Your free users don’t want to move to the paid tier— why?

Possible reasons behind a low free-to-paid conversion rate

Ana Bibikova


You’ve built a product but honestly, customers are not lining up. You posted about it on Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit, in a couple of Facebook groups. Got yourself some traffic, dozens of sign-ups for a free trial (yay!). But when the trial is over you still have almost no conversions.

That sucks! No worries, you tell yourself. It’s just a numbers game, right? You just did not have enough free trials to convert.

What do they say? An average conversion rate should be around 5%, and you had just 12 trials — no wonder you did not convert even 1 person.So you set out to get more traffic to your landing.

You launch on Product Hunt. You invest in SEO to be found more often organically. You spend $1K on Google Ads.

Trials are piling up. But the conversion rate still sucks. It’s far lower than 5% and you’re not sure when your $1K invested in paid acquisition is about to be paid off.

So, why the hell this is happening to you? Why are you getting free trial sign ups but no or very few conversions to paid users? Here are the possible reasons.

1. Expected value vs received value

You’ve obviously seen these hilarious “expectation vs reality” memes about people buying stuff on Amazon or Alibaba. Guess what?

The same thing happens all the time when users sign up for a service.

Sometimes the product manager is not the brightest star on the sky while a copywriter (or a person who built a landing page) is much more experienced and did a great job.

As a result users get very inspired and hopeful while scrolling down the landing, they have their expectations high.

They sign up — only to find out that the tool is not something they needed. This disappointment leads to a low conversion rate.

2. Activation problem