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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    74

    Your take on free trials

    SO I was wondering what you all think of free trials. I'm not doing standard webhosting but rather hosting a CMS for clients, focusing on the non-techsavvy people who want a website for their business, ect. My intial though is to offer a 15-day free trial to customers with one exception if they are a referal from an existing customer, or are responding to an ad campaign they would enter the site though a special URL that would give them a cookie that would upgrade them to a 30-day free trial.

    I would not be signing them up for a paypal subscription, so I can understand the risk of scams, spam, ect. But I will still collect basic info about them including address, phone number, email, ect. I'm thinking I could compare GeoIP info, their phone area code, and their address, and see if I can get at least two of those to agree on a general area. Secndly I would use a verification service that would call them with a code they would have to enter on my site to signup. And within the first week I inteend to call them myself just to followup, at this time I am considering extending the trial for customers who only have 15-days to a full 30-days at this point, mostly for consiatancy on my tial offers.

    What are your thoughs on this?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    India
    Posts
    858
    You should have proper checks in place to ensure that spammers do not misuse this offer.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Lichfield UK
    Posts
    25
    I have to say this is a bit hit and miss. We have been doing free trials for a couple of years now, but very few take up the offer.

    As dnki stated, make sure you have the correct checks in place. We use Maxmind callback and manual checks before we enable the hosting, and have a few long term customers through this offer. We keep it going but you can also get the developers just using the service for a live environment test so keep you trials short, as it will save you a lot of administration time.

    With the uncertainty of hosting providers, and quality of service its worth a try, but is not going to bring them in the 1000's

  4. #4
    dnki is quite right. Trials tend to attract those who want to exploit or otherwise temporarily use your service as a testing ground for what they can get away with. Taking a form of payment (however small) usually discourages those type of customers.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Lichfield UK
    Posts
    25

    So True

    Quote Originally Posted by JulesR View Post
    dnki is quite right. Trials tend to attract those who want to exploit or otherwise temporarily use your service as a testing ground for what they can get away with. Taking a form of payment (however small) usually discourages those type of customers.
    Luckily we have not had the spammers, but people that are looking for hosting with no intention of continuing with the service is an issue.

  6. #6
    Unfortunately that's a common thing. Naturally I can't say for certain why, but I get the impression some people just like to churn through free trials/providers to save money.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Lichfield UK
    Posts
    25
    Thats right Jules, its a very strange situation as i cannot fathom why people would move from host to host to get it for free. Thats why we only offer 7 days now, as it used to be 30 days. As a ratio we retained 2/10 so a success i guess

  8. #8
    Our experience with free or near free offers has been totally negative. The offers attract fraudulent customers who put up illegal sites and then they file chargebacks. Even with fraud detection services, they manage to get through.
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Lichfield UK
    Posts
    25
    I guess the charge backs will happen at any price point, but i do agree you do get a fair amount of tyre kickers with the free trial. Fraud we have been lucky.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Citrus Heights, CA
    Posts
    1,716
    Go with a 30 day money back. Gives customers a risk free period to try it out and doesn't attract abuse.
    Best Regards,

    Mark

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Nirvana
    Posts
    1,391
    I think if your going to offer free trials make sure they are required to give payment info (CC). This way at least you eliminate those who have no way to pay in the first place.
    Personally I like free trials as it gives me confidence that someone believes in and has has a quality product.
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  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by BirchHosting View Post
    Luckily we have not had the spammers, but people that are looking for hosting with no intention of continuing with the service is an issue.
    Luckily we've only had a few spammers nearly bring the server down, but we suspended their account real quick. I've stopped offering small free Shared hosting accounts now though, as I've already had plenty of clients upgrade their free/trial to paid accounts.

    I also recently went through our billing system deleting all of those blatantly obvious fraud/scam signups from users using free domains like .tk, .co.cc as well as other users that enter a domain that isn't even registered. You learn what to look out for after a while.

    Anyway, so I'll just be sticking to paid accounts now.

    Offering free/trial accounts is definitely a good way of spreading the word about your services. It's too much trouble offering it all the time though. If you do, be sure to put free/trial clients on a different server away from your paid clients!

    But yeah, it's very good for new start ups, you just need to make sure you use MaxMind and do manual checks and monitor everything really well is all.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    819
    Trials are fine but you have to be very careful. Always manually approve to creation of new trial accounts to minimise the abuse of your services.

    For further verification, you could always call the customer.


  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    3,513
    Free trials can be very successful in getting new clients, in my experience most of the time people will stick with you, even if it's just because of the effort required to move away.

    You could have problems with spammers etc, however something like maxmind should catch most of these, just use some common sense and manually check the orders as well, "torrent street" doesn't really exist
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  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Dallas, Texas
    Posts
    354
    I would never offer free trials, I do recommend money back promise type trial, but anything free that's a paid service could cause alot of problems, head aches, and stress on the company and it's hardware/rep/and product line.

    Why I feel this way:
    You already have enough people buying hosting/service (Say VPS) and using it for illegal things, or spamming, and so on.

    You also have tons of people still, that order with stolen credit cards or fraud payments that get it quick for instant setups and then go around and run the server to hell, abuse it, get ips blacklisted, spam, ddos, and so on.

    Free;
    I believe that title just attracts nothing but spammers, and negative attention. In one of our staff meetings we had a discussion about running a free trial vps of our low-end vps special we were offering to allow clients to have a 24-48 hour trial of it, after running it through a few of our admins head it was thrown out quicker then it was brought up.

    It's not worth dealing with; the user could take that trial; and abuse the resources, spam, and even get your IP's blacklisted and you figure it might not just be one, if 10 sign up i'd say maybe 8 of them will be bad, and 2 will be decent/real users just trying the trial, then you have to worry about protecting the server nodes, and making sure your data/resources/information/rep is still positive and could cause some problems.

    I just stay away from this type of market, it's also why we stopped our free shared webhosting package with our shared hosting division/brand a few months back; as it started just bringing in negative attention amoung the company and started to give us a bad name and for the clients paying for their service using us and then we had free users that were just abusing everything didn't work out well.

    I stay away from anything that says free.. Even when I'm purchasing something, if it's free i stay away as I feel even if it is free and all good standards and stuff, you won't get the real performance/needs out of that service as if you bought it.

    If your iffy bout joining/purchasing something see if they have a money back promise try it out, and then if its not what you need; get a refund.
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  16. #16
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Lichfield UK
    Posts
    25
    Quote Originally Posted by FN-Mark View Post
    I would never offer free trials, I do recommend money back promise type trial, but anything free that's a paid service could cause alot of problems, head aches, and stress on the company and it's hardware/rep/and product line.

    Why I feel this way:
    You already have enough people buying hosting/service (Say VPS) and using it for illegal things, or spamming, and so on.

    You also have tons of people still, that order with stolen credit cards or fraud payments that get it quick for instant setups and then go around and run the server to hell, abuse it, get ips blacklisted, spam, ddos, and so on.

    Free;
    I believe that title just attracts nothing but spammers, and negative attention. In one of our staff meetings we had a discussion about running a free trial vps of our low-end vps special we were offering to allow clients to have a 24-48 hour trial of it, after running it through a few of our admins head it was thrown out quicker then it was brought up.

    It's not worth dealing with; the user could take that trial; and abuse the resources, spam, and even get your IP's blacklisted and you figure it might not just be one, if 10 sign up i'd say maybe 8 of them will be bad, and 2 will be decent/real users just trying the trial, then you have to worry about protecting the server nodes, and making sure your data/resources/information/rep is still positive and could cause some problems.

    I just stay away from this type of market, it's also why we stopped our free shared webhosting package with our shared hosting division/brand a few months back; as it started just bringing in negative attention amoung the company and started to give us a bad name and for the clients paying for their service using us and then we had free users that were just abusing everything didn't work out well.

    I stay away from anything that says free.. Even when I'm purchasing something, if it's free i stay away as I feel even if it is free and all good standards and stuff, you won't get the real performance/needs out of that service as if you bought it.

    If your iffy bout joining/purchasing something see if they have a money back promise try it out, and then if its not what you need; get a refund.
    Based on the discussion of this thread we have decided to remove the free trail as we have always had a 30 day money back guarantee. It was one of things that stayed with us for years and never removed but looking at the stats its not returning based on this thread its motivated us to remove because it does reduce the value of the service offered.
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  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    74
    Are there any concerns with free trials other than spammers and people not sticking around after the trial?

    I don't know that I have to worry about people not sticking around since the kind of specialized hosting I will be doing I onyl know of 3 competators, neither of whom offer any sort of free trial OR money back guarantee AFAIK.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Lichfield UK
    Posts
    25
    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan524 View Post
    Are there any concerns with free trials other than spammers and people not sticking around after the trial?

    I don't know that I have to worry about people not sticking around since the kind of specialized hosting I will be doing I onyl know of 3 competators, neither of whom offer any sort of free trial OR money back guarantee AFAIK.
    I guess you need to limit what they can do on the server in the trial like ssh etc. But what you have mentioned can be a real pain if you get spammers as you can get your ip blacklisted, and your server abused. To be fair neither happened to us, i think we were lucky by the sounds of other comments.
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  19. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Nirvana
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    1,391
    The last time I offered someone a "free trial" He decided to back out when he found there would be a charge for the transfer of his domain. This was after being offered 3 months for free.
    When we do offer a free month it is the second month not the first. We do however have a 30 day money back guarantee.
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