Sometimes it’s hard to see the benefit of something we haven’t seen in action or tried first. Offering a free trial period, or a demonstration of your product, can be a great way to alleviate a potential customer’s fears and make them confident the product will work for them. Also, once someone has tried something free they often feel obliged to reciprocate by purchasing from you – it’s the principle of reciprocity in action.
For example, if you have a software product, offer a free 30 day trial, so customers can see how it works, use it and see the results they get from it. You’ll get customers who may have sat on the fence or not purchased previously all of a sudden be ready to buy because they can get a chance to experience how great the product can actually be for them.
There’s one tip we’ve learned over the years that can greatly increase your retention rate here (or essentially how many stay on past the trial period), and that’s to offer a free trial, but require them to enter their credit card or payment details. Instead of charging them, which can decrease the conversion rates even more, just authorize their credit cards for $1 or so (this is typically where their card temporarily sees a charge for like $1 that never officially goes through – similar to what many gas stations do when you pay at the pump). If you use Paypal, you don’t even have to worry as much about this and can just do a straight trial for X days that automatically charges once the trial ends (Paypal is typically very good at getting money from customers, whereas for credit cards you often have to authorize them to make sure that they’re legit to start with).
You can also use trials as “special offers” whenever you want to run a sale. For instance, if you regularly sell a software tool for $997 / year, you can have a special offer where you do a free trial for 14 or 30 days. This can get a ton of people who’ve been on the fence to jump on this offer, as they know that the only other way for them to try out the software would be to pay $997 upfront.
So make it easy for customers to see the value in your product and purchase from you by offering a free trial or demonstration of your product. You’ll get a chance to make them feel comfortable with your product and see how great it is for them, before having to lay down their hard-earned cash. This in turn leads to more sales, especially from people who may have been skeptical about your product without the chance to try it first.