Free trial lead generation strategy leads to 238% conversion rate increase

Client overview

ActivePDF is a leading global provider of server-side PDF automation and digital transformation software. Its suite of solutions enables business teams to create, convert, modify, view, extract, and automate data to and from PDF files within software applications.

ActivePDF technologies are represented amongst 40% of Fortune 500 companies and can be utilized across a variety of industries including banking, financial services, government, health care, legal and more.

Directive is a fundamental cornerstone of a partnership that we rely on to communicate to our market that we are their digital transformation automation partner. They help us tell that story across the board to millions and millions of people.

Derek Gerber
Global Marketing Director

The challenge

For ActivePDF, one of the largest drivers of new business is inbound lead generation via a free trial offer. 

The team realized that having people who already utilized the software and knew its value created a solid foundation for moving these potential customers through the funnel. However, they noticed that many of the leads being generated were from people outside of their target market. It was mostly college students who were downloading the free trial, not the businesses that ActivePDF was trying to reach.

As a result, many of the inbound leads were not converting to paying customers once the trial ended. The cost of running product trials was high and the low lead quality meant the return simply wasn’t there.

ActivePDF turned to Directive as a trusted partner to revamp its existing lead generation strategy to improve lead quality at a more cost-effective rate.

The strategy

To overcome the obstacle of off-target lead generation, the Directive team concentrated our efforts on two main areas: high-intent keywords and redesigned lead forms. 

We identified that these two factors would help ActivePDF attract the high-quality traffic they were looking for and convert these web visitors into leads.

Focusing on the big picture

The Directive team developed a new PPC strategy that focused on high-intent keywords to increase relevant traffic to ActivePDF’s website. 

We pivoted away from high-volume, yet vague, keywords and concentrated on long-tail keywords with purpose. We knew we might have to sacrifice volume, but if it meant attracting qualified web visitors with buying intent, it was worth it.

As predicted, we noticed over time that search volume lowered, but the traffic quality was significantly upgraded.

Putting users first

Once we had a steady flow of the right traffic coming in, we shifted our focus toward capturing these visitors and converting them to leads.

To start, we conducted preliminary research to identify any barriers to conversion throughout the website. We discovered that there was a massive discrepancy between the number of users who requested a trial compared to the users who actually completed the form to sign up for it. 

This data was a clear indication to us that this form was a major cause of friction for users and was hindering conversions.

Working with the ActivePDF team, we narrowed the trial sign-up form to only include fields that were vital for their sales team to contact prospective buyers. 

Previously, the longer form was used as a way to weed out unqualified traffic. Since we adjusted our keyword targeting and were confident in traffic quality, we moved forward with the shortened form fields.

After seeing promising progress, we scaled this strategy across all of ActivePDF’s product lines. With this proven model, we worked with ActivePDF to expand into key international regions and further improve the brand’s online presence.

296 Increase in lead volume QoQ
76 Decrease in CPA QoQ
238 Increase in conversion rate QoQ

The results speak for themselves

The above tactics helped drive one of the most successful quarters ActivePDF has had in terms of growth. 

When looking at lead volume specifically, our efforts lead to a 296% increase in lead volume quarter-over-quarter (QoQ).

Our long-tail keyword targeting strategy decreased cost-per-action (CPA) by 76% QoQ. 

When it came to conversions, optimizing ActivePDF’s lead forms lead to 238% increase in conversion rate QoQ.

Based on these results, it’s clear that Directive’s search marketing efforts were effective at helping ActivePDF fix their inbound lead generation model and successfully reach their audience.

“We went from projects taking nine months to executing them in one week. Directive’s passion, dedication, and reliability were impressive,” adds Gerber.

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