Your Guide to PLG Reverse Trials
👋 Hi and welcome to PLG Monetized newsletter. Every week we explore how leading SaaS companies leverage monetization to drive growth through self-serve sales.
Let’s start with the definition...
Reverse trials are a PLG user acquisition tactic that combines two other PLG acquisition tactics - freemium and free trial.
In a reverse trial, users get access to all the features included in the given tier (the one that they are trying out) and at the end of the trial, they either have to (1) pay to keep it or (2) downgrade to a freemium plan.
Reverse trials are really the best of both worlds - freemium and trial.
Example - PandaDoc
PandaDoc leverages reverse trials along with freemium plans. On the pricing page, users are presented with a choice to pick a freemium plan or try either Essentials or Business.
Getting it right…
When implementing a reverse trial, the two main considerations are the Entry Point and End of Trial stages.
1. Entry Point Stage:
Entry point is the stage where user has the opportunity to activate the reverse trial:
Entry Point Considerations
Does the user have the ability to start on a freemium plan right away or will everyone start with a trial?
Is there multiple plans users can try or only one trial?
Does the user need to enter a credit card to start the trial?
Example - Vidyard
Vidyard gives users the choice to either start a reverse trial or sign up for their Free plan from the start.
Unlike PandaDoc however, Vidyard only has one trial (for their Pro plan). PandaDoc gives users the choice to try either their Business or Essentials plan.
Both companies however ask the user for a credit card up front when they start the trial. This will likely increase conversions to paid at the end of the trial, but will lower the number of people who start the trial.
When asking for a credit card up-front (to start the trial), keep in mind some of these best practices that PandaDoc has implemented:
Highlight $0 cost during the trial period
Specify the date when the trial period is over
Add FAQs to address any objections or concerns
Thanks for reading PLG Monetized! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
2. End of Trial Stage:
The end of the trial stage is a key consideration to maximize trial to paid conversions. The main consideration is whether use will be automatically converted to paid or downgraded to freemium.
End of Trial Considerations
Does the user automatically get converted to a paid plan or a freemium plan?
What happens if you don’t collect payment details at the beginning of the trial?
When downgrading to a freemium plan, what happens to the trial features/data?
How do you notify the user about the change?
Example - Vidyard
Vidyard automatically converts trial users to a paid plan at the end of the trial period. This is where asking for a credit card up-front really helps.
If you do not ask for a credit card, you will either have to pause / suspend the account until they do or automatically downgrade the user to a freemium.
Since Vidyard is asking for a credit card up-front, they put in extra work to put the user’s mind at ease by letting them know:
They will be notified by email before they get charged
They can cancel with ease
The fact that the trial is Free for 14 days
Is Reverse Trial for Everyone?
Question 1: is your product and company ready for a freemium plan?
[skip this section if you already have one]
Having a freemium plan implies that the product must give some value away for free. This could be a whole feature (like eSignature) or limited feature (like Vidyard freemium - up to 25 videos). Your company needs to be prepared for the high volume of users, additional support costs and infrastructure costs.
Question 2: is your pricing and packaging compatible with a reverse trial?
Consider the fact that you will have a freemium plan that gives away some value, but also a set of features that you can gate behind a trial (e.g. templates or Zapier integration).
If your product is purely usage based, like Scraping Bee, where you get simply get higher limits with paid vs. free plan, there is really nothing to try.
If the answer is yes to both, you are likely going to benefit from a reverse trial.
Bonus: Reverse Trials for Paid Users
Reverse trials do not have to be limited to new users. You can apply reverse trials to allow paying customers to try features in higher tiered plans. This is especially impactful when you have features in those tiers that you want users to experience before commiting to a purchase.
Reverse trials bring the benefits of trial and freemium acquisition tactics
The main considerations are Start and End of trial experience
If you already have a freemium plan and have gated features in paid plans - you are likely going to benefit from implementing a reverse trial
Check out pricingsaas.com where you can find a ton of PLG pricing examples
If you need help running a pricing study, we offer it as a service at Buyerson Inc.
We love connecting with people in the industry to generate interesting content - if you are up for a podcast or an interview, just connect with me on LinkedIn
Well written. Very clear and nice. Thanks!