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If there’s one topic that makes for great water cooler chatter in the web scene, it’s how to convert customers from (often free) trial accounts to the real paying thing. Many apps do this successfully on a daily basis, many don’t. But what makes conversations like this interesting are the events that occur between a new customer signing up and finally laying down their credit card – let it be fooling around with a free account and becoming hooked, having a great customer service experience, or on a more subtle level, receiving reminders to use the app from time to time.

One fellow who knows about the inherent challenges with converting leads into paying customers is James Purves from Docshaker, a web app for fast-tracking the document signing process by hosting documents and collecting signatures online. He kindly spent a moment with us discussing how Docshaker uses Campaign Monitor to drive new purchases, using the combined power of autoresponders and our API.

Docshaker team

Hi James, let’s start off with what you’ve observed when using email marketing to stay in touch with your customers. Do you think there’s value in web apps like yours using email for this task?

“We’ve found that our email campaigns are not just an extension of the website but… are just as successful in converting trial users to subscribers.”

Email marketing is an essential part in the purchasing process for subscription-based web applications like Docshaker. Our experience of purchasing behavior is that the lead time between site discovery and purchase can be one or two weeks. In this period, the customer is usually evaluating competing products, or too busy to complete the transaction and sign up. The key moments in purchasing behavior are thus not during the website visit, but in the hours, days or even weeks after. As a result, it’s critical to keep communicating the site’s features and benefits. Autoresponders do this job perfectly and the reports provided allow us to refine our message over time.

We’ve found that our email campaigns are not just an extension of the website but, due to the lead time between discovery and purchase, are just as successful in converting trial users to subscribers.

I see you’ve been using our API to trigger an autoresponder series, as soon as a customer signs up for a free trial. Tell us a bit more about how this works and its impact on trial customers.

Offering a free trial is the key first step in our purchasing process and thankfully, customers are generally at ease with providing an email address and opting-in for updates when they try us out. On signup, we use the Campaign Monitor API to add new users to a ‘trial’ subscriber list. From an experienced developer’s point of view, the API is so easy to use that this took almost no time to set up.

Once a new trial user has subscribed, we can reliably communicate with them using autoresponders throughout the period they are evaluating our product. Our initial emails reinforce the core features of the app, then later, we send campaigns that highlight some of the more in-depth functions that we feel add value to a user’s experience. We’ve also enjoyed being able to adjust the autoresponder delivery times, as to optimize site conversions.

“We found that sending a follow-up email 7 days after signup prompts many users to come back… So far, we’re receiving a click-through rate of 34%”

Often when a user first tries the app, they prepare a test document for signing and go away happy that it works, but don’t always return. We found that sending a follow-up email 7 days after signup prompts many users to come back to their account and dig a bit deeper. So far, we’re receiving a click-through rate of 34% on these follow-up messages, making it an effective way to keep users logging-in to their accounts and learning more about our service.

Interestingly, we find that people don’t often unsubscribe from these reminder emails – however, we do taper them off over time.

Another upside to offering trial memberships is that it’s really helped Docshaker build a large subscriber list that we can send marketing emails to every few months, generally when new features and functions are added to the app. We haven’t found a more cost-effective way than email to stay in touch with our leads and customer base while automating over 80% of the whole process.

Finally, when users convert to a paid account, we use the API to transfer the user from the ‘trial’ list to a ‘subscribed’ list in our Campaign Monitor account. This halts the trial-focused marketing emails and allows us to apply a different email marketing strategy to our paying customers.

Thanks for filling us in, here. So finally, do you have any advice for fellow web developers, who may want to start using the API to automate their email campaigns?

If we’ve got any advice after having utilized the API in this way, it’s to look out for ways to use web-based services like Campaign Monitor to automate tasks and provide reliable service to your customers, then devote your time to managing core business objectives instead. It’s so much better than reinventing the wheel by doing everything in-house.

When choosing the best way to proceed, we felt that the main goal had to be giving our users the best possible experience. Campaign Monitor provided a solution we could trust to do just that – it ‘just works’ for us.

Many thanks to James Purves from Docshaker for sharing his experience with using autoresponders and the API with us. Find out how you can send follow-up emails for yourself and your clients, or get started with our API by checking out our detailed documentation.

This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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