How to Offer Free Video Content to Get More Paying Monthly Subscribers

By James Johnson
5 Min Read
Offer free content to increase conversions

Giving away your content for free to make more money probably sounds like counterintuitive advice, doesn’t it?

Well, it’s actually one of the most effective ways to convert a higher percentage of your video streaming website traffic into paying customers.

In studying our most successful clients’ business strategies, we’ve found that video businesses that offer free content consistently generate more leads and convert higher than those who don’t.

In this article, you’re going to learn why free content is effective and how you can use it to skyrocket your sales.

Let’s start by talking about Netflix.

The Free Trial You Never Cancelled

Do you remember how you got your Netflix subscription?

If you’re anything like me, the process looked like this:

  • You heard about it from a friend or in the media
  • You were initially skeptical because you already pay for cable
  • Still, you were intrigued and went to their website to find out more
  • You saw they offer a one-month free trial
  • You signed up for it. (what have you got to lose, right?)
  • You played around with it and watched a few movies
  • You realized the service is incredible 
  • You kept your subscription

    Their free trial gave you a risk-free way to experience the product and took you from skeptic to paying customer in just 30 days. (More on how the free trial did that next.)

    Netflix has been using free content as a key tactic to grow their business for years. But they’re not alone. Many other growing content-streaming services, big and small, are doing it too:

    And, our research shows it could work for your content as well.

    How Free Content Can Convert 52% Of Your Potential Customers

    We recently looked at the data of our 1.1 million subscribers. (Basically, our customers’ paying customers.)

    In that data, we found an interesting statistic.

    52% of people who sign up for a free trial on a video streaming service convert into monthly subscribers after the trial was over.

    Better still, this conversion rate was consistent across all niches:

    • Fitness 
    • Education
    • Entertainment 

      From ballet lessons to real estate education, and horseback riding to African movies, this rate of conversions was consistent.

      But why does this happen?

      Well, it has a lot to do with sales objections.

      Free Content: How To Overcome Your Customer’s Biggest Objections

      Every potential customer has six-to-seven objections to a sale.

      Even in perfect conditions, they have a voice in the back of their head saying, “What if?”

      Objections aren’t a bad thing. In fact, they generally mean the customer is interested in buying your product.

      They just want confirmation that pulling out their wallet is the right option for them.

      For video services, objections are often:

      1. Is it too expensive?
      2. Is the product right for me?
      3. How is this different from the last product I tried?
      4. Will the product actually work?
      5. Will I even use it?
      6. Is it too technical for me?

      The problem you face as an online video business owner is that these objections arise when people are looking at your website; not in face-to-face interactions where you can address them in real time.

      So, how do you remedy this?

      By offering free content!

      A free trial gives your customer a risk-free way to address these objections.

      More specifically, you give the customer the opportunity to convince themselves to subscribe to your service.

      For example:

      • Is it too expensive? Try it for free and see if it’s worth the money!
      • Is the product right for me? Take a look around and see how you feel!
      • How is this product different? Watch a few videos and see if you learn something new or are entertained!
      • Will the product work for me? You’ve got 14 days to find out!

      You saw this before with the Netflix example. (Or, the streaming service you use the most.)

      You went from a skeptic who thought, “Why would I pay an extra $15 a month when I already have a cable subscription?”, to someone who thought, “Whoa. Do you remember what life was like without Netflix?”.

      All because the platform allowed you to knock down these objections one-by-one.

      You can also have the same impact by offering free videos on your site.

      Let’s look at how you can actually start to incorporate this into your video business.

      The 4 Ways To Use Free Content In Your Video Business

      There are four main ways to use free content to grow your video business:

      1. Free trials
      2. Free videos
      3. Win-back trials
      4. Coupons

      Each of them is effective in their own way and can be strategically used at different times to get great results.

      Here’s how they work.

      1. Free Trials

      Free trials give potential customers full access to your content for a set period of time.

      Usually, customers will enter their payment information ahead of time so they can seamlessly continue their subscription:

      14 days free trial cta

      Free trials can be as long or as short as you want them to be, but we’ve found 14-days to be the sweet spot.

      Do this with Uscreen:

      Setting this free trial up is really simple in your Uscreen dashboard. Simply head to:

      Sidebar > Subscriptions

      And select your primary subscription package. Once on the screen, head to the bottom of the page and enter the number of free days:

      Save the changes and you’re ready to start offering this on your website.

      2. Free Videos

      Free videos can entice people to upgrade to your premium content.

      These videos can be:

      • Teasers (or trailers)
      • Entry-level content

      These provide a potential customer with an insight into what’s behind your paywall.

      Magic Stream does this well on their website with a trailer for each of their tutorials. You simply click on a video and you’ll see a promo of what you can learn.

      The only downside to the free videos approach is that you don’t collect leads. Anybody can watch these videos without leaving an email address where you can follow up. That’s why a lot of content creators will have both free trials and free videos, but never just free videos.

      Do this with Uscreen:

      To set this up in your Uscreen account, head to:

      Sidebar > Bundles > New Bundle > Freebie Bundle

      Then follow the steps presented to you on-screen.

      uscreen freebie bundle setup

      3. Win-Back Trials

      Just because a customer cancels their subscription doesn’t mean they’re gone forever.

      They could have canceled for a number of reasons, and these problems often rectify themselves over time.

      (I’ve un- and re-subscribed to Amazon Prime three times over the last four years!)

      Once your customer has had some time away, you can attempt to recoup them by offering another free trial to rekindle their love for your service. This can be extra effective if you’ve added new content in that time period too.

      Do this with Uscreen:

      We’ve made this easy to do in Uscreen with our marketing tools.

      Head to:

      Sidebar > Marketing > Try Again For Free

      And select the “Activate Try Again For Free” box:

      Select your time period, write a custom email and save your changes. This will now send automatically to all of your future cancellations!

      4. Coupons

      The final way to offer free content is with coupons.

      These are easy to set up and allow you to offer:

      • Free trials to specific customers
      • Free access to specific content
      • Varied discounts

        Coupons are particularly effective when used in conjunction with marketing tactics, like social media giveaways.

        Do this with Uscreen:

        You can access your coupons in Uscreen by going to:

        Sidebar > Marketing > Coupons > New Coupon

        Once inside, you can tailor each coupon to fit the needs of your offer:

        uscreen dashboard coupon creation

        It may also be worth toying with offering “paid” trails for your content, like many software companies do, to see what results you get.

        For example, $1 for 14 days may seem like an arbitrary number. But getting that first sale, no matter how small the number, can often lead to future sales.

        Free content works

        Free content can have a huge impact on your bottom line.

        They’re used by both big and small streaming companies to attract customers. And, our research shows you can convert up to 52% of your signups into customers as well.

        There are five ways to offer free content in your business:

        • Free trials: full access to your content for 14 days
        • Free videos: trailers or entry-level tutorials
        • Free trial extensions: for those customers who go distracted
        • Win-back trials: to recoup cancellations
        • Coupons: to offer laser-focused discounts and content

        It’s worth testing each of these in your business to see which of them is most effective.

        If you have any questions or need any help, you can just comment and this post and we’ll get back to you!

        Care for an on-demand demo?