Trial pricing implementation: 6 best practices for developers

Trial pricing is a smart way for SaaS businesses to capture and convert customers. But it can be tricky for engineering teams to implement. Here are 6 best practices to help you better implement trial pricing and creates a seamless experience for customers.

Trial pricing implementation: 6 best practices for developers

Trial pricing is a SaaS pricing strategy that allows customers to have access to a product or product tier that is limited either in time or by a specified quota. 

It’s a smart way for SaaS businesses to capture and convert customers. But it can be tricky for engineering teams to implement. In-house trial pricing systems quickly become cumbersome once SaaS companies start to scale. Non-engineers — like customer service and sales teams — cannot manage the system’s complex user interface and code base. So, they flood the engineering team with manual change requests that are hard to keep up with.

Adhering to best practices — like tracking trial days and automating trial expiration — eliminates errors in trial pricing implementation for your developer team and creates a seamless experience for customers. 

1. Add a compulsory trial duration parameter to the backend 

Tracking the number of trial days on a plan prevents users from exceeding their trial duration, which is especially useful if your organization has a large customer base. A few customers exceeding their trial duration might not have immediate consequences for your organization, but it leads to large-scale financial losses if it persists. 

Tracking trial days manually is an error-prone, complex, and time-consuming process. A better way to do it is to add a compulsory trial duration parameter to the backend when setting up your trial pricing system so that no trial pricing can go live without defining this parameter. 

With a trial duration parameter, you can define the number of days a trial will last. Once a trial starts, store the calculated trial end date in the database for each customer.

2. Automate trial expiration 

Having engineers manually cancel trial plans and revoke entitlements upon the trial expiration is a waste of time and resources. Instead, automate the process. 

Implement automated workflows in your in-house trial pricing system, such as:

  1. Adding a “trial end” parameter to the backend. A “trial end” parameter uses a timestamp to track the exact moment the trial should end.
  1. Setting up a scheduling mechanism in your system’s backend to check for recently expired trials on a daily basis to trigger workflows like downgrading expired trials and sending emails to customers with soon-to-be expired trials.

3. Plan for data management 

Good data management improves data quality and makes it easier for cross-functional teams to access the right information required for marketing and sales activities — like retargeting customers after the trial period. 

Say a customer is downgrading from a paid trial to a free plan. In that case, you need to decide what happens to all of their data and information from the paid plan — especially data from the features that are unavailable in the free plan.  

Don’t delete customers’ data immediately. Instead, build in a buffer period in your trial system backend, after which allocated resources from trial pricing plans would be archived in a data warehouse or deleted entirely from your trial pricing system. 

4. Collect payment information upfront 

If you’re offering automatic upgrades after a trial, you should collect the customer’s payment information at the point when they are signing up for the trial plan. Doing so: 

  1. Minimizes disruptions to the user experience as users easily transition from free to paid. 
  1. Prevents freeloading (and potentially lost revenue) — where the user automatically upgrades to a paid plan but isn’t charged for it. 

Add a compulsory “input credit card information” field to your trial sign-up page. You can define this parameter when configuring the trial in your system’s backend. After collecting the information, store it in a payment service provider (like Stripe) for later use.

5. Sync your pricing system and billing tool 

Sync your pricing and billing systems so you can easily track trial changes. Without this, it will be hard to account for subscription changes in your billing tool — like trial extensions and expirations — and reflect these changes logically in your system’s backend as well as visually in the app. 

Use an application programming interface (API) like Stigg’s to connect your pricing stream to your billing tool, and transfer data between both systems. Any trial extensions or expirations that happen in the billing system will automatically reflect in your pricing system and be updated in the app’s frontend. 

6. Track trial status 

Track trial status so you can implement any changes to the customer’s plan in real time and ensure a smooth transition for the end user. Say a customer converts to a paid plan right in the middle of a free trial or cancels a trial before it expires. You need to reflect these changes immediately, both in your backend and in the app. 

The best way to do this is by defining workflows for different trial statuses in your system’s backend. If a customer cancels a paid trial before the expiry date, the action should trigger an automatic downgrade to a free plan. Similarly, if they convert to a paid plan during the trial period, the workflow should trigger automatic access to entitlements in the higher pricing tier. 

Ditch the code: Implement trial pricing with Stigg 

In-house trial pricing systems are difficult to scale, which makes them a poor fit for growing SaaS businesses looking to implement trial pricing. What you need is a headless system that allows you to automate the end-to-end trial pricing implementation process. 

Stigg is a faster way to set up trial pricing. You get trial management out of the box with support for trial extensions, webhook triggers for trial lifecycle (started, extended, or expired), and automated downgrade to a free plan. On top of that, Stigg supports any common pricing model and lets you build full experiences - from launching pricing plans to dynamic paywalls and best-in-class customer portals - in a few minutes. All you need is to implement Stigg’s APIs and SDKs into your codebase to gate features, and you’re all set. Read more on our integration methods in our docs.

Ready to work smarter? Get started with Stigg - it’s free.