It still amazes me how various companies can mess up the software trial process. Instead of making the process painless and simple, they put up huge barriers before users can actually try the product: lengthy sign up process, two way email authentication, post install product authentication, requiring credit cards for the download, etc... Heck, in some cases companies should be paying users to try out their software. But yet, they forget that users just wants to see if the product is any good, users want to see if the software has value to them past an initial 2 to 4 weeks honeymoon period.
Companies need to remember that first impressions are formed during the sign up, download, and install process - long before the user actually "tries" the product in the first place.
I like Rick's two phase approach for "signing up users" the best:
- No credit card/email sign up gets you a five day trial.
- Sign up with just an email address and you get 60 days to kick the tires.
Just about perfect and it shows tremendous confidence in the value of your product.