Secrets of High-Converting Free Trials (Part Two)

Secrets of High-Converting Free Trials (Part Two)


This is Part 2 of our two-part series about the Secrets of High-Converting Free Trials, presented by Lincoln Murphy at Convert Academy on September 12th 2012. If you missed Part One, you can read it here:

A good way to define Conversion Optimization is by looking at it as getting to the highest and best use of something. But just like most other things, it’s easier said than done.

A High-Conversion free trial isn’t successful by chance. It has to be well engineered and designed. Here are some domination strategies to help you create high-converting free trials:

1. Understand Value Perception vs. Value Realization

Help prospective customers realize and get value from the product. Avoid extending your marketing message into an interactive demo, which will be all your prospective customers will perceive. Successful companies have realized it’s not about value perception anymore, it’s about realizing the value of what you have to offer, solving their problem or getting something of value out of the Free Trial. This is a key secret.

2. Learn the difference between Opt-in & Opt-out Free Trials

An Opt-in is when you let prospects in, hoping they will follow a process and at some point you will request payment. The other side is the Opt-out, where a credit card is requested upfront, referred to as “The Credit Card Wall.” This kind gets really low conversion rates and the reasons for setting this up are usually the wrong ones. It’s really all about the process, because the prospective customer will convert upon realizing the value of what is being offered, as opposed to a prospective customer that has to enter a credit card to see what’s being offered and, at some point, will have to do a number of things to avoid being charged.

3. Understand the difference between Immediate & Delayed Realization of Value (IRV vs DRV)

How fast does it take the prospective customer to realize value? Immediate value is downloading a file and sharing it with others. Delayed means the support or assistance of a human will be required. Once you understand how it fits together, along with the tactics you use as part of your sales process, the rest will just fall into place.

4. Understand, Monitor and React to Common Conversion Activities (CCA)

This is a metric that explains what you should be monitoring for in the Free-Trials. This also could be defined as a set of actions that everybody who becomes a paying customer had done. Fine-tune the Free Trial process and the next prospect customers should become paying customers after doing those same things. First define your process, then optimize it.

The secret formula is that once the Free-Trial Domination Fundamentals are in place, the four steps that need to be done right are:

  1. Attract the right audience – Get your marketing right, don’t stop until you get paid.
  2. Get them started…quickly – This is the engagement phase.
  3. Get them hooked – This the investment phase. Not money yet.
  4. Get them to pay you – This is the conversion phase. You get paid.

In the end, only you know which fundamentals apply across the board in your particular instance. The core idea to keep in mind is to offer a free trial that is designed and engineered with the singular goal of converting prospects to customers.


Lincoln Murphy has a special offer for Convert Academy participants only. A free, no-obligation, one-on-one Strategy Session with him so he can answer Free Trial questions, point you in the right direction, and make sure you’re on your way to turning your Free Trial into a Customer-Creating Machine!

To schedule:
(972) 200-9317
Free Trial Dominator may apply!

Originally published December 03, 2012 - Updated April 15, 2019
Dennis van der Heijden
Co-founder and CEO of, Dennis is a passionate community builder and out of the box thinker. He spends his time innovating to make Convert Experiences better. Learn about his journey as an entrepreneur and leader on the SaaS Club podcast.
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