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How to Convert Trial Users into Paid Customers

Posted by Origins Ecommerce - November 26, 2014 in ,

Free or discounted trials are a great way to attract new customers, especially for SaaS and other subscription companies. While successful subscription companies are regularly able to convert up to 25% of trial users into paid customers, many others fail to reach conversion rates to make themselves viable.

There are some common reasons for this disconnect when converting trial users into paid customers:

  1. Companies fail to connect with their trial users after they sign up.
  2. Companies do not properly track user interactions, limiting their ability to properly engage users.
  3. The product fails to meet the customer’s expectation.

Determining how to turn more trial users into paid customers can be difficult but here are a few tips to help you increase your conversion rate.

Make User Onboarding Quick & Easy

Your initial goal is to ensure new users are onboarded smoothly and are actively using your service quickly. Though it varies between products, especially between B2B and B2C products, the initial time period you have to activate potential customers using a trial service is limited. If they don’t start using the trial within an initial period, they are unlikely to ever use it. And if they don’t use the trial service, you’ve then lost the opportunity for conversion to a fully paid subscription. This is especially unfortunate because they already took that first step to sign up for trial.

The best way to ensure users actually use your product is to make it easy for them to start. Every step you add before they can start seeing the value of your service increases the number of users that are going to decide it’s not worth their time. Similarly, access should be quick, if not immediate.

Know How New Users Interact With Your Service

Once your new users have tried out your product, the next step is keeping them engaged with it. If a user signed in initially but after 7 days hasn’t signed in again, there’s a 60% chance they will never use your service again. Keeping new users engaged relies mostly on good product design, but building relationships and product understanding is also important.

But to effectively engage new users through responsive product design and relationship building, you first need to know how they use your service. How often are they accessing your product? What features are they actually using? When are they using it?

Talk to your paying customers who have recently converted from trial users. Find out why they started using your service, how your product is helping them (or where they feel it falls short) and what their first-time experience was like. Likewise, reach out to users who chose not to upgrade to find out why they didn’t. Compare the differences between these groups and use the information to strengthen your product design and communications strategies. Your customers are the experts in this case so your products and user experience needs to be designed for them based on their actual experiences. Once you start to get higher traffic volumes, you can also conduct A/B split tests to help improve conversion rates and identify what is and is not working.

Make it Easy to Upgrade

Similar to the initial sign up, make sure the process of upgrading from a trial user to paid customer is as user-friendly and quick as possible. Dropbox is a great example of a company that creates a smooth transition from trial user to paid customer. What Dropbox is doing right:

  • Their sign-up page is simple and access is instant;
  • Users pay for ease of use;
  • They encourage people to refer friends to their service by offering rewards to customers;
  • They make it easy to upgrade – all files are already in Dropbox so there is no harsh transition;
  • They educate their users, walking them through each step they need to take in order to reach activation;
  • They encourage users to reach out with any questions they may have when they are at the website’s Upgrade page.


Key Takeaways

A successful SaaS or subscription service is having many trial users and the ability to regularly convert them to long-term, paying customers. Getting them onboarded quickly and engaged continually in the trial period is vital and the best bet for success. Using the strategies above will help alleviate the disconnect that prevents users from converting and guide your subscription business to accomplishing just that.

Converting Trial Users Into Paying Customers Image Map

About the Author

Origins Ecommerce

We love sharing our expertise in online payments and helping our customers succeed. From the technical team to our customer service team, everyone at Origins Ecommerce is ready to support your success. Our goal is to reduce your expenses and risks while optimizing your revenue, by managing your online payments for you. The Origins Ecommerce payment solution is there to keep your payments in motion, so you don’t have to.
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