4 Customer-Gutting Sins of a Free Trial Offer Strategy

By Todd White
Jan 18, 2022
free trial offer strategy

With estimates placing the value of the SaaS market at around $280 billion by 2026, free trial offers are among the more popular strategies for grabbing some of that traffic. But the steps you take to build that experience for potential customers will either secure a loyal customer relationship or force them to cut and run. 

The biggest obstacle to the success of your free trial conversion could be you. 

There are four tempting strategies that seem like great ideas at first. But overlooking relevance in a target audience, spotty customer engagement, a misaligned focus and failing to consider the customer’s perspective are so detrimental to your sales campaigns it’s almost sinful. Don’t be lured in by these four common mistakes if you want to connect with customers through online free trial offers.


Thinking Everybody Is Your Target Audience

As the saying goes, “When you try to please everybody, nobody is pleased with the result.” And that applies to using trial subscriptions to attract new customers. If you want customers to trust your brand, relevancy is key. Studies show that almost every consumer (91 percent) says they will likely shop with brands that offer recommendations relevant to them. 

By contrast, over half (66 percent) of shoppers say content that isn’t personalized would stop them from making a purchase. It’s tempting to blanket the virtual earth with your brand. But for the sake of your brand’s integrity (and your budget), research your target audience, understand their pain points, and focus on promoting specific solutions.


Not Engaging Your Customers after Acquiring Them

This first touch by potential customers is a golden opportunity to display not only your product but your incredible customer service as well. When polled, 86 percent of people say they’d be more likely to stay loyal to a business that invests in onboarding content that welcomes and educates them after they’ve made the purchase. 

The trial period is the ideal time to partner quick, self-service tips that customers can click on or reach out with regular emails sharing information on how to elevate the user experience. Based on available profile data, it’s wise to personalize emails based on job titles or work responsibilities, for example, and address the challenges people in that position often face. Capitalize on this stage where users are the most receptive to your expertise—and an upgrade.


Making Your Product the Focus Instead of the Customer

Customers are drawn to brands that understand their challenges, desires, values, etc. They seek a connection that extends beyond the product. “As we move toward everything as a service, customers are buying more than simply a product. They’re also buying outcomes,” explains Maria Martinez, Cisco COO. “Customers don’t want to buy something, then deal with provisioning, then deal with delivery. The experience needs to be seamless—and the only way that’s possible is when the people who work on the underlying technologies, support, and services work closely to enable customer success.”

The point of your trial isn’t to focus on your product; it’s to focus on the customer. Take this limited time as an opportunity to show potential customers critical solutions to their problems. Don’t just show them your product—show them outcomes quickly. 


Failing to See the Experience from the Customer’s Perspective

This trial offer is your one-time pitch to a potential customer. You must engage in this onboarding process from their perspective. Incorporate the factors we’ve discussed and create a personalized, informative, customer-centric, and relevant campaign. 

Be clear on the features that speak to the desires of your target customer. While it’s easy for you to navigate the different components, remember that this is the customer’s first encounter with your product. 

Studies show that more than half (55 percent) of consumers admit they’ve returned a product because they didn’t understand how to use it. You can minimize that risk by including popup links to videos, FAQ and tips pages, and a chat tool to handle inquiries and reinforce product value in the early stages of the trial subscription. 

Keep your opt-in forms basic, and make sure that information carries over to other pages. A customer who has to repeatedly add identifying information on different pages won’t. Keep emails brief and focused, then watch for feedback on product performance. What does your product offer B2B customers as a competitive advantage? 

A strategic trial offer is a fantastic way to introduce the value of your product, brand, and customer success team to a receptive customer. By staying aligned with customer-centric strategies, you can avoid disruptive distractions and deliver an engaging free trial offer. 

Todd White


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