The Free trials business model

This is the sixth post of the monetisation series, and is about how Free trials can be used by large digital audiences.

Free trials should not be confused with a Freemium offering. The Freemium model is a long-term model which offers customers something for nothing, and an opportunity to buy something more for a price.

Free trials is usually a temporary offer (otherwise it wouldn’t be a trial!).

LinkedIn is a freemium offering, where users can interact with the site and use almost all the features, however if they want to do advanced searches, or advertise across the site, they need to pay. LinkedIn regularly offers free monthly trials for users to experience the upgraded features.

Free trials are the modern self-service sales machine. Instead of a sales person calling an individual to up sell products or features, providing a free-trial can let a product speak for itself and encourage users to start paying.

Free trials often need some marketing support to tell users of the advantages of the premium product, and to encourage them to try it for free.

When implementing free trials, I’d encourage organisations to test and compare two metrics over a long-term period:

  1. Ask for payment details at the start of the trial, to make it easier to start charging the customer once the free trial has finished
  2. Ask for payment details once the trial period is ending. This will convert more free users to begin the trial, but will make it harder to convert these users at the end of the trial.

As with many monetisation methods, both these options have advantages and disadvantages, and A/B, (also known as split or multivariate) testing is imperative.

 

For the other monetisation strategies, click here.

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