How to increase trial-to-paid conversion rates 

August 17, 2021
Fred Melanson
10 min
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Looking to increase your trial to paid conversion rates?

It takes more than a long, boring product tour to nudge users to take action and experience the value your product offers.

No value means no reason to convert.

To overcome this, you should look into personalizing your in-app experiences and that's exactly what I'm going to cover in this article.

1.6 Ways to Personalize In-app Experiences and Increase Trial-to-paid Conversion Rates

2.Tip #1: Replace Empty States with Personalized Content

3.Tip #2: Segment Audience Using Welcome Screens

4.Tip #3: Personalize the Onboarding Path with In-app Checklists

5.Tip #4: Celebrate Milestones and Motivate Users

6.Tip #5: Use Microsurveys and Act on Feedback From Users

7.Tip #6: Use Gamification to Engage Users In-app


6 Ways to Personalize In-app Experiences and Increase Trial-to-paid Conversion Rates 👇

But first, let's clarify what a conversion rate is. Just to make sure we're on the same page.

What does the trial to paid conversion rate mean?

The trial to paid conversion rate is a SaaS metric that tracks the percentage of users that converted to a paid account after signing up for a free trial account.

It's an important metric for product-led companies as it indicates if your product generates enough value for users in order for them to want to pay for it monthly.

And since free trials are how you acquire customers, it's important to track trial to paid conversion rates and make sure your CAC stays lower than your LTV.

How to calculate your free trial conversion rate

Calculating trial to paid conversion rate is quite straightforward: you need to divide the number of free trials that converted in a given period (usually 30 days) by the number of free trial users within the same period, then multiply the result by 100 to get a percentage.

Main reasons for low trial-to-paid conversion rates

How can you increase trial-to-paid conversion rate using in-app personalization?

Personalization is more than simply adding your user's name when communicating with them. This applies to both email or in-app messaging.

Good personalization is about making the user think and feel that each message and in-app experience they engage with was build and designed specifically for them.

In the end, users are people. And they want to be understood and respected.

Personalizing the onboarding experience for each of them shows that you truly care about them succeeding. Your goal is to show them how while respecting their time instead of trying to engage them in experiences that are not relevant to them.

Let look at seven tactics you can implement right away and personalize the onboarding experience for your users.

#1 - Replace Empty States with Personalized Content

Before you can start personalizing any in-app experience for your users you need to make sure you have a user that comes back after they log in for the first time.

This means you need to start personalization from the very beginning. Otherwise, you are simply scaring users aways with an empty dashboard and no instructions.

Ever heard of the fear of the white canvas? Yes, it's a real thing.

When we see an empty screen just after logging into an app for the first time we don’t really know where to begin. Which buttons to click or how to even start using the app.

So we freeze and do nothing.

Users are signing up for trials to try and get value by using your product and to get them there faster and reduce time to value, you should always replace empty states with personalized content.

It's not only a way to greet users and make them feel welcomed but it also shows them where to start and gets them to experience the value of your product faster.

No value means no returning to the app and no conversion to paid happening.

Here's a great example of how Todoist showcases their product positioning and decreases time to value with personalized content instead of empty space.

They add instructions on how to get started but also give you a look and feel of the experience of using their app.

Todoist screenshot

If you want to take things a step further, collect relevant user information by designing a personalized signup flow that walks the user through a few key steps of using your app.

This gives you enough data about who your users are and allows you to personalize the empty state screen with relevant content.

Check out how Asana does it, asking one question at a time.

Asana tell us about yourself screenshot

It might seem like eight questions is a lot but the end result is a fully personalized dashboard that replaced the scaring empty space.

Not only they've collected relevant information about the user, but you also get to experience the value of the product faster.

It's a win-win situation.

Asana board screenshot

#2 - Segment Audience Using Welcome Screens

Some SaaS companies collect information about their users during the signup flow and personalize the first login experience.

But what if your product is a bit too complex to be able to create something that's engaging and also offers value at the same time?

Well, there's one simple way: welcome screens.

These tiny but mighty little in-app modals are a great way to:


Let's check out an example from Postfity, a social media scheduling tool.

Postify welcome message

What's great about Postfity's welcome screen is that it reiterates what the product does and quickly asks the user to self-identify.

Having this relevant user data allows them to create separate personalized onboarding paths for each persona type guiding users to engage with the parts of the product that are most relevant for each use case.

You can easily create an in-app welcome screen like this with no-code using a product adoption tool like Userpilot.

#3 - Personalize the Onboarding Path with In-app Checklists

So you've created a welcome screen and collected data.

Now you have multiple user segments, each representing one type of user persona.

Now what?

To personalize the onboarding path for each user segment you can use in-app checklists meant to drive users on their journey to the activation point.

You know, the point where they get to experience the AHA moment in your product and have a reason to pay for an upgrade to a paid account. That very important point that has a big influence on whether your users convert or churn.

To build an onboarding checklist that works, focus on what are the key actions each user segment should perform once they've signed up in order to understand how your product helps them get the job done.

Everything else can wait. Your goal is to personalize their onboarding experience and get them to the activation point as quickly as possible.

Here's a great checklist example from Loom, the screen recording tool. It's great because it gives the user short and simple tasks to perform so they don't get overwhelmed.

To make it more engaging you can also add gamification elements such as progress bars or incentives. (we'll cover this in a bit)

Checklist screenshot

#4 - Celebrate Milestones and Motivate Users

We all love to celebrate achievement. It gives us a feeling of accomplishment and an overall good feeling mood.

So what's a better way to motivate users to engage with your product than celebrating milestones with them. In-app, right there and then.

Milestone celebrations are also a gamification element and they work because we all are more inclined to repeat actions that drove success. And a celebration is simply a confirmation that success was achieved. If that's not enough reason to upgrade to a paid account I don't know what is.

Not to mention it adds a bit of personality to your product that makes using it more enjoyable.

Asana's task completion in-app celebration has it all. Fun, personality, and engagement, all within one little flying unicorn.

Would you want to keep using their product and complete tasks after seeing it?

I know I would.

Asana flying unicorn gif

And if flying unicorns are not your flavor, you should at least use an in-app modal and acknowledge the achievement and use the opportunity to guide the users towards what's next. You can mix this with your onboarding checklist, for example.

If we look back at Loom's checklist, let's say a user finished recording a video but still needs to share it with someone, otherwise, they would not have fully experienced the product. So you can easily show them a modal celebrating success and telling them what's next.

Kontentino, a social media tool, does exactly that.

Kontentino screenshot

#5 - Use Microsurveys and Act on Feedback From Users

What better way to personalize in-app experiences than giving users exactly what they ask for?

In-app micro surveys play a big part in this.

They allow you to collect user feedback data at different points during the trial and adjust the user experience based on it.

During the trial

Who says that feedback can only be collected from paying customers is wrong. User data is your biggest asset in personalizing the user experience and helping them reach their goals by using your product.

Don't be afraid to check the pulse of your users a few days after they've started the trial.

Just make sure to not send the same message to active vs inactive users. Using product usage data you can identify users who engaged with your product and the ones that got stuck and:

Check how Hubspot uses a satisfaction survey during its onboarding process.

Hubspot survey

Before trial ends

Using the feedback collected above and crossreferencing it to product usage data, you can identify satisfied users that are simply on the fence.

You should try and understand what's stopping them from upgrading to a paid account and collect enough data to be able to personalize their experience for the remainder of the trial (or offer them an extension) and convince them to take action.

Trial ending experience in userpilot

After trial ended

If your users reach the end of the trial and don't convert, you can at least collect some feedback from them and use the insights to improve your product and in-app experience for future trial users.

Your goal should be to find out why they decided to not stick around.

#6 - Use Gamification to Engage Users In-app

I've already mentioned progress bars and celebrations and how these are a great way to drive engagement and bring users closer to converting to paid accounts.

But that's not all.

By gamifying the user onboarding experience you introduce game-specific elements and not only make the in-app experience more engaging but also more personalized.

This, in turn, drives in-app engagement and repeated usage of your product that increases the chances of users converting to paid.

Combining a short trial with an in-app gamified checklist incentivized Prodpad users to take action and get more value from the app, generating in return an increase in their trial to paid conversion rates. Read all about it here.

Extend your trial techniques

#7 - Bonus 🎉 : Use contextual emails to bring users back into the app

I've covered a lot of tactics that can be applied inside the app to personalize user experience using data.

But for those to work, you need to make sure the users log into the app first.

It's critical that you offer them the right reason to do so, otherwise all of your efforts to create engaging experiences would have been for nothing.

This is why you need to combine in-app experiences with contextual email automation.

The keyword here is contextual.

Sending a bunch of time-based triggered emails simply doesn't do it.

It shows that you do not care or didn't bother to at least understand how you could help the user achieve success.

Check this email from contextual email

You should already know what the user ''managed to discover'' and send more relevant emails.

If a user that hasn't logged in once after creating an account clearly hasn't ''discovered'' anything and this email would be irrelevant for them.

Same as it would be for a user who did try new features and got the credit.

Will this email help bring either of the two users described above back into the app?

Probably not.

Using product usage data you can set automated emails and personalize each message so that your email looks relevant to the user's stage in the journey and actually gives them a reason to continue using the app.

You can also use Bliinx's new product-led sales feature to nudge sales reps when free users hit certain levels in your product that are worth engaging them on.

Bliinx product led sales notifications

It helps a customer-facing team to:

Wrapping it up

There you have it.

I hope by now you understand the role personalization plays when it comes to increasing your trial to paid conversion rates.

It's not just adding a name, it's personalizing the entire user experience based on user data.

It might sound complicated but it's not.

Using a tool like Userpilot, you can easily trigger in-app experiences based on user data and drive trial to paid conversions up.

And using Bliinx, you can help your sales reps close and retain more revenue by uncovering actionable product sales insights.

Love those tips?

Have a wonderful day :)

Fred from Bliinx & Adina from Userpilot