You’ve done the hard part in enticing your leads to sign up to your free trial offer, now the next challenge has arrived - converting your free trialists into paying customers. It’s likely audience segmentation is a tactic you’ve already employed, however, with a few more specific segments you can drive greater results.
It’s safe to say that as a SaaS product-led growth (PLG) business you have already created a 'free trial' audience in your email automation tool. If you take that audience and segment it further you can assess what's really going on and leverage the results to optimize your experience for conversions and prioritize personalized post-trial follow-ups.
Read below for a closer look into how to segment your free trial users to boost your conversion rate.
Why segmenting your free trial users is important
When you open up the floodgates to a free trial in a PLG model, you are often inundated with users and then disappointed by your free-to-paid conversion rate. In reality, this flood of free trial users falls into a wide range of buckets and motivations.
By segmenting your free trialists based on their actions or behaviors you can get a better understanding of these users, automate alerts for your sales or support teams when help is needed and build specific, personalized journeys to nudge trial users in the right direction to conversion.
Let’s say all leads who sign up to a free trial receive a ‘how to get started’ email. The actions taken within that email will help create segments specific to engagement levels, if the user opens the email, clicks through to achieve an onboarding action within the platform, they are tagged as highly engaged. The customer journey triggered will revolve around sending relevant, nurturing communications their way. If the trialist doesn’t open the email, a follow-up email can be sent asking more about specific features they may be looking for in a product or offering to book a demo with a sales team member to take them through the platform.
Segmenting allows for better post-trial follow-up communications because you can address user concerns directly or deprioritize if they are just tire kickers. If you do not segment your users beyond ‘free trialists’, it is difficult to get a sense of the true free-to-paid conversion rate for real potential buyers.
How to segment your free trial users
There are numerous ways to segment your free trial users. Treat the below as a guide that can be adapted to suit your business.
Outline the different reasons for signing up for a free trial - For example: Are they in the research stage? Do they want to explore a specific feature, or are they ready to convert?
Think of the kind of data you could collect to segment users into different lists. This data can be collected during any point of the free trial process. For example:
Before trial begins - This is collected during the sign-up process. Beyond the name and email, great data points can include job title, industry (e.g SaaS, B2B, ecomm), and company size.
During the free trial - Checking in with your free trialists halfway through their journey allows you to ask more detailed questions as you have now built trust and they have had a chance to dig around the platform. For example, what features they like, are there any pain points.
After the free trial ends - Use a post-trial feedback form including questions like how they would rate their experience, or whether they would recommend the product. If the user did not complete their onboarding, ask why.
The data collected will be helpful to assess how many serious trialists you have to get a sense of the "real" conversion rate. Here are some example audiences to try:
Accidental sign-up - Some trialists could have signed up accidentally, thinking that the form was for a demo or something else
Not fit for purpose - Signed up thinking the platform is something it's not (e.g a user signs up thinking Ortto offers social media scheduling when it doesn't)
Non-buyer research stage - Testing out the platform, but they’re not actually the Buyer or the Buyer/User getting a feel for the product and hoping to sell it internally
Competitor comparison - Some may be performing competitor audits
Early research stage - Signing up to research WELL ahead of when they are ready to buy
Hot trialists - They are genuinely ready to buy
How to leverage your segments
Once you’ve segmented your free trialists into audiences that make sense for your business, it’s time to optimize the onboarding experience accordingly and increase your free-to-paid conversions.
Know your conversion rate
It’s been said many times before, but to re-iterate it’s crucial to spend time looking at the results of your always-on campaigns, including your onboarding journey. By dedicating time to deep-diving into your free trial user reports, you can determine where your hot leads are coming from and find out the conversion rate for genuine buyers vs. conversion rate over all.
This will help you make better data-driven decisions going forward and allocate resources to the channels and content with the highest conversion. It can also help you discover the type of user more likely to convert to a paid plan (i.e. your ideal customer) so you can create specific marketing campaigns to target them.
Prioritize trial follow-ups
By segmenting your free trial users based on their actions or events completed, you will be able to prioritize your teams’ time by directing them to trialists who are more likely to convert.
Ortto’s Scores feature can be used to create a scoring system based on a set of activities and filters from your customer data platform (CDP), which different teams across the business can use to quickly identify how engaged users are.
Drawing on the example used above, the action of the free trialist completing an activation event like uploading a project during their onboarding will contribute to a high engagement score. If this trialist then reaches out to the support or sales team with a query, your team can see the trialist score and prioritize their needs in hope to bring them over the line. Or if the user scored high at the start of the trial then a drop in the engagement occurs, an email or Slack notification can be triggered to alert your sales or support team to reach out.
Build post-trial follow-ups/retargeting campaigns
It’s easy to build personalized always-on journeys and retargeting campaigns in Ortto. Simply build out the desired audience segment of your post trial users (e.g. highly engaged, did not convert, showed interest in feature X) or pick filters and activities from your CDP to set your entry criteria (e.g. completed onboarding / trial completed / did not convert). Then create your specific email/SMS messages addressing any pain point or offer of extra support. The added contact post-trial may be the thing that converts a user, as it shows care to your new customers while also building loyalty.
While your post-trial follow-ups are occurring, you can sync your specific free trial users segment with Facebook, Twitter and Google ads using Ortto. Then as your lapsed trialists are browsing, they will be targeted with supporting content like customer testimonials, stats and facts, or specific features. Your retargeting campaign could also include special promotions or discounts to further nudge them to conversion. Once they turn in to a paying customer, they are removed from the list (all in real-time).
Segmenting your audience is a powerful tool to have in your marketing toolbox, as it allows you to identify and prioritize the preferences of your customer rather than assuming you know what they want. From here, you can speak to them with meaningful messaging and relevant content to help increase your free-to-paid conversions.