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Wow! Your Free Trial Is TERRIBLE! (Did I say that out loud?)


Source: http://www.leadformix.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/free-trial-green.jpg
How many free trials have you ever started and then never used again outside that first sign-up? How many free trials did you use, and then you were just floored by the value or what you could do that you signed up as a paid user? Or maybe you just continued your free account?

David Cummings just posted a post "Time to Wow" on his blog touching on free trials, and implicitly, their true purpose. In it, Cummings actually references another article by a blogger named David Skok -- "Growth Hacking Free Trials: Time to Wow! is the key to success".

So let me touch on this little subject with some anecdotal evidence:
  • "Wow" can be facilitated with ease of set-up. I touched on the ability to quickly get set-up in "Who's poised to profit in this fragmented, online dating world of startups?" But if you can get set up quick on  a free trial, the easier and faster users can use and love your app. You can use things like social media sign-ins (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc.), or being able to import pictures (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, etc.).
  • Engaging, high quality, fun media can be Wowing. If you can bake into your free trial some engaging content like a tutorial that steps through your app to show some value, it can be engaging in showing high quality content while also helping your customers learn to use your product.
  • Not all Wow is good. "Wow, this app is really big!" or "Wow, this product is confusing!" are obviously not good Wow moments. Simplicity in design can be a Wow in itself, or at least hedge the negative Wows.
  • Is your free trial demonstrating your value? Free trials are tricky because the user(s) usually doesn't have any skin in the game. Hence, free trials don't always convert well. It's implied in Cummings and Skok's advice to potentially narrow down the Wow values sometimes to the core of your product/ service to get the buy-in quickly and explicitly.
  • Track what you can effectively with free trials. Since users oftentimes have little skin in the game and can quickly end or switch to another competing product/ service, you should aim to capture as much detail as effectively possible, and make the trial better to up conversions. Track who signed up for the free trial, what did he/ she do within the free trial? Was there a hiccup? How can you reach out to help him/ her?
Source: http://thesprogblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Amazed-Face-300x300.jpg

Converting prospects to free trials can be tough, and then converting from free trials to paid subscribers can be even tougher. Add to that, free trials are oftentimes the only chances you get with those prospects with today's plethora of options in the market. Thus, you need to weigh the strategy of the free trial heavily. Get your Wow factor apparent to the user to engage them quickly. You'll know ineffective trials when you aren't converting to sales or if the users aren't using the product more than a couple times during the free trial.

What are your thoughts of the free trial? Where or how else could you make Wow moments in a free trial or even beyond? 

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