Which software trial strategy is best?


Days based (7/14/30 days trial) or usage based (15/30 logins/transactions etc. trial).

Has somebody compiled any empirical data to see which strategy is better?

Appreciate your thoughts on this.

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asked Jun 1 '11 at 16:16
179 points

3 Answers


We've tried both and for the last decade we've exclusively employed usage based trials.

The reason usage based trials convert much better is that a large number of trials are explored in one period of time (the 'research' stage) and actually demoed at a later time (the 'trial' stage). When a user does research they most often look over your product offering, download it, and at least launch it momentarily. What happens very often is that when the user returns to the trial stage days, weeks or sometimes even months later, time based trials are often expired or nearly expired. Expired trials most often go in the trash without contacting the company.

Usage based evals allow for the delay between research and trial with no penalty at all. A greater number of evaluators equals greater conversions to sale.

answered Jun 2 '11 at 03:37
Keith De Long
5,091 points
  • +1 We have made allowances for people to request extensions. As a user I have experienced the exact issue you describe with time-based trials - as a developer I do testing, then evaluate another product, then my suggestions move up the chain of command and then the trial is over. – Tim J 13 years ago


Check Don't just roll the dice. This is a free (and nice) ebook on software pricing. I remember the author has dedicated some pages on trial strategy too.

I'm sure you will get something out of it.

All the best!

answered Jun 2 '11 at 04:37
Ankur Jain
566 points
  • This is an excellent book, I highly recommend the original poster read it. – Tinny 13 years ago


We have tried some different strategies: Started with a 60 day free trial and found that was too long to encourage decision making and use of the trial. We reduced this to 30 days free so we get a quicker decision on the subscription and can communicate with users during that time to answer questions and suggest different ways of using the system.

answered Jun 1 '11 at 20:18
Bradley Starr
11 points

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