March 2, 2020

How to Use Content to Increase SaaS Free-Trial Conversion Rates


A pop-up ad here, a chatbot there, 16 email subscriptions you never even meant to sign up for seemingly everywhere… We’re all familiar with digital noise. As demand generation marketers, it’s our job to break through that noise by delivering the right message to the right person at the right time. 

To activate and engage your trial users and increase free-to-paid conversion rates, use the same principle: model your email and in-product communications off your target’s current place in their buying journey. How?

First, it’s important to know that a freemium funnel approach typically requires you to build two content strategies. (See  this post for more on why and how.) With that information in mind, here are some places in the free-trial user buyer’s journey where content can effectively create movement and momentum.

The Role of Content in Boosting Free Trial Conversion Rates

Free-trial signup

The first conversion that happens in a free trial is visitor-to-free trial signup. Content serves an important purpose here, though it won’t be acting as the gated offer someone receives when they fill out a form on your landing page. (The offer, of course, will be the trial of the product.) Instead of “being” the offer, the content of your landing page should describe two things: both the product itself and the trial of it. 

You’ll want to create a description of the product that’s geared toward specific persona targets and keywords. The content should intrigue the visitor and help them understand the value in the trial. 

It should also set the stage for what to expect when entering the trial. Will the visitor be taken directly to the free trial? Will they receive an email with instructions on how to finish setting the trial up? Make sure your landing page provides the necessary information required for your prospect to gain both interest in the product and trust that your company will do what it says it will do.

Free-trial activation

Once a trial has started, activation is the name of the game. The goal is to illustrate your value proposition even more clearly and to direct and encourage the user to begin to use the most valuable and "sticky" features of your product. This usage can also be referred to as a common conversion activity.

There are a few key ways that content can be used in this setting. Start with a welcome email, which includes clear instructions on how to start using your product. In addition to directing the reader toward a conversion activity, this message is an opportunity to include links to a resource center and support documentation, as well as to provide additional information that might be valuable to your prospect at this stage. And if you just happen to have a content offer that helps illustrate the value of your key activation feature, then all the better.

Download our Free-Trial Conversion Rate Template to see the impact that your  free-trial marketing efforts have on your customers 

In-trial & post-trial engagement

Once a user has been activated, you want to make sure they keep coming back. Autoresponder and calling campaigns within a trial are excellent tools for engaging with your prospects and continuing to educate them on both their problems and the product features that solve them. 

Beyond this, content can be incredibly effective at converting customers over time. Even if a 14-day trial ends and the prospect hasn't made a purchase, all is not lost! Continue to engage your prospect with relevant content to reinforce the value they saw from your free trial.

Turning trial users into evangelists

Great content gets shared, and referrals and evangelism are two of the most effective ways to grow a SaaS business. Jason Lemkin has argued that first-order lifetime value can underestimate true revenue generated by customers by 50–100 percent. By publishing great content and using it to engage your contact database consistently, you can increase growth via word-of-mouth and create revenue streams from renewals and additional purchases, while also decreasing customer-acquisition cost.

Content as a customer-success tool

You aren’t done producing content just because you netted some paid customers. Content can still be used to engage with users as a customer-success tool to help reduce churn and encourage up-sells and cross-sells.

Don't just use content to help drive leads at the top of the funnel; it’s too important and expensive an investment for you to do anything less than repurpose and reuse it throughout your funnel. 

Think about how each piece of content you create might also be used to engage a user in a blog post, a free-trial welcome email and on social media. Looking at the entire ecosystem, not just the single asset, will open up additional opportunities to drive growth.

Offering a free trial is a common customer-acquisition tactic, and a great way to provide value to your potential customers early in the buying process. But, you need a way to monitor your results and ensure that you're extracting value long-term. Are you calculating results yet?

free trial and cohort analysis template

Elizaveta Shkurina

Sr Creative Strategist specializing in B2B brand creation, sales enablement, and SaaS demand generation. With 8 years of experience, she excels in driving ROI and revenue-driven KPIs through collaborative innovation.


Ready to jumpstart your acquisition, retention and expansion efforts?

Request Assessment