Tech companies offering free trials is nothing new. A free trial has long been a great way to introduce your product to potential customers, and hopefully they’ll then like it enough to start paying for it when the trial ends. During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, there are at least four additional reasons why tech startups should consider offering free product trials.
1. You can help the community
Certain products naturally lend themselves to being of assistance during this pandemic. For example, charity-tech startup Givful is now offering companies free use of its platform for the rest of 2020, enabling them to more easily support nonprofits in need, whether through corporate and employee donations, or volunteering.
Other tech startups may want to pivot their product to aid coronavirus response efforts, and a client of ours, Hytch Rewards, has done just that. Until now, the Hytch mobile app has primarily been used to reward commuter behavior that reduces traffic congestion and emissions, or that encourages carpooling in areas with limited public transit. With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, many commuters have needed to become housebound. So, Hytch has pivoted by introducing a Shelter in Place feature, to monitor and incentivize staying safely at home. The company is waiving all service fees for employer and government partners that join the program before May 29.
Even if your tech product isn’t of immediate use to coronavirus response efforts and can’t pivot in that direction, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t offer a free trial as a community service. If, say, your product is entertainment-based, you could offer a free trial to help relieve stress or boredom for the many millions of Americans who are stuck at home.
2. There are heightened PR opportunities
Helping the community is a reward in itself, but at a time when many companies are delaying other announcements and product releases, a pivot or a free trial also provides an opportunity for you to engage with media, as well as your client base. A free trial provides an opportunity for you to engage with media, as well as your client base
A free trial provides an opportunity for you to engage with media, as well as your client base
You’ll need to get the word out about your free trial, and that could mean a local or national press release, social media posts, a mailout and more. The media remains hungry for stories that offer solutions surrounding COVID-19, and as an antidote to all the bad news we’re hearing, new media platforms are also being created purely to showcase positive stories.
3. You can build goodwill, not just brand awareness
There’s considerable value in building brand awareness, but in these challenging times, offering a community-minded free trial of your product can create something even better – goodwill. Goodwill means that not only do your potential customers know who you are, they also like you, and are therefore more likely to transact with you going forward.
4. In a depressed economy, you might not be selling anyway
Some startups are faring better than others in this COVID-19 sales environment. Right now, for example, I’d rather be in healthtech than recruitment tech. The feedback we’re hearing from B2C startups is that consumer confidence is low, and B2B startups tell us it’s not easy to sell their platforms to companies that have pushed the pause button on new expenditure. So, if you’re not really selling now anyway, why not consider offering a free product trial if that strategy is compatible with your business model. By the time the trial is over, hopefully there’ll be less economic uncertainty and your potential customer will be more inclined to take out a paid subscription, having found your wonderful product indispensable.
If you’re a tech company looking to navigate a product announcement during COVID-19, contact us today.