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The free trial up-sell

Free trials are great. They give us the opportunity to try before we buy and make an informed decision on whether the product is suitable for our needs. There is one thing worth watching out for though, and I call it the Free Trial Up-Sell.

Imagine you find the perfect product (going by the website) and the entry level plan has all the features you need, so you dive right in and start using the software in earnest.

You connect it to your website, connect to other apps using their convenient API, and quickly you find out that the product is awesome! Great. I’ll sign up after my 30 days of free trial.

Over the month you begin to rely on the software and purchasing becomes inevitable.

It’s then time to sign up and you realise that all the features you need are on the entry level plan for $30 per month (which is why you thought you would try it out)… except API connectivity. That, unfortunately is in the highest level “enterprise” version of the service. A cool $250 per month.

Whether you proceed and signup to the highest tier plan, or drop the software altogether depends on its value to you. However, it can be incredibly frustrating especially if you have invested significant time and effort getting it all working and then you cannot afford it at the higher level.

Regardless of the particular features that are restricted to the higher tier plans, often trials will include features that are not in the entry level plan. This is by design to encourage the customer to a higher value plan.

It is extremely important (and valuable) to understand what features you need, which plan they are included on, and whether they are included in the trial before you invest too much time and effort into testing it out.

A few of the common features that are used in trial up-sell’s are:

  • Number of users (this is a really common one)
  • API connectivity
  • Data limitations (eg. number or contacts, customers, entries)
  • Branding the software to your company (this is another common one)

If you know the key features you need, when reviewing different service options and plans spend some time and search for those features and understand what the costs are so you don’t get caught.


check out:

Why subscribing is the same as buying.

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