Will your users use your solution after the ‘trial period’ ?
With most of the software services having gone cloud the strategy they use to convert subscribers to customers is usually to offer trial period to test over a period of time/ transactions. This is done with the hope that the subscriber will eventually turn out to be a customer i.e. load their credit card and continue to use the solution. It’s is usually a make-or-break period where the customer either adopts or halts using the solution.
Michael Porter called this the power of the buyer in the concept of ‘Five Forces Model’. He argues that the presence of powerful buyers reduces the profit potential in an industry. Buyers increase competition within an industry by forcing down prices, bargaining for improved quality or more services, and playing competitors against each other.
Its nowadays quite normal for users to go straight to the features page then pricing page to compare and contrast costs of different software services. They subscribe to few different products to test out features and then decide which one to adopt.
Nowadays the user is well informed regarding the product, especially in this age of the internet where in a couple of clicks he might find out your competitors and test them out. The users are also price sensitive and like to get value for features and their pricing before they make a decision.
Some suggestions on how to navigate the problem
While its quite difficult to come up with a perfect combination of features that all users would like, its quite important to ensure that the main features of the solution completely stand-out and are easy to use right from the start. This gives the subscriber the confidence that the service is what they really need to solve their business need.
Though it may not make economic sense to most companies, I would suggest that you get rid of the trial period and have a free subscription level; if it is a must to have it, have a completely free level of subscription that you can give the subscriber once the trial period is done. One the subscriber starts to use your service they might get accustomed to it and have no other option but to go the next level of subscriptions level.
Always keep your service costs low and good quality. This can be done by having a good combination of server costs or type, lean team and great coding skills that allow the solution to run smoothly under heavy loads. Its important to start well from the beginning and have several test periods to test versions or features as they introduced to your solution.
Be up to date with your competitors and be continuously getting user feedback and remarks as well as watching out for new solutions that could give you a competitive edge. An example would be to allow your service to integrate with other systems seamlessly to allow a subscriber to see that they can still use your service and connect it to other services. It gives confidence to subscribers when they know they can integrate your solution to a service that they are already used to.