Why Free Trials Are a Great Business Move [5 Examples of Free Trials Done Right]

If you’re selling products or services online, find out how to use Free Trials to boost sign ups and turn potential customers into recurring revenue.

Why Free Trials Are a Great Business Move

Everyone loves free stuff.

In fact, a study by Duke professor Dan Ariely found that when consumers are presented with a free Hershey’s Kiss and a dramatically reduced Lindt truffle (13¢), they get an emotional charge and choose the free Hershey’s. They perceived the Hershey’s kiss as more valuable, even though the Lindt truffle was a better deal.


There are many ways businesses can offer something for free to lure in potential customers: buy one get one free deals, free giveaways, free memberships, and free trials, among many others. Today, we’re going to focus on the art of offering a free trial. 


From SaaS to eCommerce sites, there are many reasons why free trials are a great move. Below, we’ll go over why you should consider offering a free trial of your product or service to customers, along with five examples of free trials done right. Keep reading to learn more about how to effectively offer a free trial, or use the provided links to skip to a section of your choosing.

Table of Contents:

    1. Netflix
    2. Intuit
    3. Spotify
    4. Instacart
    5. ClassPass
  • Wrapping Up

What is a Free Trial?

A free trial is exactly what it sounds like—a trial of your product or service that you offer to consumers for free, so they can learn more about what you’re offering without making a financial commitment. Free trials can take one of two forms: limited-capability or for a limited amount of time. 


A limited-capability free trial is where you offer a “basic,” “demo,” or “beginner” version of your product. For example, if you’re offering a free trial of your software, only include basic functions and features. This will hopefully encourage users to upgrade to the full package. For a limited-time free trial, you restrict the time of your trial, such as two weeks or thirty days. You often see limited-time free trials with gyms, where customers can test out a gym for a week or two before signing up to become a member.


However, you need to be careful when offering free trials, especially if you’re a small business. This is because offering free trials costs a lot of money in marketing expenses. As you create a free trial plan, think about how long you can afford to offer the free trial, what functionalities you’re going to provide that will allow customers to determine whether your product or service will work for them, and so forth.

Why Offer a Free Trial?

There are many reasons why businesses should offer free trials to convert leads into customers. As Dan Ariely proved, people love free stuff, which means if you offer a free trial, visitors to your website are sure to bite the bait. Take Marsh Supermarkets, a grocery store, for example. They conducted a study where they offered free samples of their Signature line products, such as deli meats and coffee, and saw a 600 percent to 2000 percent increase in sales.


Giving people and businesses an opportunity to try before they buy will allow them to experience your product or service without the fear of buyer’s remorse. As the seller, you get the opportunity to show off your product and convince consumers that they need what you have. For both B2B businesses and B2C businesses, you’ll be able to boost your conversion rate dramatically, as shown in the chart above. 

Pros of Free Trials

As with everything in life, there are advantages and disadvantages. The same holds true for offering free trials. As a business owner, it’s important you weigh the pros and cons to determine if free trials will hurt or grow your business. First, we’ll take a look at the benefits of free trials. Check them out below:


  • Promotions, deals, and coupons: Once a free trailer has completed their trial, you can offer them incentives, such as coupons and exclusive deals, that will entice them to purchase the full product.


  • Feedback: Ask free trialers for feedback—even if they don’t end up purchasing your product or service, their feedback can help you improve what you offer and gain insights on its effectiveness. 


  • Competitive edge: Offering a free trial will give you an edge over your competitors. When you offer a free trial, you’ll be able to show how great your product is, which may encourage customers to refer your product to their friends, family, coworkers, and other people in their social circle.

pros and cons

Cons of Free Trials

There are many pros to offering free trials. It’s an opportunity for customers to invest time and interact with your product before the trial is over, and experience what it has to offer. However, this doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with its drawbacks. Below are some disadvantages of free trials:


  • Money and time: While your free trial is free for customers, it’s not free for you. Offering a free trial has monetary costs, such as money spent creating the product. Additionally, it will cost time, such as the preparation for designing the free trial and devising a marketing campaign to promote it.


  • Taken advantage of: When you offer a free trial, there are going to be people who take advantage of your product or service, which will cost you even more money and time. For example, someone may make multiple emails and usernames just to get an extra free trial, and competitors may even sign up to gain insight into your services.


  • No conversion: The goal of offering a free trial is to convert leads into customers. However, not everyone who tries your free trial will sign up for the full package. Or, someone may sign up for your free trial and never take the time to even try it, which is also a loss.

5 Examples of Free Trials Done Right

Now that you know what free trials are and the advantages and disadvantages of each, let’s take a look at some companies who know how to do them right.

1. Netflix

Netflix is one of the most popular streaming services around. They paved the way for other streaming services, such as Hulu, Disney+, and HBO GO. However, Netflix charges a monthly fee for users, either $8.99 for their Basic Plan, $12.99 for their Standard Plan, and $15.99 for their Premium Plan.


For those afraid of commitment, Netflix offers a free trial, and you can choose any of the three plans and stream their movies and TV shows for 30 days. If you’re not satisfied, you can cancel at any point without being charged. But, if you need more time to binge-watch your favorite shows, you can leave your plan as is, and you’ll be charged after the trial period is over.

2. Intuit

Intuit is a financial software company that sells a variety of software, including accounting, tax preparation, and accounting software for individuals, small businesses, and accountants. You may be familiar with their services—they’re the maker of TurboTax, QuickBooks, Mint, and ProConnect. They, too, offer free trials on most of their software. 

Take Intuit ProConnect ProSeries, for example. You can try a full working version of ProSeries for free. All you have to do is create an account, and you’ll have access to every feature to help your customers. You can use ProSeries with ease, utilizing missing client information tool makes it easy to quickly find input fields that are missing client information, the K-1 data import tool that makes it extremely quick and easy to transfer data to individual returns, and much more.

3. Spotify

For all you music listeners out there, you’ll be pleased to find that Spotify offers a free version of their music platform. With Spotify’s free plan, you’ll be able to discover new music, browse playlists, and share your favorite tunes with friends. The caveat is that you can only play and listen to your music, playlists, and podcast when it’s in Shuffle Play mode, which requires an internet connection. You’ll also be interrupted with ads here and there, but if you plan on only listening to music at home, you can enjoy the free version for as long as you’d like. 

Spotify Premium gives you access to all the songs in their database, and you can listen to them when you don’t have an internet connection and are using mobile data. You won’t be interrupted by ads, and your music will have the highest quality.

4. Instacart

Instacart is a same-day grocery delivery service that will do your grocery shopping for you for a small delivery fee. However, new users can enjoy a free two-week period where the delivery fee is waived, Or, if you sign up for the Express membership, you can enjoy unlimited free deliveries as long as your order is over $35.

5. ClassPass

Going to the same gym multiple times a week can be boring. ClassPass changes this by giving you credits to attend gyms and fitness classes throughout your area. You can even take video and live workouts from top-rated studios straight from the app if you want to work out at home. With ClassPass, you can choose one of three plans. The $9 plan gives you 4 credits to book up to 1 class a month, the $39 plan gives you 21 credits to book up to 5 classes a month, and the $59 plan gives you 33 credits to book up to 9 classes a month. You can then use your credits to go to any gym or studio in your area that works with ClassPass.


If you’re new, ClassPass offers a free 14-day trial where you can try up to 9 different classes, and you can cancel at any point during this period if you don’t want to commit or are not ready to pay. This is great if you want to attend a cycling class one day, HIIT training class on the weekend, and a yoga class on a Sunday morning.

Wrapping Up

Free trials are a great way to bring exposure to your products and services, and convert leads into customers. There are many advantages of free trials, such as the ability to convince consumers they need your product, as well as disadvantages, such as monetary costs that can be expensive. However, many businesses across a wide range of industries use free trials as a powerful marketing tool to grow their business, and you could too!