How to manage a successful free trial for website visitor tracking software
Last Updated: April 2019
Many B2B firms are increasingly interested in turning their company websites into better lead generation machines.
Using website visitor tracking software is one way to do this. Fortunately, most vendors in this product category provide a free trial period to help users evaluate and adopt these tools.
If you’re in the market for one of these solutions, read below for a practical approach and tips designed to help you make the most of your trial of these promising B2B lead generating tools.
What Is Website Visitor Tracking?
Software Tools for B2B Lead Generation
Website visitor tracking software is a class of B2B lead-generation tools that leverages website analytics data to help companies understand who is visiting their website, often in real-time.
Its purpose is to help B2B companies generate more sales leads directly from the stream of companies and people visiting their corporate website.
I cover the process and tools used for tracking website visitors in much greater detail in this post.
What Free Software Trials Are Available?
There are many vendors providing these tracking tools today, and virtually all of them offer a no-charge trial period ranging from one week to a month.
The most common trial duration advertised is two weeks.
For a starter list of some of the top vendors in this product segment, visit the vendor introduction section of this post.
Suggested Evaluation Process
Get the Most from Your Trial Evaluation
The outline below is a general guide to help users make the most of a trial period for these software products.
Two weeks may sound like a lot of time to complete a software trial, but it can fly by quickly with no definitive conclusion if the evaluation team isn’t totally prepared.
Step 1: Confirm Executive Support and Budget
This step might fall into the ‘obvious’ category, but it’s worth covering quickly.
Be sure to get commitments from the right managers and executives in your organization before starting the free software trial.
Naturally, this process will vary based on your company’s size and org chart complexity. It may take 5 minutes… or 5 weeks.
Is the head of sales on board? Marketing management too? And perhaps the president, COO, or CEO, for smaller companies.
Whose budget will this new expense hit, if you go forward with the purchase after the trial? A 50/50 budget split between marketing and sales is a great way to encourage teamwork in the area of website-based lead generation.
Step 2: Research and Finalize Vendor Selection(s)
Your research into web visitor tracking vendors probably started before Step 1, but in any case there comes a point when you have to decide who the potential winners are, so you can get the trial phase underway.
Will you start a free trial with only vendor, or perhaps 2-3 in parallel or staggered in some way?
My introduction to website visitor tracking vendors may help you narrow down the list.
Step 3: Verify Existing Google Analytics Setup and Visitor Metrics
Your selected software tool will need to either connect to your existing Google Analytics account, or will provide a snippet of custom tracking code that you’ll need to install on every page of your corporate website.
For WordPress or other CMS-based websites, the vendor(s) may have a plugin that makes this easy to do.
In either case – existing GA account or vendor-specific tracking code – it will make sense to first verify that your Google Analytics account is up and running properly.
For tools that are powered by your existing Google Analytics data, you’ll just want to verify that GA is up and running properly for you. A thorough audit of your setup may be in order, especially if your company hasn’t been using GA data on a regular basis. See this post for more about doing your own Google Analytics audit.
Vendor Tracking Code
When testing software that requires its own tracking code, it still makes a lot of sense to have Google Analytics running in parallel.
Because having GA data also available means you’ll be able to compare metrics available in GA with the page-level and session-level data provided by the visitor tracking tool. It’s a great way to audit one tool against the other.
You’ll also have access to GA’s two key dimensions for visitor identification: the Service Provider and Network Domain dimensions.
You should be able to see some of the same company-level visitors here that you’ll get from the 3rd-party tracking tool.
Step 4: Assign Software Trial Manager and Lead Users
Determine who in your company will lead the software trial. This person may also be the lead user-tester and the main contact for interfacing with the software vendor’s account team.
In small B2B firms, this team may consist of a single sales/marketing user and decision-maker. Or there may be multiple people from sales, marketing, and C-level interested in test-driving the software, seeing reports, etc.
Most free trials for these solutions have a stated duration of two weeks.
Sounds like enough time, right?
But B2B marketing and sales teams are busy groups with many other ‘day job’ things to do. Gaining commitment in advance that the key user-testers will devote time and energy to the trial over a fairly compact timeframe will be important.
This will be a new piece of software to add to an existing ‘marketing tech stack’ in many cases.
Step 5: Sign Up for Free Trial(s)
Once you’ve decided which vendors and software solutions to test, it’s time to register as a trial user. All of the good website visitor tracking vendors make it incredibly easy to sign up as a free trial account.
Some may want you to sit through a software demo as part of the process.
At this point, you’ll also want to get a customer success manager or similar role assigned to you from the software vendor(s) selected.
This person will be assigned to ‘onboard’ you as a new trial user. They will also be highly motivated to make you as successful as possible with their software, in hopes of converting your company to a paying customer after the software trial is over.
Step 6: Install and Configure the Software
As first mentioned in Step 3, this includes either connecting your new trial account to your existing Google Analytics account, or installing the vendor-specific tracking code on your website.
Some vendors provide plugins for WordPress and other CMS platforms to make this easy.
Since these solutions are cloud-based (SaaS) software, you may also need to configure your account and various software parameters in the cloud.
Step 7: Hands-On Testing
It’s time for our trial user group to start testing.
Be sure to explore all of the visitor tracking tool’s core features and any relevant options supported by the software. It’s a great idea to have at least a brief written test plan in place. Even a simple checklist of your team’s highest priorities will be helpful.
Others may want to just dive in and ‘wing it’ a bit while exploring the software features. In any case, consider the following:
- What do you most care about from a marketing perspective? What do you need (for marketing) from a visitor tracking tool that you don’t already get from Google Analytics or other web analytics tools you have deployed?
- What does your sales team need and expect? How will this tool fit into their current lead gen and prospecting processes?
- What about reporting for senior management? Does the tool provide them with new actionable insights that help guide any C-level decisions?
You’ll also want to stay engaged with your software vendor contact (customer success manager, account manager, etc.) to learn how to use the software to its fullest capability. Web conferences, demos with your live data, vendor YouTube videos, and other online training sessions can all be a huge help at this stage.
Getting the test group together after a few days of testing for feedback, internal training, and troubleshooting is also a good way to keep up the momentum as your trial approaches the mid-way mark.
Step 8: Explore and Test Integrations
Continuing the test period, also be sure to try the various integrations you may need in order to get maximum value from the software.
Do you have a CRM, perhaps Salesforce or Pipedrive, etc.? Try connecting the tracking software to your existing CRM software and make sure the tools work well together.
Need other connections via Zapier? Try those too during the free trial period.
Step 9: Audit Initial Results Against GA Data
After the trial is well underway, take a look at some of the visiting companies discovered and see if they are also visible in your Google Analytics data. Check the Service Provider and Network Domain dimensions data in GA for this.
See this post for more about where to find these Google Analytics dimensions.
Inside GA in this area, you’ll also see a bunch of ‘generic’ internet service providers listed.
Did the software do a good job of automatically filtering these out? These ISPs and other non-identifiable entities are not leads and should not count as B2B leads discovered during or after your software trial period.
This is important for any visitor tracking vendors who base pricing on number of useful leads delivered.
Did the visitor tracking tool discover legitimate visiting companies that do NOT also appear in Google Analytics? That’s GREAT, if so! This is a good sign that the visitor identification features in the software are more powerful than what you have in Google Analytics by itself.
Step 10: Verify Sales User Workflow and Value
Website visitor tracking software will benefit both marketing and sales, but it’s *probably* the sales team that will determine if the tool will be worth the ongoing investment.
It’s critical to make sure your selected software will meet the key needs of your sales staff. Different solutions will have different approaches and user interfaces for sales workflow, real time visitor alerts, contact data look-ups, lead scoring, reporting, etc.
The ability to smoothly integrate with your existing CRM system will likely be a key deciding factor, as well.
Step 11: Conclude the Trial
At this stage, your free software trial period has come to an end.
No doubt, your contacts at the software vendor will have been working hard to make your trial successful and get you to convert into one of their paid pricing tiers.
It’s time to decide whether to continue as a paid customer, end the trial without buying, or ask for a brief extension to continue testing.
You may also have other similar trials running concurrently, or staggered in some fashion.
In any case, for this specific software vendor, it’s time to decide what comes next.
Time to get the troops together to make a go or no-go decision on this vendor’s solution.
Step 12: Gather Final Team Feedback
What are your conclusions, as an integrated sales and marketing team, about this particular solution?
Does the software ‘tick all the right boxes’ against your test plan?
Or perhaps you have a quantitative scoring matrix in place? Great, if so.
Are you evaluating a single solution or is this a Vendor A vs. Vendor B test scenario?
What qualitative feedback is helping you decide either for or against this vendor?
Have you re-confirmed budget availability and allocation (see Step 1)?
Step 13: Move to Paid Level, or Not
Once you have a solid team-based conclusion, it’s time to confirm your decision with the vendor.
Hopefully, the solution worked great for you during the trial and the vendor’s product support team was fantastic. You see major promise for delivering solid ROI for both sales and marketing.
If not in this case, then maybe it’s time to look more closely at Vendor B or Vendor C.
And in some cases, website visitor tracking solutions (as a B2B lead-gen product category) may just not be a great fit for your company. There are valid reasons for this, including industry characteristics, your company’s sales culture, etc.
The good news: Many of these solutions are very affordable and don’t carry long-term budget commitments. You can go month-to-month in many cases, or buy for one year forward in order to lock in a discount.
With some vendors, you may also have the option to continue with a ‘free forever’ limited-feature version of the main product.
Use Free Website Visitor Tracking Trials to Get Started Right
These software tools may be a great fit for your company, providing tangible ROI through better and faster B2B lead generation.
Fortunately, nearly all of the vendors provide no-cost trial periods to help you get underway and see if their solution will work well for you.
This post was about making the best of these trial evaluations, offering a structured approach to getting to Yes or No for any specific vendor’s solution.
If your selected tracking software is a good fit and performs well during a well-executed trial period, you’ll be on your way to better and faster B2B lead generation and a more productive marketing and sales team.
Website Visitor Tracking Software (overview with software vendor intros)
Google Analytics and B2B IP Tracking (includes a closer look at what GA provides natively for website visitor identification and tracking)
Please leave your feedback, questions, and any suggestions for improvements in the comments area below.
And feel free to share… Thanks! 🙂
B2B Sales and Marketing Teams: Have you used or evaluated these software tools already? What do you like or dislike about them?
B2B Software Vendors: What’s your experience in supporting customers during these trials? Any key takeaways or tips to help future clients? Anything important missing from my discussion above?