Trial Conversions

A free trial version of your SaaS offering is a very efficient method of getting users to understand the value of your product and create demand for it. On the surface, it appears to be a great means of showing, not telling, why your solution is the right answer to their problems.

However, many potential customers can (and do) evaluate your product without ever contacting you and well, sadly, vice versa. I’ve had trials for a product or two, and aside from automated time-based email correspondence, I have never been contacted by the company in any valuable way either. At this critical stage, it is definitely not the time for a hands-off approach. You need to encourage users to experience your product in ways that influence conversion, and here are 10 reasons why you should be doing so.

1. A dramatic impact on revenue

Increasing your conversion rate can have a dramatic impact on revenue and profit by increasing the number of paying customers, without increasing the Customer Acquisition Cost. This list could easily stop right here because is there really anything more compelling than #1? No, but there are other reasons why you need to be successful at trial conversions:

2. Gain a better understanding of customers

There is your perception of the customer and then there is the real customer. Your team has worked hard to identify your target market, create buyer and user personas, and understand their behavior – what they read, download, attend, etc. However, when you have real people (aside from your development or QA team) using the product, then you can really understand who they are and how your product serves a purpose. Your trial participants are the beginning of that understanding.

3. Exceed the competition

Your offering is likely not the only one on trial. If a prospect is looking for a solution to a problem, they will explore all of their options. By managing your trial conversions successfully, you not only exceed the competition by winning the customer, but you have also picked up a little (or a lot) of competitive intelligence along the way. Prospects will tell you not only what they are looking for (or think they need), but will often share what features and functionalities exist in other offerings that they like.

4. Opportunities to always improve your product

Is it the customer that is struggling with the product, or is your product not quite as intuitive as you thought? Either way, once you identify and remove the friction, either the trial runs more smoothly, or your product gets better, or both.

5. Set the bar

This is the opportunity to make the right first impression and subsequently set the bar for what your new customer can expect in the way of engagement and experience, in terms of your organization and your offering. A high-touch, high-engagement trial not only converts but sets the bar and sets you apart from the competition.

6. Demonstrate real value

A trial enables potential customers to experience your offering firsthand in their own environment, with their own team and their own processes. And your product needs a purpose from which the trial participants find real or perceived value. Sometimes, however, a little handholding is required to demonstrate the real value of your product and to uncover the features or functionality for the users. A little nudge and a successful trial conversion shows that you have grasped the opportunity to demonstrate real value.

7. De-risk a third of the crucial first 90-days

Although you are offering a “risk-free” trial, there is still risk inherent in introducing any new tool or solution within an organization. There is perceived risk and real risk and if you alleviate the real, the perceived will disappear as well. The trial is the initial third of the crucial first 90-days and if this is seamless, then you follow it up with a similar onboarding experience — the rest is history.

8. Establish a relationship early on

Remember in the introductory paragraph when I noted that many potential customers can, and do, evaluate your product without ever contacting you? I pointed that out because 1) it happens, 2) it’s not necessarily a desired outcome, and 3) it’s in your control to change that behavior. Personal engagement at the trial stage means you begin to build that much-needed, much-valued relationship early on, which leads to a greater probability of seeing that customer through all stages of the customer lifecycle.

9. Your organization is churning

A new trial prospect! Lost. A new trial prospect! Lost. A new trial prospect! Lost. Not only is that opportunity lost, but it’s your own team or organization churning through a broken process. And eventually, that churn translates into employees too. Being successful at trial conversions brings satisfaction to your whole organization.

10. Learn. Iterate. Repeat.

Conversion, and subsequently adoption, is the whole process of teaching new users the important skills required to understand and get value from your product. And you improve your teaching skills based on what you learn and observe from both successful and unsuccessful trial conversions. It’s an iterative process and as you succeed, you learn, iterate and repeat.

What are your reasons to succeed at trial conversions?