Free trials are a great option for many businesses and can be great way to get new customers, but only if done correctly. Free trials attract new customers, increase brand loyalty from existing customers, and are a great source of good reviews and testimonials (when you’re trying to get your name out there).

A free trial helps many businesses generate user/customer feedback on new products and then make any necessary improvements before a big product launch. A free trial simply is an offer to a customer (or potential customer) to try your product or service for a set period of time, free of charge.

The purpose is to attract people, show them the value of what you have to offer and convert them into paying, returning customers.

People are not always excited about purchasing products or paying for services with which they’re unfamiliar, or don’t know how to use. Offering a complimentary trial may put those concerns at ease and make customer more comfortable with their understanding of your company, products, and services.

Free trials have become the norm these days, and “try it for free” is almost a requirement for more discerning buyers. As long as your service is high quality, customers will be more likely to pay for your services after having a good personal experience(s) with it.

7 Steps For Successfully Using Free Trials:

  1. Understand your audience and understand their motivators (what they want). What part of your product or service is appealing? How do you convey the values to customers? Planning includes determining the length of the trial and details of what is included vs. what isn’t included. Consider your costs and the complexity of the product. You want the trial to be long enough for users to have time to use it, understand it and want to convert to a paying customer.
  2. Use urgency. Make the free trial offer a “limited time only” to get people to act, but also be willing to make compromises. This is the perfect time to show your users the value of your product or service. Give them extra time and assistance and make sure you communicate the expiration of the free trial.
  3. Encourage engagement of the product or service during the free trial. Get users to see the value in what you are offering by letting them actually use and experience it. If a consumer gets something for free but doesn’t actually use it (especially because they don’t know how) then you are wasting your time and efforts. On-board users responsibly.
  4. Promote a “no risk” trial and make it really, really easy for users to cancel if they’re un-happy, don’t see the value, or just don’t want what you have to sell. There should be very little formal commitment to simply try your product or service. By reinforcing the notion that they can back out if they are unsatisfied or unwilling to pay, they will be more likely to test out your trial because there is a smaller risk of getting “stuck” with something they may not like/want/need.
  5. Communicate effectively and often with your users throughout the process. This includes personalizing the experience by using names and presenting satisfaction  You also want to make sure the entire process is easy and explained well. Offer support often, and let customers know how to get help if they need it. In general, just stay in touch.
  6. Make it easy to sign up, or you will lose potential customers quickly. Make the offer visible and include a simple, straightforward call-to-action. Simplify the signup forms and include instructions to guide users throughout the process.
  7. Market it well. People love getting things for free, but they won’t sign up if they don’t know about your trial. Incorporate the free trial into your overall marketing plan.

The process of a free trial doesn’t necessarily end once the trial period is over. You can extend the “offer” by giving users a special discounted rate to close the deal.

If the customer decides to purchase, continue offering the same level of service and assistance as before (over-deliver on your promise). Maintain strong communication to get feedback on any questions and make changes in response to that feedback in order to increase customer satisfaction. Another great idea is to tie a referral discount during the on-boarding process. It may encourage the current trial user to buy as well as send another customer (or two) your way!