Trial Offers: Increase Profitability Without Increasing Risk – By Monica Eaton-Cardone

by Jenae Reid on November 2, 2016


feedfront-35-cover-188x240Risk-free trial offers typically convert better, increase cash flow, and provide a rapid method for advertiser growth. However, many advertisers believe the risks outweigh the reward.

Naturally, these promotions attract more chargebacks, but the greatest risk is the indelible effects of a damaged online reputation.

To take advantage of this marketing ingenuity without sacrificing longevity, a few considerations are mandatory.

Understand Customer Perspectives

The general rule of thumb is, if you’re interested in building a ‘credible’ brand, forego risk-free trials (also known as negative option). Challenging this rule requires an understanding of consumer logic:

  1. The ‘try it before you buy it’ concept, generally linked to a recurring subscription, attracts higher conversions.
  2. Consumers usually overlook or ignore recurring subscription terms.
  3. Most customers have had a negative experience with subscriptions because valid attempts to cancel were unsuccessful.

An expectation of instant gratification and limited responsibility, coupled with negative first-hand experiences, often leads customers to file chargebacks and flock to the internet to voice their complaints—Zendesk reports 45% of customers share negative brand opinions on social media.

So, what’s an advertiser to do?

Be Prepared

Fortunately, it is possible to build your brand and your bank account with a trial offer that won’t damage your online reputation. To do so requires extra attention on pre-campaign planning.

The primary reason for outweighed risk is neglecting campaign requirements prior to launch. Commonly overlooked components include:

  • Sufficient capital reserves for a longer sales cycle
  • Increased support staff
  • On-demand resources
  • Revised manual review policies
  • Enhanced user tracking to prevent the creation of multiple accounts
  • Accurate ROI analysis with customized trial metrics
  • Enhanced affiliate tracking
  • Affiliate fraud detection
  • Policy exception parameters
  • Offer compliance with terms, the Federal Trade Commission, merchant processing agreements, etc.

Best Practices

Last but not least, successful trial offers subscribe to best practice philosophies. Here’s how to use trial offers to increase profitability without damaging the advertiser’s reputation or bottom line.

  • Provide clear, concise terms of service and share before signup.
  • Indicate if the offer includes complete or limited access.
  • Define the duration of limited-time offers.
  • Outline costs associated with upgrades or activity after the trial offer expires.
  • Notify consumers before the trial is set to expire. Remind the cardholder of any automatic charges at least five days in advance.
  • Share contact information. Respond to social media comments and emails promptly, and answer the phone within three rings.
  • Offer a no-strings-attached cancelation policy.
  • Have well-trained customer service representatives available.
  • Be sure you can validate any testimonials and performance claims.
  • Don’t imply any endorsements that haven’t actually been granted.
  • Monitor affiliate tactics and ensure against incentive fraud.
  • Conduct A/B tests, carefully tracking key performance indicators.
  • Analyze chargeback data to identify merchant error and customer dissatisfaction.
  • Request feedback from trial participants, and make adjustments as advised.
  • Use affiliate fraud tools, such as affiliate fraud alerts.

By taking into account consumer perception, administering adequate planning, and adopting best practices, you can ensure this classic marketing tactic will show only the best of your business.

Monica Eaton-Cardone is the COO of Chargebacks911. The company optimizes eCommerce profitability through chargeback management.

This article appeared in issue 36 of FeedFront Magazine, which was published in October 2016.

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