Usage-limited Trials: Leading Your New Users Towards Instant Wins

Victoria Rudi
June 16, 2022
⌚ 4 min read

→ Your growth practice

Provide a usage-limited trial, taking your users from frustration to an “Aha” moment or quick win in a matter of seconds/minutes or a few clicks.

→ Quick explanation

💥 Problem(s)

When offering a time-limited trial, such as a 7-day, 14-day, or 30-day trial, you may encounter challenges such as:

  • A delay users may experience between accessing the platform and experiencing an “Aha” moment or quick win.
  • Low engagement with the product, as the final result may elude your users’ understanding.
  • The rapid loss of interest in using your platform.
  • High trial abandonment rate as users may struggle to understand your platform’s value.

💡 Solution

  • Instead of offering a time-limited trial, having less control over the ways your users will test the product, design your free trial around quick wins and “Aha” moments. Subsequently, put a cap on them, limiting their usage to a specific number of tasks.

► Quick note: The only issue you may have with this approach is encountering users who create multiple fake accounts to access and execute the tasks. For example, someone may create dozens of accounts to access an SEO platform and run multiple keyword searches.

→ Definitions

📓 Tasks: An umbrella term for different actions (searches, projects, uploads, downloads, etc.) free trial users may perform after accessing a SaaS platform.

📓 Lockups: The limited number of tasks one can perform by accessing a free trial.

→ Types of free trials

  • Usage-limited: Users can perform a specific number of tasks after accessing the platform.
  • Time-limited: People can access and use the platform for a short period of time.
  • Feature-limited: Some SaaS companies will allow users to test and try a limited number of features. To access the total capacity of the platform, people have to upgrade to a paid version.
  • Capacity-limited: Users can generate a specific number of projects, upload a limited number of documents, or store a small number of digital objects.

→ Types of usage-limited tasks

  • Time-bound tasks: In some cases, SaaS companies will provide a daily, weekly, or monthly amount of tasks free trial users can perform. For example, users are allowed to perform 5 specific tasks per month. For example, Zapier’s free users can access 100 tasks per month.
  • Cap-based tasks: In other cases, SaaS companies will allow people to access a specific number of tasks. Once completed, users can’t perform any other task except if they upgrade to a paid trial.

→ Your growth opportunities

  • Showcase the value of your product by taking your free trial users from frustration to winning in a short period of time.
  • Increase the number of free trial users.
  • Ensure higher engagement with your software.
  • Lower the platform abandonment rate.

→ Case examples

>> Wordable, Google Docs to WordPress platform

Wordable helps its users to publish Google Docs to WordPress in 1-click.

Wordable Screenshot

As a free trial experience, the company allows its users to export 5 Google Documents to WordPress.

Wordable Screenshot

People can sign up, have a quick onboarding process, and achieve immediate results.

Wordable Screenshot

>> Taloflow, cloud service analysis platform

Taloflow helps people to identify the best cloud storage object in less time.

Taloflow Screenshot

The company packed its free trial into a 5-minute use case questionnaire and an automatically generating report to showcase its value.

Taloflow Screenshot

It’s worth mentioning that users are asked to fill out the questionnaire, yet to get the results, they must sign up for the platform.

Taloflow Screenshot

After spending 5 minutes answering Taloflow’s questions, people usually agree to create an account only to access the customized report.

Taloflow Screenshot

>> SparkToro, audience research platform

The free trial of SparkToro is based on time-bound tasks.

SparkToro Screenshot

The company helps people identify audience characteristics (overview, demographics, social, websites, and more) based on keywords.

SparkToro Screenshot

It’s worth noting that access to certain elements is restricted. For example, after running the search queries, free trial users can’t access data such as audience demographics (top job, top employer industries, skills and interests, education, and more).

SparkToro Screenshot

Each month, SparkToro provides an account refresh, enabling its free trial users to run 5 more more searches.

SparkToro Screenshot

>> Mangools, keyword research and analysis tool

Mangools offers a free trial that includes:

  • 5 local SERP analysis
  • 5 keyword searches
  • 2,000 backlink analysis
  • 10 rank tracking actions
  • 5 SEO metrics
Mangools Screenshot

>> VoilaNorbert, email finder platform

VoilaNorbert is allowing its free trial users to find 50 verified emails.

VoilaNorbert Screenshot

This number doesn’t refer to the search queries but the number of found emails. This happens because the platform isn’t always capable of identifying an email.  

→ What to consider?


  • Can I pack my free trial offer into specific actions?
  • What’s the number one action that will lead my users to quick wins?
  • How many free actions should I offer, making sure users will feel the need to upgrade?


  • This growth practice works for product-led companies only.
  • Not all platforms allow a usage-limited free trial. For example, a webinar platform works based on taking multiple actions. People can explore it and derive value in time instead of quick, immediate wins (aka task accomplished). That’s why you’ll need to assess whether you can provide usage-limited free trials or not.

→ Your action framework

✅ Identify the action that leads your users to a quick win. Is it a search query? Is it an export or automation task? Or maybe it’s the number of transcripts your user can generate? The answer to this question will depend greatly on your type of product. The action, though, needs to be central to your users, promptly taking them from frustration to the “Aha” moment or quick win.

✅ Depending on the action type, decide whether you’ll offer time-based or cap-based tasks. Then choose a task limit. How often will you allow your free trial users to execute a specific task?

► Quick note: You may discover that your platform can provide multiple tasks, such as Mangools. If that’s the case, make a list of free trial tasks and put a limit on each of them.

✅ Build your free trial and onboarding experience around this specific task/action.

✅ Don’t forget that you can always experiment and see what type of free trial works best for your product. To ensure the efficiency of this practice, you’ll want to track KPIs such as the number of:

  • Free trial users
  • Tasks/actions executed by each user
  • Users who’ve abandoned the product without executing the first task
  • Users who’ve abandoned the product after executive a first task
  • Free trial users who became paying customers

If you’re running an experiment, comparing time-limited and usage-limited trials, for example, these KPIs will give you a great insight into identifying the best practice for your growth.