How Trials Can Drive Business Growth (and how to implement them effectively)

06th-Mar-2024 Tips Advice Marketing

Trials can be a highly effective way to generate leads

Trials: Could They Be Your Secret Weapon to Power Growth?

You don’t need me to tell you this - but in today's world of savvy shoppers who are bombarded with near-constant marketing messages, convincing someone to part with their hard-earned cash is no easy feat.

They're bombarded with choices, and they can find a dozen alternatives to your product or service at the click of a button.

So how do you cut through the noise and convince them to take a chance on you?

One powerful way is by offering trials.

Now, I know what you might be thinking:

“Trials attract ‘freebie hunters’. They don’t bring in the right kind of prospect”.

"I can’t afford to give away my product/service for free”.

“If I offer a trial, all the prospects who would’ve paid the full price will go for the trial instead and I’ll make less money".

These are totally valid concerns, and I promise you, I understand them.

BUT I’ve come to believe very strongly that, in most cases, these are limiting beliefs that could be stunting the growth of your business.

In fact, I believe that implementing trials properly can be a game-changer for many businesses, helping you to grow quickly.

Trials attract new leads like bees to a beautiful flower

Here's why:

  • Trials get more people into your ‘Funnel’
    People are hesitant to invest their hard-earned cash in something they don't know or understand. Trials allow potential customers to experience your product or service first-hand, alleviating their anxieties and building trust in your brand. In short, they reduce the ‘risk’ to your prospects, thereby encouraging more to sign up.

  • Increased conversions
    Trials are the best form of lead magnet, because they are laser-targeted at potential customers who are genuinely interested in what you offer. It doesn’t really matter if they were intending to cancel after the trial period – they want what you have to offer so, if you wow them and the price is right, they’ll sign up for more (or they won’t cancel). Simply by getting more people to try you out, you WILL get more paying customers.
  • Reduced customer acquisition costs
    Without a trial (or similar) offer, fewer people will sign up after seeing your marketing efforts, and your cost of getting a customer will be higher. Let’s look at a hypothetical example:

    Without Trials: If you spend £100 on advertising and attract 2 customers, each customer has cost you £50.

    With Trials: If you spend £100 on advertising and attract 10 free trials, and and if 50% of those trials convert, then you have 5 new customers, who cost £20 each.

    You now have more money in the coffers so you could, if you chose, scale up your marketing. By which I mean you could spend £200 on marketing and get 10 new customers next time. You can now GROW.

What if my trials DON’T convert?

Don’t panic. This will feel like a calamity – but it isn’t. This is an opportunity to learn.

If trials don’t convert, then that is a signal to you that something needs to change.

It is a fact that, if people like you, and they like your product, and the price is right – they WILL buy.

So, if they aren’t signing up, then maybe you need to work harder at building a relationship with your customers. Or maybe you need to adjust your offering to better match your customers’ needs and desires. Or maybe you’re just too expensive for this demographic and you need to find a way to reach people with deeper pockets.

Whatever the reason, trials will speed up your learning curve as you will have more data to analyse, more quickly. Keep tweaking and testing until you get it right!


Making Your Trials Work: A Practical Guide

So, you're convinced that trials are worth exploring. But how do you ensure they work effectively for your business? Here are some key considerations:

  • Define your target audience: Who is your ideal customer? Make sure you’re promoting your trial to the right people, or you’ll attract the wrong kind of customer who will be hard to convert. Find out where those ideal customers ‘hang out’ (that might be virtually or physically – think websites, social media, magazines, cafes, leisure centres, family days out etc), and start your marketing there.

  • Choose the right trial type: There are different types of trials, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Here are 3 common options:
    • Free trials: These offer full access to your product or service for a limited time. They can be effective in generating leads and conversions but come with the risk of attracting "freebie hunters”.
      e.g. Free trial classes for activities or free tastings at supermarkets.

    • Freemium models: Typically used with subscription-model businesses, these offer a limited version of your product or service for free (often indefinitely), with the option to upgrade to a paid plan for additional features. This can be a good way to attract a wider audience and showcase the value proposition of your premium features.
      e.g. The free listings we offer on the Toddle About website.

    • Paid trials: These require users to pay a discounted fee to access the full functionality of your product or service for a limited time. This can be an effective way to deter "freebie hunters" whilst still offering potential customers the opportunity to experience the full value of your offering at minimum risk. They can also work better where there is a hard cost to the business when providing the trial, ensuring the business doesn’t lose money on the trial.


Follow-Up: The Key to Conversion

The single most overlooked reason that trials fail to convert is lack of effective follow up.

It is not your customer’s job to remember to spend their money with you – it’s your job to remind them!

So, after the trial ends, don't simply abandon your trialists. In fact, stay in touch with them until they either sign up, or unsubscribe. You can’t know when the time will be right for your customer to sign up properly, but if you don’t stay in touch then it’s highly likely that they will forget about you when the time comes.

Ideas for staying in touch:

  • Send them a series of personalised follow-up emails.
  • Drop them a text message to ask if they enjoyed their trial.
  • Ask them to complete a survey.
  • Send them a thank you card or other gift in the post.
  • Connect with them on social media (different apps will suit different businesses).
  • Send them a personal video via email, WhatsApp or LinkedIn.

When you contact them during follow up, please don’t just send sales messages asking them to buy/upgrade/sign up… yes, you need to give them the information they need to sign up, but you should sell softly.

Your goal during follow up is to build a relationship with your prospect – if they like and trust you, then it’s highly likely that a sale will follow if you can give them what they want and need.

So share information about your journey and your ethos/values (don’t be afraid to get personal); tell them stories or case studies about happy customers; show off when you get great PR or amazing testimonials; ask for feedback; Share your news; Share improvements and updates to your offering; Promote flash sales and discounts; Give them valuable content they will appreciate.

You can (and should) sprinkle sales messages into your follow up – but they shouldn’t be the only kind of message you send out.

It can be daunting, and you won’t get it right first time, but whatever you do: stay in touch.

Additional Tips for Successful Trials:

  • Make it easy to sign up: The signup process for your trial should be frictionless and user-friendly. Avoid requiring customers to create lengthy accounts or jump through hoops before they can experience your product or service.

  • Provide excellent customer support: During the trial period, be readily available to answer questions and address any concerns they might have. This will help ensure a positive trial experience and increase the likelihood of conversion.

  • Track and analyse your results – then adjust: Continuously monitor your trial data to understand its effectiveness. Analyse key metrics like conversion rates, engagement, and customer feedback to identify areas for improvement and optimise your trial offering for better results.


When NOT to Use Trials

I know I’ve been banging the drum here in favour of using trials in your business – and I do believe they work wonders for most businesses. But there are some exceptions.

Situations where Trials might not be appropriate:

  1. Perhaps it goes without saying, but if you’re at full capacity and you won’t be able, or don’t want, to bring in more customers, then don’t run trials.
  2. If you sell a product or service that is a ‘one off’ or ‘impulse purchase’, you probably don’t need trials in the sense we are discussing here – but finding a way for your prospects to still ‘try before they buy’ will still benefit you.
  3. If the cost to your customers is low enough to not be a ‘risk’ to them if they, you probably don’t need trials – you will just be needlessly extending the sales process by implementing them.


Give us a try with OUR free trials!

We fully embrace trials in our businesses, so feel free to give our services a try at no risk :-)

Perfect for classes, events, appointments and subscriptions, our activity booking app, Book That In, has built-in trial functionality to make the whole process of selling and following up with trials easy for you. And you can use Book That In for free for as long as you want! You only start paying when you take payments through the system.

If you’re interested in giving trials a go, then you will need to promote them - and our sister company, Toddle About, gives you an amazing way to reach parents with children aged 0 – 5. You can get started with our very own freemium offering: a 'free forever' listing on the Toddle About website.

Toddle About is powered by Book That In, so it's super quick and easy to get your listing set up. Simply login with your Book That In account and click 'Import' to automagically sync your events on Book That In to Toddle About. Job done!

I hope you’ve found this article helpful – as ever, I am keen to hear your thoughts and feedback, so please do share them.

To your success,



About The Author

Tim FreedTim Freed is the Co-Founder of both Toddle About and Book That In.

Having built and managed a 50-strong team of door-to-door sales people in his early 20s, before joining the corporate world and building a multi-million pound recruitment team, Tim turned to entrepreneurship - founding Toddle About in 2010, which is now a thriving franchise business. He went on to launch Book That In in 2017 with his business partner, Alec Wadey, which is now one of the fastest growing online booking systems in the UK.

Tim is always learning and striving to improve and loves nothing more than sharing his hard-won knowledge and experience in sales, marketing, leadership and entrepreneurship with other business owners to help them on their own journeys.

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