Recipe: Increase Trial Conversion Rate

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Why increase trial conversion rate?

Of the many ways to grow a software business, few are as scalable as a free trial.  

A trial is only as valuable as the paid customers it generates, so to get more from your trial you need to either get more people to try your product or increase the rate at which trial users convert to customers. This document will help you do the latter.

In addition to the obvious benefit of gaining more paid customers increasing your trial conversion rate implies that new users are finding value faster, which tends to correspond to better customer sentiment and higher retention.

Measure your baseline

The first step towards improving anything is understanding the current state. To do this with a software trial, you need data showing which trials convert and which churn.

In Pendo, add four metadata fields of type “Date” to the Account:

  1. “Trial start”
  2. “Trial end”
  3. “Trial converted” 
  4. “Trial churned”

The first stores the day an account begins its trial, the second stores the day the trial will expire, and the final two store the day an account converts or stops using your product. Only one or zero of these final two fields should have a value, never both.

Note: if you already have some or all of this data in your Salesforce instance, you can pull it into Pendo with the Salesforce Integration. If this data lives somewhere else, you can create Custom Metadata fields and populate them with the API.

After updating your snippet to include these fields and letting data accrete for a period of time, create a few segments to be used across Pendo:


Current Trial Accounts

“Trial start” NOT empty AND “Trial converted” empty AND “Trial churned” empty


Current Trial Accounts - 2nd day

“Trial start” NOT WITHIN LAST 1 days AND “Trial start” WITHIN LAST 2 days


Current Trial Accounts < 1 Week Left

“Trial end” WITHIN NEXT 7 days


Converted Trial Accounts

“Trial converted” NOT empty


Converted Trial Accounts {date 1}-{date2}

“Trial converted” BETWEEN {date 1} and {date 2}


Churned Trial Accounts

“Trial churned” NOT empty


Churned Trial Accounts {date 1}-{date2}

“Trial churned” BETWEEN {date 1} and {date 2}


We’ll use these segments to scope down analytics data and target in-app guidance.

Find behavior that predicts conversion

Pendo’s analytics can help identify the actions trial users take in-product that correspond to conversion. If you already have hypotheses about which parts of the product cause trials to convert, feel free to skip to the next section.

To discover such behaviors, apply the Converted Trial Accounts {date 1}-{date2} Segment and the Churned Trial Accounts {date 1}-{date2} Segment to several analytics modules.

Adjust the segment dates so that you’re looking at a single (or small number) day and apply a custom date range to each Pendo analytics module X days before said date where X is the maximum length of the trial. Without these two constraints the analytics would include post-conversion events.


On a Dashboard add two Page Use by Account widgets side-by-side, making sure to apply the aforementioned segments and date range:


Make a note of any Pages or Features that were heavily used by converted trials but not by churned trials, and vice-versa.

Consider why some pages might be less valuable than others for new users. You may discover opportunities for improving your product. Later in this document we’ll cover how to create in-app guidance to drive users towards higher value pages.

Best Practice - once you’ve identified Pages/Features that are relevant to trial conversion, put them in a Group named something like “Trial Core Behaviors” for ease of future reference.

For more granular data on page use, go to the Pages page and include the following columns:



Go through the same process for feature use:


On the Features page include the following columns:


It’s worth taking your time combing over the analytics. You may discover that only *frequent* usage of a particular feature is a positive indicator, or that time spent in your application is more important than any particular feature use.


For pages and features with significant differences in usage between the converted and churned segments, create a Path ending at the page/feature to understand what users do before hitting it. Make sure to apply the segments and date range described above.

Finally, take a look at Path differences between converted and churned trials after common events such as a login.

Note where the two segments’ behavior deviates. Adding in-app guidance at these junctures tends to be most effective.

Drive behavior that predicts conversion

Once you’ve identified pages, features, and workflows that predict conversion it’s time to steer users towards those behaviors. 

Use in-app guidance to introduce your users to high value parts of your product. Here are a few simple examples to work off of: 


Show how to navigate to a high value page



Tooltip in a multi-step guide walking user through a high value workflow



Poll to figure out user persona. Later you can create custom experiences like an onboarding flow based on that persona.



Use the Resource Center onboarding module to house a guide for each high value behavior, so new users can self-serve in-app. The onboarding module tracks progress visually and persists even when a user logs out and back in.

Scale high-touch processes

Use in-app messaging to save the time, friction, and cost involved in human touches during a trial.

For example, if your company assigns a sales engineer to every trial account, categorize the most common questions they receive and preempt them with in-app messaging.

Unexpected questions will happen, reduce friction for new users with a knowledge base and live chat support in your trial application.

Consider using a Poll guide to let users self-select into a persona. See this Pendo blog article for details on how we do this internally. Alternatively, you can use polls to solicit feedback on your product, pain points, the trial process, or offer a human contact.

Finally, a best practice for integrating in-app messaging with out-of-app messaging like an onboarding drip campaign: use guide permalinks to launch in-app messaging directly from a hyperlink into your application.

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