How to increase subscriber conversion rates using free trials

Adrianna Radzikowska | Thu Sep 01 2022 | Product guidance

How to improve conversion with free trials


Subscriber acquisition and retention form the twin focuses of all direct-to-consumer video providers. In the competitive market, broadcasters often experiment with different ways to acquire subscribers, including offering free trials. 


Unlocking limited period access to the entire content library for free may seem counterintuitive to many for OTT subscriptions. However, in reality, a free trial strategy often helps to win more significant revenue battles over the long term. 


This article examines ways to increase OTT subscriber acquisition and conversion using free trials.


Why should OTT broadcasters offer free trials?


Data suggests that Netflix saw 800K mobile downloads of its app in India during a free two-day trial period they announced during the pandemic. It's not difficult to guess the impact of this wide net on their revenue.


The general perspective behind offering free trials is that a person enrolling for the trial access cannot consume the entire streaming library during the period. Provided – you effectively prevent the user from re-applying a "free access" trial to the same offer.  When executed, their benefits can be varied and include the ability to:


  • Get a foot in the door: Free trials are a helpful way to attract fence-sitters to explore an OTT platform. If users enjoy your OTT platform content and are satisfied with the service, you can lure them towards converting into paid subscribers and growing your bottom line.


  • Increase operational efficiency: Some trials require no credit card information, whereas some mandate users to enter their payment details to enjoy the free usage period. In the latter case, OTT broadcasters can get extra time to validate the subscriber payment methods. This time allows sufficient time to undertake measures like dunning to prevent involuntary churn in case of payment frictions. 


  • Act as a vital market research tool: Trials are an excellent sampling method to test new markets and geographies. They also help to detect the element of seasonality in conversions. Trial analytics often reveal granular details from a language, genre, or content perspective, including allowing precise filtering by location or distribution channel. This uncovers grass root market information. 


  • Facilitate improvements: It is true that all free trial subscribers may not turn into paying customers. However, their trial-period behavior can provide accurate insights into what's not working as per the revealed-subscriber preferences. This input helps to intervene with any timely remedies needed and make informed future decisions.

  • Acquire customer contact information: Free trial subscribers are compelled to leave their email details as they enroll with a platform. This also creates a handy database for the marketing team to retarget and positively impact the platform’s future conversion rates.


Are free trial benefits measurable?


As a fact, the net benefit of a free trial strategy is measurable in its net impact on revenues. Broadly, there are two angles to look at it.

  1. Number of free-trial signups generated at the end of the period
  2. Percentage conversion of free trial subscribers into paying customers

Converting 20% of 3000 free trial signups or converting 60% of 1000 trials are both desirable in terms of revenue. Therefore, tracking both the number of trial signups and their percentage conversions matter and deserve their own focus. 


Free Trial Analytics

Image: Cleeng's Free Trial dashboard showing all key trial performance indicators.


How to increase free trial conversions in OTT?


In the evolving streaming industry, ensuring competitiveness is essential. Small changes in the free trial strategy can significantly impact conversions and improve the outcomes you gather for your platform. Here are some ways to optimize your free trial conversions:


  • Experiment adequately: No golden formula outlines the ideal duration of free trials or messaging that maximizes conversions. The answer lies in experimenting.
    Using a robust OTT subscription platform that allows different testing variations in trials across geo-locations can help. You also must track the trial analytics to decipher outcomes objectively.


  • Clearly outline and simplify the next steps for customers: When marketing your free trial, it's best to ensure clarity for potential subscribers. This is possible by informing prospects of what's available in the free trial, including its duration and the next steps as they proceed through their journey on your OTT platform. At the final stage, you must also make it easy for subscribers to upgrade, downgrade, or pay using their preferred method to increase conversions.


  • Ensure seamless communication: Free trial subscribers may have reservations or queries during their trial period. Communicating and supporting them efficiently at this time is a helpful strategy for persuasion and clarifying any objections or concerns. Read more on how to offer excellent customer care using Hi5.


How to implement a free trial strategy for your OTT platform


Thankfully, free trials are relatively straightforward to set up when you’re equipped with the right tech stack. Using Cleeng's dashboard, you can implement your free trial in three easy steps: 

  • Navigate to “Offers & Coupons” on your dashboard. 
  • Click on “Create Offer" and enter the details as per your trial campaign. For “Pricing”, select the number of days of the free trial. 
  • Click on “Finish Setup.”
That’s all. Viewers will be notified about the free trial during checkout. 

How to set up a free trial

Image: Cleeng's Offer Setup dashboard, where all offer types and trial settings can be managed from one screen.


Cleeng’s platform is optimized to ensure that the same users cannot re-apply the "free access" trial to the same offer. This duly safeguards your interest as an OTT broadcaster.


Furthermore, the SRM dashboard is designed to reveal intelligent, real-time insight into varied aspects of subscriber journeys through different trial variations. It also provides inputs on engagement levels that predict conversions. Leveraging these features can empower you to get the results you’re striving for.


Win long-term battle with free trials 


The growing OTT landscape is turning more competitive for broadcasters to acquire subscribers. Experimenting with trial variations and ensuring clear communication and prompt support can enhance free trial conversion


In that regard, depending on a flexible subscriber management system specializing in managing media and entertainment subscriptions is helpful. 



Want to know more about growing subscriber conversation rates?


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Cleeng SRM Product