Convert Free Trial Users by Adding These 4 Rules to Your SaaS Marketing Strategy

If your company offers a free trial period, it may be the single most critical time in your relationship with your customer.

You have to ensure that they complete your registration process and get them using your software. Then you need to know that they understand the tool they’re using, and they see the value in using your product.

All of this before they’ve even signed on as a paying customer.

We know it’s a challenge. After all, Drip offers a free trial, too. So we’re sharing the automated system we use to help convert trial customers into paying customers, so that you can factor it into your SaaS marketing strategy. If you’ve started a Drip trial yourself, some of these emails might look familiar to you. This workflow will allow you to…

  • Follow up with anyone who started the registration process for your trial, but hasn’t finished signing up yet
  • Keep in contact with anyone who’s started a trial to make sure they’re happy early on
  • Convert trial users into paying customers
  • Follow up with anyone who cancels

Rule 1: For Leads Who Started Registration, but Didn’t Finish Signing Up

If your registration process requires a lot of information from your users, you might ease the signup process by asking first for an email address. Then, once they enter their email, ask them for the additional information.

But not everyone makes it to the next step. They might just be looking for their credit card, or they might wonder why additional information is required.

This is actually where the two-step signup is helpful, since you can follow up via email with users who don’t quite finish the registration.

In this example, we have a rule that is triggered 30 minutes after someone starts registration but doesn’t complete the process (a custom event in Drip that indicates that someone began registering, but didn’t finish entering their information). This rule then sends the “Trial Started Registration” campaign.

In this campaign, we send two emails. The first addresses the largest hurdle for our potential trial users. We know that it’s a little confusing to some of them why we ask for a credit card in order to sign up for a free trial, so our first email to them answers that exact question.

If you have a two-step signup process, you can also consider whether there is a question you can answer that will address the main hurdle to completing registration.

The second email in this campaign is an invitation to join our next webinar, so that potential users who still aren’t sure about the product can learn more about the features they’re missing out on.
If you don’t have a webinar, you might want to send them to a helpful blog post or even just reach out to see if they have any questions you can answer.

Rule 2: For Users Who’ve Started a Trial

Next, we have another rule that moves trial users from the Started Registration campaign to another campaign after they finish registering (another custom event we’ve set up).

You can skip straight to this step if you don’t use a multi-step signup process for your free trial.

We use three emails in this stage, but no matter how many emails you decide to send, they all will have pretty much the same purpose: to get users into your software, playing around and seeing the benefits of signing up as a paying customer.

Email #1: Quick-Start Resources

In the first email we send, we take a chance to say thank you to users for signing up, and let them know the first step they should take to get started as quickly as possible. Then, we include a list of helpful resources, including how to get in touch with support, where to find additional training on using Drip, and a link to our support documentation.

When you’re forming your first email to new trial users, don’t be afraid to pack it with all of the helpful information you think they might need to get started with your tool. After all, this phase is a pivotal piece of your overall marketing strategy. If you have a Facebook community, or social media support, you can include those links as well.

At this stage, you want users to feel excited and empowered by all the support you have while they learn something new.

Email #2: Knocking Down Conceptual Hurdles

In the second email, we address some of the biggest conceptual hurdles for new users of Drip. We know that our tool is a bit different than other email platforms, so we address that with some tips geared toward the transition from Mailchimp to Drip and a link to a helpful blog post on the topic.

Put yourself in the position of a new user of your software and ask yourself what might keep you from getting started. What seems more complicated than it really is?

Address those concerns before they keep your potential customers from getting their feet wet with your tool.

If the main concern of your potential customers is the time it takes to learn something new, send them a 15-minute setup guide. If it’s the new vocabulary of your tool, write them a mini-dictionary.

Email #3: Making the Next Steps Easy

In our third email a couple days later, we let customers know how long is remaining in their trial, and tell them one easy thing to do to get started in Drip. This last email is super short, but includes details on reaching out for help getting started if they need it.

If you want to be sure that users are actually getting to experience your product, be sure to tell them the easiest way to get started. Our email actually says “There’s just one step to get set up: Activate your first workflow.”

Similarly, consider which step will feel like a small but significant win for your users. What will empower them to keep using your product and digging in deeper?

Rule 3: For New (Paying) Customers

Once a trial user converts and becomes a customer, you want to be sure that they stop getting your trial emails and start getting the messages you send to your customers.

At Drip, we have another rule triggered by a custom event, which we call “Became a Customer.”

This rule moves users from the trial email sequence to a customer email sequence. If you have a welcome campaign or onboarding sequence for new customers, you can use a rule like this to send it.

This rule also tags customers. By setting up a tagging system, you can target future emails specifically to customers and also exclude existing customers from promotion emails. You can even edit the content within emails based on whether or not someone is a customer using Liquid.

You can tag customers within the same rule for these future uses.

Rule 4: For Cancelled Customers

Unfortunately, sometimes you do all you can, and someone still cancels. It’s just a part of having a business.

With this easy rule, you can mark them as cancelled, stop their trial or customer emails, and remove the customer tag. This rule essentially stops correspondence with your cancelled user, except for one crucial email: the cancelled customer follow-up.

In this email, Drip’s cofounder Rob keeps it simple, sincerely asking for feedback in the form of a reply.

Whether you want to send along a quick survey, or request a reply like we do at Drip, use this opportunity to gather some feedback about what (if anything) you could’ve done better for this customer. Be sincere in asking for responses—this is the kind of information that will help your company to grow and improve.

There you have it: the very SaaS marketing system we use at Drip to communicate with trial users throughout their trial process.

What kind of messages do you send to SaaS users during their trial period? Let us know your best tips in the comments.