Expert Tips on Boosting Free Trial Conversions

KISSmetrics co-founder Hiten Shah and Totango co-founder Guy Nirpaz share their tips for optimizing your free trials and converting more prospects.

 
We recently invited industry experts Hiten Shah, co-founder of analytics companies KISSmetrics and CrazyEgg, and Guy Nirpaz, CEO and co-founder of Totango, to discuss trial conversion optimization strategy and tactics with the marketing leaders from our portfolio.
As a venture capital firm with an investment focus on B2B SaaS, the majority of our portfolio companies make a free trial or freemium offer part of their lead generation strategy. For companies selling to the lower end of the market where the majority of their revenue is driven by self-converting customers or a low-touch inside sales team, the free trial or freemium offer is often the most important part of their funnel. That means it must be continuously optimized for the highest impact on revenue. For companies selling to the higher end of the market, meanwhile, the free trial becomes an introduction to the product that can make or break a complex sale.

Hiten Shah’s #1 Reason Trial Optimization Projects Fail

Hiten Shah_circleHiten kicked off the call explaining that the most impactful way to optimize your free trial for conversion is to first understand what the journey prospects take through the trial looks like. In other words, define your funnel.
First, understand what the critical micro conversion points are a prospect needs to achieve as he or she progresses through your trial, then start on your own path of figuring out why he or she is not doing those things. This can be done by asking the prospect to complete an exit survey after a form abandon, with live chat from within your app, using email nurture, or by having your sales team to explicitly ask what’s preventing that prospect from getting over a specific hurdle.
Hiten explained that the insight into your conversion funnel and the micro conversions within it should be the driving force behind any trial conversion optimization experiments. What you learn from this exercise can help you to prioritize future conversion experiments, tweak product messaging, and in some cases even validate product-market fit.

Guy Nirpaz’s Approach to Trial Conversion Optimization

Guy Nirpaz_circleGuy broke down his behavioral segmentation approach to the free trial or freemium process as simply this: If you’re not treating true prospects who have intent to buy differently from tire kickers, you’re wasting time.
Using products like KISSmetrics and Totango, tire kickers can be identified as users who, based on behavioral indicators, will never buy. Those behavioral indicators, combined with demographic information from services like Full Contact and Clearbit, can be pulled together into an innovative lead scoring model that predicts who your true prospects with actual buying intent are. Then you can make sure they’re treated with more significance throughout your product’s trial process.

Consider Your Own Free Trial Process

Do you understand your funnel and the micro-conversions that prospects need to achieve to eventually convert? Can you segment tire kickers from prospects with true buying intent? If not, start with Hiten’s and Guy’s advice as good first steps to optimizing your free trial or freemium conversion rate.

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Photo by:
 Kiran Foster

Head of Growth

Blake Harris is the Head of Growth at Formlabs, which develops professional 3D printers for designers, engineers, and other creators. He was previously a Growth Strategist at OpenView.
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