Your Quick Guide to Creating Free Trials

Free trials help you build your customer base and pay you back in the long run. So why not start offering them now?
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Free trials are understandably tempting to consumers, and there are various reasons why you should start offering them to all your potential customers. Convinced? Then you’re at the right place. Free trials need a little bit of work before you can throw them out there. They might sound simple theoretically (you’re just giving something away for free after all!) but in reality, they sometimes don't help you reap any rewards. Make sure you’re not wasting your time and money by offering trials, and doing your homework beforehand will help you to do just that.

So here are 5 simple tips that will help you create the most productive free trials:

Know who your target market is.
While it’s usually a good idea to offer a free trial to anyone who is interested, a little bit of strategic sampling goes a long way. You don’t want to be wasting your time on people who don’t really need your product, so you should have a clear idea of the type of people you want to be using your product/service. Maybe even go one step further and reach out to the movers and shakers in your target market -- let your free trial get them talking!

Have a free trial long enough for users to evaluate the product (or make sure you're offering enough of the product!).  
The length of your free trial is going to vary based on the industry you are in. You can follow an industry norm (most web-based services average from two weeks to a month) or you can go with however long you think your users may need. Some say shorter free trials are better but the last thing you want is for your customers to feel rushed. What is most important in determining the trial length is how long you think a customer will need to adequately evaluate the product. You want your customer to feel like they are using their product as though they’ve already paid for it, so be sure to lengthen your trials if necessary! In other industries, maybe trial length isn’t the right approach, but instead, what might be relevant is how much product you are offering. A bite size? A full muffin (yes, please!)? Either way, you want to make sure your consumers have just enough to properly decide if they want to buy the full thing because that crumb just isn’t going to convince me!

Include everything (and more!).
Whether or not your service or product comes with a ‘premium’ version, you should make everything available to your potential customers when they sign up for a free trial. This way, if they decide to stick with the ‘standard’ version they’re more likely to realize a need for premium features, or if your service comes only in one size, they know exactly how to utilize every aspect of it.And if you are not in the web industry, maybe offer them services that they would not otherwise expect: easily accessible customer service, free deliveries during the trial -- anything ‘extra’ that the typical person wouldn’t mind paying for once a trial is over!

No strings attached.
There’s nothing worse than being billed for something you forgot you signed up for. Sure, everyone should regularly check their credit card statements to avoid this, but why force your users to put in credit card information for a free trial? Creating risk-free trials tells the users that whether or not they choose to become a customer is entirely up to them and not due to an accident. What’s more, risk-free trials also ensure a certain level of customer loyalty since they actively chose to stick with you!

Check in regularly.
Follow ups are the surest way to nurture your leads, and CRMs are the best way to do that! By consistently checking in with your potential customers during their trial period, you are able to make sure that they are fully utilizing their trials. You can show them features that they were not aware of, build a relationship with them, and ultimately, increase the likelihood of them staying on. Follow ups can come in the form of drip campaigns, warm calling, or even just some good old pen and paper -- get creative! On the flipside, by checking in with trial users frequently, you are also giving them them plenty of opportunities to tell you that they’re no longer interested. This way, you don’t end up wasting time and money on a potential customer who was never really going to come through anyway!

These tips are just here to help you out with crafting your free trial plan, but you always want to have trials that fit with your company’s vision. If minimal customer interaction makes more sense in your business, then by all means, skip the check-ins. If you want to keep premium benefits exclusive, don’t add them into your trials. As long as the trial is a genuine, accurate depiction of what your business can do for your customers, it’s a success!

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