Growth Hacking, Retention, Acquisition, Conversion: Growthmint

Day 15: Trials and Free Plans

Your site can provide every piece of information about your product you can conceive, overcome every objection you’ve ever encountered and still not be convincing enough. Many people just need to try out the product to understand how it will provide them value.

In fact, the majority of people won’t buy your product without taking a look.

Once you get someone signed up for a free plan or trial, the marketing doesn’t stop there. You still have to convince them that your product will deliver on your promises.

Pro Tip

The people in your trial are much more valuable than someone just looking at your site.

Free plans

Freemium is a popular business model among lower priced SaaS products. Instead of a limit on time, free plans usually have limits on features and or usage. Trials are meant for evaluation of the product and, if you like it in the end, you start paying for it.

With free plans, you are counting on the people using it to market it by tweeting about it or recommending it to their friends. With some products, you're also hoping that your free plan will allow the people using it to grow enough to be able to start paying for it down the line.

Be careful with a free plan. Free users can be a lot more costly than you expect in terms of support and product resources.

Also, if you’re too generous with your free plan, many customers will stick with it instead of upgrading. You will want to offer enough of your product to keep them using it without com.


Mailchimp has a very generous free plan. But it took them 7 years after their launch to start offering one. They waited until they knew their customers' behavior well enough to understand a free plan's impact on their business.

Pro Tip

If your free plan isn’t generating referrals and helping you with marketing, then you should test out trials.


Trials are more common among SaaS because there are many SaaS products where free plans don’t work. For example, with higher priced SaaS products (generally enterprise), free plans are unlikely to bring in customers who are looking to spend thousands of dollars.

Limited time trials can be a much better solution than free plans for letting potential customers try out your product while limiting the costs of serving them.

Trials lengths start at as little as a few days with the rare one going on for 60 days. The majority of them fall between 7 and 30 days.

Often, the lower end isn’t enough time for a potential customer to use your product thoroughly. Even if it’s high on their priority list, plans can change and implementation often takes longer than the potential customer originally estimates.

With a longer trial, you run the risk of a lack of urgency and customers never getting around to trying your product.

Pro Tip

I like the idea of a shorter trial that drives urgency, but being generous with extending the free trial if people ask.

Pro Tip

A big question with trials is whether you should require a credit card up front. Doing so often increases the quality of the people who start a trial. But it can also drive away too many potential customers. Test out both options to see which works best for you.

Converting Free and Trials Users

You’ve done the hard work of getting that potential customer to sign up for your free plan or trial. Now you sit back and wait for the money to flow, right? Not so much - there’s still a lot of work to be done to convince them to buy from you.

Study your customers who convert and compare their actions and characteristics against those who don’t. What patterns do you see? Considering the common actions of those who convert, are there UI changes you can make to drive more people to convert?

Pro Tip

Determine the top 3 behaviors of people who become customers. Then extend their trial for each of the three tasks they perform. It’s a really nice surprise for them and it will drive more behavior correlated with converted customers.