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ECT News Community   »   Open Discussion   »   What type of free trial should I offer for my software?



What type of free trial should I offer for my software?
Posted by: amuthanjrv 2012-03-01 23:21:57
Once upon a time, the idea that you would allow people to try your software before they bought it was revolutionary. But now, thanks to the shareware movement and the ease with which software can be downloaded from the Internet, free trials are the norm for most types of off-the-shelf software. Prospective customers no longer have to rely on reviews of questionable independence or reading the packaging in a shop. They can try the software for themselves before making any commitment. This has been overwhelmingly a good thing for software users. It has also been a boon for vendors of good software.

So, for most software products, the question isn’t – should I have a free trial? The questions is – what sort of free trial should I have? As with everything related to marketing, it depends. There are many different approaches.

Time-limited

Typically this takes the form of a fixed number of contiguous days of free and unrestricted use. The software then stops working and you need to buy a licence to continue using it.

Usage-limited

In this approach you limit the number of times a certain action can be performed. For example the number of pages they can print or the number of times they can start the software. This avoids the issue of a time-limited trial which expires before the user has finished their evaluation.

Feature-limited

In this approach the trial disables an important function of the software, for example printing or saving. The problem is that a user won’t know if this feature works properly until they buy the full version. This may put some people off.

Capacity-limited

A capacity-limited trial restricts the amount of data that can be entered. For example, a password manager might only allow you to enter 50 passwords into the trial version. This approach can be problematic when performance is important. For example, if you limit a database trial to one thousand records, how can the user test whether the search performance is adequate for a database with a million records?

Output-limited

Many products exist purely to produce some form of physical or electronic output, for example image editors and label printers. Adding a watermark, or altering the output in some other way, can be an effective way to limit a trial.

A good trial is a balancing act. You need to give prospective customers enough to show them your software could solve their problem, but not enough to actually solve their problem. But if you are too restrictive they might go to a competitor with a more relaxed trial policy. It can be tough to get the balance right or to know whether a different approach would get better results.


Re: What type of free trial should I offer for my software?
Posted by: megankrow 2012-04-03 12:39:59 In reply to: amuthanjrv
i think thats the best option

Time-limited

Typically this takes the form of a fixed number of contiguous days of free and unrestricted use. The software then stops working and you need to buy a licence to continue using it

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