Free Trials Is A Marketing Tactic We Don't Use, But Don't Let That Stop You

There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but what about a free trial? Customers must often hand over credit card details before starting a free trial. And forgetting to cancel at the end of the trial period can turn in to a hassle. It can be enough for a customer to be unwilling to try your product or service at all — even worse, it can put you on the receiving end of chargebacks when customers decide it’s easier to file a complaint with their credit card company than to resolve the issue directly with the merchant.

To promote goodwill and avoid chargebacks, don’t require a customer to enter credit card information for the free trial. But if you feel you must capture that information to avoid missing out on a sale, make sure you tell them exactly how long the trial is and what happens after the trial period. As that trial expiration date nears, contact customers to let them know when their card will be billed and how they can stop that from happening. If a customer does decide to continue with the subscription, however, you’re still not home free. Provide customers ample notice before a subscription renews, and let them know what charges they should expect to see on their credit card statements.

And don’t make customers hunt for the fine print that describes cancellation and billing policies. Put a link in an obvious location on all website pages and in all customer correspondence.

Q: Why doesn’t ServerWise offer a free trial when all of our competitors do?

A:  Because most trials don’t convert but all those free trials use expensive resources, and someone has to pay for them. Who pays? Customers! We could offer free trials, but we would have to increase the monthly fee to paying customers by $22-$25. Not worth it to us!

25% Conversions on Free Trials Are Considered Magically High

Let’s break this down and determine if free trials are right for you (they may not be after).

It’s now time to break out your calculator and figure a few things out. As an example, I’ll explain why ServerWise has avoided free trials.

Cost of ServerWise monthly is $79. Now that doesn’t provide the profit margin one might automatically assume because so much of our service is manual. We don’t have a lot of automation because automation means we must be able to create generalizations about our customers’ needs, and given our industry and niche we simply can’t do that. Setting up a WordPress install is easy, and we can and do automate that, but once installed we have to manually personalize the site for the client’s specific industry, goals, niche, etc. That can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 1 hour per client and per site.

If we allow free trials, we could potentially be spending upwards of 10 hours a day creating free sites for our non-paying users, but our staff must still be paid, so who pays them? Our paying users do of course! 

Now if your service is fully automated and a new account, all-in, only costs you a few bucks in automated resources (storage space, bandwidth, etc.) you can easily automate the free trial experience. If you only have 10% conversion, you’ll still be ahead with a definable ROI.

For ServerWise it’s simply not worth it unless 95% of those free trials convert and that’s not possible!

Picture of J. Fleischmann
J. Fleischmann
James is a content strategist, sites manager and copywriter for ServerWise. He's written 51 e-books for clients resulting in over 600,000 new leads as a ghostwriter. James lives in Texas with three dogs and has a Longhorn as a neighbor.