The Art of the Free Trial

free trialAh, the free trial.  We see those enticing words, ‘free trial,’ plastered across various mediums in our everyday lives, from medication commercials to pop-up ads to highway billboards.   The concept of the free trial is simple.  A customer gains free access to a company’s product or service for a specific amount of time, and during this time they are exposed to the possibility of paying for continued use.   In theory, the free trial makes perfect sense for both buyer and seller.  The buyer has a chance to try out a product without making a monetary commitment.   The seller is given the opportunity to ‘showcase’ their product and demonstrate why the customer could simply not live without it.

Unfortunately, there are a mixture of good free trials and bad free trials out there.   Some trials are simply there to ‘net as many fish in the sea’ as possible and depend on a small percentage of people who forget to click ‘unsubscribe.’   Some  trials are built on the placebo effect, leaving customers unsure of whether the product actually is working or not.

There are good ones out there too though.  Some trials efficiently and effectively allow a customer to try out a product and provide the tools to evaluate performance.  These are the businesses that have confidence in their product winning over users.   The following is  a list of both bad and good, with a concentration on (but not limited to) software technology trials.  Feel free to add your own free trial experience to the list, as I’m sure everyone has attempted the art of the free trial.

The Bad

Jeff Paul’s Shortcut to Internet Millions:

I’m sure we’ve all seen Jeff Paul’s stupefyingly horrendous infomercial, narrated by two bikini clad women and wrought with accounts of how users instantly became millionaires .    It’s almost mesmerizing to watch the stuff, although after a few minutes it becomes difficult to stifle your gag reflex.  The product claims to generate huge profits for its users in a matter of weeks.  In reality, you simply will be given the ability creates several link-farm websites and then be placed on a call list so the company can attempt to scam you out of more money.

Worlds of Warcraft:

The current king of massive multi-player online role playing games, Worlds of Warcraft (WoW), offers a 10 day free trial to experience an immersive online fantasy world.  This is certainly a great opportunity to play WoW for free and have a incredible amount of fun.  The problem with this one is WoW’s level of addictiveness – once you try it out for ten days straight, you may experience depression, fatigue, and mild nausea upon quitting.  I recommend this one only for the strong willed (or those willing to give up their girlfriend/job).

Enzyte:

The ‘once a day tablet for natural male enhancement’ is by no means a piece of software, but I thought I’d place it on the list anyways as a prime example of a bad free trial.  Enzyte gives men the free chance to ‘enhance’ themselves with a thirty day trial.  The clear goal of this is to take advantage of the placebo effect among men with low self esteem.

The founder of Enzyte, Steve Warshak, got what was coming to him in 2008, convicted to 25 years in prison for conspiracy, fraud and money laundering.  Unfortunately, the product still exists and seems to be advertising more than ever.

The Good

GoToMeeting.com

Go to Meeting is an online web conferencing tools that allows a business to easily organize and attend online meetings.  The 30 day free trial provides real exposure to the product, with most the of the main features available for use right away.  Using this trial will let you know whether GoToMeeting is something your business could viably use as an ongoing conference tool.

Adobe Software Trials

Adobe allows all of it’s cutting edge software to be trialed before purchase.  Whether you are looking to design, edit, cut or clip, Adobe’s various software has long stood as the industry standard.  Because the software can run pretty high in price, it’s a great policy to try it out before making the purchase.

NewtonSoftware.com

Newton provides smart online software for a business’s hiring, recruiting, applicant management and applicant tracking needs.   They provide a 30 day free trial for a company to immediately get started with announcing job openings, reviewing resumes as well as tracking and analyzing hiring programs.  This is a great opportunity for a business to test out a no-hassle recruiting software solution and gain an edge in talent acquisition.

Salesforce.com CRM

Saleforce’s customer relationship management software (CRM) is a reliable and proven technology that lets a business manage their customer information, activities and conversations. The company offers a 30 day free trial that offers full access to the software’s many features.  This free trial is a perfect way for a business to test drive the most popular CRM out there.

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