On the market for nearly 10 years, Appcues’ free trial has been around from the very beginning. Appcues’ leadership has always believed that someone who can experience and see the value of our product for themselves will ultimately decide to pay for it.
Shifting into a more dedicated PLG mindset over the past few years, we uncovered new opportunities to optimize our free trial offering, better qualify prospects, and evolve our product journey into a more self-sufficient experience. Here are five pivotal shifts we made to evolve our PLG motion and deliver greater value to our users.
Creating urgency without compromising value
Every free trial revolves around two objectives:
1. Letting folks unlock value in the product by themselves
2. Motivating them to upgrade to a paid subscription or product tier.
One rarely exists without the other—and Appcues’ free trial is no exception.
Up until last year, free trialers could install Appcues and use its full functionality within their product for up to 50 flows before the trial expired. (For context: flows represent a series of steps that guide a user through a specific experience.)
Depending on their product usage, a free trialer could play around in the tool for free for upwards of a year (or longer!). In other words: Our trial delivered a ton of value, but it lacked urgency for users to buy our tool.
We remedied this by transitioning to a time-based 14-day trial, offering the full suite of product functionality as before.
Aside from a handful of enterprise-grade features, our free trialers can do anything they want during the two-week period—which includes customizing in-app features with corporate branding, logos, and font (example below ⤵️).
Since most people see value during the first few days of their trial and invest in a paid version soon after, we didn’t get any pushback about shortening the timeframe.
Had we shortened the trial and removed product functionality, we’d likely see greater disruption and hesitation from prospects to buy.
Offering incentives to speed activation and boost conversion
Since both options can be barriers for users, we’re constantly looking for ways to remove roadblocks or incentivize our trialers to reach one of those two activation points in the product faster.
Giving folks this nudge makes them much more likely to get up and running during their trial period. This also encourages them to work with their developer to add events or user properties while the project is fresh—helping them reach that activation point even faster.
We’ve also evolved our product guidance and onboarding to be more prescriptive about the actions people need to take. By extending the time box for higher-intent trialers and offering them more detailed resources, we can get them to see value early on and drive higher conversions.
Asking people what, exactly, they want to accomplish
Remember that Seinfeld episode where Kramer becomes the Moviefone Man? Exasperated by his questions, he asks George, “Why don’t you just tell me where you want to see the movie?” I find that a similar principle applies to PLG.
Sometimes the best way to deliver value is to simply ask folks what they want to accomplish and then guide them from there.
Here are a few ways we drive higher-quality interactions and strategic initiatives based on the feedback we receive to our questions.
- Personalized onboarding experiences. A lot of product teams and marketers use Appcues to create modals, slideouts, and checklists, so we started asking a lot of questions about their goals at the beginning of their trial. For example, are they looking to onboard new users, engage folks during a feature launch, or drive adoption for specific product functionality? Their answers help us guide them to the right templates and best resources to get started immediately.
- Proactive sales consultations. Our sales reps are really proficient in the product, reaching out to trialers within 24 hours of signup as a technical resource to help them get up and running. Our sales motion is inherently consultative, with reps asking questions like: “How can I help you build? What are your goals? What brought you to Appcues in the first place?” Our reps also aren’t shy about telling people if another tool is a better fit for their objectives—a rarity in tech.
- New use cases and product strategies. We also evaluate the types of questions we ask during trial sign-up, such as whether someone plans to use Appcues for their website, mobile app, or both. Almost 50% of people who sign up for a trial will answer this question, and the answers have surprised us. Most of our customers are B2B software companies who’ve responded that they plan to use Appcues for both. This insight shifted our strategies a bit and led to us launching our mobile product last fall. It also supports the notion that people are willing to tell you what they want to do—as long as you ask the right question.
Serving up tailored, bite-sized insights to sales reps
Keeping sales reps focused on taking the right actions—without overwhelming them with endless Slack and email notifications—is a common challenge at any company, including ours. One way we’re reducing background noise for reps is by tailoring our playbooks around sales conversations for two key buyers.
The first is the end user of our product: an active trialer who’s performing a specific function. Sales conversations with this buyer will be a lot different than those of our second buyer type: someone buying Appcues on behalf of their team or company.
The non-end user buyer doesn't build flows or track events nor do they need a product deep dive—they want to know more about how we can deliver high-level value. Structuring our playbooks in this way helps sales reps guide these conversations at the appropriate levels.
Prioritizing and qualifying leads with better scoring
Right now, a lot of our scoring is firmographic-based. From the overall pool of our trial signups, we whittle down to a smaller group based on business size and whether someone signed up with a business or personal email.
From there, we have some automated scoring in place based on our ICP, which shrinks that pool down to the most valuable prospects for our sales reps to focus on with more personalized follow-ups.
However, we’re starting to explore ways to incorporate PQLs and usage-based metrics into our scoring, such as inviting a new user or visiting a specific area of the product. This will make everything from our go-to-market messaging and sales conversations that much more sophisticated.
It’s humbling to look back and see how far we’ve come on our product-led journey at Appcues, and inspiring to see how much we can still do to improve our own product experience. We’re still product-led transformers striving to become elite, and it’s incredible to think about how much we’ve learned from our customers along the way.
Ultimately, product-led experiences are about empowering end users to get value from software as quickly and frictionlessly as possible, and I’m excited to see the progress we all continue to make toward that goal!
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More from Appcues?
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