Maybe you’ve been making audio software for decades, or perhaps you’ve just finished your first plug-in with JUCE, and now you want people to try it for a certain period of time. Let’s talk about some quick and easy ways to offer trial licenses for your PACE-protected software. By the end of this, you will know several of the ways in which you can provide trial licenses, and some of the methods for delivering those trial licenses.
As a software publisher using the PACE licensing system, you have a lot of control over who can gain access to your software, and how. Whether you want to offer a perpetual license with several activations, or a subscription license only allowed on an iLok USB, or just a timed trial so everyone can try your product before they buy it, you control the ways in which your customers interact with your software.
Let’s explore several ways of distributing trial licenses to customers (and how to implement them) so everyone can enjoy trying your products, including:
Auto-demo is one of the most widely used methods for depositing a trial license into your customer’s iLok account. Why? Because the PACE tools do the work for you.
It starts with the Activation Experience, which is a tool included with PACE Level 1 protection. The Activation Experience is triggered when PACE-protected desktop software is launched, or when a PACE-protected plug-in is scanned by a DAW. If you install a PACE-protected pro audio plug-in and do not yet have a license for it, the Activation Experience will pop up and ask the customer to log into their iLok account. After a user logs in, it will search for any valid license for that product within that iLok account.
If a license is found, Activation Experience will ask the user where it should be activated (iLok USB/iLok Cloud/machine, for example) and continue through the activation process.
If a license is not found, Activation Experience will pop up a ‘Try’ button. When that Try button is clicked, it will automatically deposit a trial license (pre-selected by the publisher) into that iLok account, and then continue with the activation process.
Once you (the Publisher) have set up your trial license and chosen the Auto-demo in your Activation Experience setup, all you need to deliver to the customer is that PACE-protected binary for the customers to gain access to a trial license.
Benefits of Auto-demo:
Built into the PACE SDK is access to an online portal called PACE Central. Among many other tools within PACE Central, (including license creation, trial license time limit setup, iLok account search, etc.) there is the Code Factory. The Code Factory allows you to create and manage activation codes for various licenses, including trials and perpetual licenses. You can create activation codes yourself and distribute them right to your customers.
Once your customer has that code, it can be redeemed one of two ways:
Which one is better? Whichever one your customer prefers. There is a benefit when your customer uses iLok License Manager because it will allow them to see more exactly which location they have activated the license to.
Redeeming a code and activating with iLok License Manager
Redeeming a code and activating with Activation Experience
Once you’ve created a batch of codes, there is the question of how you will deliver those codes to your potential customers. See the Methods of Distribution below for some commonly used ways to get trial licenses to your customers.
Benefits of Activation Codes:
Manual License Deposits
The online portal, PACE Central, allows software publishers to manually deposit licenses directly into any iLok account. Having the ability to quickly deposit a trial license for customer support reasons, or for beta testing and influencer management, can be quite helpful. However, manually depositing trial licenses one by one for your general customer base is not recommended, for the hopefully obvious reason that it will quickly become tedious and time-consuming.
Methods of Distribution
Whether you decide to use Auto-demo or Activation Codes for your trial licenses, there are a few methods of distribution to consider. Once you have a PACE-protected binary, you could easily give out Activation Codes to anyone or, just provide a download link for your installer if you chose the Auto-demo. Why wouldn’t you do that? Because you will want to know who actually tries your software.
Customer Data Acquisition and Why You Need It
People who try your software are your target audience, which means you’ll want to get them to opt in to marketing and promotional emails from you. This will provide you with the ability to:
While the PACE tools provide valuable data on licenses deposited for support purposes, owning your own customer database and knowing each product they have tried and/or purchased will enable you to grow your business and stay connected from the very beginning. Knowing the lifetime value of your customers is crucial for successful planning of marketing and promotional plans.
Distribution Method #1: Registration Before Trial
This option would require someone to either provide an email address, or a full user registration (name, email, etc.) on your website, before you allow them access to the installer for your product. Once that registration is verified, a redirect URL can give access to the installer with the Auto-demo. If you choose Activation Codes, one can be emailed to the customer.
Distribution Method #2: Sell A Free Trial
This involves setting up a $0 product in your webstore that requires customers to fill out information and allows you to place a checkbox to try for the opt-in of marketing emails. Once they have ‘purchased’ a trial for that product, the installer can be provided with either the Activation Code to be redeemed, or a link to the installer for your software with the Auto-demo included.
To sum it up, once you’ve decided to protect your desktop application or plug-in with PACE, there are several ways to create and deliver trial licenses to your customers.
As your business grows, there are more advanced options available to centralize the direct sales, dealer sales, and customer registration and installation processes. This would involve having your own code system for users and dealers in a central place with more automated and secure deposits to PACE. This could also include single sign-on and activation in your application. Having all of this data within your own CRM or database will allow for a more seamless customer experience and more upsell opportunities, and remove any potential data privacy issues. PACE clients that make this investment in their infrastructure tend to have great success in growing their business and increasing the lifetime value for each customer.
Our experience has shown that publishers increase sales when they offer prospective customers a trial of their plug-in. To that end, we at PACE have created a licensing platform that offers our publishers the ability to customize the trial and demo experience. By offering multiple ways of creating and delivering licenses, we give our publishers the autonomy to customize the experience that is best for their customers.
For more information on offering trial licenses or how PACE can benefit you and your customers, contact us now.