June 22, 2015 Marketing en_US There are many ways to convert free trial users into customers that pay for your product or service. Read the 12 ways to create paying customers. https://quickbooks.intuit.com/cas/dam/IMAGE/A1t1KyL8J/34eb3f1dd35906ed32f3ff8d1cb004d2.png https://quickbooks.intuit.com/r/marketing/12-steps-for-turning-free-customers-to-paying-customers 12 Steps for Turning Free Customers to Paying Customers

12 Steps for Turning Free Customers to Paying Customers

By John Rampton June 22, 2015

It may seem like “Mission: Impossible” to convince someone who was getting something for free to start paying for that same item or service. There are, however, many ways to convert that free trial user into a customer that pays for your product or service willingly. After all, the point of the trial was to generate necessary leads and attract your target audience.

Now that you’ve got the lead, it’s time to reel them in as loyal customers. Here are 12 ways to create paying customers.

1. Start Contact Immediately

As soon as a prospect signs up for a free trial, start the communication process to let them know it’s a two-way street. Making contact and opening up the dialogue is a good way to start the relationship out on the right foot. This contact can include more information about the product or service you are offering, as well as extending a “thank you” for signing up.

2. Be Aggressive 

Aggressive doesn’t mean pushy; it simply means continuing to send out messaging about what your potential customer is using as an organic part of your product or service. These additional email messages are an effective way of providing instructions or assistance to help your customers get comfortable with your product. Keep this communication going throughout the trial period so your customers can also see you value contact with them.

3. Get Personal

Don’t send out form emails that make the potential customer feel like a number. Instead, add their name to the email greeting, sign your name and even add a line in each one about when they signed up. Acknowledge where they are from (geographically) or what business they might be in so they know you are interested in them personally.

Part of getting personal includes sharing more about your company, including your philosophy and your authentic story. This personal connection further nurtures the relationship you are trying to establish during the trial period.

4. Collaborate

Get the potential customer involved during the trial period with a survey that asks what drew them to your product or how they heard about it, and ask for ideas for improvement. This makes them more likely to stick around and pay just to see if they really did become part of the process.

5. Sweeten the Deal

Customers want to know that they might get something more by paying. With the “what’s in it for me” attitude, you can sweeten the deal with extra features or special discounts for those that sign up for a year upfront.

6. Get Them Hooked

Your product or service has to make them feel special. Creating an emotional connection with your product or service can accomplish this objective. Appeal to an intangible attribute that they associate with something that makes them feel good, helps them accomplish something or is something that wins acceptance from others. One way I find makes a huge difference is customer service. We’ve found that providing quality customer service improved turn over 8% from free to paid.

7. Create a Time Limit

Nothing helps speed the process of closing a deal like the pressure of a time limit, especially if Step 6 worked and they can’t live without your product or service. Offering them a discount or special deal only available for a limited time often helps convince a potential customer to make the switch after their trial is up. Better yet, letting them know halfway through their trial about a limited opportunity can help grease the purchase decision wheels.

8. Focus on Value

No matter what the economic cycle, customers are focused on value and what their money gets them. This is not about being on a budget and getting the cheapest item; this means showing them how far that money will go to get that good—or sense of satisfaction—they want so badly.

Decide what it is about your product or service that will have them say, “That’s well worth it,” “That’s money well spent,” or “I would pay for that again and again.” Once you know what that is, feature it in all your messaging during this trial period.

9. Address Their Unique Needs/Wants

That survey from Step 4 really helps with this step along with previous market research that you should have conducted. Addressing these unique needs and wants also links to creating that emotional connection that has them hooked on what you offer.

10. Give Them Something Different

With growing competition in practically every market segment, potential customers are often bored because every product or service looks and feels the same. The products or services that have been the most successful in recent years have been the ones that shake up the marketplace. Find that area where you can do something different that adds a “wow” factor, then exploit it throughout the trial period to build the excitement.

11. Make Improvements

Every year, Apple followers start getting excited because they know an announcement is coming about some new feature or product. As Apple illustrates, the concept of improvements does not send the message to customers that previous versions are bad; if anything, it keeps them coming back for more.

When you convince them your product or service is great and will only get better, customers want to be a part of what you create. Maintaining focus on continual innovation and improvement can also help stimulate your customers’ purchase decisions while growing that emotional bond you are working so hard to create.

12. Get Feedback

Ask potential customers about how your product or service is working for them. Be sure to get their opinions as to why they think it is—or is not—worth paying for, as this may help solidify the purchase decision in their mind. By asking them what they like, you are helping them reach the conclusion that your product or service is valuable to them. This is a vital step at the end of the trial period that provides a way to connect the dots from the previous steps and seal the sale.

Each trial user is a lead in the pipeline, so these action steps are the conversion strategies you need to close the deal. At the same time, you are collecting data to better understand your target audience so that you can continue to refine your lead generation and conversion processes.

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John Rampton is an entrepreneur, online marketing guru, and startup addict. Read more