If you have created a subscription offer (SVOD) for your video content, you know how difficult it is to find an audience. But it is even more difficult, once you have started to grow, to keep them on the long term and convert them into loyal customers.
One solution to break this conversion barrier is to offer a trial period. These offers have become a standard, big companies have been doing free trials for years and in all field of work. Time Warner’s AOL unit used it to attract young Internet users in the late 1990s; Burger King partnered with MasterCard to offer free meals to the bank’s customers; and The New York Times now offers 14-day free trials to increase the number of subscribers to the online version of its flagship newspaper. And of course Netflix or Amazon Prime offer one month free subscription.
What kind of trial period to offer?
Today, two types of trial periods exist:
- Limited access in service: you offer only a part of your catalog or only a few minutes of each video (like Spotify on mobile).
- Limited time access: all videos are available but only for a period (15 days, 1 month etc.)
It’s simply a marketing and communication tool, and like any marketing tool: it has a cost! The challenge here is to calibrate it very precisely:
- Budget Allocated: Although there are no strict rules as to how much you should spend, some experts recommend offering the equivalent of 10% of your average annual basket. For example, if you have 2 offers per subscription of 10€ and 15€, and an average annual basket at 120€, you can consider offering for free an equivalent of 10€.
- Time: it usually takes at least 1 month for the user to get used to the platform. But if your average annual basket is 120€, and you have a monthly offer of 25€, then perhaps you should consider simply offering 2 weeks.
Just do the math and test! There are no truth here, only test & learn !
To give some figures: a trial period is more than 60% converted by a paying consumer. This statistic is also explained because many sites require bank details to have these offers and people forget to unsubscribe. The conversion rate is higher on mobile applications and rises to nearly 72%. For mastodons like Netflix or Amazon the conversion rate of a trial period is 47%.
Advantages and disadvantages of a trial period for a video streaming or SVoD site
Let’s list together the pros and cons of a free period for a VOD site
THE PROS :
- An excellent product sells well, it’s your best marketing tool. If your platform is cool, your users will immediately notice during a free trial. Moreover, it proves that you are proud and confident of your video content offering or VOD platform. This adds trust to your brand.
- Word of mouth: People who like your service will talk about it. Sometimes even someone who you will not convert as a client may recommend you. It is always easier to recommend a product that you have tested. Give your users the ability to test!
- Win loyalty: your potential prospects will logically spend time on your content offer: they will know the interface, the catalog and will take habits on it. They will select programs that interest them (to watch them later), create playlists etc.. Some will subscribe after the free trial just to keep these benefits.
- Get data. When creating their accounts, customers will give you certain information. Even people you have not converted provide you with data: emails, socio-demographic information, navigation information, feedback on your platform and the reasons that led them to leave it. You will of course have access to their email and therefore you can try to re-engage them via personalized actions with discount coupons for example or retargeting them thanks to Facebook pixel. It is much easier to acquire people who already know your product (hot prospects).
- Segment. Use the free trial process to ask questions to qualify the customer and start creating customer profiles. Then you will be able to set up automatic and personalized marketing actions to keep this audience. You can also segment your audience to draw profiles, and simply try to acquire similar profiles. Remember the key is to offer the most personalized communication strategies possible.
THE CONS :
- Some people will take advantage of the system, or cheat by extending these trial periods. Rest assured it’s a minority, we estimate only 1% of this type of users. And believe us the benefit of free trial cover definitely these minor charges.
- Many users sign up without really test your video platform. To avoid this you need to engage your users immediately and for the next hours/days (which are crucial). Start by sending a selection of personalized content and/or an email to explain cool features. Then contact them regularly with an “onboarding” sequence. Even offer them help to make sure they will use the platform and enjoy the experience.
- It will cost you time and money. Offering a product for free has a cost. But like any marketing lever, it must be seen as a real investment. With an average of 60% customer conversion following a free trial, return on investment is usually very positive .
Offering a trial period, for a SVOD platform, is becoming the norm today. Provided you set it up correctly, have an attractive content offer, and of course an effective onboarding strategy to convert your users. There are also some useful secrets to know for a successful VOD platform.
Thanks to OKAST you can create your own streaming video platform and offer free trial to your customers, in 1 click.