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How your one week free trial is being used for three months

· 4 min read

Since free trials have existed, people have been trying to use them to get services for free. Outside of Twitter most people don't talk about how they misuse free trials, so let's dive into the most common ways people try to get multiple free trials.

Using email addresses they already have

Let's start with the most common, using multiple email addresses they already have.

We see this start with their legitimate address, generally a gmail address, then shift to a secondary yahoo, hotmail, aol, icloud address. A university or alumni email is used commonly but much less frequently than the major email services.

After a few trials though, as some people on twitter found, users run out of email addresses. So what do they do next?

What to do when you run out of email addresses

Trial abusers hit a crossroads when they run out of email addresses they legitimately already use. We see them go in a few different directions:

  1. Create more email addresses on gmail, yahoo or iCloud

  2. Use disposable email addresses

  3. Try to use + or . in their emails to make it count as a new address

  4. Use a custom domain and create multiple aliases

The vast majority go with #1 and overwhelmingly create a new gmail account, which mirrors the distribution you would see for consumer sign ups. Google also lets people create up to four accounts using the same phone number, so it is fairly easy for people to create new accounts, at least to start with.

Disposable email addresses are the second most common with mailinator being the most popular. Newer services offering a constantly changing list of domains are becoming more used over time.

Other techniques such as using +'s in emails which cause emails sent to anything after the plus to go to the original email (eg. your.name+service1@email.com which still ends up in your.name@email.com's inbox) or multiple email aliases from a custom domain are very infrequently used. They make up less than 1% of repeated trials we see.

A real world example with a happy ending

In this example, we saw a user who signed up every single week for over a month for a free trial. Their identifying information has been replaced.

Week 1, Trial 1: his.name1@yahoo.com

Week 2, Trial 2: his.wifes.name@yahoo.com

Week 3, Trial 3: his.name1234@gmail.com

Week 4, Trial 4: his.wifes.name@gmail.com

Week 5, Trial 5: his.friends.name1111@gmail.com

Week 6, Trial 6: his.name1212@yahoo.com

At week 7, Upollo was enabled to automatically detect repeated trials and instead of a free trial, repeated signups are offered a discount on their first month.

Week 7, Attempted trial 7: his.name2222@yahoo.com

The user abandons signing up with the new email he created when we give him a discount instead of a free trial and converts to a paying user on his original email his.name1@yahoo.com

Even after six free trials this user was not going to convert, until Upollo was used to nudge them in the right direction. This user now pays $199/month, so if this user can be converted from someone who repeatedly trialed every week into a paying customer, anyone can be.

Conclusions

People wanting to get multiple free trials see value in the products they abuse. While they will jump through hoops to get another free trial, they can be converted into happy paying customers.

Upollo helps businesses convert people who repeatedly trial into happy paying customers and can do so in as little as three lines of code. Sign up for our beta to start converting more trials or follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter to hear more tips and tricks.

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