Membership Trials Pros and Cons, and Best Practices to Follow

Many online membership sites offer a free trial period to show their prospective client the value of the investment if they buy the services or product from them.

The rationale behind offering a free trial is to eradicate any fear of loss or self-doubts about the product and make them confident that they are making the most informed decision.

So, the ultimate purpose of a free trial is to eliminate the risk barrier.

But, do this free trial system fit well in every membership business model? Or could it be dangerous for some of them?

Let me uncover some common risks and benefits when implementing the free trial period. But first of all, let’s find out how these free trials work, and then we’ll talk about the pros and cons of offering a free trial period.

Different ways to offer a free trial period

You can offer a trial period in many different ways. For example, you can send them an offer of 30 days free trial membership.

Another way is offering them a limited-access trial where your members can access only limited resources or a limited number of features. This type of trial offer can be used on entry plans where the potential clients can use up to limited resources, and if they like to continue, you can upgrade their access to the mid-level plan.

What are the key factors that you should consider before locking on any free trial model? Here are a few of them.

  • How much time will it take for customers to get to know all the benefits of your product?
  • Can customers fully understand how your product is going to work by only trying the limited features?
  • How much cost can you bear to support a limited free trial?
  • How long will it take to buy the full product if your customers try the free trial period?

Pros of offering the free trial memberships

There are many pros to offering free trial memberships to your customers. However, It also depends upon your business model if offering it is worth it or not. Therefore, before offering free trial membership carefully calculate the benefits of trials according to your membership site business model.   

Let’s look into some of the perks of using free trial memberships.

1. A great product works best as a marketing tool

If your product is outstanding, then a free trial will let your consumers see how useful it can be. Once they try your product, they’ll get used to its productivity and won’t give up using it, and they will convert from a free trial user to long term member.

Also, if they found your product valuable, they will talk about it to their friends and family; this word-of-mouth recommendation will result in more membership sign-ups.

Giving free trials can let your business in a win-win situation. If it’s common to offer a free trial in your industry, then you’ll have the edge over your competitors by allowing your customers to test-drive your product. In addition, it’s a way to prove that your product is awesome than any other product in the industry.

2. Ease the fear of risk

When you offer free membership trial, you allow your customers to see what they’ll get with their investment. Most of the time, people are reluctant to pay for anything until they’re not sure of what they’ll get in return. The free trial will let your users see the value of their investment and ease their fear of risk or assurance by giving them a first-hand trial.

3. Build an email list of prospective clients

When logging into the free trial, users are putting effort and time into setting up their account, a user’s profile, and email address for future communication.  It means that they value your product and content, and most likely, they’ll stick longer if your product satisfied their need. Even if they don’t go for buying your product’s membership, they’ll be like an asset that can be converted into a long-term client with discounts and offers, and you can retarget this audience with solid email marketing.

4. Get marketing and product- testing – all in one

Free trial membership is an easy way to collect reviews about your product; in this way, you can easily find out what people like or dislike about your product. In addition, it’s a great way to get inside your audience’s mind and collect ideas to improve your product. That’s why free trials can benefit you both as a marketing and product testing tool.

5. Trailers tend to convert easily

The users who have signed up for your free trial are an easy target to get converted. It’s because they have already tested your product, and they know its worth so; they already know what they’ll get when making a purchase. Therefore, there’s no need to convince them before converting them because they are already satisfied, and a little push in the shape of an incentive or discount can encourage them to make a purchase. Another way to convert them is using a referral discount, so if they convert and refer your product to others, they’ll get double benefits.

Cons of using Free membership trials

It’s obvious that free trial membership has outstanding results for many businesses, but it doesn’t mean that you can imply the same free membership trial model to any business. You can forcefully fit the free trials to any system because it has a downside as well. This is something that should be taken into careful consideration, especially if you’re just starting to build a membership site and trying to figure out your pricing. Let’s have a look at when the free trial memberships should not be offered.

1. Time and money investments

When you offer free membership trials, even for a limited period, it’s obvious that it’ll cost you both in terms of time and money.  Setting up free trials needs lots of effort and careful planning. You have to carefully identify the content or features that should be included in the free trial, a user-friendly sign-up procedure, and the marketing of the trial to your prospective audience. It all needs careful preparation and also the investment of time and money. Wisely figure out the cost of all this process and then compare the potential benefits with the costs, and if the benefits overweigh the costs, then consider the trials.

2. Can your customers get a complete picture of your product in the given period?

Do not offer a free trial if you are not sure of delivering the results in the given period. Because if it’s not possible to deliver the value within a reasonable time frame, the trial period will make no sense. Also, don’t try to fix free trials in all of the situations because there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, carefully sort out the best free trial length before going for it.

3. Risk of your rival to sneak peek on you

It’s possible that your rival companies sneak peek at your product and then try to imitate or develop a better strategy. Therefore, you have to decide based on the facts and how much information should be given in the trial period. It’s also possible that users will try to take advantage of the free trial period and can sign up multiple times using fake information.

Ready for free membership trials to go? Take these steps

Finally, after calculating the pros and cons of free membership trials, if you have decided to go for it, make sure to take these steps before getting started.

  • Decide which membership trial model will fit your need – limited time trials or limited features trials.
  • If you opted for limited-time trials, then carefully sort out the length of the trial period and costs.
  • If you have decided on the limited feature model, outline the features you’ll include in the free trial and which features will hold back.
  • Draft the roadmap of the post-trial onboarding process. 

About The Author

Andriy Haydash

Andriy Haydash

Andriy Haydash is a WordPress Expert who helps people build and launch successful WordPress membership and e-learning websites.

Note: Not all of the articles are written directly by me.
Affiliate Disclaimer: Some links in the post may be my affiliate links

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