Category: SaaS Branding

A-guide-to-deciding-when-and-how-to-offer-a-free-trial-of-your-SaaS
SaaS Branding

A Guide to Deciding When and How to Offer a Free Trial of Your SaaS

The free trial has long been a part of the SaaS marketing and sales arsenal. Many companies including SalesForce.com, Citrix: Go to Meeting, and Concur offer free trials. Yet according to Totango, which does an annual study of trends in SaaS conversion, about 37 percent of SaaS companies choose not to offer a free trial. Workday is one of them.

Is a free trial right for my SaaS?

Is a free trial right for my SaaS?

There’s no universal answer to this. SaaS businesses should take into account several variables to make the decision. Ask yourself:

  • Is my software intuitive and easy to use?
  • Will potential clients see the value of the software immediately?
  • Can I afford to support back-end operations for clients who haven’t paid me yet?

If you answered yes to all of these questions, then a free trial will probably help sell your software to customers. If you answered no to any (or all) you might want to explore other options like preview videos, demos, or blog posts.

How long should my free trial be?

How long should my free trial be?

Again, there’s no easy answer to this. In fact, it’s been a matter of hot debate in recent years. Conventional wisdom says 30 days.

  • Is my software complex enough that it takes time to understand?
  • Do some functions of my software (like payroll) happen on a bi-weekly or monthly basis?
  • Can I afford a longer sales cycle?

If you answered yes all of these questions then a 30 day trial may be right for your software. If you answered no to any then a shorter trial may be right for you. Try offering a 14 day trial instead. This shortens your sales cycle and helps users maintain a sense of urgency. If your software is exceptionally simple or its value is transparent on minimal use, then you might even reduce your trial to 7 days. Skype is one example of a company that does this.

Short trials may not be right for all users, even if they’re generally a good fit for your product. In those cases you can offer potential clients a trial extension. A good time to offer an extension is when a potential client is getting close to the end of a free trial but has not yet converted.

How do I convince potential clients to try the product?

Offering a free trial does not guarantee that every visitor to your web site will try your product. Just because something is free doesn’t mean people want it.

  • Have I made the free trail difficult to find on my website?
  • Is it difficult for potential clients to understand what the product does?
  • Am I asking trial users for a credit card up front?

If you answered yes (or maybe) to any of these questions, you may need to rethink your strategy. Your website should always feature a prominent call to action, usually in the form of a button. You don’t have to use the words “free trial” because “test drive” or “try it now” work just as well, but make sure the trial is front and center on your website. Pair your action button with a clear description of what your product does, focusing on how it can solve a problem for your potential client. Fancy features don’t mean anything if a client can’t visualize how they’ll apply to his business.

As for credit cards, it seems obvious that getting a credit card from your potential client is a good idea, that way when a potential client is ready to convert, you’ve removed a step in the process. But not so fast. Requiring a credit card can scare users away. They may worry that you’re one of those businesses that is just waiting for the minute the free trial to run out so you can drop a huge charge on their credit card before they remember to cancel the trial. The jury is still out on this issue. You’ll have to decide based on conversion analytics.

But how do I turn free trials into sales?

But how do I turn free trials into sales?

Not every user who downloads a free trial will buy your product. Some will abandon the trial after a few days. Others will let the trial expire without doing anything at all.

It may be hard to tell why customers dropped out without analytics and some basic follow-up in the form of customer responses or surveys, but once you have that information ask yourself.

  • Does my product have the functionality the user was looking for?
  • Does the user have the basic technical skills and equipment to run my software?
  • Is the price point right for the user?

If you answered yes to all of these questions and the user still isn’t converting you may have a problem of communication. The goal of a free trial is to let the software sell itself by getting customers to engage with it in a hands-on way. They may need guidance on how to do that, or direction on where to find the most valuable tools for their business.

Communicate with your potential clients throughout their free trial. Don’t just send a welcome email. Show them where to find blogs, videos, and step-by-step guides that direct them to the most useful or impressive elements of your software. Offer a demo. The product should sell itself, but you can help.

Ultimately, the free trial is a conversion tool. If offering a free trial isn’t helping you convert customers, or if it ends up costing more money than it’s worth, buck the trend and start charging up front.

4 ways to build trust with potential and existing clients
SaaS Branding

4 Ways to Build Trust with Potential and Existing Clients

Trust is the backbone of any relationship and that’s especially true for the relationship between SaaS companies and their clients. Consider the range of sensitive information your SaaS may be handling if you provide HR, CRM, or Sales Force Automation software. The success of your client’s business depends on whether your product works, and whether it delivers on the promises you’ve made to the client.

In the client’s mind it might seem safer to keep that information and those functions in-house, where their business has at least the illusion of control. For a potential client to be willing to take the plunge with your software, they have to trust you and the product. Here are 4 ways to build trust from initial contact through follow-up.

1. Craft a trustworthy website

Craft-a-trustworthy-website

What makes a website appear trustworthy? First let potential clients know that your website is secure. Include security certificates, credit card symbols, and affiliations such as Better Business Bureau membership prominently on your website.

If possible, include testimonials and logos from satisfied customers. One way that potential clients assess whether a business is trustworthy is by looking for other businesses that use and trust the product.

Offer plenty of information. People tend to fear what they don’t know, so offer as much information as possible about your product and service to help potential clients make informed decisions.

Including these elements will help you set the groundwork for trust, but customer service is what really seals the deal, which brings us to our second tip.

2. Be available

Be available

SaaS stands for software as a service. Don’t make the mistake of focusing exclusively on the software and neglecting the service element. You need to be available to answer questions for potential clients and convert them into paying clients.

Provide clients and potential clients with a selection of ways to contact you. Live Chat is a great way to engage customers because it allows them to ask questions while on your site and without having to pick up the phone.

That being said, some people are more comfortable if they can hear a human voice, so provide a phone number that someone will actually answer. If you can’t answer every call, make sure you return phone calls in a timely manner.

Of course, email is the old standby. Even though it’s less immediate than the other contact methods, it has the advantage of being available to clients 24-7, even on holidays.

3. Offer a free trail

Offer a free trail

It seems counterintuitive to give your product away for free, but free trials have become the standard in the SaaS industry. They are huge trust builders for potential clients because a free trial allows the client to actually engage with the product and make sure it works for their business.

Ideally, a free trial lasts somewhere between 14 and 30 days. Longer than 30 days and you may lose the sense of urgency that encourages potential clients to actually explore the product, less than 14 days and they may not feel they know the product well enough to make a decision.

Stay in contact with the potential client throughout the trail period. Make sure they know how to reach you if they have questions and give them plenty of opportunities to buy.

Most importantly, when they are ready to convert, make sure it is easy for them to do so. There is nothing more frustrating than having to jump through hoops to give someone your money.

4. Keep in Contact

Keep in Contact

The structure of the SaaS industry means that, retaining clients is more valuable than landing new clients. If you have one client who pays you $100 a month for your product and sticks with you for three years, it’s better than 30 clients who pay their hundred and then close their accounts at the end of the first month.

To keep clients you have to keep building trust. That means you keep the lines of communication open. Check in with clients periodically to make sure they’re happy with the product and your service. If you find that they’re not, find out why not, and do what you can to fix it.

Building trust with clients takes time, and different clients will need different levels of engagement to feel secure, but it’s time and effort well spent. A client who trusts you and has faith in your product, is a client who will stick with you for the long-haul.