Are you frustrated that people download your software, but very few of them convert into a purchase?
For many software companies, potential customers fail to buy because they download the trial, but they never activate.
What do you mean, activate the software?
A person downloads your software. They start to use it, but then quickly abandon their efforts. They never get to the point where they experience the value that you promised. It never “clicks” for them. Of course, if they never get to experience the value, they are never going to upgrade and become a paying customer.
It’s like buying a bicycle
Last summer I decided to replace my road bicycle. I did some research and then visited my favorite local shop.
I explained my criteria to Tom, the owner, and he pulled down a few bikes to try. Before riding each bike, he put me on the saddle and adjusted the seat and handlebar positions. He explained what I should look for when I took it out on the street for a ride.
I took a few bikes out for a spin. With one bike in particular, as soon as I started riding it on the street I knew it was the bike for me. The bike leapt forward with each turn of the crank. It felt light but stable. It was comfortable and easy in the saddle.
I bought the bike right then. It’s been a great bicycle for me.
Tom “activated” my trial of the bicycle
Tom could have pulled down a few bikes, adjusted them, and sent me on my way to try them out. But he knows that customers easily become confused when they try a bike. The one they read about may not be a good fit. A bike they hadn’t considered could be perfect.
He works to figure out a bike that meets your criteria and that is a good fit. He listens to you and coaches you on what to look for on your test ride.
Buyers need your help with software activation
When visitors to your site download your trial software, they are like the customer who walks into a bike shop. Ready to try a bicycle, but not sure about what to do.
They open your software. They poke around aimlessly for a while. They don’t know what to try or they become confused. And they exit, never having experienced the power and value of all your software development work.
Four ways to increase activation
Unlike Tom at the bike store, you can’t personally coach each person who downloads your trial software. But you can use other ways to give them guidance. Here are four methods that KISSmetrics recommends to increase activation.
- New user experience
- Lifecycle Emails
A checklist is the simplest to implement. Once your trial users have registered, give them a short list of instructions to get started. Here you can see the checklist that CrazyEgg uses:
2. New user experience
If your software is more complex, you can create tutorials that walk new users through all the steps to get started. Give them a roadmap so they know where they are and how much further they have to go. This activation tactic is more complex to implement, but when compared to the cost of extensive phone support, it’s a wise investment.
Maybe people get value from your software in different ways. If so, let your trial users self-segment and guide them accordingly. In the example below, KISSmetrics asks new users to make a choice based on their business needs.
4. Lifecycle emails
With lifecycle emails you can stay in touch with your users as they begin to use your software. If they appear to hit a wall, you can invite them to receive email that will help them get over the obstacle. Or if you know that most people encounter the same issues, you can send an email as soon as they run into the problem.
Help your buyers get over the activation hurdle
When people download your software, they are telling you one thing: “I am interested and I want to learn more.”
However, they don’t know how your software works. When they try to use it they easily become lost and confused. Then they abandon their efforts and never become a customer.
Don’t let this happen! Experiment with these four methods and improve your customer acquisition rates.
Photo Credit: Global Jet on Flickr