Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5

5 Ways to Get Free Trial Users to Become Paying Subscribers

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

There's always a push to close new deals from trial subscriptions faster and with greater conversion rates. This is especially true at the end of every month and fiscal quarter, when sales reports are run.


I and my team at NoteVault, a mobile reporting solutions for the construction industry, know all too well the importance of encouraging free trial subscribers to sign up as a full fledged paying customer. It takes a systematic process with multiple touch points and a commitment to exceed their expectations and experience throughout. It requires a bit more effort but with great dividends.

Here are the five strategies that we've found to be the most effective from our experience:

Related: Never Turn Down a Paying Customer

1. Kick off the trial with a training session.

Get the user's experience off on the right foot. Offer each new trial user a free training session -- be it a webinar, self-directed online tutorial or other method -- to explain all the key features, functions and benefits of the system.

At NoteVault, we've found success in hosting live sessions to gain the greatest level of interaction and feedback from our users.

Related: How do we convert trial clients into full-paying members?

2. Provide regular 'tips and tricks.'

It's not realistic to think that users will retain all the information from the free training session to the point of becoming a seasoned user overnight. Periodically offer quick "tips and tricks" that demonstrate the full capabilities and application of the system in the customer's day-to-day activities.

We do this through a series of customized emails specifically for trial users. It keeps the engagement and utilization high during the course of the trial that, in turn, leads to the greater adoption of our platform in their regular duties and becoming an essential productivity tool.

3. Ask for feedback.

Conversations with all customers, and certainly including free trial users, must be two way. Get input from those testing the system to find out what's of most value to them and areas where they may be having issues.

Our company will go so far as to phone users to get feedback live. Emails and website forms can also be of value for getting constructive comments and helping a user work through the ins and outs of the system.

4. Offer special deals to sign up before the trial ends.

Sometimes, free trial users need a little push to advance to the paying status. The key is to be smart about it and not simply cannibalize your revenue. One of the incentives we use is it to offer discounts for prepaying for the entire subscription time period up front.

5. Try again after it expires.

Don't give up on a prospect simply because they didn't convert before their free trial expired. Other priorities may have got in the way.

NoteVault has defined a process for regular follow up with churned trial accounts, including when new versions with key features are released. You'll be surprised how many will come back.

Focusing on converting more free trial users will also lower the total cost per lead acquisition and have an exponential effect on the bottom line. Even a small percentage point improvement can mean greater net profits for the current and future years. Overtime, the lifetime value of these added converts could pay great dividends to a company's compound annual growth. Paying close attention to turning more free trial users into paying ones is time very well spent.

Related: Convert Your Website Visitors into Customers

Entrepreneur Editors' Picks