Posts Tagged ‘Tips’

What is Lead Nurturing and How Does It Work?

Monday, March 20th, 2017

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You’ve probably heard a lot about lead nurturing, and you’re thinking to yourself, Should I use lead nurturing? And exactly what is it?

Lead nurturing is perhaps the most effective tool for building a stronger relationship with your potential customer. If you’ve ever struggled to close the sale, you need to develop a lead nurturing strategy.

In this post, we’re discussing the “what is” and “how to” of lead nurturing, so that you can turn your leads into customers. Let’s get started.

Here are 6 lead nurturing emails you should send:

What Is Lead Nurturing?

Lead nurturing is all about building a relationship with your audience, and then moving that lead in the right direction.

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How Is Lead Nurturing Different From Lead Generation?

As a business, you’re no doubt familiar with the notion of generating leads. Leads mean customers, and the only way to grow your business is to get customers for your business.

But lead generation is different from lead nurturing. It’s one thing to attract people who are interested in your services, but quite another to convert the curious into customers. It takes a different strategy to get customers than it does to get leads.

That strategy is called lead nurturing, and it’s where you’ll spend the majority of your pre-onboarding time.

During lead nurturing, you’ll build a relationship with your audience so they learn to trust you, and eventually take the lead into trying your services.

It’s a shocking statistic that 79% of leads never become customers. The reason? These leads were never nurtured by the brand, and thus, fell through the cracks.

It’s important to generate leads, whether you do so through aggressive outbound marketing techniques or through a somewhat friendlier inbound marketing strategy. However, it’s also important to have a plan for what to do with your leads once you have them on the hook. What’s the next step after they arrive on your website?

What Are the Benefits of Lead Nurturing?

Let’s take a look at why lead nurturing is so effective.

You’re utilizing buyer psychology. Most of the people who arrive on your website aren’t ready to buy from you immediately. They may want to learn more about what you offer, and they want to compare your prices. They’re simply not ready to “show you the money” just yet. So, the best plan of action is to offer something valuable for free (i.e. a trial, a digital download, a consultation), and then nurture until they’re finally convinced and ready to buy from you.

You’re respecting your audience’s space. Hard sells scare away would-be customers. No one likes to feel rushed into making a decision. And rushing your audience can often backfire because they may end up getting something that they don’t want.

You have an opportunity to build the audience’s confidence in your brand. Your leads are suspicious. They’re not sure your product fits their needs. They don’t know if you’re going to scam them. With lead nurturing, you’re able to give the audience a chance to learn more about you, your values, and your products.

You can develop long-lasting engagement with your audience. By investing in your leads, you’ll create more of connection with them.

How Does Lead Nurturing Work?

You may be tempted to think of lead nurturing as the middle step process between lead generation and sale. But it’s actually easier to think of lead nurturing as a series of steps, and not just one. Here’s a very basic lead nurturing model:

Lead Generation:

To generate leads, you create a Facebook ad and promote a free resource guide.

First Contact:

George signs up for your mailing list to download your free resource guide. Now that you have his email address and permission to market to him, you send him a welcome email.

Continued Education:

You send emails to help George learn more about your product. You may also send case studies, testimonials, webinar invitations, and more to educate George.

How to Create a Lead Nurturing Program

Now, let’s get into the nuts and bolts of how to create a nurturing program that works for your leads.

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Understand Your Customer’s Lifecycle

The first step to a successful lead nurturing program is to understand your customer’s lifecycle.

With your previous customers’ data in hand, see if you can pinpoint your average lifecycle. If you offer multiple products, lifecycles may vary. Ask questions like:

  • From initial introduction, how long is it before most people buy?
  • What prompts leads to become customers?
  • What are our most effective lead generating tools, and why?

Create a Nurturing Pathway for Each Customer Persona

Do you offer multiple products?

Do you have multiple customer personas?

Do you have multiple lead generating techniques?

If the answer is “yes” to any of the above, you should develop multiple nurturing pathways.

For example, if you attracted a lead with a free eBook, your nurturing pathway may include an email series where you offer a case study of your theories in action, or a checklist to accompany the eBook.

In another example, let’s say you attracted a lead who signed up for a trial of your product. In an effort to nurture the lead, you’ll send them a series of automated emails during their trial to boost their success with your product.

And, in a final example, suppose you offer multiple products — but your lead is only interested in one of those products. Instead of sending generalized, untargeted content that promotes all of your products, you’ll automatically enroll the lead into a track for that specific product which takes him or her from vague interest to purchase.

Create a Series of Emails to Nurture the Customer

The bulk of your nurturing will be in the inbox. While you can also use SMS and social media for nurturing, your best one-to-one relationship building will be via email.

Create emails that do the following:

Educate your leads. Provide them with so much information about your product that you answer all of their questions and topple their doubts.

Activate your leads. It shouldn’t just be a one-way communication where you’re doing all the speaking. The best way to nurture leads is to get them involved with your brand. This way, you’ll establish a relationship. To activate, simply invite them into a dialogue. Ask for feedback. Solicit questions. Be open.

The best emails are:

Short, sweet, and to the point. Don’t ramble.

Informative. The subscriber should always be empowered by your email.

Actionable. End each email with a call to action so that the lead knows what to do next.

Other Ways to Nurture Leads

Although email is effective, it isn’t the only way to nurture leads. You can also do the following:

Use Your Blog

Your blog will be a great resource for your lead nurturing efforts. You can create blog topics that answer questions and concerns, and present it to your leads in an ongoing attempt to market your brand.

Use Social Media

Social media is another avenue for marketing leads. For example, you can use Facebook to remarket to people who’ve visited your page in the past 90 days but didn’t buy. It’s a great strategy for capitalizing off of a lead’s demonstrated interest in your brand/ products.

Over to You

What is your favorite lead nurturing strategy?

Don’t forget to download this list of lead nurturing emails you should send:

How to Prevent Free Trial Abuse

Monday, March 6th, 2017

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If you’re like most SaaS products, you offer a free trial to new users. Research from Chart Mogul found that 97% of SaaS companies offer free trials, but only 39% offer a forever free tier. This shows that most companies use free trials to usher users into paid accounts.

There will always be people who never intend to buy your product and just want to get something for free. You’ll never be able to completely stop free trial abusers, but those people were never going to be customers anyway. It’s just something we have to deal with.

Nevertheless, it’s important to deter free trial abusers as best you can.

Free download: How Long Should You Make Your Free Trial?

What makes a SaaS product easy to abuse?

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Some SaaS products are easier to abuse than others. You’ll attract more abusers if your tool meets any of these criteria.

  • The product is a low-touch tool (meaning anyone can sign up to your service without speaking to one of your representatives).
  • The product is consumer-facing (meaning you sell to people, not businesses).
  • Setting up an account is lightning fast.
  • Setting up an account does not require clicking a confirmation link in the user’s email account or in a mobile phone text message.
  • The product does not require any advanced or time-consuming integrations with other products; no special code needs to be created or an API accessed.
  • The product doesn’t require significant customizations or data imports.
  • The product can be used effectively immediately after sign up.

If your product meets any of those criteria, try changing something so it becomes less appealing to habitual abusers.

Understanding abuse

Your first step is to look at abuse critically, not personally. If people are abusing your free trial, it doesn’t mean they want to cause you harm. It usually means you don’t understand what they find valuable. What you see as abuse points are actually the customer’s value points.

Customer success expert Lincoln Murphy says it nicely: “So these ‘abuse points’ are where value is realized by the customer, at least from a functional standpoint; in this case, the functional standpoint is that they completed the ‘job to be done’ with the product.”

For instance, let’s say you charge $99/month for your product. You notice that the same users keep signing up with dummy email addresses and using your 30 day free trial. There is a chance that these users aren’t unwilling to pay you anything, but that usually isn’t the case. What these users are telling you is that they don’t believe your product is worth $99/month.

In this example, you can fix the problem by adjusting your pricing model, changing your free trial period, or improving your product so it provides better value. You should also find ways to demonstrate the product’s value so users understand the potential. You may even want to speak with one of the abusers to see what it is about the product that has caused their behavior.

Require a credit card

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Many SaaS products allow users to create an account and use the tool with just an email address. After the free trial period, the account locks and requests that the user input a credit card to pay and continue using the product. At this point, some people will use a new email address to setup a new account with your SaaS and continue working for another free month (or however long your trial is).

You can work around this a bit by requiring a credit card when the user originally signed up. Notify the user that you won’t charge the card until the end of the free trial period, but that you need one immediately.

Another method is to lock certain features behind a credit card requirement. For example, an online store platform might allow users to experiment with features and set up their store for free, but launching the store (making it public) requires payment.

People who intend to buy the product (if they like it) should have no problem with this. If they decide the product isn’t for them, they’ll just go through your cancellation process. But users who never intend to buy the product at all will be deterred.

Will this requirement turn off some legitimate users? Yes, it may deter some people who honestly wanted to evaluate your product and ultimately reduce your number of signups, but not as much as you think.

Neil Patel, founder of Quicksprout, ran an experiment where he offered users A) a free trial with a credit card, or B) paid from the start with a money back guarantee. People preferred the free trial, even though it required a credit card at the start.

Requiring a credit card can improve your lead quality because you know your users are willing to pay. You’ll have to decide if a loss of those people is greater than a loss of potential abusers.

Create barriers for new account

Your other option is to create barriers that are difficult for users to overcome twice. Here are some ideas.

1. Require a mobile phone number

Most people only have one mobile phone number. They may live or work with someone who will let them use theirs, but there’s a limit to that. It’s possible to set up Google Voice numbers and forwarding, but that takes a lot of effort. When the user inputs a phone number, require that they return the confirmation code you send by text message.

2. Track user IP addresses

Set up an alert that shows if multiple accounts are created from the same IP address. This isn’t foolproof because some networks will show the same IP address for everyone using it. If you discover multiple accounts with the same address, you should do more investigating to see if they’re using the account in a similar way (same brand name, for instance).

3. Place a cookie on the user’s computer

You can install a cookie on the user’s computer that your application will check for during the account creation process. If your app recognizes the cookie, it should prompt the user to log into their other account. Cookies won’t stop everyone because they can be easily removed, but this tactic will impede users who don’t know how to clear their browser.

Change your app

If you’ve implemented any of those strategies but you still have problems with abusers, you can switch from a paid tier model to a paid usage model.

An example of this model is MailChimp. MailChimp allows anyone to use their service for free until they have 2,000 subscribers. After 2,000, the account begins to charge a fee that rises as the number of subscribers increase.

In this case, the whole point of MailChimp is to communicate with their subscribers. Users naturally want more subscribers. It’s possible to spread a subscriber list across a series of accounts so each account is beneath the free limit, but that would require a tremendous amount of work and organization on the user’s part. It’s easier to pay the fee.

Download this free resource to determine the proper length for your free trial.

If you can find a way to structure your pricing model so users only pay for what they use, you can closely tie the product’s value with honest use.

An Inbound Marketing Funnel Every SaaS Needs

Monday, February 20th, 2017

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The Internet is a big place. Advertising to the right people is difficult and expensive. Instead of reaching out to your potential customers, it’s smarter to let them find you. That’s called inbound marketing.

But there’s more to inbound marketing than blogging. Creating content isn’t enough unless you capture that traffic, qualify it, and turn it into sales for your SaaS.

A marketing funnel is a simple concept. It’s a visual representation of how prospective customers interact with your business and eventually become actual customers.

Think of a funnel’s shape. It’s wider at the top than it is at the bottom. Lots of people will be exposed to your marketing materials (the top of the funnel), but only a few will become customers (the narrow bottom of the funnel).

“You aren’t limited to using your funnel strictly for signing up and/or purchasing,” says Kissmetrics. “You can put funnels all over your website to see how visitors move through a specific website flow.”

In a perfect world, everyone who becomes exposed to your marketing materials would become a customer. But that just isn’t the case. Some people aren’t right for your product or service. Some people never planned to buy anyway. A marketing funnel will help you capture more people and identify who is most likely to buy your product.

A basic inbound marketing funnel has three stages: awareness, consideration, and decision.

marketing-funnel

Use this list of ways to qualify your leads and identify which customers are ready for your sales team.

Stage 1: Awareness

This is the beginning of your funnel, when prospective buyers become aware of their own problem and learning how it can be solved. At this point, the prospect isn’t ready to buy, so he isn’t willing to read sales copy or promotional materials. He wants solutions to his problems. If you try to sell to the prospective customer at this point, you’ll only turn him off.

The key is to capture your prospect by offering content that offers solutions. You can do this in a lot of ways, including blog posts, eBooks, email courses, reports, whitepapers, interviews, videos, podcasts, or anything else you think he’ll like.

When you’re creating content, make sure you do it with a clear understanding of your customer. Serve content in the format they prefer so they’ll be more likely to give it their attention. Figure out their problems and then create solutions that address them.

Stage 2: Consideration

At this stage in the funnel, the prospect is well aware of his problem and the need for a solution, but he doesn’t know which solution is right. He’s still exploring.

At this point, you need to make yourself a powerful resource in the prospect’s life so he automatically looks to you for answers. You can do this by getting him to sign up to your email list. Your website content should be optimized to capture as many sign-ups as possible.

There are lots of ways to collect leads. You can add sign-up boxes to your sidebars, the bottom of blog posts, toaster “popup” widgets, and whole-site overlays. Generally speaking, however, you will capture the most sign-ups by giving something in return.

Create a piece of specialty content that can only be delivered once the prospect surrenders his email address. This is called a lead magnet. (OptinMonster has some great examples.) Most people give away reports, eBooks, email courses, etc. Again, figure out what your audience wants the most and serve that.

Once a prospect signs up for your email list, they are considered a lead. Continue to deliver problem-solving content to your email list. This is called lead nurturing. Over time, you’ll establish yourself as an authority on your topic. The prospect will consider you someone who has added value to his life.

Stage 3: Decision

Eventually, the prospect will be ready to make a purchase. They’ll understand their problem and the type of solution they need. At this point, your job is to convince the prospect that your solution is the one they need to buy.

But how do you tell when a prospect is ready to make a decision? You need to qualify your leads with the right types of content and a deft use of your email marketing software.

Your email tool should offer a way to tag or segment your subscribers. The goal is to serve content that a buyer would be most interested in to identify him from the pool of subscribers.

Here’s an example:

Each week, you send a link to a new blog post to your whole list of subscribers (this is the lead nurturing). But you also send a link to an article you’ve written that compares your product to your main competitors. A prospect who is in the decision stage would be interested in reading that type of content.

In this example, you would set your email marketing tool to tag anyone who clicks on the competitor comparison as a “hot lead.” Once you’ve given them time (about a day) to read the content, you or your salesperson would reach out to the subscriber personally to start your sales process.

Other than competitor comparisons, here are types of content that can be used to identify subscribers who are in the decision-making stage.

  • Product/solution comparisons
  • Personal consultations
  • Product demonstrations
  • Webinars
  • Product trials
  • Customer case studies
  • Product/specification literature

If you’ve created quality content and qualified your leads well, your sales job should be pretty much over. Your inbound funnel would have provided all of the education. Your task is to explain to the customer that you’re available to solve their problem right now and how to get started.

The best parts of an inbound marketing funnel

The greatest advantage to an inbound funnel that relies on content to move prospects toward the sale is that the ROI is fantastic. Once you’ve built the funnel, it will require the occasional tweak and improvement, but it can last forever. Day after day, more people will find your content, become a subscriber, get nurtured by your content, and eventually respond to your sales messages.

The more quality content you create, the more avenues your prospects will have to find your business (this is called “widening the funnel”). If you commit to a consistent schedule of creating one piece of content each week, you’ll quickly create lots of ways for prospects to become aware of your business.

Improving the effectiveness of a marketing funnel is done in two ways:

  1. Capturing more people into the funnel. This is done by creating more publically available content and optimizing your website to capture leads.
  2. Optimizing how many people make it to the bottom. This is done by serving your email list well and smartly identifying who is most likely to buy.

Secondly, an inbound funnel (unlike a traditional sales funnel) can be automated to a great extent. Yes, you’ll have to create the content yourself (unless you outsource it), but the other components can be automated so you can make more content.

For instance, your website will automatically capture leads through your sign-up forms and lead magnets. Once subscribers join your list, you can set your email marketing tool to begin dripping a series of emails that nurture the prospect, culminating with content for prospects in the decision-making stage. Once you qualify your leads with specialty content, your email tool automatically begins a sales sequence that encourages the prospect to message or call you.

Download this list of ways to target which of your subscribers are ready for your salespeople.

Expanding your funnel

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You can use other marketing tactics to bring traffic into your funnel. Don’t be afraid to experiment with other tools. For instance, you might post on social media or buy Facebook or Google ads that point to specialty pieces of content, not product pages. You could guest blog on authority websites, have influencers plug your content, or use retargeting ads to bring old traffic back for another look.
I’ll leave you with this last piece of advice when it comes to building an inbound marketing funnel: Create the best content you possibly can and you’ll attract the most people.

How to Leverage the Product Adoption Curve for a Successful Launch

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

Launching a product is the hardest part about running a SaaS business. Once you have a few people using your product, you can solicit feedback and referrals. You can iterate and refine. You can use your first users as sources of knowledge so as to capture and impress future users.

But how do you find those first users? How do you start from zero?

When the ride-sharing app Uber started, they were giving out free rides. Seems reasonable, right? It’s common for SaaS products to give something free to new users in hopes of turning them into paying users. But Uber took a slightly different approach.

Uber gave out free rides to people during Austin’s SXSW Conference. Attendees of the conference were young, tech-savvy people with money to experiment on new things. They were also struggling to get around a place that was short on taxis.

(If growth hacking is a subject that interests you, you should definitely read more about Uber. They are consistently used as an example in startups and business schools on growing scalable products.)

Instead of spending millions giving free rides all over the country, Uber focused on potential customers who were most likely to adopt the product. They could maximize their marketing dollars by focusing on the people who would help their product grow. Not only did they capture their first users, but they found the right users who would carry their product onward.

Uber took advantage of the product adoption curve.

Make users adopt your product faster by proving these critical benefits.

What is the product adoption curve?

Communication scholar and sociologist Everett M. Rogers learned that not everyone is willing to adopt a new product immediately, especially a disruptive product. But that doesn’t mean product adoption is unpredictable. We can group consumers based on how quickly they adopt (or are willing to adopt) a new product.

Some customers will adopt a product the moment it becomes available. They were likely anticipating the product and following its development before its release. On the other end, some people will adopt a product only once everyone else has.

As a whole, product adopters can be plotted on a bell-shaped curve (also called the Rogers Adoption Curve) that looks like this.

product-adoption-curve

Note that this curve only includes people who actually adopt a product – not all people. For instance, someone far removed from your target customer wouldn’t be included because people don’t adopt products that aren’t relevant to them.

Innovators the first 2.5% of users to adopt the product

These are risk-takers who are willing to try an unproven product. They are not guinea pigs or lab rats, however. They are well-informed followers of the brand or technology. Technically, they are taking risks by adopting the product early (which is likely incomplete and buggy), but they understand those risks.

Demographically speaking, innovators are usually young, financially stable, and have close contact with other innovators (it’s usually a close community).

Early Adopters the next 13.5% of users to adopt the product

Early adopters jump in based on the positive response of the innovators. Again, these are educated users. Many are industry opinion leaders with followings or audiences of their own.

These people are generally young, financially stable, and socially outgoing. They differ from innovators because they are discrete and focused about their adoption preferences. That is, they aren’t willing to try any product, just this product.

Early majority the next 34% of users to adopt the product

These are careful consumers who insulate themselves from risk by letting other people try products first. They don’t want to be the last adopters, but they aren’t willing to waste money on a buggy product or a product that never builds a user base to support itself.

Whereas innovators and early adopters are waiting for triggers to adopt (product release or innovator approval), the early majority has a longer adoption period. They rely on recommendations from the two earlier groups and each other.

Late majority the next 34% of users to adopt the product

These people only accept products once they become commonplace, as they approach product adoption with a high degree of skepticism. They aren’t just skeptical about a particular product. They are skeptical about all innovation.

Demographically, they aren’t willing to take financial risks. They do not easily accept recommendations from earlier adopters, and offer little opinion leadership (meaning their recommendations to other people don’t hold much value).  

Laggards the final 16% of users to adopt a product

This is the final group to adopt a product. At this point, the product has been available and commonly used for quite some time. People in this category often have an aversion to change. They aren’t willing to try new things and tend to be older in age.

Laggards have little to no contact with anyone who would be considered an innovator or an early adopter. They only adopt the product out of necessity (example: “I have to use Facebook because it’s the only place to see pictures of my grandkids”).

Keep in mind that people only fit into these categories in the context of a particular product. Just because someone was the first to buy the iPhone doesn’t mean they’re the first to install solar panels, or try that new hamburger restaurant. Adopters can be innovators for one product and laggards for another.

How can you take advantage of the product adoption curve?

Hopefully you have an ideal customer profile (also called a buyer persona) put together. This profile should describe your perfect customer – the type of person who would receive the most value from your product.

To take advantage of the product adoption curve, focus on a subset of your ideal customer. You want to target people who will receive the most value and be likely to try new things. If you sell a disruptive product (a product that changes the way a problem is solved or solves a new problem), you need to drill down as deep as possible because most people resist fundamental change.

This focus should happen early in your product development. When you envisioned your product, you likely thought of a dozen features that would create a robust platform, and then had to scale down to your minimum viable product.

Consider your innovators and early adopters when you plan development. What type of features do they need? For instance, UberEATS is Uber’s food delivery service. They could have started with food delivery before ride-sharing, but they had to consider the adoption curve. Innovators and early adopters needed rides more than food and could be targeted.

Notice Uber’s growth on this chart. They grew steadily until July of 2013, then took a sharp upturn. At this point, the innovators and early adopters had drive product adoption to the point where the early majority jumped in.

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Image: uber.com

Furthermore, develop your product and prioritize features that drive adoption. Your product should be easy to use and share, and simple to understand. It should fit seamlessly into your customer’s’ current lives (as much as possible, that is).

Most importantly, you can drive adoption by making your product more valuable in some way than the alternative. The difference doesn’t have to be economic. It could offer more social prestige or save time, but it has to be better in some way than whatever else is available.

Drive adoption of your product by building these important features into your product.

If you consider your ideal customer and develop your product so it’s likely to spread, you’ll position it nicely for quick adoption. The faster a product is adopted by earlier adopters, the quicker it will move through the remainder of potential users. The trick is to please the innovators first so they adopt quickly.

That isn’t the end of your struggle, however. SaaS products have another hurdle: customer retention. Retaining customers is a critical way to acquire new ones, as happy customers spread your message to their friends.

When you’re ready to focus on retention, get your invitation to Retained.

Why Should a Customer Upgrade from Your Free Trial?

Monday, December 12th, 2016

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Think your free trial will do the job of selling your SaaS product itself?

Unfortunately, no matter how ground-breaking you believe your product to be, we have a problem in SaaS with convincing customers to make the upgrade to a paid product. People are often languishing on free options (if available) or simply letting their trial expire without going on to the upgrade.

Of course, not every customer that signs up for a free trial will be a good fit. Sometimes they’re simply checking out your product because it’s free and have no real intention of becoming a regular user. Sometimes they want your SaaS to work for them, but the reality is it’s simply not the right fit for their needs. That aside, SaaS are losing too many customers who would be the right fit, if only they could ensure users get beyond the free trial.

Want a possible roadmap for email engagement? Grab ours here:

Why should a customer upgrade from your free trial?

Why do customers say “no?”

First of all, it helps to have an understanding of the common reasons why customers say “no” to upgrading from your free trial. Some of these reasons you’ll almost never be able to counter, but for others, you can make a plan to overcome those objections.

They just don’t see the value in payingjustice-scales-balance-lawyer-lowers-fee-money

There may be a number of reasons for this perhaps your product really doesn’t meet a need they have and they’re unlikely so see any value from it anyway. More often though, it’s because SaaS have failed to properly help the client through the trial period so that they’re able to realize that value.

Your free trial can’t exist in isolation you need material such as content to back it up. As Hubspot says: “Content – in the form of blogs, videos and downloadable guides – helps you to stand out from your competitors (which could be many – remember, you’re not that innovative). It’s also the best way to attract potential customers still in the ‘awareness’ stage of the buying cycle: people who have identified the need to solve a problem, but are yet to evaluate potential solutions.”

Of course, what you need will depend on the complexity of your product, so make sure you give some thought to developing a high-quality demo which highlights the key features and benefits well. As Hubspot point out: “it could also be that some subtle complexity – or that one feature that really, really hooks new users in when they find it – just doesn’t come across in the context of the free trial. Some people may have questions about your product they can’t answer when left to their own devices.”

Key Lesson: Make sure you’ve got as much backup information in place as you need to sit alongside your free trial and ensure that the customer is aware of what’s available. Actually demonstrating value is the key here.

Too much “friction”

How much information are you requesting on signup? Are you also requiring credit card details? While many SaaS prefer to collect payment details early in order to set apart the tire kickers from the true prospects, analysis has shown that there are often better conversion rates if you don’t require payment details first up.

Totango analysed 550 SaaS and found that those who required credit cards to sign up for free trials had lower signup conversion rates. If you’d still prefer to collect credit card information, understand that one of the reasons customers are reluctant to hand those details over is because they’re worried they’ll be billed automatically (we’ve all been there!). Try reassuring them by not automatically billing and letting them know they will need to “opt in” for an upgrade and to be billed rather than having to opt out.

Another common friction point is wanting virtually all information, save what the customer had for breakfast on Wednesday last week as part of the signup process. We tend to be impatient creatures who prefer “quick and easy” when it comes to signing up for anything. Besides that, you may also find that people are leery of giving out too much information. Give them a reason to trust you first and let them get through the free trial and upgrade on minimum information. You can always request more on a voluntary basis later, to “help us serve you better.”

Signing up for your free trial, followed by upgrading to paid membership should be a simple process which any customer can follow intuitively. As Kissmetrics states: “By the way, if the customer has to ask how to buy the product or activate a new account, you’re doing it wrong. The process should be childishly simple.”

Key Lesson: Don’t tie customers up with all sorts of “requirements” to sign up. They’ll see it as annoying, prying or difficult and you’ll lose people.

xero-signup

Getting support is (perceived to be) difficult

What have you got in place to nurture customers who are on your free trial? Believe it or not, there are still plenty of SaaS out there for whom the answer is “next to nothing.” People get dropped into the free trial, maybe have a few pieces of content thrown at them or the odd email, but don’t have much more in the way of support.

Again, your requirements may depend on the complexity of your product, but at the very least, you should be nurturing trial users with engaging, timely emails. Unbounce wrote a piece on nurturing through email where they featured research showing that only 26% of SaaS companies are using emails to nurture trial users and turn them into paying customers. 26% that suggests a large number of SaaS are missing out on a nurturing technique which is not difficult to implement.

The thing with regular email contact is that it helps to let the customer know you are there to help them through the trial and can provide them with content that is relevant and of interest. For example, you can effectively use list segmentation to trigger emails based on behaviors, with better results as they are more relevant to the customer.

Unbounce provided a few tips in their article for better email nurturing, such as:

  • Send the first email immediately on sign up for the free trial.
  • Personalize emails by addressing the customer by name and providing clear name and contact details for yourself.
  • Provide clear instructions for getting started.
  • Keep in regular contact throughout the trial.

We’d add here that you should also be very clear about where the customer can go if they need help. No one likes to have to click around looking for support when they need it and this helps to create the perception that you make getting support difficult. Give them options where you can, such as a searchable knowledge base, easy ways to contact customer support or even simply a contact form. Of course if you do this, the key will be to respond promptly to any requests.

Key Lesson: Be available and communicate regularly! Make it clear to customers how they can get help if needed.

Need an email roadmap to encourage upgrades? Get ours here:

Final Thoughts

Why should a customer upgrade from your free trial? Because your SaaS will be the absolute best at solving a genuine need they have, of course. However, the key is that you need to communicate this during the free trial.

Ensure that your trial customers have every opportunity to see the value that your SaaS can provide them with, including via content and product demos. Don’t assume everyone can work things out themselves many won’t have the patience.

Make your signup process as frictionless as possible so that your customers are comfortable handing over their details. It should be obvious to the customer what their next step is and how to take it.

Keep nurturing the customer via email throughout the process and make it clear to them how to get help if needed. No one wants to struggle and feel that help is elusive. Don’t leave things to chance, be there for your trial customers at all stages and help them feel confident to take the next step.