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Turn Repeated Trials Into Growth

People abuse trial accounts to get free accesses. With the right nudge. these customers can help grow your business.

Stephen Nancekivell
Stephen Nancekivell
Senior Software Engineer
Turn Repeated Trials Into Growth

Everyone loves getting something for nothing, which is why free credits or 30 day trials are so effective at bringing in customers. However, the love of something free can entice users to simply sign up again rather than become a paying customer.

We all know someone who has done this, or maybe you have done it yourself, using a different email to sign up again to get Amazon Prime or Spotify free for another month.

The vast majority of these users are people who love the product but have simply found it so easy to avoid paying that it has become a habit.

These users represent a huge opportunity for growth as they already get value from the paid offering, they just need a nudge to get them accessing it the right way. Converting these users also means more accurate conversion metrics and less money spent on ads for converting the same customer multiple times.

In this article, we look at the ways users get multiple trials, some of the ways you can mitigate them, and how you can help convert these users into happy paying customers.

How They Get Multiple Trials​

There are a few ways people get free multiple trials. Lets take look at some.

Multiple Email Addresses​

If the user legitimately has multiple email addresses, they can create a new account with each address. Usually, people only have one or two addresses.

Sometimes people sign up with email addresses that they don't even have! To prevent this, you can send a unique link to the address and have the user click on it to verify they can receive the email.

Some email providers normalize the address giving the user more virtual addresses they can use. With Gmail, you can add anything after a plus or put dots anywhere. For example, are all the same. To protect against this, you need to keep a list of normalization rules for each domain to get the canonical email address.

Some people get more addresses by using Disposable Email Address services. To prevent disposable email addresses, you can keep a list of all the domains that host disposable emails and block any signups from there. There are new ones popping up every day, so remember to keep your list updated!

Clearing their Cookies​

Some websites use a Device Id Cookie to detect repeat trials. It’s a made-up number that is remembered even after the person logs out. If the user tries to sign up again, you can see that their device id is already associated with other accounts. Users can get past this by clearing their cookies or using a private browsing mode.

Internet Connections, VPNs and TOR​

In some cases, you can use a customer's internet IP address to identify repeat trials. A home IP address can confidently narrow it down to 1 or 2 people, but a business or public Wi-Fi IP address could be hundreds of people.

Another challenge is users simply changing their IP which can be as simple as restarting their modem, using their mobile connection or a VPN connection. This represents a more challenging issue that cannot be solved in isolation.

Collecting Payment Information on Sign Up and Fake Cards​

Some websites force customers to give their credit card details before signing up. The card gives you higher confidence that the user can pay, but it is a barrier to entry and may prevent some users from trying your service. For example, an employee might not have access to the company credit card to start a trial. To prevent people just using a fake card, you can do a credit card pre-authorization check.

A token or fingerprint of the payment information can be recorded to see if any one card is being used to start lots of trials but not converting.

Paid Trials​

One way to prevent people from abusing free trials is not to have them! Paid Trials are not popular with price-sensitive customers who will be discouraged from trying your service and may never convert into paying customers. Most businesses find this hurts their conversion. However, a paid trial can work for a valuable business-to-business service.

What to do when you detect a Repeat Trial​

When you have detected a repeat trial, the worst thing you can do is block the user. They are a normal people who loves your product. They love it so much that they jumped through hoops to keep using it. They just need a nudge in the right direction to pay for it.

Send an SMS Code​

If you suspect a user may be repeating trials, you can ask them for their phone number and send them a code to enter. By recording their phone number, you can see if it has been used with other accounts. This is similar to emailing a code, the difference being that it's much harder to get extra phone numbers. There are disposable phone number services but they are less common.

Give 1 Free Trial, then Paid Discounted Trials​

If you suspect a user may be repeating trials, you can change your offering. Instead of a free trial or blocking them, offer a discount like 70% off for three months. Once the user is comfortable paying a little bit, it will be easier to get them to pay full price.


Upollo detects all the methods we discussed earlier and more, and it can be integrated with just three lines of code. 3 lines of code is a lot simpler than keeping up with every trick and VPN service out there to enable repeated trials. We help grow your business faster, letting creators focus on building your products.

Read more about offering effective trials. If you're interested in this space and would like to hear more, please sign up and follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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About the Author
Stephen Nancekivell
Stephen Nancekivell
Senior Software Engineer

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