4 Types of SaaS Trial Experiences

Continuing the next generation SaaS discussion, I believe we’ll see more apps incorporate free trials and other mechanisms to experience the app before buying. As mentioned before, it continues with the consumerization of IT where people want their business apps to feel like their consumer apps, and trying something out is no different. Only, when it comes to trials and qualifying prospects, there are several ways to do it.

Here are four ways to qualify SaaS trial prospects:

  • Free Edition – As part of the freemium model, the free edition is free for life and includes a limited number of features or module uses. Free editions are great for products that have a B2B viral component like scheduling and email.
  • Demo Account – Some products are more complicated and need to have dummy data preloaded to get a good feel for the app such that it’s a demo account that is testable but not real. Demo accounts are great for products that need complex data to test like accounting and enterprise resource planning.
  • Proof of Concept Pilot – Another trial approach is to require that the customer provide a credit card and sign an agreement to get access to a full instance that isn’t charged for some number of days (e.g. use the product for free for the first 14 days), and then upon completion of the free period, the credit card is automatically billed unless the vendor is notified of not moving forward. Proof of concept pilots are great when there’s some level of manual setup and integration required to make the product usable for trial requiring effort on behalf of the vendor.
  • Free Trial – Many SaaS apps are easy to get going and provide a free trial that gives the user full access for some period of time before disabling the account if they don’t convert into a paid customer. Free trials are great for self-service apps that are easy to experience.

Not all free trials are the same and there are a number of ways to deliver an experience similar to a free trial. Consider the style and approach best suited to the customer experience and experiment with different approaches.

What else? What are some more variations on the SaaS trial experience?

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