Charge a Small Fee for Your Trial to Attract Committed Users

Victoria Rudi
June 27, 2022
⌚ 3 min read

→ Why it matters

Attract high-quality users who’re intentional and purposeful about trying your platform.

→ Your growth idea

💥 Problem(s)

In some cases, people may:

  • Signup for the trial, yet abandon your platform after a few clicks
  • Ignore the trial onboarding and sign out without ever coming back
  • Have no interest in understanding your software
  • Put no effort into deriving value from your platform and free trial

💡 Solution

Charge a small fee for your trial.

We’re used to free trials, but in some cases, adding a small price to provide limited access to your platform will help you achieve higher trial user engagement and not only.  

► Quick note: Do you remember Ahrefs’ $7 seven-day trial? The company moved from paid to free trial a few months ago.

Ahrefs Screenshot

However, according to Tom Hunt, the founder of SaaS Marketer and bCast, before switching from free to a $7 seven-day trial, Ahrefs had twice as many prospects on trial as customers. All these people were consuming way too much computation and human resources, clogging up the inboxes of the support team.

→ Types of paid trials

  • Time-limited: Charge a small fee to allow people to use your platform for a limited period of time.
  • Usage-limited: Ask for a small fee before enabling people to generate a limited number of reports, briefs, searches, emails, or any other project your platform helps create.

→ Your growth opportunities

  • Avoid spammers and low-quality leads.
  • Save your team’s time and effort, keeping your non-paying users away from clogging the company’s inboxes.
  • Get high-quality prospects into your pipeline.
  • Keep people’s interest in testing your software after signing up. After all, even a small fee will get users invested in deriving value from your platform.
  • Lower the trial abandonment rate.
  • Increase the number of users getting to the “Aha” moment, generating wins with your platform.

→ Case example

>> Content Harmony, brief and content optimization platform

There are few SaaS companies bold enough to deploy this strategy, and Content Harmony is one of them.

Content Harmony Screenshot

Instead of a free trial, the company offers 10 briefs for $10.

Considering that Content Harmony works based on a limited-usage fee, once they’ve paid the fee, users have full access to Content Harmony for the entire year. Obviously, after generating 10 briefs, they won’t be allowed to keep using the software except if they upgrade.

Content Harmony Screenshot

Also, as the Content Harmony team notes: 

“We fetch nearly 100 API calls for each Keyword Report & Brief Workflow we produce, and we want your team to have full access to our product during your trial, so we charge a nominal fee to keep out the spammers.”

→ Is this idea good for your SaaS?


This SaaS growth idea works for product-led companies only. Otherwise, there are no reasons why you couldn’t test it.

→ How to apply this growth idea

✅ Decide what type of paid trial suits your platform best. If people can automatically make or generate a search, a brief, or any other type of project, choose a usage fee. If not, go with a time fee. It all depends on your platform type.

► Quick note: If you choose to charge a small fee for usage, decide how much time your users will have to burn all of their credits. It can be a few days, a month, or a year. It’s worth noting, though, that a larger period may negatively impact your growth. After all, people won’t be incentivized to burn all of their credits fast or generate the projects or the briefs in a short timeframe. As a result, there will be a significant delay in transforming trial users into paying customers.

✅ If you want, you can follow the example of Content Harmony and explain the reasons for your paid trial on the payment page.

✅ Create an email sequence around your paid trial. Inform people about the time or usage limits and their option to upgrade.  

✅ Be very intentional with this growth idea and test it. Measure KPIs such as the number of users who:

  • Paid for the trial
  • Generated wins using your platform
  • Became paid customers

By tracking these numbers, you’ll understand whether this growth idea works for your platform/target group or not.