How to convert free trials into paid subscriptions

Published · 3 min read

Many businesses will be familiar with the strategy of offering free trials as a way of enticing new customers. But how do you ensure that those who take you up on the offer will end up converting to fee-paying clients?

A free trial is a great way to attract new customers. It gives them an incentive to test the product before purchasing, while allowing them to gradually develop a need for a product that was not previously considered. Simply put, a free trial can convince for clients to ultimately purchase your product.

Creating an enticing free trial

Once you have identified your target audience, the next step is to convince them to opt for a free trial. Remember, your commercial objective is to attract customers who are most likely to convert to your paid model after the trial, rather than just attracting anyone who is up for a freebie.

There are a number of ways you can do this, from free webinars promoted via your existing prospect database or social media channels, through to specific campaigns or promotions. At JigsawBox for example, we more than tripled our member base a few months ago after we set the coaching industry its very own ‘Olympian’ challenge to make 50k in 50 days. We started by recording a video message inviting coaches across the globe to take on the challenge to boost their business in time for the lucrative Autumn months, a period that’s well known in the industry as being the ideal time to launch new coaching products and services.

As part of the challenge we offered new users 50 free days of JigsawBox, to help them build their own virtual coaching programmes. Also, they could access my ’50 days to 50K Bootcamp’. Due to unprecedented demand the challenge finished earlier than expected. The challenge was a huge success for us and is a great example of how to leverage the internet and social media to grow business.

Converting your free trials into paid subscriptions

Following on from the JigsawBox promotion mentioned above, a huge proportion of those on the free trial went on to upgrade to a paid subscription at the end of the trial. So how did we achieve this?

1) We loaded their free trial with useful resources

As part of the trial offer, they received access to my ’50 days to 50K Bootcamp’ programme for $1. This programme included practical advice, tips and strategies for building a successful online programme. Rather than simply giving them access to the technology, we also gave them the training and support to fully utilise JigsawBox. We ensured the trial was useful, practical, and most importantly, delivered value. This meant that we didn’t have to further convince them at the end of the trial just how helpful our service could be if they upgraded.

2) We incentivised the upgrade

Rather than simply saying ‘your free trial has ended, either upgrade now or you’ll lose access to our services’, we further incentivised the offer. We presented a very attractive discounted annual fee, which enabled users to not only carry on using the service, but to save themselves a substantial amount compared to our standard monthly subscription. We were essentially giving them even more reasons to say yes!

Now that we’ve covered the process of a free trial conversion, we mustn’t forget the following tips…

  • No means No – If a client decides not to move forward with their purchase, it’s important to remember that you must deactivate that client from any packages they have access to. With a JigsawBox account for example, they will no longer have access to the new content to be released on day 14 but will still have access to the modules made available during the trial period. This means you have potential in the future to encourage them to convert to the paid subscription and keep them in your pipeline.
  • Don’t give away too much – Remember to be very selective as to what you are giving during the free trial period. The trial is meant as a ‘sneak peek’ to your product. You don’t want to give away too much for free, but equally, you need to deliver enough to entice them to upgrade after the trial.
  • Communication is key – Once you have converted your new clients, make sure your communication with them is seamless. From welcome emails and logins through to support and guidance going forward, make sure you have covered every part of the customer experience from start to finish. This will ensure that you not only retain your paid customers for the foreseeable future, but will increase chances of referrals and recommendations too.

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