While working on a client website cleaning up some issues and getting ready for a content marketing campaign, we had a number of questions.

The owner of the company, who sold software for industrial companies, had done a pretty good job creating a website that generated leads: the site has a demo call-to-action (CTA) and a 30-day free trial.

Seeing both calls-to-action on his website prompted us to ask lots of questions about his customers, the questions they asked about his product, and which CTA converted better for him.

He said, “Yes, I’m always able to close a sale when I get a person on the phone.”

So, which is better? A demo or a trial offer? Or, should you have both? The answer, of course, is “it depends . . . on your product and where prospects are in the sales cycle.”

Demos — Good for people who have questions

A demo, with its accompanying phone call, is great way to show people how your product works and answer any question your prospect may have.

If you sell software or other products that lend themselves to a demo, we definitely recommend that you include a demo call-to-action on each page of your website.

The CTA should be large enough so that people see it, and it should include a form for people to fill out.

Keep your form simple — you need only enough information to contact the prospect to set up the meeting — the way Morse Data, developers of InOrder ERP software, does in Figure 1.

demo-call-to-action

Figure 1: Morse Data’s Request a Free Demo

Morse Data’s form includes six fields, including the number of users, as that’s one way they pre-qualify prospects.

When adding a demo call-to-action, you can include the form on each page of your site, or you can include a call-to-action button that takes people to a dedicated landing page.

Clicking the demo button on NetLine Corporation’s home page leads to the dedicated landing page seen in Figure 2.

demo-call-to-action

Figure 2: NetLine’s dedicated demo landing page.

Free Trials — Good for people almost ready to buy

Once a prospect has a good idea of whether your product is a good fit, he or she is now ready for a trial.

As with the demo call-to-action, you can include your trial CTA on each page of your website. You want to include a form and collect enough information that you can follow up with the prospect before the trial ends.

In Figure 3, PPTshuffle offers software that helps large companies manage thousands of PowerPoint files.

The company’s free 30-day trial CTA button is on each page of the website — click the button and you get taken to a landing page where you fill out a form.

free-trial-cta

Figure 3: PPTshuffle free trial CTA.

A few DOs to keep in mind with your demo and free trial calls-to-action:

1. DO use your CTA landing page URL in your email, PPC, and social media marketing to help drive traffic and conversions.

2. DO keep your dedicated landing page focused only on the offer. Your goal is to get people to fill out the form. You don’t want to confuse people by including other offers or information on the page.

3. DO test your forms by making sure the form emails go to the correct person. Be sure to create a “thank you” page that includes information on when people will hear from you once they click “submit.”

4. DO use the Thank You page as the destination URL for your Google Analytics goal tracking. That way, you can track conversions by channel and source.

5. DO make sure you follow up with your prospects as soon as you can. A prospect that fills out a demo or trial offer form is ready to do business with you!


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Dianna Huff is the founder and president of Huff Industrial Marketing, a full service agency that tackles a host of marketing and communications challenges for manufacturing companies.

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