Running a bootstrapped Software-As-A-Service business (SAAS) has taught me a few lessons that I thought to share in case anyone else is reading.
Offering a Free Trial Period for your product can bring in more traffic, users and ideally more paying clients. However, Free Trials can sometimes be a pain for your business as they bring their own set of problems. Some of those problems are:
A prospect signs up for the free trial and starts abusing it (e.g. creates multiple accounts for the same client to bypass the trial period restrictions)
Lot of prospects signup for the free trial but don't really do anything. This creates unncessary clutter in your product. The reason that a lot of people are signing up could be due to the free trial option.
You end up providing support to the free trial members which sometimes could cost you more than you expect.
My suggestion on how to offer Free Trials below
Credit Cards upfront vs No credit card upfront
If the cost to acquire a new paying client is high for your product, then I will suggest that you take Credit Cards upfront but instead of charging an amount, just do a "authorization". This ensures that a valid credit card is added which usually means that the prospect is more serious and has a higher probability of converting . If this cost is relatively low, then you may get away with just an account signup but no credit card upfront. Why ? Because if the cost is high, it means you will spend a lot more time (which is money) and money supporting those prospects while they are in trial period.
Always make clients signup with a valid email
This is a no-brainer but don't make the mistake of letting people create free trial accounts with fake data. This will not add much to your chances of getting an actual paying client. Make those clients signup and activate with a valid email.
Restrict on Time, not Feature
This is my personal opinion but I would say that during a Free Trial, don't try to restrict the clients from using the products exactly as they will if they were paying. The point of free trials should be to let a prospect decide if the product is what they need and having access to a stripped down product does not help. Just set an expiry timeline for the free trial and move on.
Reach out to the prospects during their trial period
Don't wait till last min. Reach out to the prospects while they are in trial period. Offer them help and ask them if they would like to see more. This of course depends on your product and your capacity as a company but the more personalized you can be, the better it is.
Gentle Reminder before Trial Period Expiry Date
A lot of clients would love to convert but they probably forgot about it. Never forget to remind them gently that their trial is expiring.
Hope this helps.