There’s a perception born of tasty tid-bits at the grocery store that free trials are a simple confection offered by a service provider; to be consumed, briefly appreciated, and then forgotten. But, it’s important to draw a line between free samples and free trials. A sample is a small representation of a greater whole while a trial is an entire experience. As a business owner and merchant, it’s important to underscore the value behind a free trial. A comprehensive and successful free trial program can not only swell your free trial merchant account, but it demonstrates value and respect to your potential future customers.
Antivirus free trials, XBOX Live free trials, and even PowerPoint free trials are all widely popular for consumers to test the waters with a new product, but their success goes a level deeper. Free trials are more than just the hook to lure new customers. By participating in a free trial, a consumer is giving you something of value: their time. In return, a merchant ought to endeavor to provide something of value in return. Before there’s the issue of money, you are already exchanging an understanding and respect between business and consumer. This demonstration of value is the first, even if subconscious, assurance a customer has about purchasing your product or service.
The goal in a free trial, just as it is with any other aspect of your business, is to make sure a customer is happy when they walk away. A free trial is an opportunity to expand your base of happy customers to those that aren’t even your customers. If someone participates in a free trial but does not purchase your product or service, if you have a quality free trial experience then the odds are they were not going to purchase anyways. There are any number of reasons that a customer may not choose to purchase your product or service: timing, finances, etc. However, if they had a positive experience in a free trial then they walk away happy. A happy customer will spread positive feedback about your product even if they didn’t buy your product or service.
Investing in a free trial program is investing in expanding your customer base. Even if the free trial does not result in a new consumer, you can reach more customers through a positive free trial program. Essentially, with a free trial experience you have a win-win situation. Either the customer is impressed and purchases your product, or a customer that was probably not going to purchase anyway still experiences your product or service expanding the possible future consumer base of your business. Free trials can benefit a business by establishing brand and recognition in places normally inaccessible: those unlikely to purchase your product or service in the first place. In this sense, the free trial experience offered by your expands beyond the latest cracker-and-cheese combination at the local grocer by offering real, tangible value.