You managed to get a lot of people to sign up for your free trial. And yet only a handful of them ever turned into paid customers.
Some may have used your product or service for a solid three weeks. Others, however, never made a peep after they signed up.
Does this sound familiar? If this sounds like you, you are certainly not alone. And the research supports it.
Benchmark data says that a staggering 80% of trial users never actually end up become paying customers. In other words, you can really only expect 15 to 20 percent of trial users to actually pay for your service.
Congratulations on getting people to sign up for your free trial. You are doing something right. But, as you may have already guessed, that’s only one part of the equation. Some may even say that’s the easy part.
Indeed, people flock toward anything with “free” written on it. Free food samples, free keychains, you get the idea. Getting them to give their credit card information is another matter, and certainly not a simple one.
Despite the well-known challenges associated with converting trial users into paying subscribers, there are a number of strategies that you can implement that have allowed many customers to rapidly increase their conversions.
One of these ways is with in-app messaging. The benefit of in-app messaging is that you can send targeted information to customers. In fact, some might say hyper-targeted. The result of hyper-targeted emails? A lot of engagement (and conversions, by extension).
Of course, we talk about all of the go-to strategies for turning free trial users into paid subscribers, just in case you haven’t tried them out yet. They work, too.
In App Strategies
1. Use In App Messages To Immediately Show Your Value
We cannot stress the word immediately enough. Above all else, you need to show your value from the very beginning. By this, we mean showing users how to get the most out of your product. In other words, what can the product or service do for them?
Trial users want to see the value of using the product or service immediately. If you’re unclear about it, or they don’t see it, they will leave.
Make yourself clear about what your product can do. You can use in-app messages as a means to provide helpful information throughout the process as soon as they sign up. One way to do this is via a “Did you know?” kind of format.
Does your product have a new feature that they might find helpful? Tell them. Tell them now.
And, whatever you do, don’t make any of the processes of learning about or using your product difficult. It needs to be simple. Otherwise, you risk losing them.
Sure, you can say how easy your product is to use, but we know that actions speak louder than words. You also have to show them that it’s easy.
So, to illustrate our point, allow us to go over what we’ve said. Proper training of your product is essential but ensure that your training is relevant to them. Show them features that they will find useful. And make it easy.
Now, one last tip to take your training to new levels. Differentiate your training depending upon the skills of your user. If the trial user has been using the product for a few days, don’t tell them things they already know.
By the way, this is all related to the process of onboarding (more on this below), but since it is such an important element, it deserved its own section for emphasis purposes.
2. For More Effective Onboarding
When it comes to converting trial users into paying subscribers, onboarding is often at the top of the list. Onboarding is the process of getting users acquainted with a product or service as a means to actually begin engaging with the product or service, which is another goal of onboarding.
A lot of different elements go into this process. There’s the welcome email (more on the importance of this in upcoming sections), and trigger emails (more on this as well), but in-app messaging can enhance the onboarding experience too.
You saw above that discussing the most valuable features immediately is an effective way to convert trial users into paying subscribers; you can use in-app messaging as a means to get them to begin engaging.
In-app messaging can be an effective channel to send customized messages that are specifically tailored for them, showing them how to get the most out of the product or service.
3. Discuss Most Valuable Features Immediately
Another important part of the onboarding process (at least effective onboarding, that is) is telling users about your most valuable features. Any customers that aren’t already using those features should also be specifically targeted.
There could be a couple of reasons why some users aren’t using your most valuable features yet: Perhaps they don’t know about them or they don’t understand how to use them. Either way, your in-app message should look the same. It should go something like this:
Tell them what the feature does, how it performs a specific thing they want to be able to do and how they can begin using the feature. Including a button or link to direct them to the next step is imperative.
This article takes a deeper look at the activation process.
4. Include Product Updates
Some businesses forego product updates for trial customers in favour of creating a sense of exclusivity (i.e they have to pay for those features). When this happens, trial users are met with a “Sorry, this is unavailable to you” type of message. That’s just disappointing.
This is a mistake that many businesses make and one that you should avoid. Instead, you actually want to include trial users in any (and all) of your product updates and do so within the actual application itself so that users are more likely to try out the new feature, etc.
(This is where in-app messaging is particularly very effective).
Keep in mind that product updates must be executed very carefully.
One of the most important pieces of information we can give you is that you should include specific information regarding how to use the product (consider including screenshots or a video tutorial if the feature is more difficult) and how it will benefit the user.
Highlight how easy it is to use the feature and be absolutely certain to give simple, clear instructions.
It is also a good idea to ask for trial users’ feedback and to report any bugs that they mention so that they don’t have to worry about these issues in the future. That leads us to our next point, which is to always use in-app messaging as a tool to convert feedback.
5. Provide an Incentive
You can also use in-app messages as a means to incentivize paying for the paid version of your product or service. The benefit of providing an incentive to become a paid user is that you create the sense that they are getting more value. You have a few different options here.
For example, if a user only had a few days left in the trial, you can offer some kind of deal, whether that’s a discount if they sign up for 3 months (a time sensitive discount is best as urgency is always favourable to conversion).
Or, if the user has already been using the product for an extended period of time, you can use a discount as a means to get them to upgrade to the better version. You could also offer them a free gift.
This is particularly effective nearing the end of the trial, when users may need that extra push to invest.
Just ensure that the gift is enough to push them toward the ultimate end goal but not swanky enough that you will break the bank.
6. Collect Feedback
Not only can you determine at what specific point the user is having trouble in real-time, but you can also use this feedback to determine which aspects of the product or service the user is finding most beneficial and then use this as a means to target additional content based on that information.
When it comes to in app messages, Intercom is one of the leading vendors, making it easy for businesses to communicate with their customers via automated messages sent with timing precision.
Other Go-To Ways To Convert Trial Users
Effective in app messages can definitely convert trial users into paying customers. However, there are a number of other ways that you can also use to bolster your conversions. Here are some of the big ones – the go-to strategies, so to speak.
1. Catch Them Early
When it comes to converting trial users to paid subscribers, there are strategies that actually increase the likelihood of conversion and there are strategies that attempt to make a last ditch effort when users have barely interacted with a product.
In short, you will have better success when you strike while the iron is hot. When users are ripe for the picking. You get the idea. In other words, try to get people to convert when they are in the midst of using your product (of course, not too soon, but soon enough).
Consider that users who use your product or service on an active basis for three days are more likely to convert.
We mentioned above that you should incentive people to pay for your product. Sweeten the deal when users have been interacting with your product or service for an extended time. Even if they have yet to complete the trial.
Offer them whatever it is you know they will find valuable. Whether this is a discount, pricing an upgrade at a lower price, or a consultation, offer it up while the oven is hot. You don’t want it to go cold. You can use in-app messaging to do this, or even try push notifications.
Also ensure that you send a welcome email. Welcome emails are always part of effective onboarding.
You will begin to notice in all of this that emails play an important role when it comes to converting trial users. Just like there are outfits for every occasion, there are emails for every occasion – especially when that occasion is converting trial users.
A very important email you absolutely need to send is the welcome email. Indeed, people are actually expecting to hear from you. So take advantage of that fact. And do so immediately after they sign up. Again, you want to strike while the oven is hot. Don’t wait until they go cold.
You have about an hour or so. Otherwise, you are increasing the chance that people will forget that they even signed up for the trial in the first place.
A welcome email establishes the beginning of a (potentially wonderful) relationship. Indeed, you don’t want to send any old welcome email. There are effective ones and there are also not so effective ones. An effective welcome email, however, should do the following:
Tell them again what kind of value your product or service offers (remember that?). This is a common thread in all of this: you want to remind them of your value at every step of the process, from your welcome email to the rest of your in-app messages.
Ensure that they have an opportunity to respond to your email with any questions they might have. You absolutely want to respond to those emails as promptly as possible. Again, you are sowing those relationship seeds.
How are some additional tips when it comes to writing an effective welcome email.
One company, Groove, experienced great success by not asking users if they had any questions, but instead, they asked a direct question to trial users themselves.
They asked: “Why did you join this service?” The email not only garnered a high response rate, but the company then took this highly valuable information as a means to send out targeted responses based on their answers.
For example, if the user replied with, “I signed up because this product offered a feature that another business didn’t,” you would then follow this email up with targeted information related to that particular feature.
2. Don’t Give Up On Inactive Users
Remember when we said you want to strike when the iron is hot? Certainly that is the most conducive environment to get someone to convert. However, you also don’t want to ignore inactive users. Perhaps they just need a nudge in the right direction.
Here is a look at how you can keep users engaged.
In other words, target all of the inactive users with another email. If the welcome email didn’t give them the nudge they needed, perhaps a second email will do the trick. It has certainly worked for others in the past. Remind them of your service.
Actually, you will find that many users simply didn’t get started because they didn’t know how. That’s why effective onboarding is so effective.
However, you can still convert them. You could email them with a tutorial, or a step-by-step of how to get started.
Consider also doing A/B testing to figure out the most effective emails.
Perhaps they knew what they were doing all along but they simply got busy. It happens. In this case, those “We miss you” type of emails can also be effective. Perhaps you can tell them about a new feature to draw them back in.
Again, remind them an additional time about why your product or service is valuable to them. But the most important part? Include a call to action. Some ideas for a relevant call to action range from “try it now” to “see it in action” to “watch this video now.” You get the idea. Make it enticing.
Lastly, we present the trial extension email.
Now, you don’t want to pull out this trick for every member of your audience. It’s only designed for a select few. Who are those select few, you ask? The people who used your product or service every day but then didn’t quite see it through to the end with a payment.
If they are approaching the end of the trial, send out an email asking if they need more time. You can also ask them for feedback, which can be useful in the future.
Are you trying all of these other conversion strategies?
In wrapping all of this up, converting trial users has never been easy. But by using in app messages in specific ways, in addition to converting people when they are actively engaged with your product or service, you can convert trial users to paying customers much more steadily.
But, then again, don’t ever give up on those inactive users, either. You will get there.
You can also always get a boost by creating an e-book, like we documented here.