Optimize your SaaS trial

1. Craft an email for trial users that creates a strong first impression after sign-up.

Introduce your company in a friendly, clear tone and demonstrate the value your product provides: Offer a brief overview of what users should expect throughout the trial. Highlight your company’s culture and brand with images, GIFs, or design elements to make your email stand out. Keep your email content focused on the trial and helping users get immediate benefits from using your product. 

2. Write engaging subject lines of 40-50 characters and preheader text for your emails.

Engage your customers by: Experimenting with different subject lines. Split testing subject lines and sending out the winner. Ask a question about the trial or your product. Write your preheader text so that it builds on your subject line. For example, Zapier makes it clear they help with automation. LastPass helps you protect your business. Baremetrics simplifies KPI tracking. Talk about the specific benefits in your subject line and preheader. Answer the following questions: What does your product accomplish? How will it benefit your users? How does it make their life easier?

3. Use research and experiments to determine when and where strategic, personalized onboarding works best.

Create a customer-centric experience by adding personal touches to your communications. Personalization is not just getting a first name into an email, nor is about only what you can automate. Hubspot writes personalized emails using research to add personal touches.  Hubspot does research to add personal touches, noting that the customer went to the University of Missouri and specifically mentioning football. For example, Bonjoro offered 1:1 video calls to those who added their credit card during trial. The experiment increased trial-to-sign-up numbers and boosted overall team morale. Here is a summary of Bonjoro’s experiment and results: Segment trial users based on actions they take and determine who might benefit most from human-to-human onboarding.

4. Use onboarding to educate your users on complex products.

For example, Optimizely is a complex platform, so they share multiple resources to walk new users through product setup. In contrast, a tool like Grammarl fits immediately into your workflow. No education needed.  Highlight how to integrate with other popular software in users’ tech stack, if integrations are critical to your product. For example, LastPass, often used by teams and companies, highlights how to integrate with directories. To educate your users: Link to important documentation and FAQs.  Create and share content via email or on dedicated, easy-to-find pages, about some of your most popular integrations.

5. Send emails offering support and updates to reengage inactive customers.

Highlight how to get started and where to go if more support is needed. If your tool is too confusing or difficult to use, your trial users can struggle to get value. Users may be too busy to engage with your trial. For example, when a user has not engaged in a week, you can send a re-engagement email to check in on them.  Extend a trial if user behavior suggests someone really did run out of time. A user may not have started checking out your product until they got a “Your trial expires in…” email. Common reasons for non-engagement include: The user is not sure how to get started. The user is busy. The user does not have enough time.

6. Test a variety of trial lengths to determine what is best for your product and company, and find the perfect length for your SaaS trial.

Steli Efti from Close.io believes most SaaS trials are too long and that most SaaS trials should be limited to 14 days. Offer a longer trial if your product is more technical or complex. For example, Villio found that 30 days was optimal for them. They found the setup process can take a while for those that do not begin right away.

7. Use value-based pricing for your product.

Determine the actual price value of your product and communicate it to customers as soon as they land on the page. Tailor pricing to your product value and customers and reevaluate your pricing strategy annually, on a continual basis. Keep your pricing options simple. Tie these three aspects of your pricing strategy together on your pricing page: Positioning that aligns with the right customers. Packaging that shows a mix of features based on customer needs. Price points that represent value and what your customers are willing to pay.

8. Decide whether requiring a credit card is necessary, by evaluating the impact on signups and conversions.

Requiring a credit card upfront may increase conversions but often reduces signups.  Requiring a credit card upfront may increase conversions but often reduces signups. (Image source) Experiment to determine what works best. For example, if you are getting a lot of signups that are not converting, adding a little friction by requiring a credit card could be a worthwhile test. If you require a credit card, but signups are low, try getting rid of it.

9. Create a plan for when your trial ends.

For example, Zapier has a free plan that you can continue to use after your trial ends. Develop a plan by asking these questions: Do your users lose complete access to the product? Are they downgraded to a free plan?  For example, SurveyMonkey has an always-free plan that allows you to create unlimited surveys with limited functionality. After your trial, you are automatically downgraded.