My dad is getting up in years. He watches a lot of TV these days. He was paying the cable company over $100 per month to broadcast more commercials than programming over hundreds of channels.
From a business model, making someone pay monthly for the right to be sold more products they must pay for is brilliant… as long as people continue to pay for it.
From a consumer’s perspective, it’s ridiculous. So much so I ended the madness and found his solution: Netflix and Google Chromecast.
Last Christmas, I bought him a 3-month trial subscription to Netflix. He can sit on the sofa, push one button on the remote, pull it up on Chromecast, and watch commercial-free movies all night long.
But here’s the problem with most trial offers.
If I just said, “Pops, here’s your Netflix username and password. Enjoy!” Then left him to it… do you think he’d try using it?
He’s 86-years old. World War II hadn’t even started until he was four years old. He has figured out how to take a pic and send it to me in a text on his iPhone, but patience figuring out more complicated tech toys isn’t one of his strong points.
Still, he’s bingeing on Netflix today.
What does this have to do with your free trial offer?
You’re about to see, quite a lot.
Businesses struggle to convert trial accounts to active accounts. We can tell by the articles riddling the web with proposed solutions.
A quick search pulls up questions like:
- How do I change my free trials to paying customers?
- How do you increase trial conversion?
- How do I engage my free trial users?
Even the experts are missing it.
For instance, pro suggestions I’ve seen were:
- Don’t ask for a credit card number with the trial.
- Offer discounts as they near the deadline.
- Remind them time is running out.
- Send marketing e-mails. (Isn’t that what is already happening here? And can we be more specific in our suggestion?)
- Sprinkle in the sense of urgency.
- Let them extend the trial.
That last one kills me. If they haven’t tried or bought your product by the trial’s end, will doing the same tactics, with added time, change the outcome?
I doubt it. Unless your trial period is unreasonably short from day one.
I could go on with similar solutions highlighted online. But there is one glaring problem with them.
As marketers, we ought to spot it. We use it in every other area of marketing.
Who are the trial offer suggestions benefiting?
In the above suggestions, whose interest are they representing?
It isn’t the buyer.
So, why do we come up with a free trial and go from marketer to CFO, looking at only the dollar?
Just about every solution I found pushed the sale. It focused on the seller’s best interest, not the consumer’s.
But let’s move on with more suggested solutions.
- Explain the benefits of paid features.
- Make the buying process easy.
- Share positive stories and accounts from paying users.
- Make Pricing Clear.
These are closer to the mark. But when did we forget marketing was about providing a solution to the customer’s problem, not about pushing the product?
Oh… I get it… the trial is supposed to be the solution, right?
No, it’s not. Not if the prospect fails how to consume your product during the trial.
Suppose you’re shopping for a vehicle. A good salesperson will hand you the keys to a car. But before they let you take a test drive, they show you where to adjust the seat. How you can tilt the steering wheel. Or, show you the electronic side mirror adjustment is on the armrest.
They don’t hand you the keys, go back to their office, and peek through the window blinds watching you struggle-in embarrassment-how to use the thing, do they?
And yet, why will we do that with a free trial?
Give them access. Pound them with reminders time is running out. Offer discounts. And otherwise, show our desperation to convert the sale.
So, what is the solution?
Remember my dad and his Netflix? He didn’t know how to use it, but now watches movies every night?
It’s so simple. It’s absurd.
I showed him how to use his trial account. How he can play a movie, add a movie to his playlist, and access his playlist with movies he’s saved.
His free trial would have timed out without him cracking it open if I hadn’t shown him how to consume it.
Forget about adding more time to your trial.
If they need more time, it’s one of two things:
- They hadn’t made time to use it yet.
- They opened it, looked around, didn’t know how to use it, and ran out of time.
It sounds like adding time should fix it, but the real fix is easy.
E-mail them with tips on how to use the product.
Outline specific problems your product solves, and give them step-by-step instructions on making it happen using your product.
If they are interested in solving a problem… if the solution is essential, they’ll respond to your engagement.
It’s not rocket science here.
E-mailing instructional tips does several things.
- Reminds a prospect the trial is still waiting, without appearing desperate or pushy.
- Keeps prospects engaged with your brand.
- Provides customer-based communications.
- Shows how to solve the original problem or challenge quicker.
- Prevents embarrassment: asking questions prospects may feel are too simple to ask.
- Allows a potential customer to go deeper in your product, increasing your chances of a purchase.
All you need is a five- or seven-part e-mail series to walk them through the more beneficial features of your product.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a forklift out in the warehouse or software in the front office.
You gain their trust as a company who is there to help relieve a pain point, not sell them your product.
If you need help developing those e-mails, or any e-mails, just ask. I’ll be glad to lift the burden off your shoulders.
Call 715-760-0712 or send me an e-mail.