When is the right time to offer a free trial? Many software services today offer access to their tools and support through subscription accounts. Clients pay for the time they need the tools and support, often with stacking discounts for larger teams and more complete services. However, that first conversion from a lead to a subscriber works best when crafted into a funnel. Users should glide comfortably from curiously investigating your product to subscribed and ready to start projects. But is a free trial the right transition for your service?
A free trial is a specific approach to introducing your tools and services. It grants users access to your software for free for a limited time. Often, free trials are also limited in features and support, but with enough to give new users an enticing early experience. Of course, some subscription and software models work better with free trials than others. Here are the signs that a free trial program is the right lead conversion for your software subscription company.
Your Program Has a Learning Curve
A free trial is a great conversion if your software takes some time to learn. A learning curve measures the time it takes to adapt to your software. Art software, for example, often offers free trials to allow artists to learn and get hooked on the new art tool interface and creation workflow. Free trials both help your users overcome that learning curve (for free!). They also help persuade new users that your software is worth subscribing to the full version.
Your Service Gets Better Over Time
For some software services, the value of your service increases over time. The purpose of a free trial in this model is to get your new users to see that improvement curve before the trial runs out. When they don’t want to see the end of that improvement and can see the potential of your service, you have a client ready to choose their subscription level.
You Provide Useful Industry Tools
Industry tools are often sought out by professionals who need them on the job. Calculators, rate trackers, estimators, and visualizer tools make it easier for professionals to do their jobs and hobbyists to complete their projects. These tools can also act as a teaser to the greater tools in your software toolbox. A free trial with your tools can be exactly what you need to win professional subscribers who are in the market for a new digital toolkit. Free tools and a free trial toolkit can both win new customers by providing real value that is worth keeping.
You Plan for Single-User Subscriptions
Single-user subscriptions are sometimes more challenging to win than enterprises. Companies know they need a tool, platform, or service and are looking for the best. Independent users are often less likely to invest money in tools or a long-term subscription. This is where the free trial plays its role. Solo professionals and hobbyists looking for the best software can try out your program for free – for a while. If they don’t want to stop using your tool, your personal subscription level will see an increase in enthusiastic new subscribers.
When a Free Trial is Not Your Strategy
Last but not least, which subscription models should likely not use a free trial?
- A Mostly-Local Install
- If your software is installed once and functions mostly offline, free trials can reveal too much of your best performance. A free trial should be a teaser by design and works best when limited by live service values.
- Large-Scale Implementations Only
- Free trials don’t really work for software that requires large-scale installation. Inventory management software, for example, can take large data imports and days of configuration before it performs at its best. A free trial likely would not provide the right kind of value for your clients and use cases.
- Complicated Configurations
- Like large-scale implementations, software that is complex or requires extensive configurations is not conducive to free trials. Without the time and expertise that is required for the customized setup, a free trial would not scratch the surface of the software’s benefit for the user’s individual needs.
- Free Personal Subscriptions
- If you offer a personal subscription level for free, this functions in the place of your free trial. A free personal level means that solo professionals spread your brand name for free and team leaders can take your software for a whirl before committing their team and department budget to a subscription.