Onboarding – you don’t hear an awful lot about it.
I guess it’s not “sexy” enough.
But let me tell you – there’s nothing sexier in business than increasing the number of people who go from trying your product to becoming paying customers. Nothing.
It’s a huge, overlooked metric/process and it’s time someone started talking about it.
Starting with a case study.
A case study of how we increased our trial to paid conversions from 25% to 50% (in one month).
As you can see, we were having extreme issues with our trial to paid conversion rates plummeting. Something had to be done, so we did it.
And no, this wasn’t a one off correct, we’re already seeing it hold steady in the following month.
Now, most of what we did is extremely actionable improvements that you can implement too.
So let’s dive in!
Integrating With Intercom.io
I want to start off with some extremely specific, which anyone with a digital application can take advantage of.
Integrating with Intercom.
For those of you who don’t know – intercom is a customer analytics app, and a pretty darn good one at that.
I had been on their observe package for about two months, which is free and provides awesome insights around your customers such as sessions, event tracking, demographic data, etc.
That alone is worth signing up for to see.
But I was missing one thing – the ability to engage with customers. So naturally, I signed up for their engage package.
And that changed everything.
There are two major components of the Engage package.
- A live chat in the app itself
- Triggered messages based on user events
The first one is exactly what it sounds like – users can chat with us from in the app. Here’s what it looks like, in the bottom right:
When you click on it, you can see old conversations:
And when you click on those, they look like this:
The ability to chat with our users while they’re in the app has been huge.
Now, just to be completely upfront – it’s a lot of work. Don’t attempt this if you don’t have solid customer support.
You do not need to be on 24/7 as the chat is stored and when you answer the user is alerted in the app and via email. That said, people like answers quickly and the first few days we had it on my inbox was literally blowing up.
The next step in this is essentially inviting users to chat through triggered messages.
This is clutch because the best time to communicate with a user is when they’re in the moment. If you want to ask someone how a specific feature worked, you want to do it immediately after they’ve used that feature.
Now, for example, after someone runs their first search, we shoot them a triggered message that looks like this:
You can see our other messages here. They’re all automatic based on the user’s profile and behavior.
There are all different kinds of messages and styles, but that one get’s a 15% reply rate and allows us to supercede bad experiences.
We have an answer for that, but before intercom no customer would have known that (unless they figured it out for themselves).
Without a doubt, integrating with Intercom and having triggered messages has been one of our biggest wins.
Taking Personal Calls On Sohelpful
The stronger people’s’ relationship to you, the stronger their relationship is to the product.
We have customers who likely are only customers with us because they know me and like me.
In the online world, the easiest way to do this is through a phone conversation.
We have a lot of call to actions at different stages in our funnel to get people to schedule calls with us, such as in the welcome email, as well as in the application itself.
Here’s our login screen:
As you can see, we put an offer to schedule a call front and center. It’s there, every time a user logs in.
You would think that most people ignore this, and while I suppose the majority do, it still results in a ton of calls.
We have multiple calls daily with users.
For us, it’s not just about onboarding, but customer development. We can talk with our users and find out what they like about the application and what they don’t.
For the user, it’s a chance for them to get advice from us on how they should be using the tool. There’s a ton of different things you can do with NinjaOutreach, but not everything is a good fit for each kind of campaign/business.
By talking with them on the phone, we can steer them in the right direction early on and help them get the most value out of the product with the least friction.
Creating Helpful, Educational Materials
Customer success is not just about building a great product, but about empowering them with the necessary information to use it to their advantage.
This is particularly true with software. The hardest part is getting the users to understand how they can get value out of the tool.
Naturally, you have to create resources for them. This is what knowledge bases are for, and prior to this, we had a really basic one.
Eventually, we signed up with FreshDesk and put together a really comprehensive knowledge base.
More importantly, we didn’t just focus on features but on actual value add things you can do.
We have nearly twenty tutorials from how to find affiliates to how to get featured on interviews and podcasts.
Of course, customers have access to this whenever they want, but we can also use it as part of our support when the timing is right:
Improving The Product
The most direct way to increase trial to paid conversions (but not the easiest), is to improve the product.
A better product leads to more people purchasing it – simple, right?
We have a long stretch where the product still needed a lot of work, but in the last few weeks it’s really hit some critical milestones.
We came out with features that users had been asking for for months.
Developing the product makes sense – what’s tricky is know how you should develop the product.
Our main approach to this has been two-fold:
- Pay attention to the things users are asking for.
- Analyze accounts that didn’t convert, and try to figure out what happened.
The first one is simply good paper tracking in regards to customer support. Whenever someone wrote a comment to us like this:
We wrote it down and prioritized it.
More and more it became clear what people wanted and we simply prioritized those things highly.
The second is a bit trickier and requires investigation, and for this, I refer back to Intercom.
Intercom has event tracking, meaning you can create events in their system related to features in your application, and as users do those events it gets noted in their profile.
My approach to this has been to look at users who didn’t convert, see what events they did (or didn’t do), and then try to see if there was a way we could solve this in the app itself.
For example, often I would see that people were running searches in a suboptimal way.
Naturally, this is fairly specific to our product and how it operates. The short answer is, however, that I can see from the searches that they are running that there are inefficiencies with how we do things.
People need better filters, tags, and overall direction on how to get the results they wanted:
So we added them, as well as created a guide filled with best practices for using the search:
I could go on and on about the little tweaks we made to help users use the product correctly, without having to talk to us, but the point is we listened to what they said and watched what they were doing, and that’s how we prioritized development.
How You Can Do This In Your Business
Whether or not these are the specific tactics you need to take depends on your business and your customers.
However, what is almost universally the case is that to improve trial to paid conversions you need to:
- Understand how your customers are using the product, and specifically focus on those that are not converting.
- Talk with your customers to provide personal support, whether it’s on the phone or a live chat.
- Prioritize development around the features that people who are canceling are asking for.
If you’re struggling in this area – take these steps now.
What other ideas do you have to increase trial to paid conversions?
About the author:
David Schneider is the cofounder of NinjaOutreach, an innovative new Blogger Outreach software for marketers. He writes about business and entrepreneurship at SelfMadeBusinessman, and enjoys travel. David no longer runs the mentioned platforms and more information about him can be found at DaveSchneider.me.
Tom Treanor is the founder of the Right Mix Marketing blog. He’s the author of the Search Engine Boot Camp, the co-author of Online Business Productivity, and regularly speaks at industry and corporate events. His writing has been featured on the Content Marketing Institute, Social Media Examiner, Copyblogger and other leading industry blogs.