Unless you are living under a rock, chances are you will be a regular user of free online trials. And why not? Who doesn’t love something free and a chance to try before you buy? In this post I’m going to show you a little-known strategy to get a better long-term deal that puts more money back in your pocket.
A simple strategy to save you money
What most people don’t know is that cancelling during a free trial is one of the best opportunities to get a better long-term deal – assuming you actually want the service of course. The concept is simple, you cancel your free trial and many companies will offer you the chance to stay as a paying customer at a significantly discounted rate. Over the next few minutes I’m going to explain to you why this works, where it will and won’t work and show you first hand how this is a proven strategy that will save you money.
Really? Why would they do that?
The first step in understanding why and how this works is to understand the situation from the company’s perspective. Acquiring customers is expensive. Companies spend big bucks promoting their brand and services but only a tiny fraction of those exposed to their advertising campaigns will ever make the move to explore or purchase their products.
Free trials are an effective strategy for companies because they help break down the initial cost barriers for potential customers, creating the perception of a risk-free decision. I’m here to tell you that free trials are not risk free, but with some careful thought and planning you can approach this a lot smarter. I’d recommend that you check out my post The smart way to approach online free trials. Anyway, I digress.
From the perspective of the company, they now have your foot in the door and a direct channel to connect with you and convert you to a loyal, long term customer. The longer that you use their product or service, the more chance they have to market to you, secure your loyalty and upsell you their products and services.
Companies know that when they lose you their chances of ever getting you back are very slim. Think about this for a minute, how many times have you ever cancelled a product or service only to go back at a later date. I’d wager that in the vast majority of these cases, you’ve never been back.
This concept of losing customers and having to replace them is called ‘churn’ and for any subscription-based company, it’s a reality of business. So when a customer tries to walk out the door it makes good business sense for the company to offer them a discounted deal to keep them. Why? Well because they still get some income from you as well as the opportunity to continue to try and upsell you other products and services.
Does this work if I have already become a paying customer?
At this point you might be asking yourself whether this approach works after you have already finished a free-trial to become a paying customer. The answer is yes, cancelling at any point can provoke companies to offer you a discount. However, it may not be as attractive given you have already expressed your willingness to be a ‘full price’ customer.
You may have already encountered this practise before in offline products and services that you have decided to cancel. Many electricity providers have teams dedicated to disconnections and customer cancellations where they are authorised to offer special discounts to retain customers. Inside these organisations, these departments are known as ‘customer retention’ and the people that work there are incentivised to keep you. Magazine subscription companies have something similar.
The good news is that this approach is becoming increasingly common in the online world. Now that you armed with the knowledge of how these organisations operate, you can use that to your advantage.
Where this works and where it doesn’t
Now of course, not every company that you come across is going to present you with a better deal when you cancel your free trial, but it’s worth considering that it will not likely cost you anything to find out.
You’ll see these discount strategies more often with mature companies that face a lot of competition and where it’s easy for us as consumers to change providers. Entertainment, leisure, dating services and education are just some of the highly competitive markets which are well known to do this.
However, you aren’t likely to get the same treatment in markets dominated by one or two companies. Don’t expect Microsoft to offer you a better deal when you cancel your Office 365 subscription. Microsoft know very well that they own that market and therefore have no reason to offer you a discount. It’s take it or leave it and chances are – you’ll take it.
Here is the proof that this works today
To show you how beneficial this can be, while writing this article I intentionally cancelled my current free-trial with Audible. If you aren’t familiar with Audible, it is an online audio book service by Amazon.
I personally am getting some great value from this product so my intention to cancel was simply to see if I could get a better deal. Sure enough, on cancellation, I was presented with the following offer to continue at a significant discount:
To put this in perspective, Audible offers a 30 day trial after which it reverts to a paying subscription of $16.45 AUD per month. So my intentional cancellation saved me over 50% for the next three months. Not bad in my books.
It’s good news for online professionals too. Competitive markets such as web hosting, stock photo’s and icons are all known to offer discounts when you cancel a free trial.
Once again while writing this post I signed up for a free trial with Adobe Stock photos. I have just finished downloading my included 10 photos and then cancelled the trial on the same day. Once again, I was presented with an opportunity for a special offer.
Given I had no intention to continue with this product I didn’t pursue this any further, but you can easily see how this practise of intentional cancellation can save you plenty of money.
Tips to maximise the opportunity
By now you have seen that this is a proven strategy that can save you money on your free trials. Before you leap ahead I want to leave you with a couple of tips to consider. During the free trial, you aren’t a paying customer where as a discounted offer will see you parting with some cash – albeit at what should be a heavily discounted rate. To get the most mileage from the free-period you don’t want to be cancelling in the first few days, but rather hitting the cancel button just days before the trial expires.
The longer the trial continues, the more likely you are to forget. Life gets in the way and our thoughts become preoccupied with other more pressing issues. This is where a subscription management tool such as MyTerms Pro makes it simple and easy to control this process and save money. Simply set some expiry notifications and MyTerms Pro will automatically let you know when it’s time to take action. If you are interested in learning more about MyTerms Pro, click here.
So thank you for the opportunity to share with you a simple but little-known strategy that has and continues to work for me. By understanding the motivation of these companies and knowing where this strategy is most likely to be successful, you too can continue to save money by simply clicking the cancel button. I wish you all the best with it.