15 B2B SaaS Free Trial Best Practices To Boost Conversion Rates

15 B2B SaaS Free Trial Best Practices To Boost Conversion Rates cover

The success of your product, the future of your company, and your future as a PM depend on paying customers. However, it would be naive to expect customers to part with their hard-earned cash without first trying out the product.

As a SaaS product manager, how do you give users a chance to experience your product value? Do you prefer free plans or just free trials? Or are your trials paid?

Whichever model you choose for your product, there are things you can do to help your users convert. So why not look at our 15 B2B SaaS free trial best practices that will help you boost your conversion rates?


  • Free trials drive PLG by providing users with a chance to experience the product value.
  • Opt-out free trials require users to provide their credit card details at the beginning. This is not necessary for the opt-in free trials.
  • Both are different from paid trials where the users have to pay even during the trial. In contrast, freemium requires no payments whatsoever but offers limited functionality.
  • Freemium plans offer conversion rates of around 5%, while free trials of about 17%. The opt-out plans have considerably higher conversion rates than opt-in ones (around 60%), while paid trials outperform them all.

You can boost free trial conversions by following our SaaS free trial best practices:

  1. Use paid trials when your product requires lots of personalized support you can’t automate.
  2. Adjust the length of the trial period to give users just enough time to reach activation.
  3. Use gamification to drive user engagement during the free trial.
  4. Give users access to enough features to experience value but avoid overwhelming them with too many.
  5. Collect only the essential data at the sign-up and get the users inside the product as quickly as possible.
  6. Email confirmation adds unnecessary friction so wait with it until the user converts.
  7. Demo content allows users to experiment with complex products like analytics tools.
  8. Personalize minimum viable onboarding and product experience for each user segment based on the objectives.
  9. Use email campaigns to reengage inactive or churned users.
  10. Collect qualitative user feedback and use it to make product exploration easier.
  11. Track user behavior data to identify friction and help users reach activation stages with in-app guidance.
  12. Provide adequate customer support during the trial to help users activate and show off your commitment to serving them.
  13. Catalyze free trial conversions with product demos, especially if your product has a steep learning curve.
  14. Regularly remind users about the trial expiration to create a sense of urgency.
  • Want to see how Userpilot helps teams drive free trial conversions? Book a demo!

What is the role of a free trial in the PLG model?

In the PLG model, the growth of the product depends on the value it delivers. If the customers see the value, they are happy to pay for their subscriptions.

The catch is how to present the value of your product and incentivize users to buy without giving away too much for free.

That’s when the free trial comes in. It allows users to experience the value of the product and decide if it’s suitable for their needs.

Types of SaaS trial models

SaaS companies rely on a few basic models to showcase the value of their products to prospective customers.

Free trial vs paid trial

Free trial is the simplest model. Users sign up and get access to the full product functionality for a limited period of time. If they want to continue using the product, they have to start a paid subscription.

Sometimes, businesses often request the free trial user to supply their payment details when they sign up and charge them automatically at the end of the trial period.

Paid trials take this practice one step further. The user has to pay to try the product. This may not be the full price, but it deters time wasters and free riders.

Free trial vs freemium model

The freemium model is an alternative to free trials. They give users unlimited access to the product for free. Unlimited only timewise though. That’s because free plans come with limited functionality.

Compared to free trials, in the freemium model, it’s the time that is limited. Users can access all features but for a short period only.

Free trial vs freemium model vs demo.

SaaS reverse trial

Reverse trials are a hybrid of the free trial and freemium model.

They give users unlimited access to all features but for a limited period. When the trial period expires, the user goes back to the free plan and limited functionality.

By then, however, they hopefully have experienced enough of the product and have realized its value to justify subscribing to the premium plan.

SaaS free trial conversion rates benchmarks

Which of these models gives the best conversion rates?

According to the 2022 OpenView Product Benchmark Survey, freemium plans have a conversion rate of about 5%, while free trial conversion rates are pegged at around 17%. Useproof is a bit more optimistic and puts the benchmark at 25%.

The conversion rate for opt-out free trials is considerably higher. It can be as high as 60%.

Paid trials have the highest retention rates but at the cost of lower sign-up volumes.

free trial conversion rate
Free trial conversion rate.

15 SaaS free trial best practices to get more paying customers

Apart from the choice of your model, a lot depends also on what you do to drive conversions of your trial users into paid customers.

Use paid trials when your product requires high-touch customer success

Paid trials are better if it depends heavily on personalized customer support at any stage of the customer journey.

If you can’t automate support or the purchase process, a free trial will stretch your company resources. As a result, your paying users won’t be getting the right level of support. This can damage your reputation and isn’t sustainable in the long run.

Experiment with your free trial period

Should your trial be 7 days long? 14? Or maybe 30?

This depends on the product, its complexity, and how steep the learning curve is.

For example, for an email market product, a 7-day trial may be more than enough to set up a campaign, launch it and see the data. To learn using Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft Project, on the other hand, you may need 30 days.

To find the sweet spot, identify the activation points and the actions needed to reach them. Assess how long it will take for users to complete and see how it works. Use product usage data to adjust the length accordingly.

Adjust trial duration to user journey
Adjust trial duration to the user journey.

Try a gamified free trial model

If you still can’t decide on the right length of the trial period, let your users decide. However, don’t give them any extra time for free. Benefit from it!

That’s what ProdPad does. Its users get an initial free trial period as well as a chance to win extra trial days. How? They must complete onboarding tasks.

So the users get extra free time for engaging with activities that bring them closer to the activation point. The more of them they complete, the higher the chance they will convert to paid users.

Win-win! Brilliant!

Saas free trial best practices: use gamification
SaaS free trial best practices: use gamification.

Find the right balance of features included in your free trial

Finding the right balance of functionality to include in your free trial is the key to driving conversions.

If you don’t enable enough features, users won’t be able to experience the product value and will churn. If there are too many, the user experience will be complex and may increase the time to value.

What’s more, you want to give the user enough incentive to upgrade as quickly as possible. So consider limiting the usage of the product (e.g. the amount of data available) or adding additional barriers, like a watermark.

Don’t obsess over data – keep the signup form simple

During the sign-up process, ask users only for the essential data you need to create their free account.

Your priority at this stage should be enabling immediate access to the product so that users can start experiencing value as soon as possible. Asking unnecessary questions can add unnecessary friction and discourage them from engaging.

Of course, if you need more data to personalize their user experience, you can always collect it later on during the onboarding process.

frictionless signup flow
Design a frictionless signup flow to boost free trial conversions. Source: State of SaaS Onboarding 2022 Report.

Delay the email confirmation

Email confirmations are necessary for security reasons. You need to make sure your users are real.

However, it doesn’t mean you have to demand it immediately when users sign up. And you definitely shouldn’t make it mandatory when users sign up for the free trial.

Why does it matter?

Well, it creates friction and delays the moment when users start engaging with the product. If you make it compulsory at the beginning of the free trial, the moment may never come. The users will simply not bother.

To avoid it, first, let the users inside the product and get them to start engaging. Only then, use a small banner to give them a gentle nudge to confirm their email.

Use demo data for complex products

Demo content is invaluable when it comes to showcasing more complex products like analytics tools.

Such products need data for users to see if it works for them. However, importing data is a pain and most users won’t invest their time or energy in the trial stage. Demo data solves the problem.

Where do you get the data from?

You can get it from an open-source database, like the DataFairy, or create your own demo page.

Saas free trial best practices: use demo content to showcase complex products
SaaS free trial best practices: use demo content to showcase complex products.

Don’t skip the minimum viable onboarding process

To make sure your users experience the product value, provide them with a minimum viable onboarding experience.

What is it?

It’s a primary onboarding process that focuses on introducing the functionality that delivers the most value. It teaches users how to complete their jobs in the quickest possible way.

Minimum Viable Onboarding.

Always personalize the experience for different trial users

The key to successful onboarding and overall user experience is personalization.

To deliver a relevant and customized user experience, you first need to collect information about the user and their JTBDs. A modal like the one below will do nicely.

Saas free trial best practices: personalize experience based on JTBDs
SaaS free trial best practices: personalize experience based on JTBDs.

Next, send the user down the shortest possible path to complete their task, for example using a checklist.

Targeting users with relevant in-app experiences and guidance is easy if you segment them based on the data they input on the welcome screen.

User segment based on sign-up data created in Userpilot
User segment based on sign-up data created in Userpilot.

Implement an email marketing strategy for inactive users

Not all users will subscribe to your product during the trial. In fact, most of them won’t.

It doesn’t mean you’ve lost them though.

You can still reach out to such inactive users by email and try to win them back. To make emails relevant, leverage the data that you have collected during the trial.

For example, if you can see they didn’t engage with a feature that is relevant to their use case, target them with an email that highlights their benefits.

What if they’re moving on because you don’t have a feature? Send them an email as soon as you build it.

Saas free trial best practices: use email to engage inactive users
SaaS free trial best practices: use email to engage inactive users.

Collect feedback and optimize for customer success

Collecting user feedback is a simple yet effective way to gauge the free trial user experience.

Apart from showing you the level of satisfaction with the product, it can tell you how to further tweak the in-app product experience to make the product easier to use and drive more value.

Saas free trial best practices: use feedback to optimize user experience
SaaS free trial best practices: use feedback to optimize the user experience.

Prioritize qualitative over quantitative feedback and don’t rely exclusively on active feedback. Create a feedback widget and add it to the UI so that users can let you know what they think whenever they feel like it.

Track drop-off points and be proactive

Tracking product usage across different touchpoints in the user journey helps understand why users fail to reach the activation stage.

For example, if they keep dropping off at a certain point, they may be experiencing excessive friction.

Once you know this, you can use in-app messages to engage them and guide them back down the happy path before you lose them for good.

Saas free trial best practices: track product usage
SaaS free trial best practices: track product usage.

Don’t think free trial users don’t need support too

The fact the users aren’t paying for the product doesn’t mean they don’t need support. Actually, it’s just the opposite.

For starters, they will most likely need the support of one sort or another to successfully explore the product and experience its value.

What’s more, the trial is your chance to show your prospective customers what kind of user experience they can expect and customer support is a part of it.

Offer product demos during the free trials

A product demo at the beginning of a free trial can jump-start the onboarding process and flatten the learning curve. This is particularly true for complex products, whose value may be difficult to experience during the trial period.

In the demo, you can highlight the most relevant functionality and its benefits for particular users, and how to use it. They can then use the trial period to experiment with the product on their own in a more conscious way.

Combine free trials and demos.

Remind users of trial expiration

Reminding your users that the trial period is about to expire can create a sense of urgency. You can also leverage their FOMO by highlighting what they will lose when their trial ends.

This on its own may be enough to drive their conversion. Don’t stop there though!

Use the reminder modal to collect additional information on why the user has not upgraded yet. If you know that, you will be able to offer them alternatives, like a different plan.

Saas free trial best practices: trial expiration reminder
SaaS free trial best practices: trial expiration reminder.


Following our SaaS free trial best practices will help you increase your conversion rates, no matter if you use freemium, free trials, or paid trials.

If you’d like to see how you can use Userpilot to drive free trial conversions, book a Userpilot demo!

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