Does Using the Word “Free” in an Offer Cheapen the Perceived Value of Your Software?

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Dear Kara,

In the past year, we’ve tested multiple demo offers on our site- “Book a Demo,” “Demonstration,” “Live Demo,” etc. None of our previous tests have resulted in an increase in leads. Our conversion rates continue to hover around 4-5%. I’ve read on multiple sources, Capterra included, that using the word “Free” in your call to action can boost inbound lead generation. word free cheapen perceived valueI’d like to run a test using “Free Demo” as our offer, but my colleagues aren’t on board. We sell an enterprise-level product, and since we don’t typically compete on price, they’re concerned that by adding the word “Free,” we’ll attract prospects looking for something cheap. In your opinion, does using the word “Free” in our call to action lower the perceived value of our product?

All the best,
Frightened by Freebies

Dear Frightened,

I applaud your efforts to test different demo offers. You’d be surprised how few software companies pay attention to this!

As I’m sure you’re aware, buyers searching for software solutions these days are not exactly coming up short of options. In this market, even enterprise solutions don’t have the luxury of laying low. Your efforts need to be focused on generating leads and lots of them! This all begins with a well functioning website.

More often than not, your website is a software buyer’s first impression of your brand. The site’s design, messaging, educational content, even your logo and color scheme, all work together to help each visitor form an opinion of how much your product is “worth” to them.

Your call-to-action (CTA) serves a different purpose, though. Once the buyer has decided that your product is valuable enough to be worth their consideration, they want a quick and painless way to give it a try.

At Capterra, we consider a website to have a strong offer when it converts visitors into leads at a high rate (5-15%). By adding the word“Free” to your demo CTA, you’ll increase the strength of your offer and boost your conversion rate. Let’s be honest- who doesn’t want something free? As most web visitors are not yet ready to make a purchase decision, you want to reassure the prospect that  there’s no risk to them giving your product a shot. With the word “Free” in the demo CTA, they know exactly what they’re signing up for and that it costs them $0 to do so. By eliminating this fear, you’ll be able to win over the risk averse crowd. Plus, offering a free demo or trial shows your buyers that you’re willing to invest time and resources into a potential future relationship. Win- win, right?

Now, Frightened, let’s address your colleagues’ hesitation.

Using the word “Free” in your demonstration offer will not impact the perceived value of your solution. The pricing of your software is independent from your free offer.

The vast majority of legitimate software buyers know that a product demonstration is free. The benefit to using the word free is that it can increase your conversion rate.

A recent case study indicated that by using the word “Free” in an offer, you can increase your conversion rates by 4%. And while you will generate more quality leads by increasing your conversion rate, that doesn’t mean that 100% of the leads will be a good fit. As I’m sure you’ve discovered through running tests, regardless of the language used on the CTA button, a percentage of the leads you generate will always be considered “junk.” It’s the nature of the beast called online advertising.

By increasing the number of leads you generate, the percentage of junk leads may increase relative to before… but you’ll also receive a greater number of quality leads than you did before, too. Is it possible that using the word “Free” will convert prospects looking for a freebie? Yes. Would you have converted the same traffic through your “Book a Demo” offer? Most likely. Even if you do get a couple more junk leads out of this, the ability to increase your conversion rates by 4%, and capture more of the good leads that you’re currently missing out on should vastly outweigh the need to delete a few more form submissions a month.

Online marketing becomes more competitive every day. You need to be willing to take the risk and test new offers on your site. Start with baby steps! Try an A/B split test of your offers using “Free Demo” vs. “Book a Demo,” and evaluate the conversion quality as the leads come in. I have a feeling this test will reduce your fear of the word “Free.”

All the best,

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About the Author


Kara Dawson

As a Marketing Advisor at Capterra, Kara serves as an outside marketing consultant for nearly 300 of our B2B software companies.



Some sensible content the above! still today though people are concerned about having to pay, actually today as always so conducting a workshop is traditionally associated with a cost.

Even when introducing a new product. It makes sense to use the word free. irrespective if the person has little interest in the product no matter how free it is. For whatsoever reason the word free attracts more people same as the word discount. The nature of peoples perception, I might be wrong. My personal view is not so much the free or discount its the level of generated interest in the product.

Goo reading the above thanks

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