Without SaaS Lead Nurturing Your Free Trial User, Conversions to Paid Users will Wither

A few months ago, you may remember a post I wrote about why SaaS software companies that offer initial free trials fail at generating revenue. I mentioned there were a number of ways that companies lose touch with their free trial users, including the lack of a nurturing email campaign to guide them to the paid engagement. Today, I am delving into how to best leverage email campaigns with those in the free trial.

Cater to the Length of Your Free Trial/Demo

SaaS companies choose the length of their free trials based on their business process and the complexity of the product being demoed. Sometimes you see 7-day trials. Others are for a full 30-day period. I have even seen more unique timeframes for some SaaS marketing plans. The key takeaway is to build your campaign flow and frequency that is helpful to a Free Trial User without making it feel like you are pummeling their inbox. Let’s face it; no one likes to get overloaded with emails regardless of how good the information is.

Once you determine the cadence (volume and scheduled flow of emails), the next step is to outline the messaging and timing. There can be multiple types of campaigns and tracks you create. We will tackle some of those options in a few moments. For starters, we are going to focus on those users who have just started your free trial process.

What Should I Be Saying to My Trial Users

Each campaign should include the same basic elements:

  1. Welcome and Quick Intro
  2. Why Pay – Comparisons/Differentiators
  3. Urgency

Other topics that could be inserted include:

  1. Specific Tips and Steps to Utilizing Aspects of the SaaS Software
  2. Check-in to Remember Using the Free Trial
  3. Reminder that Questions can be Answered by a Team Member
  4. How this SaaS will Benefit the User
  5. Case Studies – Success Stories – Testimonials

Depending on the number of days in the free trial, build the campaigns by including the most important messages. Here is an example of a 7-day In-Trial campaign versus a 30-day In-Trial campaign. Imagine you are considering a project management software solution for this example.

7-Day Campaign
SaaS Marketing Plan - Nurture Calendar 1
30-Day Campaign
SaaS Marketing Plan - Nurture Calendar 2

You will notice that in the 7-day trial, we have scheduled four messages. The first is informational, the second is a differentiator and the final two are converters.

With the 30-day trial, there is double the number of emails as we have more days to work with including additional informational and differentiator messages. We have more time to schedule emails which allows for the larger volume of message variations. Also, the early part of the cadence is pretty frequent, to get the user in the flow of using the free trial as early as possible. The close phase at the end is important to stay top of mind and encourage the conversion. This leaves the middle part of the campaign which is meant to keep the user engaged with a periodic reminder with good, differentiator information presenting the case that it would be so hard to live without this SaaS solution.

The content in these emails is also very relevant to the success of the campaign. You will notice that this campaign incorporates video, catchy subject lines and goals for each email. All of the messaging and content should really be catered to your target audience.

Other Campaigns for Success

Beyond engaging with users in the free trial, SaaS companies should also consider other stages the free trial user could enter. The two primary SaaS lead nurturing campaigns would be focusing on the user experience once they purchase the “Pro” or paid version along with focusing on those who abandoned the Free Trial. More sophisticated companies may even have the data to check logins into the free trial and then re-categorize the prospect into a “disengaged campaign” when the user fails to log-in for a certain length of time. This could be a unique campaign to jumpstart the user and reenergize their engagement with the free trial.

Here, we examine a potential campaign for the project management solution again with a user who went dark and let the free trial campaign expire. This demonstrates how you can try to recapture that user by deciding to extend the free trial or continuing SaaS lead nurturing a few months down the road – hoping they are just delaying making a decision.

Re-Engagement Campaign
SaaS Marketing Plan - Nurture Calendar 3

All too many companies forget to continue the relationship with customers once they convert to paying customers. This is a critical mistake in a SaaS marketing plan for two reasons:

  1. Many SaaS solutions are month-to-month engagements. The user could easily bail at any time.
  2. This is a prime time to cross-sell / up-sell and generate additional revenue.

Fostering a deeper relationship with your customer through SaaS lead nurturing can not only lead to new revenue and retention, but increase customer loyalty and complete the customer feedback loop. This is a perfect opportunity to generate feedback from surveys or collect testimonials and success stories of your solution in action! A new campaign that speaks directly to a paying customer is a fantastic way to achieve these goals. Take note of the messages included in this example of a paying customer campaign.

Paying Customer Campaign
SaaS Marketing Plan - Nurture Calendar 4

Optimization & Reporting

Now that your automated campaigns are set, it is pivotal that they are monitored and optimized. If you are using a Marketing Automation platform tied to your CRM, the data is there to track the efficiency of your email campaigns. You can see open rates and levels of engagement along with if/when the emails are converting to sales and revenue dollars.

By monitoring these metrics, there might be opportunities to tweak or change the messaging/content, update the cadence, add/delete emails and implement other modifications that can improve campaign performance. A “set-it and forget-it” approach can lead to missed revenue.

Building a solid foundation of email campaigns tied to your free trial product and experience can tremendously increase your ability to convert those prospects into paying customers, thus leading to a successful SaaS marketing plan!

Interested in SaaS marketing trends? Check out our B2B Technology Knowledge Center.

SaaS Marketing Plan

About Michael Mazzone

Michael Mazzone is a Senior Account Executive at Fathom, specializing in technology-based lead generation campaigns. A graduate of Case Western Reserve's Weatherhead School of Business, Michael joined the Fathom team in 2006, bringing to the table a focus in entrepreneurial strategies and problem-solving skills. He has worked as the direct point of contact for Fathom on a number of accounts to include KeyBank, Vision Solutions, DoubleTake Software, Astute Solutions, mindSHIFT, Oppenheimer Funds, American Greetings, Eaton Corporation, Cleveland Clinic, Cub Cadet and Evenflo.As the main touch point, Michael provides cross-department coordination and strategies from SEO, conversion, online video, redesign projects, paid search and marketing initiatives like contests and product launches. Vital to measuring success for campaigns, he identifies ROI opportunities and implements measurement tactics. Follow Michael on Twitter @mmazzone29 or add him to your LinkedIn network.

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