The goal of a software as a service companies’ customer acquisition funnels is not to get interested prospects using the freemium offering or free trial.  This is a step but it is not the goal.  The goal is to convert these prospects to paying customers and keep them.  Here are 6 tips for taking prospects through a free use of your solution to being successful, paying customers:

1. Plan the Upsell

What will cause a freemium user to want more?  What will cause a free trial user to upgrade early?   Walk through the experience from your prospects’ perspective.  Aim from the beginning for a smooth and natural transition from free trials to paid users.

2. Avoid Bait & Switch

Once you’ve drawn the free-paid line in the sand be very careful about moving it.  This changes the value system in your users’ minds and can increase paying customer churn in addition to confusing your free users.   Another reason to plan carefully.

3. Measure Usage

Technology for measuring user engagement has moved well beyond aggregated page views and funnels.  See which features are easily adopted, used the most and the path for ultimate customer success.  Map out critical user activity thresholds and optimize the product to encourage ideal customer behavior.

4. Engage The User

If you’re measuring usage on a per-user basis, you’ll spot all kinds of actionable insights.  It’s important to engage with users who aren’t fully utilizing your best features or who are not making sufficient progress in their adoption.  Take it a step further and send helpful video guides to nurture your free trial users along.  Your customer engagement will directly improve customer satisfaction and that means more conversions.

5. Personally Engage The Right Users

If you are a B2B company and your Customer Lifetime Value is high enough to warrant phone calls and personal conversation, you are going to want to prioritize Sales and Support time.  Reach out to the free trial users who have the best chance of converting to paying customers.  Their engagement with your free trial is one good indicator of this.

6. Optimize the Purchase Path

Users should have easy access to a purchase button which opens up a smooth purchase process.  As the end of the free trial approaches, remind them of the value the service provides and encourage them to buy.

The way to optimize free to paid conversion is to plan for it from the beginning, measure your users’ free use of your application in detail, engage with them based on their behavior, and optimize their path to purchase.