Any company that sells and delivers a product or service via the internet needs to do a few things well, and two of those are generating targeted website traffic, and getting that traffic to sign up for your free trial. SaaS companies are no different.
But what then? What happens after you’ve signed up someone for your free trial?
Are you just “hoping” that they decide they like your software product and decide to buy?
Hope is not a marketing strategy. It’s a recipe for failure.
In fact, one of the most overlooked aspects of building a successful SaaS company is converting more free trial users into paying customers. After all, what’s the point of trying to generate more leads if you aren’t maximizing your conversions?
Shouldn’t you have a dynamite sales funnel (in the form of a follow-up email sequence) in place before you start investing a significant amount of time and resources into traffic and lead generation?
In this article, I’m going to show all SaaS providers (not just startups) how to increase their conversion rates, and turn a substantial amount of their free trial users into paying customers that love their product and recommend it to others.
Make Sure You’re Targeting Your Ideal Customer
Developing an ideal customer profile or buyer persona is simple in theory, but challenging to execute. If you fail to target your ideal client, you could end up with a lot of tire kickers that never really had any intention of purchasing your SaaS product.
So make sure you are targeting companies that:
- Need what you have to offer
- Can afford you
Taking those two simple steps will help you tremendously in the long run.
Create a Lead Nurturing Campaign
Step 1: Send a welcome email (duh!)…with a twist.
It’s obvious that you need to send your free trial users a welcome email, and I recommend you do that…with a twist.
Instead of just sending a standard, boring email, make a one-time offer (OTO). Strike while the iron is hot. Get them to buy from you now.
Some people will say this is a big no-no, that trying to sign people up for a free trial and then convert them into a paying customer immediately is a form of bait and switch copywriting. I completely disagree.
In fact, what you’re doing is putting an irresistable offer in front of your potential customers at a time when they are most willing to buy; they’ve just signed up for a free trial and are right in front of your product.
My advice? If your SaaS product normally sells for $79/month, make them a one-time offer to lock in a price of $69/month; or better yet, offer them your “gold package” for the price of the “silver package.” The key here is to stick to your guns.
If you’re presenting the offer as a one-time only deal, then it must be just that. You can’t email them two weeks later with the same offer.
Step 2: Establish a two-way line of communication immediately.
We’ve all been on an email list where it felt like the company was talking at us, as opposed to engaging in meaningful conversation. I’m a big believer in establishing a two-way line of communication within the first 24 hours of someone signing up for your free trial.
It establishes trust, adds credibility, and shows that your company genuinely cares about solving their problems. It’s also simple to implement.
All you have to do is ask your free trial users this one question: “What are you struggling with?”
Ask them to reply to the email, and tell you exactly what they are struggling with. Tell them your company will read their response, and get back to them within 24 hours.
By doing this you are showing prospects the “human” side of your business, and separating yourself from 90% of your competition that will never take the time to implement this incredibly important relationship building concept.
Step 3: Conduct a weekly webinar (the material can be essentially the same each week).
This is very easy. Basically, you have a recorded webinar that highlights the benefits of using your SaaS product, and shows your free trial users how to get started. At the end of the webinar, you can make a special offer, telling them your company will set up X, Y, and Z free of charge (or something along those lines).
The only part of the webinar that needs to live (if you choose) is the Q & A at the end. Simple. straight-forward. Easy to implement into your sales funnel.
Step 4: Tell a story…use it as a metaphor and tie it back in to your SaaS product offering.
Facts tell and stories sell. It’s true. If you want to convert more free trials users into paying customers, you need to tell stories. Stories are memorable. They draw people in, invoking emotion, which is a powerful psychological sales trigger (people buy with emotion and justify with logic).
If you can tap into your prospects’ emotions and get that part of their brain ready to buy, you’re 85% of the way there.
Here’s an example of how to tell a story in your email autoresponder sequence:
When I was 5 years old, I remember going to my aunt’s house for a 4th of July party. I was having a blast with all of my older cousins…the whole family was there.
Then it happened…
I was running around the backyard when I fell and cut my finger. It was just a scrape really, but I was absolutely terrified. I thought the world was over and all I could do was cry.
You see, even though the problem was easily solvable by someone who knew what needed to be done (my mom), I was so scared that I nearly passed out.
You’re probably thinking “what they heck does this have to do with me?”
Maybe something. Maybe nothing.
But this is the real point…
Since my mom had the knowledge, experience, and knew how to handle the situation, I got some ointment, a bandage, and was back playing in less than an hour.
It was no big deal. Because I had someone on my side who had seen this exact problem countless times before, and knew exactly how to solve it.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
At (insert company name), our XYZ software solutions are battle tested and currently used by over 3,500 companies around the world.
So even if you’re whining like a 5 year old and don’t know what to do, we can help. Just like a mother treating a 5 year old’s scrape, we’ve seen this problem before and have created a solution designed specifically to handle your biggest XYZ challenges.
Click here to register for our webinar on “The 7 social CRM mistakes that are killing your retention rates.” It’ll change the way you do CRM.
See you there.
P.S. We are doing a live Q & A on the webinar with one of our top consultants. He’s going to spend a half-hour after the webinar answering questions…and it’s 100% free. So register now.
End of story”
People don’t remember facts, but they’ll remember a story. When they’re ready to make a purchasing decision, they may just go back into their inbox and search for “5 year old boy social CRM,” find your email, and make a decision right there.
Step 5: Share a case study.
If you’re not sharing how you’ve helped other businesses in your ideal client’s same niche solve their problems, then you’re missing out on a substantial amount of revenue.
Case studies are the ultimate form of social proof; they’re like testimonials, and only with more detail and more influence.
Think about three customers that you’ve helped, and write case studies showing free trial users how your software was able to take those three companies from point A (where your free trial leads are now) to point B (where you took your three case study customers, and where your free trial customers want to go as well).
Case studies are a must-have lead conversion tool for converting more free trial users into paying customers.
Step 6: Offer incentives for prospects to end their free trial early.
The ultimate goal of a free trial is give your customers a taste of your SaaS product in order to turn them into a paying client. Period. If you’re using free trials for any other reason, you’re doing it wrong.
I’ve written emails for companies in order to get their free trial users to make a decision, and one thing I always suggest to SaaS businesses is to offer a strong incentive to become a paying customer before the trial expires.
For example, if you offer a 14 day free trial, what could you offer customers as a powerful incentive to convert to a paying customer within the first 7 days? The earlier you can get users to switch from free to paid, the more money you’ll make.
Step 7: Ask for feedback.
Asking for feedback isn’t the most loved aspect of a lead nurturing campaign, but it’s a great opportunity to interact with your free trial users and paying clients; interaction is what you want.
When soliciting feedback, I prefer to use close-ended questions that focus on areas that you already know need to be improved.
For instance, if you’re already considering improving the user interface, ask your customers what they think about it. How can your company make the user interface easier to use?
Step 8: Give free trial users an ultimatum.
Fence-sitters do your business no good, so don’t be afraid to ruffle some feathers by asking your free trial users to make a decision.
I do this in my own autoresponder sequence. I let my subscribers know that I’m only interested in working with serious players, so if you don’t have any plans to take your business to the next level with email copywriting, don’t bother contacting me.
Might sound harsh, but remember; you don’t really want everyone as a customer. You want to work with customers who value your product, like using it, and will recommend it to others within their niche. That’s how you create a strong reputation and grow your business organically.
Advanced tip: Use internal benchmarks to segment your lead nurturing campaigns
Creating a basic lead nurturing campaign is a surefire way to turn more free trial users into paying customers, but what if you’re already doing that? How can you take your email lead nurturing to the next level and increase your conversion rates even more?
Simple…setup benchmarks for segmentation.
For instance, you could start by having two different autoresponder sequences; one for sign-ups that have registered an account and are using their free trial, and a second for those who haven’t.
You can then segment again when you send prospects your webinar; your free trial users that register for the webinar get a different series of follow-up emails than those who don’t register.
Essentially, what you are doing is making sure that you are matching each free trial user with messages that are most relevant to where they are in the buying cycle; which is important if you want to increase your conversion rates and turn more free trial users into paying customers.
Your emails must be timely, relevant, and make an impact. Advanced segmentation is the best way to do that.
Need a hand setting up your SaaS email marketing funnel and creating effective email copy?
I help companies increase click-thru rates, conversions, and sales by converting a higher percentage of free users into paid users. If you’d like to learn how I can help your SaaS company do the same, please contact me here, or email me directly (matt@emailmarketingcopywriter).