You created an awesome WordPress plugin or a truly сreative theme. That’s amazing. But if you buzz about your creation with the only intention to sell, it’s less likely gonna work in these times and days. Users want to have more understanding of what you offer, namely, not only read about the product (what if you are just a perfect writer?) but to see real examples and even try the product before the purchase.
The truth is, not only renowned membership-based WordPress communities can provide this option, but on-budget developers with a single project as well. And it doesn’t necessarily involve manual tinkering with multisite network in order to create a demo. It’s doable with ready-made WordPress tools that help build front-end demo and back-end trials to lure more customers.
But the question is different: do developers want to supply the prospects with demos and free trials? No matter if the goal is to sell or just increase downloads. This was the question I asked myself after reviewing one of the demo plugin solutions and tracking its progress on the market.
While demos and trials are not new for WordPress plugins and theme providers, many developers are either unaware of their existence or just unsure that this is a great tool to move their sales forward.
First, let’s try to make an attempt to dispel these doubts.
It requires diving into marketing and psychology theory a bit
Why a product demonstration and giving a chance to try it are so important?
It’s the best and fastest solution for the prospects to find answers to their specific product-related concerns. Even the most focused and interested prospects (especially if they are visuals) will firstly go to see the product in action or at least have a look at some screenshots to understand its value. That’s why so many providers strive to create the best image along with every feature of the proposed product or service.
Especially modern users who even manage their business on the fly prefer to find less time-consuming ways to understand the true benefits of the product.
Create a feeling of ownership. Isn’t it easier to make a decision about purchasing a book on Amazon after clicking on “look inside” option? Why car salespeople are so much focused on giving the prospects a test-drive? It’s clear that conveying ownership not only shows the reality of your product to the potential customers, but in many cases makes them feel the owners of the product.
This is also a nature of free trials supported by many WordPress providers – they want to let prospects experience this temporary product ownership, while a test-drive users feel safer as they don’t pay for getting this experience.
It’s also highly trustful as users understand you are not afraid to demonstrate the real value of the product. Relationships based on such principles and experiences are much more important and stronger for building your business reputation. Even if the prospects don’t like anything on the testing stage, they sometimes even try to help you in solving problems rather than writing a negative feedback.
The side benefit of this strategy is that it’s able to make developers more responsible for their creations and more fast-actioning. They will be able to faster analyze how their product solves customers’ needs, collect feedbacks and make improvements.
For example, the providers of some of the best selling WordPress themes on the most renowned ThemeForest marketplace also start to allow free trials. It’s far from the industry standard yet, but it’s a good tendency of being more open for the prospects and therefore generating more revenue. For example, Impreza premium WordPress theme with almost eighteen thousand purchases (one of the best sellers in 2016) provides free trials with a unique option to check the theme compatibility with the third-party products:
“No one else provides it” is not actually true as there are a couple of themes that come with the same opportunity.
What’s the situation with ready-made WordPress solutions for creating demos
Time to put theory into practice and get closer to the topic of the article. So far, those WordPress developers and business owners who decide to create demos and/or trials usually fail to find the appropriate tools for these purposes. So they are tinkering with custom in-house solutions. It’s also a way out, but quite a time-consuming one.
There are not a lot of ready-made tools on the WordPress market that would fully fulfill these needs, and with the most it’s unclear whether they are dead or alive. But here is what we have (in chronological order):
It looks like the pioneer plugin was a free WP Demo Builder which is not supported any more, unfortunately – the plugin was closed on August 6, 2020 because of a guideline violation.
Another interesting solution that offered demo services for WordPress, which is no longer available was WPDemo service (https://wpdemo.cloud/) which was run on a cloud platform. It let each demo user have their own isolated template for testing the demo. One the biggest benefits were analytics service which let developers understand the behavior of their users inside trial accounts. As the service is no longer available, its creators no longer respond why the cloud site was taken down and is no longer available.
To the ranks of defunct demo plugins we can also add the Ninja Demo plugin, which was very promising at it’s time, especially because it was developed by the creators of the popular Ninja Forms plugin. It was released a couple of years ago and received great publicity. The plugin was advertised as “the first complete demo solution for WordPress”. But at the moment the official website says “Ninja Demo has temporarily been shut down until we have time to put some much-needed development into the project”. By the way, about a couple of months ago their site was up and running. The biggest disadvantage of the plugin was its price – about two hundred dollars. However, by now, the product is dead and no longer available.
However, a current and working demo plugin that provides a working solution is the Demo My WordPress plugin – it’s relatively cheap and easy to use, but it’s limited to demos and trials of only plugins, so you won’t be able to properly present other WordPress products. Among the main features are highly customizable demo pages and automatically cleaned data of trial accounts. Fortunately, as info on CodeCanyon shows, the plugin is updated regularly and well maintained. As it’s a fresh and up-to-date polished solution, looks like it solves all problems other alternatives halfway or fully did. It provides tools for constructing a front-end demo and generating backend trial accounts for users. The plugin is applied for both plugins and themes. The trials are fully tunable: you may set a trial lifetime, define user roles and restrictions, let users work in their personal isolated backend accounts, etc. And the cost is relatively affordable – $29. Sounds good, don’t you agree?
Food for thought
Most of the available demo and trial plugins became real as their developers wanted to build demo and trials for their own plugins and themes. It really solved the needs, that is. There is a demand, that is.
Then the interesting questions arise: why most of the demo solutions become more or less abandoned by their creators? Why lots of developers are still unsure about giving the prospect control over their products and services before the purchase? How soon free trials and refunds will be taken for granted by both sides – WordPress providers and end users?
It’s already been proven that from the marketing and business standpoint, demo and especially trials are a huge driver for more sales and building a better industry reputation (if you are providing a quality product, of course). For the WordPress space, it’s a revolutionary idea as it’s able to provide more automation for developing and promoting your WordPress products. It especially can come in handy for on-budget projects that don’t have money/wish to promote the products using more traditional marketing plays.
While some of the questions are unanswered, big hopes remain that a rapid growth of the WordPress market will lead to more open and transparent provider-prospect relationships.
Users are in need of demos and free trials. Developers and business owners should meet the needs, shouldn’t they? Probably they have any common sense reasons that should be still clarified.
By the way, if any cool solution is missed, just let me and everybody know about it in comments. I just did not manage to find anything else.