How to Get Your Free Trial Users to Pay for Your SaaS Product

upgrade trial to paid

You know that exciting feeling you get from receiving dozens of notifications that you’ve got new trial users for your product? It feels incredible to convert your website visitors into free trial users because it means they’ve decided to pay attention to your product and give it a chance. But it’s so disappointing (and even heartbreaking) when out of all those new trial users, only one went ahead and paid for your product (or, even worse, no one did).

Is there something wrong with your SaaS product? Is there no value in it? Should you just give up? No way. In most cases, the product is not the problem. The problem is designing an awesome trial user experience that shows the real potential of your product. In other words, developing and improving a great SaaS product isn’t enough—you also need to dedicate time and effort to map and outline the touchpoints your trial users will go through when onboarding your product.

Reasons why you have to rethink and design an amazing trial user experience

If you have limited resources, you’ll want to focus more on converting your trial users into paying customers than attracting general leads through content marketing. Here’s why:

Reason #1. You’ll increase your MRR

This one is pretty obvious. After all, everything you do has one main goal: to grow your revenue. And converting your free trial users is the last step you need to take to increase your MRR. If you spend a lot of resources and time on advertising your product and attracting new leads but overlook the trial user experience, your marketing efforts will be in vain.

Reason #2. It’s more cost-efficient to prove the value of your product

What’s your priority? Should you focus more on grabbing and retaining the attention of general website visitors who may later become prospects, or should you concentrate on converting the prospects you already have?

The answer is pretty clear: Although you’ll want to focus on getting your general audience interested in your product, it’s more cost-efficient to prove your product’s worth to those people who have already decided to give it a try. If you get this step right, you’ll have a well-oiled machine that will ensure that all of your efforts are rewarded.

Reason #3. Communicate your product’s value

If you don’t provide a quality free trial experience, chances are people won’t understand how valuable your product is. By rethinking and designing this product discovery experience, you’ll know you’ve articulated your product’s potential and value the right way.

How to convert free trial users into paying customers easier

Having this in mind, here are some things you can do when mapping and designing the free trial use experience for your prospects.

Step 1. Know what features to present

Chances are your product has a lot of great features and options. However, when it comes to the trial user experience, be selective about which features to display. You don’t want to confuse or overwhelm your trial users with too many options. This will induce a “paralysis by analysis” state, and people won’t know how to use your product correctly.

onboarding funnel step 1
This is step 1 in our onboarding. We’ll start off with a simple and logical step to take: creating your first feedback board.

As Jamie Mustard emphasizes in his book The Iconist: The Art and Science of Standing Out, “A limited experience generates a sense of importance, while abundance and volume generally make most things feel less important.” He also notes, “Limited options foster emotional positivity and more immediate connection—the opportunity to make easy decision results in more engagement and more action.”

In other words, the fewer options and features your free trial users have, the more action they’ll take when exploring your product. This will result in a better understanding of how your platform works and the value it can offer. All those advanced features are for paying customers who’ve already explored your SaaS product, went through the onboarding process, and have a clear idea of how they’ll be using your software.

Step 2. Let your trial users discover the full potential of your SaaS product

Although you may be offering a limited number of features to your trial users, you’ll want to showcase the full potential of your SaaS product. After all, you want to make sure that your trial users can explore and understand the full potential your software can offer.

When developing a free trial user experience, figure out what “a-ha” moments you can provide. Likewise, think about a small success or achievement your free trial users can get when trying out your platform.

Onboarding step aha moment
During the onboarding, we’re working towards the first ‘Aha’ moment where we let users complete the first steps in setting up their own Upvoty feedback boards.

This can be anything from launching an event to collecting feedback from product users. What’s important is to make people understand how your product will help them overcome certain challenges and get the results they’re expecting.

Step 3. Talk to your free trial users and provide them with support

We strongly believe that SaaS companies should offer support to everyone, regardless of their status. Whether it’s your paying customer or a free trial user, always be ready to assist and guide them through the platform discover process.

Chat support
This little fella is extremely important to us and our users (Provided by Crisp!)

These actions will demonstrate your real commitment to helping your users and provide worth beyond your product itself. It shows your free trial users that apart from an awesome platform, your team also provides value and genuinely cares about its customers.

Step 4. Offer a certain degree of brand personalization

Yes, brand personalization is a premium feature that only paying customers should have access to. However, there’s no better way to give your free trial users a sense of how great your product is than by offering certain personalization options.

onboarding funnel branding
During the onboarding, we’re making sure our users can customize their Upvoty with their own brand. This will make it all more familiar and personalized.

For example, you can encourage your trial users to upload their logo or color palette and adjust your platform to their brand. These little details will help people see how flexible your platform is and how well it integrates into their daily workflow and brand culture.

Step 5. Design a hassle-free transition from free trial to a premium plan

What happens when your free trial users decide to pay for your product? Do they have to spend time searching for how to upgrade, or is it super easy to figure out? As you can see, Upvoty offers a smooth transition from free trial to a premium plan. We’ve just added a big-enough CTA on the dashboard that trial users can see each time they log in.

upgrade button
The ‘Upgrade’ button is always in-screen during the trial.

This is a great reminder to our users that they can upgrade and choose the plan that suits them best. Having this in mind, we urge you to make the transition from free trial to the premium plan as easy as possible. For example, you could make upgrading a one-click option. The more friction you remove from the trial user experience, the greater the chances they’ll upgrade.

Bonus Step. Remind people when the free trial ends

That’s a big one, although only a few SaaS companies actually do it. We noticed that some brands have an email sequence, notifying people when their free trial ends. Other companies won’t even do that. They’ll just disable users’ access to the platform once the free trial ends without any notification. And that’s a big no.

You’ll want to keep your users in the loop and remind them often about the trial deadline. We post on the dashboard how many days are left until the free trial ends. Users also receive a second reminder when accessing the Upgrade option.

You can actually do both—set up a reminder inside the dashboard along with an email sequence that alerts people about the deadlines, and share different upgrade options.

Small tweaks, big results

Not all free trial users will want to upgrade, and they shouldn’t. After all, sometimes a product is not well-aligned with their needs and they’ll churn. That’s why free trials exist. However, in most cases, this has nothing to do with the value of your product. It’s all about the free trial user experience. By not designing a positive experience, you miss the chance of communicating your product’s real value and potential, which will lead to a smaller MRR. To keep this from happening, set aside some time to analyze your current free trial user experience and rethink some details. Sometimes small tweaks and changes can result in big wins.

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