Archives for July 2014

How-to Avoid SaaS Free Trial Abuse

free-trial-botAt the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas, a security research duo showed how they built a cryptocurrency-mining botnet by leveraging cloud platform services – like Amazon Web Services, Heroku, or Google App Engine – using only Free Trials and Freemium accounts [PDF].

Cue the overly-dramatic sky-is-falling music as we mourn the demise of SaaS Free Trials and Freemium (remember, it pays to be clear on the various uses of “Free”).

I know a lot of entrepreneurs, founders, executives, and product marketers at SaaS and Cloud companies will read that Wired article and say to me – since I’ve been quite vocal about not being a fan of requiring a Credit Card to get started on a Free Trial – “See Lincoln… not having a credit card wall opens up our system to abuse!”

But they’re wrong… and here’s why.

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SaaS Free Trial Extension Requests are a Bad Sign

free-trial-expired-extensionI got this question about SaaS Free Trial Extension requests and I thought I’d answer it here, for all to see.

“Lincoln, that was a great guest post by Steli Efti from Close.io on sales mistakes that lead to churn. I was reading Steli’s blog and found a recent post where he says “short trials + liberal extensions” is the way to go. While you haven’t covered this directly (unless I missed it), it struck me as something you’d likely have an opinion on. I’m confused… who’s right?”

I’m right, obviously. [End of Article]

No, actually, I think we’re both right, but my view on this is from a slightly different angle.

I agree that if someone asks for an extension you should probably give it to them.

However, I see the fact that they asked for the extension in the first place as an indicator that there’s a deeper problem, this request is a symptom of that problem, and the request itself as an opportunity to engage and learn what we can do to solve that problem.

Don’t worry; I go into great detail on why I think that, how to treat the symptoms, and how to eliminate the underlying problems.

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The Best SaaS Free Trial Length

best-free-trial-lengthHere’s a secret no one talks about: SaaS Free Trial Length is a Marketing Gimmick.

There isn’t a best SaaS Free Trial length that works for every SaaS company, in every category, for every market. I know, that contradicts my reputation for saying “always do this” or “always do that” but that’s the way it is; the only best Free Trial length is whats best for your current situation.

For instance, I helped a company via Clarity the other day that has a 7-day free trial. In the context of their current situation – offering / market / customer / value prop / speed of value recognition by customers / etc. – a 7-day free trial seemed to make the most sense. Sure, they had 99 problems, but Free Trial length wasn’t one of them.

But there is something I want you to always do … and that’s to think before putting up a Credit Card wall, developing your Pricing Strategy, or coming up with a Free Trial strategy – including choosing the length of the trial.

This article will help you avoid picking a Free Trial length at random, will help you understand why doing that is a bad idea, including why you should understand your customers, the market, expectations, how your value prop and competition will influence your prospects view of the trial length you selected for your product, and much more.

Here we go…

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