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Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

When a trial period ends, allow more trial?

I've finally settled on limiting my app to 30 free trial uses.  This is more than enough for what it does to fully evaluate it.  After the 30 trials are up, I was going to prevent the app running again, but I'm worried that'll just lead to people uninstalling it and looking for alternatives.

I think I read in these forums that it's better to "keep them hooked" so they can keep using it, in the hopes that they'll *eventually* buy.  So I made it still run, but only after a short delay that explains that their trial period is over and they're now obligated to pay for further use.  They can then click a button that says "I promise to buy soon" to get another trial run.

Is this a bad idea?  I got the concept from seeing how Sandboxie has a short startup delay after 30 days of trial, and I saw another post in these forums where someone said it's a good idea to make the user click an "honesty button" per se, to guilt them into buying.

I think this approach sounds good for a v1.00 release.  Is it?  Thanks.
PSB136 Send private email
Monday, January 20, 2014
A lot comes down to what your software is.  If it is something that they are going to want to use every day for years, then you can take your time in making a sale. The more time they spend with the software, the harder it will be for them to switch.

 If you solve an immediate problem and once that problem is solved they will have no more use (or no use for like 6 months), you have to be a lot more aggressive with making the sale before they solve their problem.
Foobar Send private email
Monday, January 20, 2014
It depends on your specific application, but if you haven't convinced someone to buy it after thirty attempts, you're probably not going to get a sale from them any time soon,
Scorpio Send private email
Monday, January 20, 2014
> I promise to buy soon

IMO this is not aggressive enough. You need something like: " I swear to Jesus / Buddha / Allah that I'm going to buy soon, and I'm not going to crack your software."
IdeaSkeer Send private email
Monday, January 20, 2014
On the 25th use, show them a one-time discount offer along the lines of "Only today: happy hour 30% off". If they don't buy, show them a smaller discount (say, 20%) on the 27th or so use.

If they still don't buy, show 10-15% discounts once a month instead of that promise prompt.
Dmitry Leskov Send private email
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Foobar:  It's a tool that would be used forever on a PC, because it fills a need that a lot of people should want.  In actual fact, those with OCD would really benefit from it, and I envisage those types of people buying right away.  But marketing to them is a bit... rude?  It'll feel like taking advantage of their medical obsession, even though that's not why the app was written.

Scorpio:  Good point.

IdeaSkeer:  Maybe you're joking (I can't tell) but in fact I did briefly consider something humorous like: "May a bus hit me when I cross the street, if I am using this app illegally".  LOL!  :)  I wonder if any nervous or superstitious people would end up buying after clicking a button like that.  Would be interesting to know.

Dmitry:  Good idea about the discount offer on the 25th run or final runs.  But wouldn't word get out?  Although, I guess that doesn't matter... because a sale is a sale!  Thanks for the tip, I'll do it!
PSB136 Send private email
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Have you measured how many people actually use up all their trial?

For example, my measurements indicated that most people buy way before the trial runs out. 40% even buy within 10 minutes of starting the trial!
This means that for me, allowing an extended trial will probably just encourage cheapskates. The situation might be different for your app though.

To measure that in a non-intrusive way, you could just pop up the web browser with a useful page "thanks for purchasing - here are some tips how to use the software, and you can contact us at this e-mail"; and append a GET parameter.
restless Send private email
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
@PSB136: Just raise your price so that 20% off feels right and 30% off sounds like a good deal. Then make sure that the word gets out.
Dmitry Leskov Send private email
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
@psb "When a trial period ends, allow more trial?"

What is it about the word "end" do you not understand?

<just kidding> What I've done is 5 days before expiration I bring up a reminder message with each launch. After expiration they are given an option to email me for an extension code that gives another 3 weeks of usage. That way I can harvest contact information for later follow up if they do not purchase at a later time.
Patrick Hughes Send private email
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Patrick:  Yes, the title of the thread is funny, I agree.  I also like your idea of making them email for a longer trial.  Unfortunately my app isn't written to remotely extend it, so I can't do that.  It just runs locally with no web access needed.  I have no desire to change that, either.  I'll probably combine the discount offer with your email idea: "Your trial has ended, but email in the next 24 hours for a 20% discount on the purchase price."  Should get some takers?

On the subject of discounts like that, how would you deal with Buyer B, who paid full price after 3 trials, complaining that he found out that Buyer A got it at 20% discount after his trial ended?
PSB136 Send private email
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
How do _you_ deal with all those people who have taken advantage of the discounts that were unavailable to you at the time you bought the exact same goods or services?

That's premature optimization. Decide when you have the first complaint of this type, if that ever happens.
Dmitry Leskov Send private email
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
> premature optimization

I've never understood this concept.  I think of what I asked as "forethought and initiative" (citing Harrison Chase); or, to a lesser extent, "Be prepared" like the Boy Scouts.  Surely it can't be bad to plan ahead?  What's the disadvantages in that?
PSB136 Send private email
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Regarding discounts in general treat them like most retail outlets. Have a policy with a purchase window for getting discounts. If the person comes back and asks for a discount. Say you buy it today and two weeks from now it's discounted. If the person comes back and asks for a discount and there purchase date is in the window give them the discount.

As for discounts relating to trials, and the case you mentioned Buyer B still pays full price. Buyer A bought it in a specific scenario that qualified for the discount. Sort of like 'Act Now or Buy Now' discounts. You have to take advantage of it right then or you miss it.

If there is a trial period and it's utility software I think it's best when there's a minimum set of functionality so its still useful. Best is when it's full version when it's in trial but after the trial it's still usable and there's no loss in anything done it currently.

For example if the utility converts files it may have an option to convert single files manually or multiple files at a time. After the trial file conversion is still possible but doing multiple files may be limited or disabled.

I've seen many companies be fine with using software after the trial ends because they can live with the limitations and have not lost anything except some time. But it's still faster for them to use than the alternative. The moment it's crucial to make that time back up and they can restore that capability right away with out reinstalling anything they seem to be more likely to do so.
TrippinOnIT Send private email
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
> premature optimization

PSB136: "I've never understood this concept.  I think of what I asked as "forethought and initiative" (citing Harrison Chase); or, to a lesser extent, "Be prepared" like the Boy Scouts.  Surely it can't be bad to plan ahead?  What's the disadvantages in that?"

Premature optimisation is not planning!

It is optimising in some way before you know which way you ought to optimise or even if you need to optimise.  The effort involved can easily wind up being wasted motion.

When I write a program, I do not strain to write it to be as fast as possible.  Rather, I write it to do what is required.  Usually, it is fast enough.  If it is fast enough, then it is good enough.

If I were to strain to make each program as fast as possible, I would almost always be wasting my time for something not required.  That is premature optimisation.

Optimised programs also tend to be harder to read which is a factor to consider in support.  If the program needs to be changed, it will be that much tougher to do so.  It is also possible that, with the new situation, the optimisation will then no longer be correct (if it ever was).


Gene Wirchenko
Gene Wirchenko Send private email
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Many times its brings better results. Although many of us only want to use trial version!! May increase Trial period after communicate with user.
nashir Send private email
Thursday, January 23, 2014
From my point of view, the trial (time/uses) forces some users to register the product,
and some users forced to register the product and get the serial or the full version
asks for a refund ...

In my experience, users download a product, play with it one hour and if convinced,
then register to get the full version.

The secret is to convince to the users about the functions and stability of the product,
in this order:

1. Nice interface (modern, easy to use).
2. Solid functions (fast, stable).
3. Trust about the company who is selling this piece of software.

Hope it helps
Peter from FreeSharewareDepot Send private email
Thursday, February 13, 2014
Thanks, Peter.  Good advice!
PSB136 Send private email
Friday, February 14, 2014

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