|Optimizing Free Trial Offers|
|Friday, 15 December 2006|
Topic: Optimizing Free Trial Offers
Can copy and design changes alone significantly lift the performance of free trial offer pages?
We recently released the audio recording of our clinic on this topic. You can listen to a recording of this clinic here:Optimizing Free Trial Offers
Many online services offer a free trial as their primary incentive to attract new subscribers.
Generally, a free trial offer works well.
However, this led us to ask the question, "If free trial offers work well, does their success make us complacent about the effectiveness of the offer pages or pathways we are using right now?"
To put it another way, without changing the offer itself, is it possible to significantly lift the performance of these pages simply by making design and copy improvements?
Many companies have had a great deal of success using free trial offers. This success has caused companies to become complacent in terms of the copy and technical improvements that are possible on these types of pages. Many times companies are happy and comfortable with the gain they get from moving to a free trial offer and do not realize that there is much room for improvement.
In this brief we will be looking at tests we conducted for two separate research partners.
By studying both examples we can gain a broader understanding of which elements on a free trial offer page contribute to increased conversion rates.
:: Case Study 1 – Improving conversion with a long, letter-style offer page
One of our research partners is Investopedia.com, a site devoted to providing information on personal finance and investing.
A primary source of revenue for the company is paid subscriptions to their Investopedia Advisor newsletter.
They had been using the same free trial offer page for some time, with reasonable conversions.
We began by reviewing three separate sources of information in order to start optimizing the message and design:
We then tested the original page against our new, optimized page.
Before we look at the data from that test, here are the results of the survey we invited you all to complete before this call.
First, we asked you to identify which page you felt performed the best:
Next, we asked you to estimate by what percentage the winning page outperformed the other:
Now here are the actual results:
What You Need To UNDERSTAND: Simply by improving the design and copy of the page, conversions increased by 89.47%.
This was a variable cluster test, meaning we changed a group of variables in order to maximize results. To identify which new elements had the greatest impact on improving conversion we would have to run some follow-up A/B split tests, or a multivariate test.
Here are what we consider to be the most significant changes we made:
:: Case Study 2 – Improving conversions with a short, benefit-centered offer page.
In the case of the second research partner, who prefers not to be named, we again were tasked with taking an existing offer page and exploring ways to optimize its performance.
As with the Investopedia page, we worked with the existing offer and simply explored ways in which to improve the page by making changes to the layout and copy.
In this case, rather than choosing to write a much longer page, we simply worked with the information from the existing page and wrote and presented it in a different way...but with a little less copy.
Here are the results:
What You Need To UNDERSTAND: The new free trial offer page increased conversions by 178.998%
Again, this was a variable cluster test, so we don’t yet know which changes had the most impact.
However, here is a list of the changes we felt were most important.
:: Guidelines – Guidelines for optimizing your own free trial offer pages.
In both the tests above we achieved significant improvements over the original versions.
By looking at both of the new pages together, it is interesting to note both the similarities and differences between them.
While it is important not to draw too many conclusions from a comparison between just two pages, we feel one can reasonable recommend:
With regard to the length of copy, this is something that will vary from service to service and product to product. You may also want to test different copy lengths and see which version performs the best.
A simple, but sometime hard-to-follow rule of thumb for copy length is this: Your page text should be as long as it takes to deliver all the information a reader needs in order to feel sufficiently informed and comfortable about moving forward. And not one word longer.
RELATED MEC REPORTS:
As part of our research, we have prepared a review of the best Internet resources on this topic.
These sites were rated for usefulness and clarity, but alas, the rating is purely subjective.
* = Decent | ** = Good | *** = Excellent | **** = Indispensable
Editor — Flint McGlaughlin
Writer — Nick Usborne
Contributors — Jimmy Ellis
HTML Designer — Cliff Rainer