2. Activation  >  Use Short Trials With Extensions

Use short trials with extensions to reduce SaaS churn

Offering short trials develop urgency and reduce your cost. Those who don’t convert after trial expiration, extend their trial to boost conversions and reduce churn. Offering extension works great because you get a chance to engage with users.



Kashflow increased trial to paying customer conversions by 25% after they reduced free trial duration from 60 days to 14 days.


Freshbooks offers its active users an additional two weeks of free trial on expiration to keep them engaged.


Sleeknote offers a free trial extension to partially inactive users but they have to implement tracking code to receive the extension.

How to use the technique

  • Research and decide an optimal trial length. Should it be 7, 14, 28, or 30 days? Refer to your ideal customers and ask them via surveys and interviews. Our churn optimization framework will show you how to collect data from your audience. 
  • Can users fully explore your software within the trial period? Don’t squeeze trial too much that users cannot explore all the features. It is best to offer 14 days trial as any software can be fully tried and tested in 14 days.
  • Create urgency. Short trials naturally create urgency. Customers will use your software to avoid expiration. Long trials aren’t persuasive as users get all the time to try it. This makes them churn because they forget about the app.
  • Convert a long trial into a short trial and add an extension. For instance, convert your 28 days free trial into 14 days trial. Offer users with another 14 days (or 7 + 7 days) trial as an extension. This will make them use your software.
  • Engage with the users when offering the extension. The majority of users won’t respond to emails but when you offer them an extension, most of them will respond positively. And that’s where you can initiate a conversation.
  • Bribe users with extension. Ask users to complete a specific task (step) in the customer journey to get a free trial extension. For instance, if they haven’t experienced Aha moment, ask them to complete it to enjoy an extension.
  • Test different trail durations. There are several variables that you should analyze empirically to come up with optimal trial length. Such as ease of use, sales cycle, customer lifecycle journey, average activation time, etc. We created an amazing free step-by-step churn optimization framework to help you get along with testing.

Mistakes to avoid

  • Lack of follow-ups. Sending an extension once isn’t enough. Follow up multiple times to ensure users don’t churn and opt for the extension.
  • No testing. A big mistake that SaaS makes is that they don’t measure and test the results of different trail variations. Test all changes you make to your free trial duration.


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Research evidence

Cheng, Li, and Liu developed an analytical model to examine different SaaS free trial strategies. The findings revealed that small and relatively new businesses should offer a time-locked free trial. The optimal length of a free trial depends on several internal and external factors, however, it is best for relatively new brands to offer time-locked free trials as it helps them increase profits. As your business grows, you can use short trials as it will perform better in terms of profitability.

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As your business grows, short trials will perform better in terms of profitability. Small and relatively new businesses should offer a time-locked free trial.

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