HOW TO CONVERT FREE TRIAL USERS INTO PAYING CUSTOMERS Upclick Blog SuperUser Account Jul 30 2015 E-commerce NewsUpclick News applicationbillingbuyfreewarepaymentprocessorsaasscansoftwaretrialware Most online businesses offer free trials in the hopes that the users will want to buy the product and convert into paying customers. At the end of the day the final goal of any software vendor, regardless of its main area of activity is to generate revenues. After all, any company that develops software, including Software as a Service (SaaS), needs to stay in the black in order to continue offering the product/service. The challenge is getting real commitments from the consumers by figuring out how to increase the overall conversion rate of the trial users.When we speak about trials, we can look at them as being grouped into three main categories: Shareware (the original trial software), Freeware (not really a trial version but worth mentioning in the scope of this article) and the infamous Scan-and-Buy products. Within these three trial models, there are several ways to convert your customers by choosing different marketing ads and calls to action.SHAREWARE (TRIALWARE):A shareware is the full version of your product at no cost for a limited period of time. With shareware there are essentially 3 ways to profit by pushing the users to purchase the product after the free trial has expired.1) Web advertising: This method consists of trying to push the customer, pre-download, to purchase a paid version of the product rather than download the shareware version. In order for this method to be successful, you must give your users a reason to buy, like a sweet deal or a discount.2) In-app advertising: In this method, the trial app or software has built-in call-to-action ads for consumers to click and purchase. You can also use “nag screens”, which are messages that appear on the user’s screen in order to incent them to end the trial early and buy faster. For example, if the trial is about to expire, the message can let them know that they have 5 more days to use the program, and that they can purchase immediately at a discount. Active users who love the app can be converted quicker with this type of advertising. With nag screens, it is important to avoid annoying the user by sending too many messages. They should be used scarcely to provide useful information, like expiry dates.3) Email advertising: For most SaaS, the user already had to input his email in order to register. Therefore, SaaS providers can easily send newsletters, marketing and call to action emails. Any online service provider should create a life cycle of emails to keep in touch with customers. Typically the email cycle starts with welcome emails followed by discount offers and feedback surveys, Newsletters and informational emails are rarely marked as spam, whereas emails with promotions and call to actions can be flagged. There should be a balance between the two. For application based services, it is harder to obtain the customers’ emails. One way to do so is by offering a trial time extension in exchange of the user’s email information.FREEWARE:This is the free software version that companies offer for an unlimited time. It’s basically the type of software that everyone loves but that generates no revenue for the software vendor. It provides a fully functional service forever - the users can choose to stay with this version should they be satisfied with its limited options, or they can acquire the superior versions that offer more options. The trick is to offer much better features in the superior products. This model is regularly used by the anti-virus software providers.With freeware, you can also monetize through web, in-app and email advertising (just like described above) while pushing for the superior versions (up-selling). All your ads are up-sells because they display what the better versions have to offer.There is however one more way to monetize with freeware, by making your application (even SaaS) add supported. Since the freeware is a complete software or product in itself, it can run advertisements for other parties and collect a percentage of the profits.SCAN AND BUY:This method (that lately started to get a bad name – scareware – due to some very aggressive marketers) is not really a trial version per say because the only free aspect is the scan, and in order to get the service, the user must pay. In other words the software gives you information at no cost (the scan) and the service (the repair) in exchange for your paid subscription. There is no other real way to profit from the Scan-and- buy method. The call to action is directly inside the application (software) itself.Remember that, regardless of the trial type, there are always ways to increase your monetization. In order to be able to increase your revenues (through better conversion rates or through better revenue per install), you should: 1- Keep track of dataYou should be aware of the way users engage with your service, and which features they use. Keeping track is also useful to know which percentage of your free trial users are converting or not. If the percentage of non-converting users is high, you can assume that there might be something wrong of flawed with the product itself. Or perhaps your offers aren’t good enough and you need to come up with more profitable ones. 2- Understand your target market As a software or application provider, you should always be aware of how your product is really helping solve your target market’s needs. This means conducting research and measuring the users’ engagement during the trials as well as using the feedback from your consumers to better your product. As the market continuously changes and evolves, your product should adapt to those changes and provide the solutions that your users are looking for. Plus, f you are able to know the value of your service in the eye of the clientele, you can adjust your prices accordingly.3- Make it easy to subscribeTime is valuable, and people tend to abandon anything that is too complicated or that requires lengthy steps. Make your checkout process simple by reducing the number of fields. The upgrade from trial to a paid product/service should be fast and easy, and the trial accounts should never require any credit card information, even though we can see some big names doing it (we don’t mention any names but we speak about media streaming companies).4- Make it easy to get started Just like the subscription, the starting process should have clear instructions on how to get started for both trial and paid products. If you get many customers to subscribe but a lower percentage of active users, you can deduct that they gave up because your product was hard to use or unclear.5- Pick the right billing partnerAgain, time is very valuable, and your customers don’t want to through a lengthy checkout process. Upclick makes it easy to accept payments for SaaS and digital goods industries who want to implement payment processing models. We support almost any model. If you want to sell your software online, we accept one-time purchases, recurring billing, manual & auto-renewals, free-to-paid purchases, upgrades, downgrades, pro-rations, instalments, trials and more. Every parameter is customizable including: the first payment, the recurring price, the period, discounts, and email notifications. Your clients can easily upgrade and purchase your products within a few seconds. Security is always our top priority, and we store your customers' payment information securely in our vault, then we automatically handle each billing cycle with defined parameters. Customers are more likely to complete their purchase with their preferred payment method, language, and currency. That’s why Upclick has decided to offer one of the most extensive set of localized options in the industry. When it comes to payment processing, Upclick has all the answers for you.