Free trials are a somewhat controversial marketing tactic. Some swear by them, while others don’t believe in offering anything for free, not even a short trial. Depending on the actual product and the marketing strategy in question, both of these points of view may be perfectly valid.
In this post, we’ll look at six reasons why you should be offering a free trial, and how it might help your business.
1. Your competition might (not) be doing it
If you are operating within an industry or niche where free trials are common, you’ll lose your competitive edge if you don’t do the same. Customers might be used to the free trial option and might forgo making a purchase from you if they aren’t afforded the same luxury.
However, you might choose to do something with a bit of a twist as well, instead of the straightforward trial your competition offers. For example, Ahrefs has a “7 days for $7” trial – which is certainly not free, but it is significantly lower than their usual rates. While their competition offers a fully free trial, Ahrefs has decided to offer a discount instead, and their conversion rates are not suffering for it.
On the other hand, you might also want to consider a free trial if your competition is not offering one. This can give you precisely that competitive edge you need to push ahead and come out top in the eyes of your customers.
2. Users need to see the product in action
This is again especially true for SaaS products, where sometimes no copy can convey the benefits of the product like a free trial can. The clear benefit, in this case, is that a free trial will let users experience how the product can help them solve their pain points in real-time. And if they are happy with the results, they can simply convert into a paying customer and keep using the solution.
A good example of this case is Forms on Fire, a product that helps you digitize forms and workflows. While the website does a great job of explaining and actually showing visitors how it works and what it looks like, no demo can replace an actual trial.
3. Your product is incredible and unique
A good product has the tendency to sell itself, especially if it offers something unique or new, or simply a better way of doing things than previous solutions. These kinds of products usually inspire high conversion rates, so the key focus of those marketing them often becomes getting people to sign up for the trial, after which they let the product speak for itself.
Here is ProfitWell as an example. They do subscription reporting from a single dashboard, which can save digital marketers a lot of headaches when it comes to tracking their metrics. They have a free option that lets you test the power of their tool, after which you are likely to convert, as they have clearly showcased the benefit of their solution.
4. Users may not know if it can help them
There are also products a user might not be sure about. Sure, it sounds like an incredible solution, but how can it actually benefit them and their needs? There’s no way to find out except to try the actual product, which is where a free trial comes in.
And let’s admit it – plenty of products simply won’t help certain users achieve what they want. In this case, it’s always best both for the user and the business to learn this sooner rather than later. For businesses, it means they can save time and avoid tainting their conversion rates with users who are not actually their target audience.
A great example of a user-specific tool is Aura, an Amazon repricing software. If you use Amazon to sell items, you can benefit a lot from a tool like this. On the other hand, you may not even need a repricer if you don’t have the stock that would require one, or if prices don’t fluctuate in your niche at all. Testing out the tool will tell you how you can use it and whether you need it in the first place.
5. It makes lead generation easier
Generating leads is always a challenge. And when you’re at a loss for ideas, a free trial might serve as an excellent lead generation tool if you offer it to the right user base.
En-masse free trials as lead generation tools often backfire because they target too wide of an audience segment. Plenty of people sign up just because it’s free, and not because they actually need the tool in question.
However, when you market your free trial to the right audience – one that is likely to also stick with you and convert – the strategy makes much more sense.
6. It helps you improve your product
Free trials are also an excellent way to get people to test drive the product, see it in action, and get back to you with their feedback. This will enable you to iron out any kinks and further tweak the product so that it provides the solutions your target audience is actually looking for.
Of course, you need to make sure you don’t jump to make alterations based on every single piece of feedback that pours in. Take the person leaving it into consideration and how well they are aligned with your ideal customer. Focus on the most prominent and most often cited issues and suggestions first, and always consider how a change will align with your overall product, business, and marketing strategy.
Free trials have their clear benefits, but they also might not work for you in the long run and might end up costing you more than they are worth. Make sure you carefully calculate how much a free trial offer will cost you, and try to predict conversion rates. If you notice they are incredibly low, consider hitting pause on your free trial and reconsider how you are marketing it.