Offering free trials is a fairly common practice for SaaS companies, but that doesn’t mean the results always justify the expense.
“For a free trial to work, it needs to be part of a overall customer acquisition plan,” writes Peter Cohen, Managing Partner of SaaS Marketing Strategy Advisors, in a guest post for the Inside Sales Experts Blog. “A free trial without a well-constructed follow-up effort to convert the trialers into paying buyers isn’t worth much.” Cohen argues that companies should also have a plan in place to continue to market to and nurture the would-be customers who don’t convert, and that they need to factor in these follow-up efforts as well as the costs of computing, storage, and additional support before determining that a free trial is the way to go.
In fact, for some companies, free trials can do more harm than good — when the product is a one-and-done solution, for example, or when the benefits of the product can’t be easily enjoyed or recognized within the short window of a free trial. While free trials may work for many, they don’t work for all, and Cohen provides a list of alternatives to consider, including “sandbox” demos, posting videos to show off key features, and offering a money-back guarantee. Read Cohen’s full article for more on how you can enable prospects to experience your product or solution without offering them a free trial.
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Just because your competitors offer free trials doesn’t necessarily mean you have to. Not only can you compete against free trials, you can also learn how to sell against free software, as well. But if you’re still convinced a free trial is the way to go, then you may as well make sure you’re doing it right. Read this post from the OpenView Blog for tips on improving trial conversion rate to turn prospects into devoted customers.