Growth Marketing

6 Tips for a Fantastic Free to Paid Conversion Strategy

Learn how to create a kick-ass free to paid conversion strategy using six awesome tips and the perfect tool.
October 5, 2022
min read

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Getting people to sign up for your free trial is the easy part. 

After all, who doesn’t love free stuff, right?

After all, who doesn’t love free stuff, right?

But if you want to get any return on your investment, you need to find a way to convert free users into paying customers!

Fortunately, getting customers to sign up is already half the battle won.

To help you reach the finish line, we’ll cover six kick-ass tips to help you create the perfect free to paid conversion strategy and highlight why you should offer a free trial in the first place.

Let’s go!

Creating the Perfect Free to Paid Conversion Strategy: 6 Awesome Tips

Here are six kick-ass conversion rate optimization tips:

1. Choose the Right SaaS Free Trial Model

Before you can start driving trial conversions, you need to choose a suitable customer acquisition model for your SaaS company. The model you select will determine what kind of customers you attract and influence your free trial conversion rate.

Here are four popular customer acquisition models: 

A. Freemium

Give users permanent, free access to a restricted version of your SaaS product. This model works best for tools with paid features that have a lot of additional value. 

The average conversion rate for freemium models is 2–5%. 

B. Opt-in

Give users full access for a limited time – without taking their credit card information. Works for companies in highly competitive industries or innovative tools where the value proposition needs to be experienced before people can commit. 

A good conversion rate benchmark for opt-in trials is 25%.

C. Opt-out

Users must share credit card information to fully access your product for the trial period. Works best for trustworthy, established companies or feature-rich products with a clear edge over competitors. 

A good conversion rate benchmark for opt-in trials is 60%.

D. Hybrid

Combines the above models and offers users complete feature access for a specified period. This way, the customer gets a taste of your product’s juiciest features.


Once the trial period ends, customers will lose access to the paid features but can still rely on the freemium version. Companies that use this model usually have alternative ways (through advertising and data collection) to make money from SaaS free trial signups.

2. Leverage Your Most Valuable Features

Ensure your product manager identifies the features every paid user adores and offer them in your free trial. For example, if you wanted to get Grogu to become a paying customer, all you’d have to do is offer him something he loves – frogs!

Leverage Your Most Valuable Features

But don’t give free users all the features they’d ever need during the trial period. You should have some limitations in place, so the free user has a reason to become a paid user.

Here are three ways you can leverage your most valuable features:

  • Create feature restrictions:
    Let every potential customer try as many features as possible at no cost, but lock the most essential ones. This includes features that could help them find buyers, collect payments, start campaigns, and more. 
  • Limit time frames:
    You could also let free users use your product’s premium features but limit the time frame. This way, they can experience the value of the paid subscription​​ and understand what they’ll miss out on!
  • Include your company’s branding:
    Having another company’s branding on your work can make it look unprofessional. Examples are reports for client reporting tools or pop-ups for lead capture tools. Your logo’s watermark on essential free features might encourage users to upgrade to a paid plan. 

Alternatively, if they share anything from your SaaS product while on the free plan, you get some additional credibility and publicity via social proof!

3. Create a Great Onboarding Experience

A fantastic onboarding process led by a customer success team can help educate every potential customer about your product. But ensure the process doesn’t take too much time or require tons of information from the prospective customer. 

For example, through lifecycle marketing, tooltips, onboarding checklists, and product tours, you can inform users about your most valuable features and improve user experience.

Checklists are handy since they help every prospective customer make progress and realize immediate value. This makes it less likely for the active user to opt-out of your product and repeat similar steps with a competing tool. 

Providing immediate benefits will encourage the active user to maintain their progress and complete the checklist.

Too much friction, like a lengthy demo call with a customer success manager, can frustrate a new user and increase time to value. Additionally, complicated onboarding processes can make users feel your product is not as great as competing tools. 

4. Keep in Touch with Free Trial Users

Ever wish you could just communicate with a free user via thoughts?

grogu and I can feel each others thoughts.gif

Unfortunately, we’re not all Jedi!

But you can consistently reach out to free trial users via different channels.

Your customer success team should reach out to these product-qualified leads (PQLs) when they reach a paywall. Or when there’s an opportunity to experience a new feature or when the user is stuck. 

Having your team reach out to the right customers at the right time is essential for customer retention.

Picture Grogu using The Force to protect Mando whenever he needs it!

Your marketing teams should also reach out to PQLs via in-product carousels, banners, and personalized emails. Use these channels to inform trial users about upcoming releases, new features, helpful resources, use cases, and more.

You can also use self-service chatbots to nurture and upsell free trial users. Bots can help trial users set up their accounts, provide quick answers and solutions, and connect them to sales reps when they’re ready to convert. 

5. Remind Users It’s Super Easy to Upgrade and Downgrade

You can encourage a new user to become a paying customer by making it easy for them to upgrade!

You can do this by:

  • Sending every free trial user in-product notifications highlighting the perks of a paid account.
  • Including call-to-actions in onboarding videos, support messages, and personalized marketing emails
  • Notifying users when their free trial is about to end. 

These actions will remind trial users that upgrading is definitely the way!

this is the way.gif

It’s also crucial to help trial users easily switch from free to paid plans.

To do this, try creating a paid plan account from scratch to experience the process. 

Many concepts look simple and frictionless on paper. But in practice, they can be complicated and may require a few support tickets and lengthy email threads to resolve!

You should also let users downgrade from the paid subscription to a free plan without hassle. Making it easier to back out in the future makes users far more comfortable about taking the risk of upgrading.

6. Keep an Eye on the Most Qualified Leads

Every free trial user isn’t a high-quality lead. 

Many people register for free offerings with little intention of making a purchase. Instead, they’re looking to educate themselves and prepare for the buying process in the future. 

So, how do you identify trial users ready to make a purchase right now?

Say hello to Toplyne!

hello there!.gif

Toplyne is a plug-and-play platform that enables SaaS companies to identify and target every free user ready to become a paying customer.

Here’s What You Can Do with Toplyne:

  • Integrate Toplyne with your existing product analytics tools like Amplitude and Mixpanel to find high-intent trial users. And manage your sales workflow with ease by integrating Toplyne with sales tools like HubSpot, Salesforce, Pipedrive, and more. 
data sources
  • Categorize a user as a specific target persona, including a new promising user, new user, or user that needs attention, hibernating user, and more.
Categorize a user as a specific target persona, including a new promising user, new user, or user that needs attention, hibernating user, and more
  • AB test and rapidly deploy various innovative go-to-market motions (GTM) to boost your customer retention and free trial conversion rate. 
AB test and rapidly deploy various innovative go-to-market motions (GTM) to boost your customer retention and free trial conversion rate.
  • Send your PQLs to your chosen sales channel to keep your sales team in the loop and help them close deals. 
Send your PQLs to your chosen sales channel to keep your sales team in the loop and help them close deals.
  • Empower every free user to solve their issues independently and drive self-serve trial conversions through in-product nudges and chatbots.

Great, you’ve got all the tips and tricks you need for conversion rate optimization!

Now, let’s find out how your SaaS company can benefit from giving away your product for free 🤔. 

So, Finally, Is a Free Trial Really Free?

A free trial isn’t exactly free. And while money isn’t exchanged during a free trial, you and your free trial user get something else in return – value and insight. 

What do we mean?

Think about Mando and Grogu’s relationship. While Mando doesn’t get the Imperial Credits, he does get to develop a fantastic bond with Grogu and experience his value.

you`re very special, kid

When it comes to SaaS free trials, the customer gets to use your product while you temporarily provide your product infrastructure to them. 

This way, the customer can experience the value of your product and develop a relationship with your brand. At the same time, you get crucial insights into their behavior, usage trends, and more. 

In other words, free trials give you intel on how much value your product delivers to users and what features provide the most value. Simultaneously, a free trial user gets a ‘test drive’ and can determine the viability and suitability of your product for their needs. 

Find Your Most Valuable Free Users with Toplyne! 

The best free to paid conversion strategies leverage a product’s most-loved features and provide free users with a seamless user experience.

Remember to consistently reach out to free users and remind them that your paid plan is just a click away!

But are those users ever going to click that shiny upgrade button?

You can get the answer to that and more by using Toplyne!

Sign up for Toplyne for free today to identify your most promising free users and get them to press that upgrade button!

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