by Lesley Aitken
I remember 10 years ago (I’m now showing my age), a “free trial” was a great way of stimulating interest about your offering and generating a new customer through a carefully crafted conversion strategy. Members and gym goers just wanted to dip their toes into trying new things like step classes, spinning or small group training and they were enticed to try for free. Is offering free trials still a good idea?
How many times have you given away a free trial and it really hasn’t been valued by the holder, it was half used, used and didn’t lead to a purchase or not used at all?
Warning! If you can’t give the holder of the trial a complete experience of how your offering benefits them within a short time period AVOID giving away a free trial. How many times have we seen free trials looking lost and disoriented in the gym? Or lost within an online program with only FAQs and automated emails as engagement. You know they are automated right! I’ve entered a few of these online programs myself and just felt like a digital number.
How many trials have you noticed people getting started on and immediately been forgotten?
How many times have you heard about reception staff causing the customer to be confused simply because they don’t know anything about the trial voucher when a customer shows up with one?
A free trial has the potential to be gold dust for any business, yet your own marketing efforts and spend to get someone interested in trying you product can be wasted.
If you are going to offer a free trial understand what it will take for your new customer to achieve some physical or emotional benefits from your product. They should gain enough success to want to continue with you. Once they use and experience the true value of your offering they become a true fan. Selling can go wrong when they don’t appreciate what you can really do for them!
So, how long should your free trial be? A/B test a 14-day CTA or even a 30-day CTA and analyse to look for the winner. Test and measure the success of your giveaway. Yes – your conversion rate may be higher on a 1-day trial because they can probably purchase quickly with a one-time big discount but the conversion is just a metric – a vanity one at that!
Offering a short trial like a free class, 1-day, 3-day or 7-day could back fire on you because people perceive it to be not long enough to investigate the true value of your offering. You want to target the right customer and get a good-fit for your offering from as many of your target market as you can to experience the trial, even if that reduces the conversion rate.
One of the things I have learnt by working closely with gen x women via Youthful Body is that a free 7-day challenge or free class can discourage rather than encourage because they didn’t feel fit or comfortable enough. We offer a free consultation, they tell us what they want and WE LISTEN! They want to talk first via a consultation and we let them talk instead of a free trial. Time is precious for midlife’s because they are juggling family, careers and the challenges of Covid-19 and they don’t have time to waste on a trial. Investing once they feel they’ve been listened too and they can visualise their journey plan of action is something they would rather do.
Netflix don’t offer FREE 30-day trials anymore in the US! Instead they are offering sampling for free, such as content sampling promotions. Netflix’s decision to cancel it’s free trial comes at a time when other streaming services are leaning heavily on trails to build up their subscribers bases. Could you be exploring content sampling promotions when many fitness steaming services are offering free trials. Could they purchase a “10-day January Reset” course with daily valuable content provided via Facebook for £10 or a Shred Your Midlife Middle in 14 Days for £25? Be creative and targeted with your content via a course and make sure it’s engaging. Once purchased enter them into a private Facebook community group where they will receive their content and truly provide a highly valuable sample of your solution and brand. Free content sampling like Netflix may work for you – “Get our FREE Glute Guide” with a CTA. Make sure you add value to your free content e.g. 52 FREE High Protein Recipes (£37 VALUE.)
- Offer carefully crafted trials for your selected target market and target to get a good-fit.
- Test different length of trials such as 14-days or 30-days via A/B testing.
- Consider offering a “free consultation” rather than a trial and get to know your potential customer.
- Consider sampling at a low cost or free. Rather than free trials or challenges, give away something like a 14-Days to Flat Abs Course (at a low cost) or “Get My Survive the Menopause Guide for FREE.”