Are my users ready to finish a trial?

by Filip Załęski in Growth & Strategy
March 28, 2019

How could I know that my users are ready to finish a free trial and start paying for a product? I hear this question all the time. I’m not even surprised that a lot of entrepreneurs have problems with finding the answer. In my opinion, onboarding is one of the hardest area in marketing. So if you have decided to include a free trial in your onboarding strategy, sooner or later you must find a way to convert trial users into paid customers.

From the following post, you will learn:

  1. how to define the moment when your users experienced aha! moment,
  2. how to prepare an activity chart that let you follow onboarding progress,
  3. how to find those users who are ready to buy a product,
  4. what you can do to increase the conversion rate.

How users use your product (find a good pattern)

In the book “Startup Owners Manual” written by Steve Blank, the author introduced a methodology called customer development. Customer development suggests that you should apply an engineering or scientific method rather than use intuition and beliefs in order to validate the ideas. Steve mentions that companies should validate their product and market with prospects because it is the easiest and the cheapest way.

lean startup movement

Eric Reis includes customer development as a big part of lean startup methodology, that he created. He describes it in his book “Lean Startup” and presents this concept at many startup conferences around the world. These two books show us that we can get the most valuable information, just from our customers and prospects.

Before we start to optimize free trial strategy, we should check what actions users do with a product and what value they get from it.

Define what actions users take with a product

Every product is defined by a different set of features so it’s hard to generalize what exactly we should measure. It simply depends on a product’s nature. That’s why I’ll describe how it looks in Droplr, the company I work for. Our four main features are cloud storage, file transfer, screenshots capturer and screencast recorder. Each of these features has its own specification. They can be described for example by a file type, file size, content etc. When a product is described that way, you can create an infinite number of actions. The thing is to find a few which are the most meaningful and start measuring them.

I can’t tell you what action is the best to describe customer success, but I would start with more general rather than a specific one. In Droplr I decided to measure the events when a user uploads (or creates) a file.

Count numbers of activity

Every time a user takes any action in a product, he or she is getting used to your solution. So with every next action, he or she is less likely to churn from your product. If we take a look at it from other perspective, we can find a breakpoint (or rather period) after which users create a habit of using your product on daily basis. At this moment, for the first time, we can notice that users become more and more active.

user activation chart

You will see that this happens just for some of your users. They become your most important leads, because of two things. They are more likely to buy your product, and they are a great source of feedback. Analyzing their steps since registration you will see what makes them use your product. The thing that helps them see the value might be completely different. It can be a set of features, an easy interface, clear communication or something else. I think it will be a good idea to talk to some of them and simply ask what they like the most about your product.

Now, once got to know what your validated successful users care about, you can adjust the onboarding process a little in that way. Remember to expose the things your user mentioned as important. Every customer cares about something else, so you should repeat the whole process several times and improve all shortcomings.

Not all your users will convert

At the end of this article, I want to say that you can’t sell a product to everyone who decides to test your solution. In a world where we can buy or test something just with a few clicks and marketers shows us uncountable values of products, people sign up (or even sign for a subscription) just to see if a new solution will work for them. Unfortunately in most cases they won’t, because a product is not designed for them. Always remember who your product is dedicated to. There is no sense to sell a product to an audience which can’t get too much value from it.