Compared to 1,216 emails, the average user only receives 178 texts. 

A guaranteed read. 99% of all text messages are read, and 90% of them are read within 3 minutes. Compare that to the open rate for emails (22%). The click through rate is also higher for text (19%) vs email (4.2%).

4. Ask for Feedback by Text

Instead of email, send a text to inactive users or those with expired trials. Use their feedback to answer their questions and point them to resources that will help them. 

When you ask for feedback, go short and sweet. Here are possible texts to use:

text Example feedback1
  • Thanks for using {{data planName}}! We’d love your feedback.
  • Hey {{Customer Name}}, do you have a couple of seconds to give us your feedback on {{data planName}}?
  • Here’s your chance to have your say! What do you think of {{service}}?
  • How can I help you use {{data planName}} better?

5. Send a Text About Failed Payment

If you’ve converted a customer, don’t lose them because the payment fails. Failed payments happen more than you think. In fact, between 11-14% of transactions dont go through

Maybe the customer entered the wrong credit card number. Maybe your website crashed. Maybe they used the wrong browser.

Whatever it is, automatically text the user when their payment doesn’t go through. Offer to personally help the user complete the purchase. You can also send them a link to a prefilled alternative payment method page. 

Here are a few examples you can use:

text Example checkout1
  • Hey {{Customer Name}}, looks like our checkout page is giving you some trouble. Need me to call to walk you through it?
  • Hey {{Customer Name}}, I noticed you’re having trouble checking out. Need my help?
  • Hey {{Customer Name}}, is our pricing page working for you? If not let me know and I’ll be happy to finish your checkout for you.
  • Hey {{Customer Name}}, it seems like you’re running into trouble on our check out page. Here’s a link to alternative page http://example.com.

It’s the final stretch. Do whatever it takes to convert the user, especially since you know they want to buy. 

Push Notifications

Push notifications have three times faster response than email. If you’re looking for a quick response, use a push. Two ideas to convert users with push are:

6. Offer a Discount

Sometimes users make it to your purchase page but don’t upgrade from trial to paid. When this happens to you, do something about it. Send these users a special discount. 

push Example upgrade1
  • 25% off {{data planName}} for the next 2 hours! Get it while it’s hot.
  • Thinking about joining? Here’s your reason! 20% off with code {{data code}}.
  • Thank you for trying. Buy now and pay 25% less with promo code {{data code}}.

7. Incent Users To End their Trial Early

You don’t have to wait until the end of the trial to get the user onboard. An active user who loves using your app can be converted quicker with an incentive. Remember, users who actively use your app for 3 days, are four times more likely to convert. Use this opportunity to convert active users to paying customers early.

The type of incentive you offer depends on what motivates your users. 

It may be a discount. It may be an upgrade to a premium service at a lower price. It may be a free high-value consultation with an expert that can help them grow their business. 

Try sending a push notification like this to get your users out of their trial earlier:

push Example end trial 1
  • You’ve saved ${{data moneySaved}} with our app! Here’s 10% off to upgrade now.
  • Enjoying our app? Do more by upgrading now.
  • Want access to all the features? Upgrade now and get 1 month on us!

Whatever you choose, remember that people like to feel special. By communicating with them early and often, you can make them feel like part of your community and avoid the churn. 

So what will be the first email, SMS, or push message you send to your users? Are you already using trigger-based messaging to convert more of your trial users into paid users? Check out other Crazy Egg posts on email marketing and conversions to learn more.

Happy converting!

Image source: Autosend.io

24 Comments

DON’T MISS OUT

Get updates on new articles, webinars and other opportunities:

Ashli Norton

Ashli is the Co-Founder at Autosend.io, a tool that helps you send personalized email, SMS, and push messages to your users automatically. If you want to how to send your own trigger-based messages visit Autosend.io.

24 COMMENTS

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  1. Anonymous says:
    May 16, 2016 at 11:18 am

    This website certainly has all the information and
    facts I needed about this subject and didn’t know who to ask.

  2. JACOB says:
    February 16, 2016 at 12:56 am

    Great tips. Very helpful. 3. Offer Trail extension: What if the product you are selling had no period but credits limitation for trail? Can we just provide them more credits?
    We are doing emails and SMS is not an option for us, any other way we could do this?
    Thanks.

  3. Jeff says:
    May 9, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    Fantastic stuff in here. We have implemented a few minor changes to our emailing program. Definitely appreciate the tips…incentivizing to a premium plan sooner..brilliant..as noted above.

  4. Kieron Brown says:
    April 5, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    Hey Ashli,

    Thanks for publishing this one. Love the idea about incentivising users to make the jump to a paid plan sooner. I guess it’s common sense, but the way you put it was very user-centric, and not the least bit ‘salesy’.

    – Kieron

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      April 5, 2015 at 8:51 pm

      That makes such a difference, doesn’t it, Kieron? Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Ramakrishnan M says:
    February 24, 2015 at 8:09 am

    Very interesting article; great practical tips; thanks for sharing. My only additional submission would be that use of analytics can help you determine better which message would work better with which user group (some may like a quick end of trial; others may want extension; so on and so forth)
    Having said that, great practical tips; SaaS Marketers NEED to read this

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      February 24, 2015 at 9:10 am

      Thanks, Ramakrishnan. I hope you’ll share it with your SaaS marketing followers. 🙂

  6. Nitin says:
    January 13, 2015 at 1:08 am

    which email autoresponder will be helpful for these tasks to be acomplished properly?

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      January 13, 2015 at 9:28 am

      Hi Nitin. You can probably do these tasks in any autoresponder service such as AWeber or MailChimp. But if you could afford something that tags users based on their behavior and automates responses, such as Infusionsoft, you could do it more easily.

  7. Elli says:
    September 29, 2014 at 1:22 am

    Thanks! communicating with the users is so simple but some how neglected. So many app developers just expect the app to convert on its own. They invest in install ads, but the paid users just “die” slowly cause the app does nothing. no push, no SMS, no ongoing relationship… frustrating!

    • Neil Patel says:
      September 29, 2014 at 11:20 am

      Elli, great points. It’s all about marketing and promotion once you have your app ready for the public.

  8. Mark H says:
    September 27, 2014 at 12:25 am

    First, use Disqus here guys! 🙂

    Second, I really like tools like autosend. But I feel they lack things like scheduling (2am SMS to a guy browsing your website might scream automation) and need to go beyond just behavior-based messaging.

    Let me explain about the latter. Most users come in via some form on websites. The businesses get these ‘leads’ to go straight into a CRM of their choice. Right in there, the CRM has a welcome email and various other automation style emails that go out based on statuses and CRM activity. If there’s a tool doing user-behavior based messaging, and the CRM doing backend-activity based messaging, there’s a mixup of some sort. That is where such tools need to calm the storm…

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      September 27, 2014 at 8:07 am

      Thanks for the tip, but I dislike Disqus. Appreciate you sharing your thoughts on automation, though. 🙂

  9. Dan Zarzycki says:
    September 25, 2014 at 9:28 am

    I think this article is great and hits on many good points, but I also believe that it is important to send similar emails to people who have ALREADY purchased your product. What good is a paid product if you don’t have people using the product?

    Empowering people with tips and training and outreach makes them more likely to be a “free” evangelist of your product. Many people buy product without realizing the full potential.

  10. Michael Stricker says:
    September 23, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    WOW! I am intrigued by the immediacy and seeming simplicity of this method! Users have certainly come to expect nearly immeidate feedback, and the messaging takes this well beyond the sort of creepeiness that can result from overuse of social communications. Thanks, Ashli!

    • Ashli says:
      September 23, 2014 at 8:42 pm

      No problem Michael!

      You are so right, high-level customer service is no longer a nicety, it’s a must-have. Sending messages (particularly, well-timed, personalized messages) during your users’ entire lifecycle not only help them convert faster, but can get them to stay around longer.

      Thanks for reading Michael!

  11. Natalie says:
    September 23, 2014 at 8:11 am

    As a user, we all like to know that we are talking or interacting to a real human person in the other side of the web. This also reinforces our curiousity and interest towards what the site offers which will lead to making us into customers and having someone answer your queries is really a plus. 🙂

    • Neil Patel says:
      September 23, 2014 at 12:54 pm

      Natalie, great points. When you personalize the experience people will be more wedding to your ideas and trust you.

  12. Ross Hall says:
    September 22, 2014 at 6:04 am

    The guys who produce the Merlin project management tool did this particularly well. For about 2 weeks they sent daily “lessons” that were designed to increase the user’s confidence in the system and encourage use. I’ve still got them stored and go back to them every now and then!

    • September 22, 2014 at 8:10 am

      Great example, Ross! Thanks for sharing.

    • Neil Patel says:
      September 22, 2014 at 11:40 am

      Ross, thanks for sharing this 🙂 I think constantly engaging with your user base does wonders.

    • Ashli says:
      September 22, 2014 at 11:46 am

      Ross, that’s a perfect example of using onboarding emails to make users comfortable enough to convert into customers.

      That’s awesome!

  13. Reginald says:
    September 20, 2014 at 4:02 am

    Hey Ashli,

    Thanks for sharing! I love the part about emailing inactive users. I have yet to do this but hey, I’ll start practising and put this to work. Let’s see how the ROI will be like.

    Nonetheless, great write and appreciate it! Sharing this around too!

    • Ashli says:
      September 20, 2014 at 8:14 pm

      Thanks, glad you liked the article. Staying in touch with inactive users is important.

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