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6 Ways To Drive Conversions From Trial To Paid Subscriptions

Date published: January 06, 2021
Last updated: January 6, 2021

Offering freemium plans for products and services allows companies to acquire new users on a regular basis. However, offering free trials does have a downside. A vast majority of customers don’t take further action once the free trial ends. 

Freemium products -- irrespective of industry and function -- face one constant challenge: converting trial customers into paid customers.

No business can run without paid subscriptions, so the sooner trial customers convert to paying customers, the better the long-term prospects of the business. 

Let’s explore some possible ways you can increase your number of converting customers. 


Tips to Increase Paid Subscriptions

Customers signing up for your free trial shows that your marketing engine is working, but there is still a long way to go before you can turn these trial customers into paid ones.  

Once the customer signs up, you have the opportunity to earn their trust and to show them that the paid subscription is worth the price. 

This begins with creating a positive onboarding experience. 


1. Improve in-app onboarding

The onboarding process is the first contact your users have with your product, so you want to make the experience easy and pain free. 

Use the bulleted tips below to help you create a streamlined and engaging in-app onboarding process. 

  • Keep it short and contextual.
  • Use real-time app screens and not abstract screens.
  • Provide proactive and reactive guidance.
  • Use visual hints to guide the user through controls and settings.
  • Use sample data that the user can customize to get a hang of the product.


2. Provide personal support

At the end of the day, users are people. They want attention, especially when they are trying to figure out how to use a new software product. Personal support in the form of a phone call, support articles, chatbots, or even live chat software can make the onboarding journey easier for users. 

If your users feel taken care of and that their questions will be answered in a timely manner, they are more likely to buy your product later on when it comes time to convert to a paid subscription. 


3. Offer a top-tier plan on trial basis

Offer a trial product that gives unbridled access to all your product features, like those available in a top-tier paid plan.  

There are several advantages to offering a top-tier plan on trial. The first is, the user gets to experience the product in its truest form without any restraints. This helps them understand how the product can help them achieve their objectives.  

Also, once the trial expires, the user will be able to notice the stark difference between a paid plan and a trial version. The lack of features in the trial version itself may encourage them to upgrade to a paid subscription. 


4. Run upsell campaigns

Upselling persuades customers to upgrade to a paid version or move up to a higher plan. From a sales perspective, it is never easy to upsell to customers. However, well-planned and targeted upsell campaigns can do the trick. 

For example, for every business, volumes spike during the holiday season. They have more sales, customer support tickets, etc., during the holiday season. Email campaigns carrying an upsell message can convert customers on the trial plan to the paid plan.  


5. Restrict essential features in free plans

Most users will stick to free plans if they are able to make do with the features available. This is typically the case with small businesses that have minimal use cases and also a bare minimum budget for their operations.  

One way to restrict users from sticking to free plans is to cut short the features available on the trial plan. You can continue to offer a higher plan during the trial, but once the trial expires, restrict the features to a bare minimum. This will likely prompt users to upgrade to a paid subscription.  


6. Highlight what they are missing in trial plans

Most often, customers can’t see what they are missing out on when only using a trial plan. They need to be educated on what they can gain by moving to a paid subscription. This can be done in two ways:

  • Email nurture campaigns 

Create a separate segment of trial customers and target them with the latest feature releases available on higher plans. Highlight the benefits of the feature and how it can augment the user’s productivity if they upgrade.  

  • In-app notifications

In-app notifications and visual cues within the app can nudge the user to see what is possible in a higher plan. This can be used strategically — for example, when the user is using a long-wound way to do something, like customizing a report or dashboard. Strategically positioned notifications can help nudge users to a paid plan. 


The Final Word

Asking trial customers to upgrade to a paid subscription plan is easier said than done. Even the most experienced sales folks find it a tough challenge. However, there are other means to achieve it.  

It requires the marketing and sales teams to come together and act as a single unit. The strategies explained above help with that. What have you tried to make your trial customers opt for paid subscriptions?

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