Should we let trial customers into our community?

Hi all, I’m a community manager for a B2BC startup, and I’m facing some executive pushback on allowing trial customers into our community.

The pros:

  • Trial customers in the community convert to paid at a higher rate (I have the data to prove it)
  • Trial customers in the community submit fewer support tickets (data here too)

The cons:

  • When a trial customer chooses not to upgrade to paid, and posts about it in our community (I moderate heavily, but some things do slip through), the executive team sees that and they freak.

Any pointers for helping convince my bosses to continue allowing trial customers into the community, apart from reporting on the pros I’ve listed above? Links to articles, best practices, etc. would be so helpful.

So you’re getting insight into the reasons why people are signing up and the reasons they don’t. Isn’t this great either way?

I suspect most of your customers are likely to be aware of the negatives as well as the positives of being a customer of your business. What the trial customers are providing is an opportunity to respond and if needed evolve the business to meet any issues.

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So I wrote a piece about this exact thing. The conversations will happen about your brand. It will either happen on a space you control, where you have proper context, information and identity, or they go elsewhere, and you lose complete control.

I think the best bet is maybe to have a detailed action plan when there are negative comments on upgrading. Who owns the messaging, who will engage and what will be said. I would also say someone who doesn’t upgrade today doesn’t mean they won’t upgrade tomorrow or tell others about your service. People talk more about a bad experience, so I would use this as an opportunity for your company to showcase itself as being attentive to those that don’t even chose them.

Good luck!

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You’ve done some great job with your existing metrics.

One thing that would be especially powerful is to run this on a test basis. Allow trial customers into your community for a six month period and run it as you would normally. Measure if the trial customers convert to paid at a higher rate and at a faster rate, which would be one of the most compelling data points to present.

If a customer doesn’t convert, a community can actually be one of the best places for retention and re-conversion. You can assemble a team of specially trained superusers who not only welcome the responses by trial customers, but provide detailed and informative responses that may help clarify.