A big furniture dealer in my area has a parking lot cookout now and then to move traffic into their store. I have to admit it worked on me at first - feed the kids for free and wear them out? Plus, seeing inside this expansive, trendy store was an experience in itself. What did I have to lose?
Software trials are kind of like these cookouts, only more complicated and far riskier if they disappoint. If you are served a cold hot dog, you can always make the kids a PB&J when they get home. But give a potential customer a poor trial experience and your sales team may not eat for a month.
If conversion rates from your software trial are less than spectacular, here are three things you can do now to move the numbers up:
1. Admit that trials aren’t for everyone (even if they are free).
Just like offering food to furniture shoppers (or thrifty moms), companies are offering up software trials left and right as a lead generation technique. There’s just one problem: not every visitor is ready to buy. And most know that signing up for a software trial (even the free ones) can be more hassle than help.
Remember the cookout? The hot dogs were in front of the store but the drinks were inside. Guess who else was inside? A mob of hungry furniture salespeople out to get as many names and numbers on their lead lists as possible. Beginning to sound familiar? Now instead of a free meal making for an easier Friday night and a chance to sit on a crumb-free couch, I was opening myself up to becoming a name and number, inviting interruption and potential aggravation by pushy salespeople and random calls from unknown area codes.
Here’s the bottom line: people are busy. And if they arrive at your site for other reasons than to make an immediate purchase, submitting their information in trade for poking around your software isn’t worth their time. And by contacting them too early, you risk annoying them or losing their interest altogether. So, the first step in increasing your software trial conversions is admitting you might have a problem. Software trials aren’t for everyone. But you know what everyone who comes to your site is looking for? Value.
2. Engage them with alternatives that speak to where they are right now.Getting good at this B2B marketing thing is a matter of understanding human nature. In order for them to trust you (heck in order for them to even like you) you have to make them feel safe, smart and special. There’s nothing safe about putting your company information into cyberspace—especially if you don’t trust the integrity of a company (or their website). Giving site visitors other, well-crafted content to look at—that doesn’t require any commitment on their part—speaks volumes about your health as a company. Prospects will make assumptions about the integrity of your software based on the spirit and strength of every piece of content you put out there. And by the way, you can’t fake it. Weak or “borrowed” content is just as bad as not having any alternative content at all.
Here are some ideas for alternative content you can offer (in place of or in addition to a software trial), that can be tailored to anyone—regardless of where they are in the funnel:
- Show how the software is used through a set of short videos (bonus points if you can create different videos to match different client requirements).
- Cherry-pick screenshots of business-critical features and present them in story form.
- Avoid demos altogether, opting for visual and written content that speaks to their unique business challenges and how your software addresses each. Here, referencing a well-crafted B2B buyer persona is critical.
At the end of the day, it’s always a win if the visitor walks away trusting you and feeling smarter (because you provided them high-value content they can’t get anywhere else) and feeling special (because you took the time to engage them with relative content).
3. Allow content to become part of an inspiring trial experience.It’s all about experience these days. I was motivated to become part of that hot dog eating, furniture-store-parking-lot-crowd by visions of clean, content children willingly going to bed after lounging around someone else’s living space. What I got was half-eaten hot dogs, hyped up children and a chorus of “what’s really for dinner?” when we got home.
Any content you offer alternative to the trial experience should be seen as a set of experiences building up to the one big experience all software companies hope for—the point of sale. Most importantly, there can’t be any disappointments at the end or anywhere in between. B2B inbound marketing agencies are especially good at this if you don’t have the right resources internally:
- Check to see that each piece of content can stand alone and as part of a complete content package.
- Provide a consistent brand experience visually and via the language you use.
- Be sure content is intuitively placed throughout your site and through other marketing mediums for the most exposure to the most relevant prospects.
- Build content experiences in such a way that each content touchpoint drives them further into the funnel and closer to conversion.
For more insights into software trial best practices and increasing conversions, SaaS marketers might want to check out this Saas Free Trial Conversion Rate Optimization Resource Guide.
As a leading inbound marketing agency specializing in helping busy marketers make the most of their online presence through inbound marketing tools and content marketing tactics, we’d love to help you too!