4 Proven Ways To Convert Trial Users Into Long Time Customers

Everyone loves free samples. But the question is, how do you convert trial users to paying and long-lasting customers?

Adebisi Adewusi
May 03 2018

Ice cream. T-shirts. Software. Whatever it is you’re giving away, there’s a good chance people will sign up for it. While it’s easy to get people sign up for a free trial when there’s no risk, getting trial users to commit with a price tag can be tough. According to a survey of over 300 SaaS professionals, on average, 80% of free trial users never convert to paid. This doesn’t mean free trials are a waste of time. Done right, a free trial strategy can help your software sell itself. Statistics from Totango’s 2016 SaaS Metrics report shows that 62% of companies get 10% or more of their business from free trials, while 16% of companies get more than half of their new business from free trials. If your free trial conversion rate is less than desirable, here are a few smart ways to get your free-to-paid conversion strategy raking in some money.

Get Users To The Aha Moment ASAP

Not familiar with an aha moment? The “aha” moment is when a new user sees the value of your product. It’s a set of actions that separates users who are likely to retain from those who will churn.  For instance, Slack’s aha moment was when 2000 messages were sent within a team.


But how do you determine which product features will guide users towards recognizing your value? Here are a few tips from Apptimize:

  • Understand your product’s current baseline retention curve
  • Find out what actions paying users perform that churned users didn’t perform and use it to create a hypothesis
  • To test your hypotheses, compare all the key actions against your baseline. If there is no difference versus the baseline, then focus on other metrics.
  • For an action to qualify as an ‘aha moment,’ it must represent the tipping point for the majority of your users
  • A/B tests will determine how changes to your product impact retention

In addition, use qualitative analytics are a great supplement to see what makes paying customers convert.

Make Users Fall in Love With You: Onboarding

40%-60% of users who sign up for a free trial will use your software once and never come back, but strong onboarding efforts could reduce churn and retain more users. While there is no “one size fits all” strategy for onboarding, below are key tactics you should incorporate into your user onboarding process:

Start (Almost) Right Away: According to CrazyEgg, customers are 4x likely to convert if they are active within 3 days. Walk users straight to the aha moment—using popups, video demonstrations, product tours, etc.—immediately after they sign up for your free trial.

Demonstrate Value: Show users how they can get value out of your product. For instance, content marketing tool Buzzsumo allows trial users try out some of their features right from their home screen. This shortens the journey to wow and ensures users start with the aha moment.

Make Customer Support Available: Include support in your onboarding process. Groove HQ discovered that customers were 350% more likely to convert if they sent emails to the support team, so encourage customers to engage with your front facing team right from the beginning.

By the end of your onboarding flow, you should have taken users from a state of “I’m listening” to “I’m willing to invest.”

Price it Right

Trial users may love your product, but for some reason, they aren’t clicking the purchase button. Is your users’ indecisiveness to blame? Probably not, your pricing model may be the problem. Surprisingly, many businesses don’t pay attention to pricing. A survey of over 1,000 SaaS executives, including more than 400 seed stage companies, revealed that seed stage companies tend to treat pricing as a last minute, ad hoc decision.

How do you figure if your price is unsuitable for users? Most of the time, they’ll tell you – like in the case of

“I love this add-on but your pricing is insane. $402/mo? No thanks! Would be willing to pay for this add-on but that cost is way too high and nowhere near what I would call value for money”.

To find out what works for your users, test different pricing models. In its quest to find the ideal pricing structure, GrooveHQ tested a few pricing models. The company’s ultra-flexible pricing structure had a 1.11% conversion rate, and the pay-as-you-go pricing, a 1.17% conversion rate. But having one single price for every customer was the deal breaker. This pricing structure boosted their conversion rate to 4.15% and resulted in a 25% increase in revenue.


Pricing is always in a constant state of evolution, so keep the process simple and make the upgrade workflow easy for everyone.

Invest in Incentives

If users don’t convert and the trial ends, you may need to take a look at offering incentives. Take a look at Dropbox. The company owes a significant proportion of its success to giving incentives via referrals. Today, the company has 11 million paying users, and their referral program is going strong. Although Dropbox uses a freemium model, their incentives work.


A few incentives you can offer?

  • A free trial extension is for active users who churn. Use this opportunity to get feedback on why they churned
  • A time-sensitive incentive to make a purchase before the free trial ends
  • Free software upgrades for a certain period in exchange for referrals
  • Cash in exchange for referrals ( Paypal did this in its early days)

Keep Learning

Free trials are a great way to sell your products. To improve your conversion rates, speed up their aha moment fast, ensure your onboarding is a smooth process, carefully consider your prices, and throw in some incentives.


Adebisi Adewusi

Adebisi Adewusi is a freelance B2B writer and a Huffington Post Contributor. When she’s not creating compelling content for businesses, you’ll find her capturing moments with her Nikon d600.

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