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It may seem like offering free trials is a waste of company resources, but that couldn’t be more wrong. When offered correctly, free trials are a proven effective way to boost sales and grow your brand. Free trials can forge the beginning of a fruitful relationship with a new customer for your products or services. They work especially well to boost your sales when you’re selling an intangible product such as SaaS, or online game, app, etc. essentially any product that isn’t costing the company a loss. Free trials are an excellent sales strategy that can significantly lower your cost of new customer acquisitions. 

Your free trial should give full access to almost every feature and function you offer. If there are aspects of the service or product that you cannot financially offer for free, make sure they know that upfront. Market the additional features as a bonus they will receive once they choose to continue with your business and opt for a paid account. Don’t tell prospects how great your service is, show them instead. Start offering limited-time, no-cost, no-obligation test-drives. This shift in strategy quickly pays off, with higher conversion rates. If you’re a subscription service, offer packages at a low rate, then show how fantastic the service you’re offering is. Using these methods, your customers will want to stick around!

Offer a Free Trial without a Credit Card

Research shows that your sign up rate increases if the customer can sign up for the free trial without needing to enter credit card information.1 The easier you make the sign up process, the more appealing your trial will be. Your conversion rate is much better if you reduce the friction of requiring a credit card at sign up. This approach should be coupled with aggressive digital marketing strategies like gamification, loyalty programs, and referrals, to convert the new user into a long term customer. 

Use Notifications Effectively

A short personalized email like “Hey NAME! Your subscription will expire in one week!” is a great strategy. It will remind your customers that they should hurry and renew their account to continue using your product or service. Make sure to offer a limited time discount if they sign up prior to the expiration date!

When to send reminder and marketing emails depends on the duration of your free trial. For a one week free trial send 48 hours prior to expiry, for two weeks send one week prior and then again 24 hours prior to expiry, and for a one month free trial send two weeks prior to expiry then one week prior to expiry and sweeten the deal in the last 48 hours. Don’t forget for longer trials to also send a few other marketing emails to keep your customers engaged with your brand, but not too many – nobody likes spam! 

Length of Trial

The best length for a free trial offer depends on the complexity of your product or service. If there is a steep learning curve for using your product or service, such as learning a complex SaaS or software, then a longer trial is recommended. If your product and service is easy to use, then a shorter trial will do the trick. This shorter trial will keep your new customer engaged especially alongside the proper marketing strategies for conversion. You want to be strategic in choosing the length of your trial. Your trial should be long enough for them to understand the value of your service but short enough to keep them engaged and wanting more!

Lead Nurturing

It is very important to send a sequence of emails that reminds your customers about your products or services during and after the free trial. Did you know that the Marketing Rule of 7 states that a prospect needs to ‘hear’ the advertiser’s message at least 7 times before they’ll take action to buy that product or service.2 Remember to make your emails engaging, and worthwhile with discounts, limited time offers, exclusive information or tips, and whatever works for the customers in your niche to stay engaged with your brand. 

Sign Up Process

Make it easy and straightforward for the customer to buy the full version or subscribe to services after the free trial. Time is precious, so don’t make your customer click through page after page to get to the checkout section. Make sure the next steps are clear, simple, and quick if they want to sign up for a full membership or buy your product after the free trial. If the process is complex or complicated and your customers have to ask how to buy the product or how to activate an account, you are probably losing conversions. 

Free trials are a great way to help customers decide whether or not they want your product. You can apply the tips we’ve outlined here to make sure that you are using the best technique to convert prospects into loyal customers. You can use tactics like notifications, lead nurturing, length of trial, and other strategies to increase the chances that users will convert into paid accounts. When customers are able to try out your service or product before making the decision to purchase, they are more likely to sign up. Make sure your trial strategy is user friendly, simple for customers to sign up, and remember to include how much it costs after the trial, what features are included, and any limitations during the trial.

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