Gini Dietrich

eCommerce Marketing: Do Free Trials Work?

By: Gini Dietrich | March 30, 2011 | 
66

I was talking to Erik Hare yesterday about how we both have blog posts in some sort of process for days, sometimes even weeks. I’ve already written shells of the blog posts for Friday, Sunday, and Monday. And I have a half-written guest post for Troy Claus.

Typically, I walk Jack Bauer and I think about that day’s intro (and also curse Marcus Sheridan because I know he’s still asleep…long after I finish my the walk AND my writing).

But today? Today I have nothing. I mean, literally nothing.

So what do I do for inspiration? I head over to the Harvard Business Review blogs. I’m sure to find something there.

Let’s see if I’m right.

There is a lot on the “problem” of entrepreneurship in America and quite a bit on failure.

Been there, done that.

There are a couple of pieces on the New York Times paywall and one of them is from Alexandra Samuel (who I love). That could be interesting.

Even the 10 most popular aren’t really striking my fancy.

No. I know the reason I’m not creative this morning and maybe you can help.

Yesterday we spent more than half our day discussing ecommerce pricing. We’re really stabbing in the dark here because no one on the team is an ecommerce marketer. And do you know, NO ONE writes about it (I’ll soon change that)?!

No. I found leaked information on how AOL makes their money. How to market to people who abandon the cart. Lots on the legalities of doing business online (who knew you have to learn an entirely different language?). Even information on using an outside email marketing company to deliver your information (vs. keeping it inside your content management system). BTW, TJ McCue wrote that article and doesn’t make a recommendation in there, but I saw him comment on a blog that he was most impressed with StreamSend.

But I can’t find anything on whether or not to give free trials. How long to give free trials. What to offer in the free trial. Whether or not to get credit card information before giving a free trial. The stats on who leaves a site if they’re asked for their credit card number before gaining access to a free trial. The conversion rates on free trials to subscriptions. Not even stats on who even comes back to the site after registering for a free trial.

Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

In our focus group of two, Lisa Gerber says, if a site asks for her credit card information before giving her a free trial, she leaves the site. And I say, if they ask, I give it, test the crap out of the free trial, and then decide whether or not I’m going to cancel.

So, you see, we can’t come to a consensus.

What do I do when I can’t find information that is eventually going to be valuable to you? I ask YOU!

You tell us. What do you think?

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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