11 Techniques To Increase Free Trial Sign-ups
Unable to increase free trial sign ups?
Let’s face it.
“Try before you buy” is an age-old formula of selling your product.
SaaS companies have taken it like fish to water.
You have built a great SaaS product.
Now, it’s time to sell it to the world and get rich.
You start with free trial option for 15 or 30 days – with big hopes.
Initial pace of sign ups is sluggish.
Nothing much happens.
You wait more.
Then, you start promoting ‘Free Trial’ option but still not up to your expectations.
Even if you get good number of sign ups, they come at high acquisition cost.
You are thinking ‘Why wouldn’t people sign up? After all, it’s free.’
You keep waiting and sign-ups keep getting reduced.
A point comes when you start doubting the product itself.
You start thinking that people are not even ready to try this product for free.
On the top of it, with roughly 80% of SaaS companies offering a free trial, it is no wonder even the ‘free trial’ sign ups have become much more competitive.
And, inappropriate ‘Free Trial Sign ups’ messaging and poor positioning make the matter worse.
First thing first – Just because something is free, it doesn’t mean people will go for it actively.
Even free offers have to be engaging and attractive enough for them to spend their next two minutes.
Even one extra word can make or break your sign ups.
Secondly, please understand that asking users to sign up for your product or service is a psychological decision.
The sign-up message / call-to-cation should give users a good reason to sign-up and try your product.
And don’t forget, offering a free trial is just the first basic step.
Real battle starts just after it.
If you get 20,000 visitors per month, 2% (400) of those 20,000 will sign up for free trial. If your product is good, 10% (40) out of these 400 will convert into paying customers.
So how do you get more customers to sign up for free trail of your product or service?
Let me show you 11 techniques to that’ll help you to almost double your free trial signups within two months and improve conversions and boost revenue.
1. Be Transparent with Your Prospects
Transparency is the key to any relationship.
And not being transparent with your prospects from the word go can certainly harm your signups ratio.
I know you find it cliched.
Transparency – another big word thrown around.
But showing transparency for the things that matter makes it non-cliched.
Just saying that you’re offering something ‘Free’ doesn’t mean anything for the prospects. Here is a quick check list for important things that should be conveyed to your prospects:
- Tell clearly that whether credit card details are required or not upfront.
- Not after the prospect has taken 3-4 steps to complete the sign-up and then you suddenly ask for credit card information.
- You should be assuring your prospects that their contact and credit card details (if they are needed) are completely safe.
- Tell your prospects in no uncertain terms that they won’t be pestered with unnecessary email follow ups and phone calls if prospect decide not to convert into paid customer after the trial is over.
- Make it obvious that they are not committing for anything in the long run. It’s a 30-days trial. If you like it, continue otherwise you’re free to move on. No Obligations.
2. “Free Trial” isn’t the ‘Be All, End All’
Remember, ‘Free’ shouldn’t be the only USP you should highlight.
It should be just one part of the package. Your CTA should be tested properly.
So, play around your CTA. Even if needed, get rid of the word ‘Free’ from your CTAs.
Look for other key aspects which can get you higher sign-ups.
1) Try Demo & Buy Now for $100
2) Try Demo for Free
3) Try Demo for Free & Buy Now
Transaction-based CTAs are not apt for first time visitors who want to try SaaS based products.
Therefore, your primary call-to-action should be the demo/trial, not the checkout/purchase.
Track the customers’ response to different trial periods and accordingly tweak your free trial signups strategy.
A SAAS based company 37signals (now Basecamp) tested different CTAs for Highrisehq homepage.
They did A/B testing with ‘Free Trial’, ‘Sign-up for Free Trial’ and few more CTAs.
Then, they tried ‘See Plans and Pricing’.
You know what?
They witnessed a 200% increase in signups.
Showcasing your pricing and plans upfront can also have its own effect on the prospects.
Again, there is no set formula that may work.
Each marketer will have to explore what may work for him/her and what may not.
What remains constant is – Test, test, test and test more.
3. Highlight Your Sign Up ‘Call-to-action’ Prominently
This is a no-brainier.
Despite that many marketers fail to get it right.
Always remember – Your free trial signups ‘Call-to-action’ or CTA is your first important touch point with your prospects.
A visible free trial signup call to action button should be the hero of the entire web page.
Anyone landing on your page should not be able to miss it at any cost.
After all, the main point of a call to action button is to get visitors to do something.
Here is a quick list to make your CTA work better:
- Your CTA should be above the fold with right contrasting colors.
- Make sure there’s enough space around your button so that it doesn’t feel cluttered
- Make the sign-up CTA button large enough to stand out without overwhelming the design.
- Use simple, direct language.
- Make sure the CTA wording clearly calls for a specific action
Look at how smartly Basecamp highlights the key attractions of their free trial offer.
Another example of non-cluttered free trial sign-up design:
When you click on the ‘Sign Up Now’ button, it takes you to the below given screenshot:
Crazyegg first let customer experience their tool with a single click, demonstrate the benefit in clear terms and then ask for the 14 days free trial sign-up.
4. No Credit Card Required
This one is obvious.
What makes it work?
It’s offer zero resistance. And less resistance means more signups.
It’s more about human psychology. People hesitate to make the payment without being sure about the product. Asking for a credit card number during a free trial can work in two ways.
It can discourage the genuine prospects who first want to try the product but hesitate to pay first.
But there are always some freeloaders who will take the benefit of a new solution at zero cost and won’t continue the service after trial period is over.
This kind of users will try to create multiple fake accounts to get more from free account.
They will not only waste lots of time of your sales team but also increase burden on your server resources.
So, by asking credit card details at the first touch point will ensure that you will get real buyers.
This ensures the improved lead quality in the long run.
Totango’s detailed study (see below) established this fact.
Visitors who opted for free trial opt-in without their card details, – only 15% of such customers converted to paid subscription. When card details were required, a great 50% of free trials turned into paid subscriptions.
Conversion ratio in the long run:
‘Two-level conversion – From Visitor to Free Trial and From Free Trial to Paid Customer.
Best-in-class SaaS Leaders:
Resulting number of acquired paid users after first 90 days:
Want to have the best of both worlds?
I would recommend you to go for A/B testing with both options – having CTAs with both ‘Credit Card not Required’ and ‘Credit card required.’
Even there, try to incentivise your users. Offer them extra one week of free trial for filling the credit card details.
However, this concept doesn’t work for enterprise software products, where free trial may not work.
In such cases, solution demos work better than offering a free trial.
5. Rationalize Your Pricing Section
Yes…pricing structure can impact your free trial sign-ups.
‘Why to talk about pricing during free trial sign-up?” you may ask.
Believe it or not – there are all kinds of customers.
Some of them look at your pricing structure even before they sign up for a free trial period.
And if your pricing structure is confusing to them, they won’t sign up for free trial for sure.
Giving too many options or giving zero options both can go against you.
There is no set formula for the right pricing structure.
Groove faced lots of challenges in finding their right pricing and got it right only after lots of experimentation.
You know what…The Pricing Model Increased their Free Trial Signups by 358% (and Revenue by 25%).
First, they went with Flexible, Freemium Pricing
For them, this was a perfect pricing model for their business model. However, it failed badly.
The existing pricing structure was complex and overwhelming for the customers.
In order to provide more flexibility, they added more options and hence more complexity.
Pricing should always be easy to understand within seconds.
If it takes minutes to understand your pricing structure, then conversion is highly unlikely.
For Groovehq, this was just the beginning.
They went back to the customers for their feedback.
According to Groovehq, ‘People wanted to pay for the number of support tickets they handled, not the number of agents on their team.’
They fixed this issue and launched the new ‘Pay as you go’ pricing structure:
The Result: not so good again. The poor conversion rate tells it all below.
This was a metered pricing structure.
But the drawback of such a pricing structure is that people are not aware of their usage level.
Hence, not knowing how much they will pay to Groovehq scared them. So, this pricing structure failed too.
Super-Simple (and Finally Effective) Pricing
After burning their hands at complex and ambiguous pricing structures, Groovhq came up with the simplest pricing structure.
And boy, this worked so well.
Conversions rate soared to 350%+ compared to the previous model and a 25% increase in overall revenue.
Therefore, as you see, it’s not that easy to get the right pricing structure that works well for your target audience.
The key point is – think about customers’ expectations and make your pricing reflect that.
6. Test your Free Trial Period
Go for different trial periods.
Ask yourself – why the trial period should 7 days, 14 days, or 30 days.
Usually, 30 days is the industry norm. But should it apply to your product just because it’s an industry norm?
You should ask yourself one question honestly – “how much time you need to prove the value of your product?”
The right answer should determine the number of the free trial period.
The focus should be on enabling your customers up and running as soon as possible to leverage your product.
If you can do this in 7 days, then stick with 7 days free trial period.
However, don’t forget to do A/B testing by offering customers different trial periods over a period.
7. Simplify Your Signup Form
Ask yourself, “why the hell you need to make the signup process difficult?”
It doesn’t help when you put up a poorly designed LONG form to complete the free trial signup process.
How to simplify the form?
First thing first – try to keep the number of text fields minimal. Ask for what is most needed.
Other information can be asked after the sign-up process is completed.
This will create less friction for the user.
As the user sees more value in using your product, he/she may choose to add more personal information.
While creating the account, you should avoid asking to enter the password twice.
Instead, try to allow users to sign up through OAuth social media login (like Facebook or Twitter). That would be quicker than other usual sign-up methods.
Ensure that users don’t need to enter the user name separately.
Let them use their email ID use as the User ID.
This will solve two problems:
First – one less filed to fill.
Second – we all have very few email IDs but lots of usernames. After a point, it becomes difficult to keep track of the user names. In such cases, if your email id is the user name, that makes it easy to remember.
Dropbox only asks for your e-mail and then simply uses that as your username too.
I have written a detailed blog post How to Get More B2BLeads without Spending a Dollar that explains how to simplify the process of lead capturing.
Final advice: keep your signup form simple and very minimalistic.
8. Avoid Captcha
I hate CAPTCHA. And I’m not alone in this.
And most of the world does too.
Captcha – those small bits of impossible to read text you have to fill out before you can do anything on some websites.
It has happened several times with me that the moment I saw a (complex) captcha, I exited immediately.
And this captcha becomes much more frustrating when I have already completed 2 or 3 steps of signups and then I have to type a stupid number.
So, ask yourself.
Do you really want your prospects to type “j9KoLp0”?
Do you really want to create friction in the sign-up process?
Even if you’re getting lots of Spam and Captcha is a necessity, there are some smart alternative CAPTCHAs which are less irritating and offer very less friction to your prospects.
9. Leverage Pop-ups
I know your first response to pop ups – ‘Not anymore.’
Most of us have an inherent dislike for pop ups.
The biggest reason for infuriation – these pop-ups are thrown out of nowhere to your face.
However, if used smartly, these pop-ups can work wonders for increasing your signups.
The first things – don’t use pop-ups the moment a user lands on your site.
Let the online visitor spend at least 5 to 6 seconds to have a quick look at your site content.
However, you need to do lots of testing before you arrive at the best time for your website’s pop-ups.
Make the pop-up content highly contextual with the right call to action.
Users should be able to close the pop-up easily without any fuss. Overall, ensure the pop-up occurrences minimum and use it sporadically.
Set-up an occurrence limit for the pop-up. If a user has seen a pop-up once, he shouldn’t be disturbed with the same pop-up again at least till the next visit.
In some cases, even registered users keep getting these pop-ups. That’s a crime.
Sumo is one of my favorite tools for using interactive pop-ups.
10. Live Chat Support
Live chat support is an easy way to quell any doubts online visitor may have while signing up for your product trial.
An ATG Global Consumer Trend study found that 90% of customers consider live chat helpful and an emarketer.com survey found that 63% were more likely to return to a website that offers live chat.
According to the report:
Live Chat is all about staying in touch with your prospects and customers on the go.
More easily available you’re to answer their queries, higher chances of conversion you get.
Live chat pop-ups can help you track the clicks by the users.
Also, whenever a user is hovering on your sign-up page, initiate the Live Chat yourself to help users sign up for the free trial.
11. Work on Your Content
Content is the king – for free trial signups too.
The prospects tend to research on search engines before they decide to go for free trial signups.
And if your product is not present in those searches, prospects may not even know about your product.
It’s not only about great SEO but also about generating lots of long-form content that focus on solving customers’ pain points, queries, and helping them know more about your product.
Also, try to create great content that touches the emotional chord of your prospects. Use this content on pop-ups, home page banners, sidebar banners, and landing pages.
I have written a dedicated blog post on How to Make Your Blog the Ferrari of Lead Generation. This blog post covers a detailed discussion on how long-form content can help you generate more leads for your business.
We have discussed certain tactics that can help you grow your free trial signups.
I hope you have learned some of the good tips from this article to generate more free trial signups for your SaaS-based product.
Start testing these free trial signups tactics on your website.
The desired effect may take a little longer but it will form the crux of your long-run blog free trial signups generation strategy.
Over To You
Are you now ready to implement these tactics and optimize your free trial signups generation strategy?
Share your experience after leveraging these tactics and how did it improve your free trial signups rate?
Hiring a digital marketing consultant can provide a viable alternative to big digital marketing agency costs. I’ve helped lots of customers optimize their free trial signups rate with sharp strategies and flawless execution.
Few Question for You
So, now I have a few questions for you:
What challenges are you facing in free trial signups generation?
What are your thoughts on the free trial signups tips shared in this article?
Do you have any tips to share?
Share your thoughts with me in the comments below!
Let me know in the comments section below or tweet me @iamnitinmalik.