Should You Be Employing a "Free Trial" Button On Your Site?

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If you offer a web service for which you charge, will it harm sales to prominently promote a "free trial" option for possible users? According to a case study of email marketing platform GetResponse, the answer is no.

Before the test, GetResponse offered a free trial for their service - but it wasn't prominently displayed on their homepage. Instead it was buried deeper on the site, on other pages. Bottom line: is wasn't a well promoted option for browsing customers. On the other hand, the "buy now" button, allowing people to directly purchase their services, did have prime real estate on the homepage.

They wanted to know what would happen if they displayed their free trial option directly beside the "buy now" option. Would it significantly decrease the number of paid accounts?

There was a perception that providing a “Free Trial” button will decrease the number of signups so it was quite a critical test. They used Visual Website Optimizer to quickly setup an A/B test in which variation had an extra “Free Trial” button next to the “Buy Now” button.

Here's what A looked like:

And here's what the B variation homepage looked like:

What they found was that not only did the prominent free trial button increase free account signups by 158%, it led to no significant decrease in the number of paid accounts that people were signing up for via the homepage button.

Agnieszka Dabrowska of GetResponse had this to say about the results:

It’s worth testing different variations of Call to Action (CTA) on the homepage. We expected that by adding a free trial button on the homepage the number of paid accounts would decrease. We were positively surprised by the results. Not only did we manage to keep the sale at the same level, but we also noticed a huge increase in the number of free trial accounts, which will also result in a bigger number of upgrades in the future.

Of course a case study is just that - a study of one case. There's no guarantee that adding a "free trial" button to your homepage would produce similar results. But it does show that it's probably worth a try.

Can you attest to the advantages and disadvantages of this? Let us know in the comments.

Josh Wolford

Josh Wolford is a writer for WebProNews. He likes beer, Japanese food, and movies that make him feel weird afterward. Mostly beer.

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