What Converts Better: Free Trial or Money Back Guarantee?

money back guarantee

For the last two years I’ve been selling digital products on Quick Sprout… mainly the Quick Sprout Traffic System. Because I already have 400,000 monthly visitors, I don’t really focus on increasing my traffic. Instead, I focus on increasing my conversion rate.

In efforts to increase my conversions, I tested a few things over the last few years:

  • To sell the Traffic System for $197 with no free trial and no money back guarantee.
  • To sell the Traffic System for $197 with a 30-day money back guarantee.
  • To sell the Traffic System for $197 with a 7-day free trial and requirement of a credit card upfront.
  • To sell the Traffic System for $197 with a 7-day free trial, requirement of a credit card upfront and offer of a 30-day money back guarantee.

Here’s what I learned:

Guarantees help build trust

When I first released the Traffic System, I didn’t offer a free trial or a money back guarantee. I just charged $197, and if you liked it, great; if not, you lost $197.

Sure, if someone complained, I would just refund their money, but people didn’t know that before buying.

By adding a 30-day money back guarantee, I was able to increase my sales by 21%. Out of all of the people that purchased the program, 12% asked for their money back.

Hypothetically, if I were selling 100 Traffic Systems a month at $197, I would generate $19,700 in revenue. By offering the money back guarantee, I would be able to boost sales by 21% to $23,837, while having to refund 12% of that revenue. In total, the money back guarantee would bring $20,976 in revenue after refunds.

Overall, the money back guarantee increased revenue by 6.4%.

Free trials create the most signups

The difference between a money back guarantee and a free trial was huge. Literally, double the amount of people would signup for a 7-day free trial that required a credit card upfront versus a money back guarantee offer.

Let’s say the money back guarantee offer generated 100 monthly signups. The free trial offer would then generate 200 signups.

Although the front-end conversion numbers looked great, the back-end numbers weren’t too great with the free trial.

Remember how 12% of the money back guarantee signups would ask for a refund? So out of 100, you would be left with 88 paid members. Well, 33% of the free trial users would cancel their order. That means out of 200 members, 132 remain.

The thing I learned about the free trial offer is that you lose a lot more members than you think. Although I required a credit card upfront and validated it to make sure it was good, out of the 132 remaining members, only 78% of those people had cards that were successfully charged $197. That means 29 credit cards were declined when I tried charging them $197.

In the end, the 7-day free trial provided a 15% increase in revenue over the 30-day money back guarantee.

The main lesson I learned is that some people signup for free trials knowing that they won’t be charged because they don’t have a high enough credit card limit, especially people from international countries.

People don’t care for a guarantee when there is a free trial

The last test I did was to offer a 7-day free trial combined with a 30-day money back guarantee. If you kept the product after the 7-day trial, you could still get your money back within a 30-day period.

What I saw from this test was that the front-end conversions stayed the same, and no one asked for their money back.


Here is a look at the results of the tests in terms of revenue, based on a hypothetical number of 100 signups a month:

  • Original offer (no guarantee/no trial): $19,700 a month in revenue
  • Money back guarantee offer: $20,976 a month in revenue
  • Free trial with credit card upfront offer: $24,428 a month in revenue
  • Free trial with credit card upfront combined with a money back guarantee offer: $24,428 a month in revenue

Although those were the results from the Quick Sprout Traffic System tests I ran, the results can vary drastically for you. Don’t assume what works for me will work for you… you have to run A/B tests.

If I had to do it all over again, I would do a few things differently:

  1. I would test a $1 trial (versus a $0 free trial) as that could potentially decrease the failure rate of credit cards going through.
  2. I would create an email drip sequence that would go out to all of the people whose card didn’t go through on the free trial as that could potentially help increase revenue.
  3. I would survey all of the people who asked for their money back or cancelled their trial to find out why and see if I could modify the Traffic System to increase their overall satisfaction with the product.
  4. I quickly learned that a lot of my buyers are people in international countries like India, so I would test payment plans instead of just charging people $197 upfront. This should help increase the number of people signing up as well as continuing the trial.
  5. If you give your customers everything they need before the free trial is over, there is no need for them to continue the trial. In the future, I would like to test giving people half of the Traffic System during the trial and second half after the trial is over. Or I would test giving them the full system on day one but providing bonuses over the next 30 days to entice them to continue to stay on. I think this would decrease cancellations and refunds.

So what do you think about free trials and money back guarantees? Which one do you prefer?


  1. Scott Bradley :

    Neil – thank you for putting this post together. I really appreciate the time you take to provide your readers with amazing information that will help them be more successful.

    This is an amazing post…

    • Scott, glad I could help. Thanks for reading 🙂

    • The more we offer to the users, the more genuine it is, the more we can expect from them. Free trial and Money back works well when they go hand in hand. Money back is a bounty for the users. Nice to see the end results of these kind of experiments. Disclaimer: With Marketing what works for one might not work the same way for the other.

  2. hi neil, great tips ya, i also trust on those sites who give me free trial as well as money back guarantee. i mostly used my free trial subscription for check their apps performance and than i subscribe their monthly plans.

  3. Interesting numbers. I would have thought the increase with money back would be higher.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • SAAS Founder :

      With a free trial more people actually intend to cancel before they are charged then actually remember to cancel. There are variety of factors to consider when deciding on free trial Vs. guarantee:
      1. The length of the trial
      2. How much of the product to give away
      3. How easy it is for a user to cancel
      4. Cost to process a refund in relation to the product price

      And of course the biggest one is whether the product is subscription based, which in Neil’s case it wasn’t.

      Also, with low-cost products and/or small charge transactions there will be some fraudulent transactions (fraudsters verifying credit cards are still active against small transactions before making big ones).

      Neil, any instances of fraud on your end? I would guess low to none since the transaction amount is fairly high.

    • Nilesh, great point. THe numbers, one would assume, should be higher.

  4. Thanks for the real life example! I’m rather curious about $1 trial. I don’t think it’s that popular and I only know one company who do that (AWeber). If you do that experiment, make sure to let us know!

  5. Interesting article. I would’ve thought 30 day money back guarantee would be the most successful.
    Thanks for posting!

    • Jared, thanks for reading.

      • Kingsley Agu :

        Wow.. Getting over 400,000 people to come to your blog is insanely crazy!
        But I think going for the money back guarantee would work wonders for me. What if I don’t like what I’m seeing? Simple – I’d just ask for a money back guarantee..
        Offering it for your product like you said, will make people trust the product more.
        They’ll be like, “if he’s offering a money back guarantee on this traffic system product, then I suppose he isn’t saying trash to us, because we can easily request our money back a flip of a sec.”

        Go more for it.. Even if you won’t earn much more than you’d earn using the “credit card upfront” system..

  6. Interesting figures, thanks Neil.
    Be interesting to see how the numbers compared for a longer guarantee period, eg “full 1 year money-back guarantee” – research we’ve read before suggests that the longer the guarantee period is, the less people request a refund as they don’t feel the same sense of urgency to have to claim it back now…

    • I think this is why Zappos does so well. I bought shoes… they didn’t fit and I thought … no worries, I’ve got a year to return. Then I forgot to return them until it was too late.

    • Dennis, great point. This often works for some retail chains.

  7. Money back for software downloads is hard. You can never really get the product back, so fraud is a big issue. Free trials for software seem to work well, but there are a couple of different types. You can offer limited functionality with no expiration, or full functionality for a limited time. I have found the latter to convert better.

    • SAAS Founder :

      The challenges with SAAS products can be similar – if a software solves an immediate pain point for the user they can use it and still cancel. In my experience people exploit both free trial and money back guarantee.

    • Steve, thanks for the great insights. I think when people get a taste of a great product they are more inclined to pay to continue it.

  8. I am surprised that people don’t just cancel after the free trial, and steal your stuff. What do they have to do to cancel, just email you. I might try this out on my site to see how it goes? I wonder if paypal can do delayed payments… anyone know?

  9. Despite that though, I would still be happy with $19,700 a month.

  10. Thanks for sharing your results, Neil.

    An interesting test would be to split the $197 into 2 or 3 payments.

    We used to see success with a $2.95 trial (plus shipping and handling) and $195 in 30 days to get people in the door and verify their card was good.

  11. Parmveer Singh :

    Great Post with Good Statistics to understand the effects of trial & error methods.

    When we offer sth for free, ppl start taking it for granted. “Giving a bite of a tasty burger and asking money for the rest”, is best workable idea.

    Do share the effects if you implement #5.

    • Parmveer, great analogy. I think people always want to be assured they are paying for something worth the pricetag.

  12. Thanks Neil for your post , great as always, I have learnt alot from you especially with regard to testing and also different forms of marketing

    • Glad I could help. Thanks for reading 🙂

      • Hi Neil,

        Where do you find time to write all this content and its always ever so sensible? Now working on the marketing and pricing plans for our first product chamasoft

        Thanks so much


        • Martin, it is my passion to write on these topics. I find its a good distraction from the day to day work that I do. Thanks for reading and let me know if you need any help 🙂

  13. Interesting article. I really liked the 5 points of what you would do different. Not sure what you mean with “international countries” though….

  14. David Vallieres :

    I offered the $1 trial for 7 days (+30 day refund if they stay) for my training product and 33% stuck without canceling on a $25 per week (for 24 weeks) pay plan. Overall I got a lot more signups and it boosted my revenue by about 22% over a straight payment plan offer of $25/wk without the $1 trial for 7 days.

    For the payment plan I’m using Recurly which is doing all the invoicing, dunning management and offers a secure way for my customers to update cc’s or change payment methods if necessary for the duration of their plan.

    However, customers on the payment plan access new parts of the program each week as they complete their payments – not the entire course all at once.

    However, when I offer the training without the $1 trial for 7 days and just start them out at $25 per week for 24 weeks with a 30 day guarantee – 96% stay in the payment plan until completion of the training and make all their payments.

    I think it’s because they are already committed to the training when they sign up right away at $25/wk that they stick so well. The $1 trial lets in a lot of tire-kickers but the boost in revenue proves it’s working.

    I’ve never tried the free trial… never really liked the idea because there’s no commitment made. Even $1 is a commitment, so the stick rate is probably going to better for you imo if you try a 7-day $1 trial.

    • David, sounds like you really did your work. Great to see that you tested out multiple price points. People usually stick you on the renewal after your free trial is up, so sometimes (if you know you are going to use the content) it’s best to pay it all at once.

      • David Vallieres :

        Neil, it’s funny how pricing strategies change over time just like products trend and change over time.

        Several years ago I think I would have had a tough time making fixed continuity work (versus open-ended subscription membership sites), today – today it’s a winning pricing method for my target market.

        Actually there was a lot more to it than that though. One of the factors that helped us decide to test fixed continuity was attrition rates for open-ended membership sites. The majority of membership sites were seeing a 10%-15% attrition rate each month, so after 6 months they lost 60%-90% of their membership. That started me thinking about testing the retention rate of a 6-month (24 week) continuity program. As I said, we are getting a 96% retention rate on it. The first month we opened this plan we made 140 sales, 63 paying the full $497 price and 77 paying the $25 per week fixed for 24 weeks. We generated over $70k in sales using this pricing strategy.

        Anyway, I could talk about it forever – but there’s not
        a lot of room here for an in-depth discussion.


  15. Saifee Vohra :

    Really good article Neil. I prefer both as per which one complete my requirements. But I think most go for free trials, even I had also gone for the same. But we can’t get vast features in free trial. If we adopt money back guarantee one, then its a marketing trick.
    Though its a nice post by you Neil. Keep up a good work. Lot to learn from you.

    • Saifee, thanks for your insights. I agree that it’s important to really provide great content and not seem to salesy 🙂

  16. Hi Neil

    As someone who purchased your traffic course on a three month payment plan – I must say I was surprised you gave me access to the whole thing at once.

    The course is great so I paid the full $197 over the 3 months – but if I’d been a chancer I could have easily got the whole course for a third of the real price.

    I’d test spreading out the amount of content you receive in line with the monthly payments you make – which would mean in my case splitting the course into thirds.



    • Loz, thanks for the insights. Glad you found the content helpful. I think if you provide a great product it should sell itself with little to no refunds.

  17. I agree with Scott Bradely that Neil is always feeding his readers with interesting content.


  18. Awesome and everyone should pick your Traffic System 😀

    Idea for added bonuses: offer a series of webinars where you have either hot seats , live reviews etc… you could look into reviewing the price for this or looking for a recurring fee if you do them monthly.

    • Lenny, thanks for the support of my traffic system. Great suggestions, I think webinars really work well 🙂

  19. I deal more with physical products, so I lean heavily toward the money-back guarantee. I like to get paid up-front for merchandise and have found that few people ever go to the trouble of asking for money back, when the product is a good one at a good price.

    Sending free samples, in my situation, has just been a recipe for letting myself get taken advantage of. I like your idea of a $1 trial offer, which eliminates a lot of (or ALL of) the tire-kickers.

    Thanks, Neil, for the concise and very useful info on what your experience has been with digital products, something that I will look into — digital products make so much sense in a global marketplace. Shipping “hard, lumpy objects” is a big hassle and limits one’s market reach considerably.

    Thanks again! Great value!.

    • Paul, great points. You really have to be careful about what you are sharing for free. You have to really be wary of people out there trying to hijack your content. Thanks for reading 🙂

  20. I will comment with my opinion as a buyer.

    It really depends on what type of product I’m buying

    If it’s a software or access to an online app then I prefer the free trial, because I want to see what it does exactly without worrying I will have to ask for refunds/lose money if it doesn’t suits my needs.

    If it’s an information product/a book or something similar I prefer a money back guarantee. Because I am an honest person and if the content delivered corresponds to the description offered on the sales page I will not ask for a refund even if it is not exactly what I hoped for.

    But I also believe there are many dishonest persons around that would do anything to not pay… no matter if they can or cannot afford something – for me those that ask for refunds but keep and use the product are thieves, without respect for somebody else’s work.

    And Neil, if you want a direct feedback – I bought your Traffic System not because it had a 7 days free trial but because the total payment was split in 3 smaller payments and this way the buy didn’t had a big impact on my monthly budget.

    Thanks for sharing all this!

    • Sorina,
      Thanks for sharing your user/buying experience. It’s very helpful to hear how other people feel about this subject. As for people who are dishonest in these matter I completely agree with you. Thanks for reading 🙂

    • Richard Linn :


      You make very good points on both the different types of product and the honesty issue.

      For those of you familiar with Costco in the US, they have a fantastic return policy, and they have been super successful. In fact, their return policy is one of the main reasons I am willing to buy so much from them. I know that they will cover me if something happens or I even just change my mind.

      A very small percentage of people will always try to rip off a seller, but the goodwill generated by a generous return policy or guarantee will usually more than offset that, if the product is a good one and priced fairly.

      • Richard, good points. The best companies have the opportunity to offer full returns. However, sometimes when you are starting off small you don’t have that liberty. It’s always a balancing act..

        • alim0340Atlanta investment property, US investment property,House for sale,Positive cash flow,USA real state,foreclosurre homes,USAproperty investment, :

          thank you for the information you have provided, may always make a useful article … glad to meet with you,As for people who are dishonest in these matter I completely agree with you. Thanks for reading 🙂

  21. Hi Neil,

    Thanks for sharing the results of your test.

    You have a spelling mistake in the sentence “Especially people from international counties.”

    Also somebody who doesn’t live in the US, I have no idea what you mean by “international country”. All countries by definition are “international.”

    Do you mean “outside the US”?

  22. Neil, what about the charge back fees, some processing company charge around 25$ for each refund request, what does it represent in revenue lost for your 12% ?

  23. Prashant Gorule :

    Hey Neil,

    Nice post. i think you are right people normally ignore such kind of products when they have to pay before trying. The trial product may increase their trust and it will turn to better conversion. If i want to run this kind of free trial on any of our services then i will prefer $1 trial plan. This plan will help our team to understand the nature of the customers so that we can offer the best service.

  24. OMG! You can read my mind. You’ve done most of the A/B testing for me.

    You know this issue boggers me even though I’ve yet create the landing page but you seem to answer it. Looks like I should charge them a 7 day trial and make them pay with no money back gurantee while creating another service at a premium with money back guarantee and see where I go from here.

    Btw I provide signals trading fx.

    Thanks again. I needed this.
    David A.

    • David, glad I could help. It’s a very hot topic and I really wanted to discuss how to go about it. Thanks for reading 🙂

  25. Brecht Palombo :

    Hi Neil

    I bought your traffic system with the 3-payments.

    Personally I probably would have bought it regardless.

    I’m very interested to hear the results of the 3-pay vs the single payment.

    I’m offering a product at $300. It was doing really well until I tested subscription tiers, the tiers completely tanked.

    I reverted to just flat $300 with a 7 day trial (the original pricing) and trial starts immediately recovered.

    I’m thinking about testing $359 – OR – 4 Payments of $99 and then continuing to test an incrementally higher price limits.

    Do you have data on your 3 payment revenue vs the 1 payment?

    Met your brother-in-law at Microconf btw, great guy!


    • Multiple payments usually work better. A buddy of mine was telling me how he went from 3 payments of $97 and he increased conversions versus charging the amount upfront.

      As for $359, I would avoid it as it sounds like a weird number.

  26. I would personally email each person as a refund is processed and ask what changes I could make to my product as I am always wanting to make it better. Find out what made them unhappy with it.

    Maybe its just a few words on the sales page that needs fixing.

    Sounds like a case of over promise and under deliver as 12% is high and tells me product is not good.

    Another way to understand your market and make more money long term.

  27. You are just awesome, because you are sharing most valuable information to become a successful entrepreneur, specially I like A/B testing to make it happen itself for any one.

    I mean, what people want to become?

    Thanks @Neil

  28. Anil Agarwal :

    As a customer, I would like both the options. With Free Trial, I will not need to pay anything upfront and can always cancel my membership within the trial period if things don’t turn out as per my expectation.

    And similar in the case with money back guarantee where we need to make payment upfront. But I can get all of my money back by cancelling the membership within the given time frame.

    • Anil, great point. Having options really can give you a big boost. However, sometimes you really do need to choose one or the other.

  29. Hi Neil,
    That’s a great lesson. If you are confident about your product and services free trial and money back guarantee will further boost your revenues.

  30. Digital Deepak :

    I am from India and I feel that you can also test displaying the amount in Rs. For example, Rs.10,000 is a little less than $200 but something like Rs.9,900 would motivate me to buy than $200 which comes to a vague amount and crosses the psychological barrier of Rs.10,000.

    • Deepak, with the value of the Rupee it definitely is easier to test out different price points without losing much 🙂

  31. Chris@Safeunlockcode :

    Hi Neil,

    As always, great post! Thanks for sharing your experience with us. For us ”100% Money Back Guarantee” worked ok for us, but as far as I read over the internet, the word ”free” seems to be quite magic in terms of the conversion rates. As you well mentioned every time the best answer for each case is test, test and test again.


    • Chris, glad I could help. I think free is a word that really resonates. Testing is step one, as you know 🙂

  32. Alex M @ Office and stationery supplies :

    Free trial, I think. Always a free trial. Money back guarantee always sounds a bit dodgy, in my opinion. Like there will be a huge faff getting your money back from the business. The word “free” always works with me!

  33. This will definitely need A/B testing in each case. But this post makes thinking very clear.

    Thanks Neil


  34. What works also depends on the market, now doesn’t it?

  35. Neil,

    Great example of testing your market. Thanks for including the actual data.

    I especially resonated with the five strategies you would do if you “had to do thing over again”. The good news is that we always can try new strategies with the next opportunity.

    Here a strategy I like: With a small fee upfront you can spend money to “love up” your new clients to keep them in the house.

    All the best,

  36. Hi Neil,

    I am big fan of your blog. Here is my problem –
    I am able to generate some leads for seo services but i am facing alot of difficulty in converting those leads into clients. Most of them are expecting very less amount for SEO of their website.

    Can you pls guide me what could be best way to convert a lead into client?


    • That’s the name of the SEO game. We all face it… you are going to have to shoot for quantity when it comes to leads. Then a small percentage will convert into customers.

  37. Hi Neil,

    Thank you for the excellent post. I love reading real life case studies like yours!

    One thing that we do, that you might want to try, is to collect a name and email first, before asking for the credit card. (ex. page 1 just asks for a name and email, and page 2 asks for the credit card)

    Then if the person decides not to enter their credit card, you can hit them up with an email marketing campaign later.


    • Will, that is a sound e-commerce strategy and I have found it works for services too. Thanks for the insights 🙂

  38. From my perspective, free trial for 7 days with 30 days money back guarantee will work better, coz everyone like to try it and if it fits according to their needs and they not only buy the product,but they spread the words about the product to their social circles.

    Thus on later we can generate more potential sales without any money back.

    Thanks to the insightful article.

  39. Wow that was odd. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyhow, just wanted to say fantastic blog! And Amazing post i really like……… thnx for such great information..

    • Sorry about that. Sometimes when you don’t provide name with the post it goes straight to spam. Thanks for reading 🙂

  40. Rimantas Petrauskas :

    Neil, this information is very helpful to me because i plan to start giving trials of my Forex software to my prospects. I do not know which option will work best for me but i think i will start will a $1 trial and see how it goes.

    Just wonder how do you manage trial? If you give your PDF customers can cancel and refund immediately because they already have your system.

    P.S. I already have your system and learning from it. I am very impressed and happy i found your system.

  41. I prefer free trial. I don’t really feel like spending time to deal with the process of refunding because it’s work. Not hard but still requires time, me to get on the computer. What if my internet doesn’t work or I can’t get on and take care of it… So free trial is better. The only problem is to determine how much content to give away for free.

    • Anastasia, those are great considerations. You are spot on, determine the amount to give away is always tough.

  42. But I think the lite version with basic feature will create more sign up. Sometimes, the lite version is enough, the users will decided upgrade to paid version when they feel it is necessary.
    If I make a product, I will creating 2 version, a lite version with very basic features and a paid version include trial time with full features

    • Narga, that is a sound strategy. You always want to give yourself options in that regard so people feel more inclined to buy the full option.

  43. Faheem Ahmed :

    Hey Neil

    We are just about to launch a facebook product & I have been quite puzzled over how to price it with trials & money back guarantees, etc. You just went ahead & made it easy for us. Awesome. Thanks a ton!!

  44. Niel,

    I have subscribed your free trial,
    I am worried about just cancellation of your package.

    If your services will not impress me, then from where i can cancel the free trial?

  45. Hi Neil,

    The points what you suggested, decreased my burden upto some extent., but i have one more question:

    1. Which one works better – Proposal or Pricing Packages (if it is SEO)
    2. Any case studies by YOU?

  46. rakesh kumar :

    Just saved my day Neil. I have developed few scripts and were little bit confused how to tag each script for sell. Now i know what to do and how to do with these scripts

  47. Really interesting study Neil, thanks.

    We’re doing a lot of testing on this exact issue at the moment too so will be interesting to see if we get the same results – will let you know what happens!

  48. Neil, thanks for putting the post together. I have never seen an entrepreneur release this type of information to the same people he is selling to. Definitely the only internet marketing / SEO blog I read. Thanks

  49. Jelena Milosevic :

    Great text, as always.
    For me verry interesting from psychological side.
    If peopel have knowledge and really knows what they need and what they would buy, they will no need free trial, only maybe 30 days payback garantie if nothing else exist to can give product back if not works(but this I mean about technical problems). This people knows what they want and knows the product.
    If people knows what they want, but not knows the product, they will liek to have some free days trail to chack is it the rigth product for them.
    Then youy have another kind of people, who not have knowledge and not know what they really need and want, so they try everything what looks like it can help. Some percent addmit, that they have no knowledge and will want to get conversation about the product and will like to have all garantion they can get.

    If you want to sell your product , you need to know which kind of customers you want to have. And know, all they ( your customers)needs – not just from your product but also what they need for their work.
    The trust you build also with knowledge and opportinity you give them with honest and free advices. For new customers you will need to can make some conversation about what they really want and need. With some good advices when they see you do help them, they will always come back for your product( if it is a good one) not just because a free trial and money back garantie, but more for free advice they can get from you. And in the time, they will no need any garantion (exept technical garantion) about your product.
    Honest and open contact makes miracles- and you know that good Neil, isn’t? It is the same, with your products and your cucstomers.

    • Jelena, great to hear from you again. I agree, honesty is key. I think it is vital to really look at your customers needs and avoid peddling them stuff that is useless. Thanks for these great points 🙂

  50. Schneider @ NYC logistics :

    Free trial offers are like test drives. People think “If I do this, I won’t lose anything (except my time) since I didn’t pay anything”. Hence, the higher sign ups. Money-back guarantees can be deceptive or if they are honest, their returned cash might be stalled by an error in the money exchange service.

  51. Hello Neil !
    Well that’s nice observation. Normally people don’t care about money back guarantee or free trial. But I really liked that “Guarantees help build trust”. and it’s quite important for the business or building a brand.
    Thanks for highlighting important aspects.

  52. Hi Neil, Kind of expected the free trial to kill it since personally that’s what works best on me. You could also incorporate scarcity a bit into your offer, that is, maybe make it that if they sign up for the free trial they can purchase at a discounted price within 3 days (or whatever).

  53. Great case study Neil. This is the reason i keep coming to your blog again and again. You just giveaway all the results of your experiments for free. I always get to know something new.
    Thanks for sharing this post. I will consider your points whenever i decide to sell some product online.

  54. Great information Neil. I have been reading your stuff for awhile now and have to say it is way more relatable and understandable compared to other web marketing masters.

  55. Interesting article. I would’ve thought 30 day money back guarantee would be the most successful.
    Thanks for posting!

    • Anshul, glad I could help out with this post. Please let me know if you have any additional feedback or questions 🙂

  56. Judi Radice Hays :

    This reminds me of when I first started my career in an ad agency during they hey-days direct marketing. We would run tests in magazines for Book of the Month club.
    Offer 1: 4 Books for a $1
    Offer 2: 3 Books for $1 + 1 book Free.

    Time and time again, the “free” always pulled in higher conversion mainly because getting something for “free” sounded like a better deal. In reality, they were the same.

    Your article was a great case study and underscored how simple a test can be.

    Thank you for posting.

    • Yea, people love the word “free”. You just have to make sure what you are offering for free provides a ton of value as the word “free” can also cause more refunds. Or thats at least what I have seen from my tests.

  57. How about both? That’s what I’m going to try. I need to a/b test it. The free membership to keep the customers who don’t want to pay yet, and the free trial so that the customers can try the more expensive versions and get hooked. Thanks for your experience, too.

  58. And thanks Neil, for the great article. 🙂

  59. Neil,

    Thank you for making this post. It was really fun reading it and since then I have started giving away my product for free with a 30 day trial. www.alleradd.com

    What were your retention rates for people after the first billing. I would love to see how many people fell off after the first month, after 3 months and after 6 months. If you could share this it would help SO MUCH because I could use your ballpark numbers to estimate my own drop off curve.


    • I was doing this for a one time payment, so I didn’t have retention issues compared to companies who do monthly billing for a monthly subscription.

  60. Best way to increase more sign ups from trail is to put minimum sign up fee of $1

  61. Hi Neil,
    Great insight from the experiments you conducted. I am selling Windows software for businesses and without a free trial I don’t think I would sell many licenses. The customer uses the trial software inputing their data in the database and at the end of the trial period they lose the acces to their data so they have to buy an unlock code from me. I find this is the best way to convert to paying customers.

    Have a great day!

    • Mihai, glad I could help. Thanks for sharing your feedback it is very helpful to see these things in real life.

  62. Nice post Neil 🙂

  63. Robert Jarmynrobert :

    I have been using a free trial with a physical product but have just recently added in an online membership as an added revenue stream.
    I have found that the word free definately attracts traffic but have also found that the demographic of my product (weightloss) also has issues with collections. We find that even though we collect $14.95 postage and handling around 30% of credit cards still fail.
    We also get around 10% of unauthorized chargeback disputes even though we go to to great extent to spell out the T&cs .
    Over ally we get around 60% conversion to sale and an average of two billings.
    I have found pricing makes a big impact. Whilst I would like to price at a fair value I find that unless you price right you need to account for the costs of those that are simply freebie seekers

  64. Dante Beidler :

    This is a fantastic article an well it really proves a point that SEO isn’t overly complex, it’s rather simple providing you don’t try an exploit it by trying to deceive google or bing bots.

  65. Hi Neil, did you ever manage to run similar tests? I am launching a product and in the SaaS space and there is a lot of debate about free trial / paid trial / free opt-out trial and so on…
    Some data on this would be SUPER useful.. thanks!

  66. Guidetocaribbean :

    Another great post Neil! Money back guarantee indicates a huge trust. When I bought digital marketing services with 7-30 days Money back guarantee I never had to ask refund. As for free trials, I have mixed experiences.

  67. Marvin Delgado :

    For me the free trial is best as you can test the product to your heart’s content. Now I wouldn’t be that happy to have to enter my credit card information, because it means that I need to trust you with it. Same with the “money back guarantee”. Sure, you wrote I can have my money back, but it again mean that I trust you will really give it back to me.

    At least with the free trial with no credit card, I can really test things without having to actually trust you. If I like what I see, then I can decide to indeed give you my credit card.

    Obviously you wouldn’t want someone to always create new accounts to get free trials, but you may be able to detect those cases (for you it might simply be to match the site’s URL with a previous account).

    • Yes and you can play around with that to see how well it converts for you. Sometimes it works much more effectively to get a cc upfront, other times it’s a long term game

  68. Awesome, post as always. I know it’s a bit old but my question: do you think it’s bad to not offer either. My industry tends to be a bit shady and I fear people will steal my stuff and worst try to resell it. I’ve already had one person try to steal from me without the money back guarantee. I’ve tested a 14 day money back guarantee when I first released my course, but I also had the course on a drip sequence. I had no refunds requested. Since, I’ve changed to access everything upfront with no money back guarantee and like you if someone was to say it sucked, i would refund but that never happened.

    In short, Part of me wants to offer a money back guarantee but I feel like I would really lose because of the shady industry I’m in.

    Thanks in advanced.

    • I think you should try it out, you will be surprised. Often times you will see 30, 45, and 60 day MBGs, it works.

  69. hitesh aggarwal :

    Hello Neil

    I am not a blogger and i just sign up for 1 usd one month ago.but today 197 usd have been deducted from my account without any permission . i am really disappointed by that.because i can not afford that much amount as i am not a rich guy..so please refund my amount..i hope that my amount will be refunded very soon .

  70. hong kong online learning platform :

    What’s up, after reading this amazing paragraph i am too glad to share my experience here with colleagues.

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