When it comes to marketing strategies, no sales approach is more effective than the ever-popular “free trials”. Commonly mistaken for other widespread tactics like the freemium business model, free trials are a marketing ploy that works particularly well in the SaaS industry.
This is especially true in sectors such as cybersecurity, automated data mining, marketing automation, and instant messaging.
So, what is the difference between freemium and free trials? Unlike freemium software solutions (where apps are free to install and only cost in their premium form), free trials are time-limited runs that provide a partial or complete product experience to prospective users.
With that in mind, you might be wondering if your free trial strategy can compete with freemium services, which may appear more attractive to users. The answer is “yes”, but you’ll need to play your cards right.
According to a survey conducted by Statista’s source Distimo, freemium is the number one pricing strategy for the App Store in app categories such as games, social networking, music, or entertainment.
Distimo’s research shows that, when it comes to these types of services, the vast majority of revenue comes from adverts included in free-to-install apps like Candy Crush Saga, LinkedIn, Spotify, and YouTube.
This data, however, is only representative of this type of service, and free trials are popular in many industries outside of these categories. Plenty of SaaS digital companies, which sell secure instant messaging apps, for example, use free trials. More, many freemium services like RingCentral offer free trials of their premium options.
1. Your product should sell itself
With that little introduction out of the way, let’s cut to the chase and discuss how the marketing aspect of free trials works. First things first, ito develop a strong free trial campaign, you must arm yourself with a great product and service.
As you may know, the ultimate goal of a free trial strategy is to turn leads into satisfied users who decide to invest in what you’re selling, going from happy prospective buyers to full-blown consumers.
To convince users to purchase your product and invest money in your brand, you must evaluate and improve your service constantly, implementing agile testing.
Testing is an essential part of software design, especially when it comes to areas like user experience. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to create onboarding messages or want to optimize your eCommerce landing pages – the best way to make sure software is user-friendly is to test during the development process.
Your product should be on point and your customer support department ready to face any possible issues. Remember, prospective users are trialling your product, so any flaw or problem that arises could make them opt for your competitor’s services instead. The best way to ensure your customer service is perfect is to include in-app messaging.
2. The magic of marketing
One of my favorite quotations about marketing is: “The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing”. This is especially true when it comes to free trials. They’re not supposed to feel sales-y. The idea is that your service is so good that you don’t need to be overly promotional about it.
Avoiding coming across as desperate is essential. If you own a digital business or your company is a software provider venturing into free trial strategies for the first time, then analyzing how to run a successful marketing campaign will show you that prospective buyers don’t like it when brands pressure them into purchasing.
If you’re reading this and have previous experience in sales, you already know how difficult it is to keep leads interested in a product or service. Most brand representatives working in call centers tend to take things slowly. The first step is to make sure you can set an appointment with the lead.
Here’s the thing: free trials work the same way as those appointments. The idea is to develop a relationship with the prospective buyer, gaining traction with the lead and securing a space in their busy calendar and their consciousness.
When a salesperson designs cold calling scripts to set appointments, they mainly focus on this particular aspect of marketing: patiently converting leads, instead of trying to aggressively sell a product.
In this vein, free trials should be designed the same way. Your trial should aim to catch the user’s attention (keep them engaged with a countdown to create a sense of urgency that makes the trial feel like a unique occasion).
To reiterate, remember Tom Fishburne’s words: “The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing.”
Now we’ve gone over some of the specifics of how free trials work and how to make your product or service as sharp as can be, it’s time for a recap of what we’ve learned.
- Freemium products and free trials are not the same things.
- Free trials are common inside the SaaS industry, especially in sectors like cybersecurity, instant messaging, and automation.
- Your product or service should be in top condition before you offer a free trial.
- You should test your app or software solution often.
- Free trials convert leads with excellent customer service and high-quality performance software.
- Don’t worry about conversions. Free trials aren’t meant to be sales-y; your product should sell itself.
With all of these ideas and a clear roadmap of what you want your free trial to look like, you should be able to make the most of your free trial marketing strategy.