One good example of free trial support I saw recently was from webstudio.com. (not affiliated in any way.) Their 30 day free trial was backed with well-targeted, well-written email reminders of trial expiration and usage tips – getting started , using features, common questions etc. I see these benefits from this approach:
- Reminds the prospect to try and use the software
- “Almost-free” training – training and marketing are closely related.
- Creates a sense of presence - the company is real with real people.
- Prevents some simple support calls on the free trial and early support once a purchase is made.
- Soft-sell – features backed by how to’s
- Cross-sell of other materials, options and support, not for immediate purchase, but emphasizing that there is more to the product than just what is being tried now. This also adds to the sense of presence.
There are certainly costs to create these materials but the ongoing cost is near zero.
This is an unfair representation. If I'm selecting any kind of software or service, I need to try it out or at least have a pretty thorough demonstration. That takes time, whichever way you cut it.
What do you propose as an alternative to a free trial? We didn't offer one for a long time, but lately have caved and started providing one. We found that the "just buy it and then we'll refund your money if you dont like it" route wasn't quite as nice.
I'll have to disagree about making the trial fully featured. The purprose of the trial is what the name says, to 'try it out'. If you make it fully featured and they can save their work etc, they would hardly have any incentive to buy it left. Disabling saving will give them a huge incentive for buying.
But i agree with making it easy to get the data out. It won't lose you sales and creates a nice impression of the product.
Nice Article. I wish you would of touched on requiring users to sign up to try the trial. While some people might say you should make users signup for trials, again we just don't want anyone to download the software. What's the take on this?
This article i believe to be true for products more than solutions. Can we have views on how to use this ploy of "free trials" when you want to sell software as a service. i am talking about web application for example a content management system or any information management solution.
This is similar to the arguments about open source -- the true cost of a product, as pointed out, often far exceed the license costs.
One problem I have seen with free trials is that they tend to self-select for those that do not have budget. If you have budget and a product comes highly recommended, is used by other companies in your market, seems to meet a real need, than paying some money upfront some amount for a production trial in order to receive support, direction, and so forth may actually LOWER the costs of the trial to you.
Generally it is better to start a sales process with the leadership that has budget and then work from there, which would eliminate the need for many free trials. On the other hand, if the market expects free trials and we are getting requests for them from the field level of organizations -- potential users -- then we will fullfill them in some circumstances.
Watch out for PC-magazines which will promote your software through an older free version for there cover disk. Sales will drop 90% and your software product will become worthless.
Very interesting perspective and very relevant for products with large value. check out my blog http://blog.nrichsoft.in/2006/11/26/evaluation-copy-a-boon-or-a-pain/ for a contrarian view.
It is nice to see another blog for Software entrepreneurs. I am writing on Software products and the various dimensions of that business in my blog
Interesting read. I have considered some similar issues and more at my blog site: http://www.sell-software-online-free.com/introduction/writing-a-shareware/
I am sure it will be of help to some people.
Interesting read. I have considered some similar issues and more at my blog site: < a href="http://www.sell-software-online-free.com/introduction/writing-a-shareware/">here
I am sure it will be of help to some people.
Good points and now has me thinking my own freeware strategy from the customers viewpoint. Very helpful.
I will say though, that trials and especially freeware should also be viewed as a marketing tool. Its also a branding vehicle if used correctly. It all dependends on what you are trying to accomplish. For example, giving away a smaller, "liter" version of something may help the sales of the larger version. But you could also develop a completely different freeware product as a tool to drive interest in a cross-sell to the business as a whole, or expose users to your brand as they use these smaller viral products. A good marketer would be able to understand all that....but just thought I would throw that out there.
Good article, when I created www.xpelo.com
as the world's first banned link finder it's offered as a 100% Free 14-day Trial with no restrictions on use whatsoever.
I was able to offer the Free Trial for XPELO® using a permissions based CRM that should anyone cancel their free trial within the 14 day period, the customer will not be allowed back into using the software even though the software is all client-side.
Chances are though since the software is the ONLY software for SEO that identifies, locates, and validates every link on any website (world's first banned link finder) that customers continually keep using the software to constantly check their websites every week.
So far the feedback on the offer and actual API software has been excellent, we couldn't be happier!