Want To Get Your Customers To Commit After Free Trials? Date Them.
Free trials. Ah, yes. Don’t you love them? What better way to test the waters and show customers why they should keep that membership active. For many subscription-based companies, this is where they will either grow tenfold or fold under pressure. It’s easy to give something away for free and it’s sometimes a pain to get them to stay. To better understand this, we have to see things from a customers perspective in order to keep them coming back. Like courting in a sense.
Companies that offer free trials (or freemiums) should understand that trials are feelers for customers who haven’t tried the product rather than an end all be all. Understanding this will help increase retention in your product. In order to increase sales, you’ll have to think from both the buyer and the sellers perspective.
From a customer standpoint, you’d sign up to try a product and most likely cancel before the trial is up. This is the deciding phase in which you will either become a returning customer or not. If you like the product enough, you will renew your subscription. If you don’t, you get to walk away with a free product. No harm, no foul. You may even ask yourself “Do I like this enough to subscribe?” This comes across everyone's minds when they look into making that decision. Some customers will even swear by the product, but will never make the move to fully committing at the payment level. Nothing is really concrete, as some people commit right after the trial and some take a while to come around.
Take it from someone who used Spotify for the last 8 years and finally upgraded to premium this year. As much as I enjoy the features I didn’t commit because, at the time, I didn’t feel it was necessary for me to do so. For me, I had the mentality of not buying the cow when I can get the milk for free. I could listen to all of my favorite songs and the commercials didn’t bother me enough to upgrade. I even took advantage of a 3-month free trial which I enjoyed a bit. What got me to upgrade was when I started traveling and wanted to hear my songs on the go. The offline feature became more necessary than ever, especially when I’m on a road trip or in spots with spotty wi-fi. After dodging ad after ad for years, I felt like the least I can do is commit.
With sellers, the goal is to persuade the customer to come back after the free trial. The solution comes down to three things: quality, want, and worth. If the customer believes the quality of the service is up to standard, they will shop there again. In turn, making the move to become a repeat customer. For them to keep their membership, you have to tap into their emotions and build rapport through sales. Make them feel welcome and make them feel like you are truly there for them. If something happens with the product and you fix it accordingly, that builds up your credibility and gets more customers to your business.
You see, you and your customer are in a relationship (minus the flirty emojis). Business and dating have a lot in common. When we date, our mission is to convince someone we want why they should stick around and spend their time and energy with us. We aim to show them how we can offer some form of value to their lives. From there, it is up to them to decide whether we are worth the commitment or if we’re a one-time thing. As stated earlier, some people commit from Day 1 and others may take day 90. It ties into their personality and how that person reacts when something has their attention.
It’s also a good idea for companies not to pressure the customer. This is the most common mistake I see with some brands. They will send several emails throughout the week and most of the time the customer will end up unsubscribing from the email list. Don’t be annoying. Another common mistake I see with free trials is too little provision. Don’t hold off all of your cool features in order to get someone to pay unless you want them to lose interest. Many offer a few cool features and have the customer pay for the rest. To be honest, the fish and hook strategy is one of the most commonly used and it only works if the business has the marketing skills to pull it off.
What keeps people staying around? Positive emotion and reassurance. Everyone wants something that makes them feel good. Dating, in a nutshell, is emotional problem-solving. When you solve their needs they respond positively and enjoy the person providing a solution. In other words, when you give them what they want, they’ll reward you with loyalty. What does every business want at the end of the day? Loyal customers! Honesty, transparency, attentiveness are some of the things that keep B2C relationships working. Offering some “thank you for your service” surprises are a nice touch.
In order to get more out of that person, you have to get them to open up their heart (and wallet in this case.) People are emotionally attached to their money. After all, we work hard for every dollar we make. When a customer decides to enter their payment info, they are trusting you to give them the quality content they're convinced they will receive. As a business, if you don’t deliver what you said you would they could unsubscribe at any point. No business enjoys breaking up with their customers, right?
“We’re sorry to see you go. Let us know how we can improve! We hope to see you soon.”
I bet (enter competitor companies name) wouldn’t treat me like this.
I can talk all day about how both dating and business coincide with each other. Whether it’s dating or business, building a connection is how both parties are able to get what they want. How a business decides to cater their branding to the customer is up to that business. As long as they understand the fundamentals of providing a need to the market and provide an incentive in exchange for retention they will be able to grow.
People don’t buy from businesses, they buy from people. No one speaks on companies as a company, they speak on them with the affinity of another human. There has to be an emotional attachment that keeps customers coming back time after time. Tapping into that emotion before trying to tap into their pockets is what gets things to work in your favor. Is it hypothetically a polyamorous relationship? Who knows lol. The important thing is to take the time to get to know and understand the customer. Your business will thank you.