What CTA should you use for your Free Trial or Demo?

By 22 September 2015Blog

I’ve recently been looking into the best phraseology for CTAs for demos and free trial offers for SaaS. Depending on how you go about this, you may wish to review the wording of your CTA to increase conversion. Whilst you want to achieve this, it’s also important to set the correct expectation and not mislead visitors who opt in. If a visitor opts in to a CTA that says ‘Live Demo’ and are then shown pre recorded videos, is this an accurate representation of the process? Many visitors may expect a ‘Live Demo’ to represent a live webinar or meeting in which a consultant logs into the software and demonstrates the interface and features in real time.

Whatever the process you provide to demo your app, just remember that the CTA has two purposes;

  • to convert as high as possible
  • to accurately represent the experience that will follow

After all, what’s the point of high conversion rates if visitor expectations are not met when they convert?

In the following notes I will document a variety of possible options for demo CTAs. I’ve made some observations from SaaS business and documented a few ideas concerning CTAs with best wording for conversion.

A few simple observations:

The typical process is that Demo buttons existing on your website will click through to a demo conversion page that contains a form. The most engaging demo opt in pages are making the most of the opportunity for promotion on these pages. What can you do or say on your demo opt in page that will influence visitors to complete and submit the form rather than bounce? You might summarise product benefits and feature, you may summarise what’s included in the demo, you may even provide click bait or a promotional offer for those who take the demo. However you approach this you’ll need to strike a balance between encouraging visitors to submit the form and overwhelming or distracting them with other information.

Another simple observation is that for most companies offering tailored demos (a web conference call talking you through the product), the most popular CTA used is ‘Request a Demo’.

SaaS Demo CTAs and the Companies That Use Them

‘Request a Demo’
Whilst many companies opt for this, is the word ‘Request’ the most compelling word available here?

‘Start my Demo’

​InfusionSoft use this one. I think the immediacy of it is attractive. This CTA leads users straight into a web based demo onsite. Needless to say, InfusionSoft’s demo is high quality and engaging. This CTA could be misleading if the Demo does not start immediately, so this option is only recommended if you have a step by step, web based demo.

‘Live Demo’

This one is used by Gainsight. When the visitor hits this CTA they are taken to the opt in page to book a live pre-scheduled webinar demo.


Zendesk focus on Free Trial predominantly. But they also use the simple ‘Demo’ link in their main navigation, taking visitors to an opt in page.

‘Free Trial’

​Salesforce opt for Free Trial predominantly. But provide the ‘Watch Demos’ CTA that offers a bunch of demo videos via an opt in page. Always a great resource if you have this.

‘Watch Demo’

​ClickSoftware uses the ‘Watch Demo’ CTA that takes users through to view 3 video demos of the software. No opt in is required for this.

‘Live Demos’

​Workday use the heading ‘Live Demos’ and a button ‘Register Now’. This is not a very prominent CTA on the homepage but perhaps not their intended main route to user acquisition.

‘4 Min Demo’

Marketo require visitors to opt in before showing a demo video and also offer a Free Trial. The opt in is a key part of their email nurturing sequence. If you intend to operate in the same way, converting opt ins may be more important to you as an initial step. You may wish to convert visitors into demos later in the funnel.

‘2 Minute Overview’

​Xero show a video overview of what they do. This is a contextual story that shows users as well as the Xero software interface. The video contains personas and use cases that viewers can identify with and clear benefits for users too. The video opens in a lightbox and doesn’t require opt in.

‘Watch Demos’

​Xero also use a CTA to show demos directly in a lightbox on the homepage with no opt in required. There are approximately 20 how-to instructional videos that demonstrate the software. This is typical of the easy to access help and information that Xero provide to their audience. Xero are particularly good at this, consistently demonstrating their commitment to quality and service.

‘Request a Demo’

This is a popular choice of demo CTA used by several companies with a selection outlined below:

Totango are a customer success management software company who currently use the ‘Request a Demo’ CTA. This is followed by an opt in page, taking details such as No. of employees (which seems to be a qualifying question) and they promote a customised demo. I expect this is a 1 to 1 live demo over an online conference call.

​Satmetrix, a customer experience software, also use this CTA followed by opt in page with a tailored demo for prospects.

UserZoom presents this CTA to an opt in page that promotes a ‘Free Pilot Study’ for opt-ins. They also gently suggest that opt ins will be qualified, and their form also does this to some extent. They also have an alternate opt-in for the UserZoom demo video entitled ‘UserZoom in 2mins’ which opens in a lightbox with no opt-in.

​ClickTale also use the ‘Request a Demo’ CTA to an opt-in page entitled ‘Get a Private Demo’.

‘Book a Demo’

​Gecko Board’s CTA goes through to a rather clinical and impersonal opt-in form.

Peter Loving

About Peter Loving

Peter helps SaaS businesses improve their product, get more users and grow. Follow Peter's blog #SaaSHacks, his podcast the SaaS Growth Show and the free resources available at peterloving.com

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