How to increase free-to-paid conversions with great UX

SaaS: How to increase free-to-paid conversions with great UX

SaaSUser Experience
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“How the heck do I convert more free-to-paid clients?”

If this is the SaaS question you find most challenging to answer, join us as we dive into how you can increase paid plan conversions with better UX design.

Let’s start by setting the scene.

What are free-to-paid conversions, and is yours good enough?

A free-to-paid conversion is when a user on a free trial or plan signs up for a premium subscription, which they pay for monthly or annually.

There are several types of free trials:

  • Time-based trial – This free trial allows users to access the full product for a limited period, usually 14 or 30 days. It is an excellent way to give just a taste of the product and its features and can effectively convert leads to paying customers.
  • Feature-based trial – A feature-based trial allows users to access a limited set of features or functionality within the product. This type of trial can be helpful for products with complex or advanced features that require some user learning.
  • Limited usage trial – In a limited usage trial, a user can use the product up to a specific limit, such as a limited number of actions or data. It isn’t seen often but can be effective for products with high usage costs or limits, such as data analytics tools.
  • Freemium model – A freemium model offers a limited version of the product for free, with additional features or functionality available to paid users. This model can be effective for products with a wide range of users, as it allows users to experience the product before committing to a paid version.
  • Hybrid model – This type of free trial combines two or more of the above. For example, a hybrid model might offer a limited usage trial for a specific time, followed by a freemium model for ongoing use.

According to Maxio, 75% of SaaS companies offer a free trial, and typical conversion rates vary based on the optimisation of the product, industry and, of course, which type of trial you offer. For example, if you offer a 30-day trial, you may have a lower conversion rate than a 14-day trial, but you need to balance that by looking at the complexity of your product. A more feature-heavy product would need more time for your user to explore.

Here’s how to work out your SaaS free trial conversion rate:

SaaS free trial conversion rate = # of free trials converted within a given timeframe / # of all free trials within that same period.

In our experience, a well-designed product with a targeted sales funnel can convert at a rate of 25-50%. However, a product that isn’t optimised will likely convert at far lower rates. Some as little as 1-5%.

This is why your UX design matters!

Here are some ideas to get you thinking about achieving more conversion wins.


9 ways to increase free-to-paid conversions with great UX

If you want to scale your monthly recurring revenue (MRR), improving your free-to-paid conversion rate is essential. The truth is, it should be easy to do because your users are right there in your product, seeing what it can do – you just need to get them to whip out their payment card. So why does it feel like you are pulling teeth?

Here’s a list of ideas to help you think about what you need to do to help your SaaS users submit those all-important payment details

  1. Make upgrading to a paid plan easy – Ensure the upgrade process is straightforward and intuitive. Use clear language and provide helpful guidance along the way. We’ve written a guide called “8 reasons why your SaaS sign-ups are low (and how to fix it)” – You can use this information to approach your free-to-paid conversions.
  2. Optimise your pricing page and plan comparison chart – The pricing page is critical to the conversion funnel. Our top tip is to remember to make your comparison chart between paid plans simple and visually compelling. Your user wants a quick idea of where their favourite features roll out across your plans and what value they get for their money. Use persuasive language and design elements, such as social proof, to encourage users to upgrade.
  3. Remove friction during the free trial – Analyse your free trial user data and support tickets to work out where your user is struggling in your app. Remove anything that causes frustration. At the same time, look at where your users are converting in the free trial stage. What lessons can you learn from this and apply elsewhere?
  4. Compare your user flow to your customer journey map to prompt upgrades at the right time – Your SaaS UX design is a continuously developing element of your product. It changes as you learn more about your user and your user base evolves. The best way to understand if your paid plan sign-up prompts are in the right places (and have the right context) is to compare your existing user flow with your updated customer journey map. Remember prompting for paid plan conversions in your product is crucial, but it’s only effective if your user is in a “ready” state.
  5. Provide personalised recommendations as prompts – Provide personalised recommendations and suggestions to users based on their usage patterns and behaviour. This helps users discover new features and benefits from upgrading to a paid plan.
  6. Make sure your features still match user needs – This sounds like something you think about at the beginning of the SaaS design process. Still, as your users evolve, it’s important to consider if older features need updating or replacing. Remember, your user is right there in your app – how it works for them is a big factor in how they feel about paying for it!
  7. Lower your upgrade churn rates – Users churn for various reasons and at various times, including the upgrade process. While you might not lose a user altogether, it remains a missed opportunity to make money from their use of your product. Read our guide, “How to reduce your SaaS churn rate through better UX design”, for help.
  8. Improve sales follow-up – In the B2B space, SaaS businesses will use a sales follow-up method to increase paid conversions. How does UX design help with that? You can match user actions to internal automation triggers throughout your free trial period. Remember, while we mostly think of UX design as a user-facing process, we don’t want to overlook important in-house processes that may benefit from a streamlined UX approach. An example is how we approached our welcome dashboard to make our client’s web access easier, so they can serve their users better.
  9. Stop giving too much away in your freemium model – While you want your user to experience how awesome your app is, there is a point at which offering too much in a freemium model can be bad for business. Ask yourself – what value does your user get by paying monthly for your product?


Let Strafe Creative help you increase free-to-paid conversions

Helping our clients improve their conversion and retention rates is our passion. After all, what’s the point of coming up with a winning SaaS idea if you can’t attract users to help solve their problems? Think about it – No one will remember the app that “could have been”; they’ll only remember the app that “does”.

This is where we come in. At Strafe Creative, we put your user front and centre, helping you understand precisely where to prime your app so that paid plan prompts hit the mark. Optimising your app in this process also increases long-term retention rates, so it’s a win-win!

Is it time to talk to the experts about updating your UX to increase free-to-paid conversions? Drop your project details into our Project Planner below, and let our expert team do their thing!

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