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Recommended: How NOT to Turn a Hot Prospect Into a Customer

Every once in a while I am lucky enough to receive a marketing email of such pure ineptitude that I am awestruck. Just when I think I’ve seen it all, an email lands in my inbox that proves to me that there are still corners of the world where the work we do as Internet marketers hasn’t penetrated.
About a month ago, I signed up for a free trial account of a Website server monitoring service from Alertra. I wanted to perform an independent test of the uptime percentage of a Website I owned because a number of customers had mentioned that the Website sometimes appeared to be unavailable.
For 29 days I enjoyed the free use of Alertra’s Website server monitoring service. I’d be notified the moment the Website in question was not available, and I was relieved to discover that my weekly server uptime was in the quite decent 97%+ range. In fact, I was so impressed by the Alertra service that I was seriously considering signing up for a paid account once my free trial had come to an end.
And then I received this email:

Date: Wed, 10 Aug 2005
To: Bill Sweetman
Subject: Free Trial Information
Bill Sweetman,
Your free trial has expired; monitoring service has been terminated.

With this one terse, 10-word email, all the goodwill that had been built up over a 30-day period between Alertra and me instantly evaporated.
Talk about squandering a golden opportunity. Alertra had a very qualified prospect – after all, we’d been ‘dating’ for nearly a month – and all they needed to do was gently ‘propose’ to me and I’d be theirs. Instead, they unceremoniously dumped me, without even suggesting that we can “still be friends.”
Don’t make the same mistake Alertra did when dealing with a qualified prospect. Here are some suggested ways you should consider handling the end of a free trial period in order to maximize your conversion rate:
# Thank the prospect by name for trying out your product or service
# Recap the benefits of your product or service
# Let the prospect know that you’d like them to consider becoming a paid customer
# Tell the prospect how they can become a paid customer (note how the Alertra email doesn’t even include their Website address)
# Provide a time-limited incentive (e.g., discounted price) to the prospect for becoming a paid customer (optional)
# Directly ask the prospect to become a paid customer
# Thank the prospect one more time for trying out your product or service
# Ask the prospect to provide feedback on what they thought of your product or service (optional)
# Ask the prospect to refer your product or service to a colleague (optional)
Whatever you do, don’t underestimate the importance of this ‘your free trial is over’ email. You are very close to making a sale. Don’t blow it like Alertra did.