Implementing a free trial of your subscription-based service should focus on four important phases – Attention, Engagement, Investment, and Conversion. If done correctly, a free trial can be a boon for your business.
Here are 6 things you should keep in mind:
1. Have a Solid Plan
You must have a solid plan before starting your free-trial. Begin the planning process by identifying your target audience; understand expectations, requirements, and typical consumer interaction with the type of product you are selling. You'll also want to influence how to reach those that influence your buyers and have a plan to reach out to them.
Internally you'll need to address issues such as what you can support technically, the resources available to build the free-trial, the budget or expertise needed to acquire or build a marketing automation/lifecycle messaging engine, building or procuring your subscription management, metering, and billing solution, etc.
2. Build Trust
Offering a free trial allows prospective customers to try the product and that enables them to get to know, like, and trust the service or product. Since this is done in the context of evaluating the product, it helps build trust, which then makes it easier to convert trial users to subscribers. If your target market expects a free trial period from your competitors, not offering one would lessen your exposure to those potential subscribers rather than encourage them to sign up.
3. Differentiate Your Brand
However, if your competition doesn't offer a free trial, it could be a good competitive differentiator, especially against large, legacy, slow, or entrenched rivals in your space. Your free trial can turn from competitive differentiator to a competitive advantage through the conversions to paid subscriptions.
4. Users are Not All Equal
Segment out users during the free trial period. It's easy to become excited that you signed up 200 new users in two days, but there will be some that sign up, explore, and use your service where as others simply sign in but never use the service. Not everyone who signs up will be a "user" – especially if they are not active during the free period. You should have a plan in place to encourage engagement with non-active sign-ups, as well as methods for further enhancing the experience of those that are active, which can help convert them to paid subscribers.
5. Understand Conversion Rates
Market analyst firm, Softletter, indicated that 66 percent of subscription vendors reported free trial conversion rates of 25 percent or less which really means that 75 percent are not converting. That represents wasted ad spend, marketing costs, support and infrastructure resources (including copywriting on inbound marketing, A/B testing, marketing writers, etc.), and loss of potential revenue.
However, some companies that have taken a proactive approach to engaging those in a free trial have been able to achieve conversion rates of 80 percent or more.
6. Build Customer Profiles
Use the free trial process to ask questions to qualify the customer and begin to build customer profiles. This can be done by front-loading the sales process with automation and self-service to cover the general, repeatable things a sales person would have to do with every prospect and only engage the sales team when the prospect has identified themselves – through their actions and information – as someone worth reaching out to.
Use all the data from the free subscriber –time on the site, referring URLS, order size, order frequency, etc., to help develop the profile. This gives you a way to help segment the customer and identify them, so that when interaction and engagement needs to be increased, you will have data to better create personalized messaging that that will engage them further and be better received. Knowing the customer and tailoring your message to include personalization will help the chances of converting them into a paid subscriber.