One of the best things ever to happen to the software industry was the brilliant idea of allowing people to try out software before they purchased it. Before this innovation, people were stuck with buying potentially very expensive software on faith. If the software didn’t work the way they hoped it would they were stuck with it. Most software companies understandably have very restrictive return policies because let’s face it, how is the software company going to know you are still not using the software after the refund unless they use some sort of creepy monitoring solution?
By allowing people to try out software before purchase these software companies had a big edge over their often much larger competitors. Now people could allay their fears about buying something that may not work for them. If the software didn’t work the way they wanted it to they could just move on to another product.
The try before you buy idea has evolved a lot since its inception. At first all try before you buy software used the honor system. They just put out the software for free download and hoped people would be honest and pay for it. This method seemed to work fairly well before the Internet became popular. With the rise of the Internet some people got the idea to limit the freely available software version in some way in order to encourage people to buy the product instead of using it without paying for it. These companies found that limiting features of the free download or limiting the time the free download could be used dramatically increased software sales.
Nowadays most software companies use the try before you buy method. But this method doesn’t work for all software. Large software applications such as operating systems simply don’t lend themselves to feature limitation or time limitation. Large app stores are really the only place small apps can be sold without the option for try before you buy.
Whether you’re a small one man shop or a multi-national software house, the try before you buy marketing method is not something you should pass over lightly.