Offering Trials

Marc Jarrett
In such a relatively new and constantly evolving industry such as ours, there are no "rules" per se – every webmaster has his- or her-own strategy for turning bytes into bucks.

As the industry has matured, one price point has emerged which seems to have become the industry standard: $29.95 for a month's access.

But thanks to bit-torrent and tube sites, the surfer now has more reasons than ever not to commit to a monthly membership right away.

To this end, some webmasters offer trials at much lower price points, in return for significantly less access time, such as 24 hours – with some reporting this to be a great recurring business in itself.

Those that do not offer trials usually fear that this might cannibalize their core revenue of monthly subscriptions, together with those glorious re-bills.

However, in an increasingly saturated market, all avenues need to be explored so as to maximize the returns on your hard earned traffic.

If you are a content owner, then you should pick the best processors in their respective fields and offer them all.

It is important to remember that when it comes to trials, you are effectively dealing with a micro-payment for which the credit card is not best suited. In an era of increasing online fraud and identity theft, surfers are often reluctant to part with credit and debit card data, particularly for the relatively small amounts involved for a trial.

This is why we believe phone billing is an ideal mechanism for trials – you can make money from all prospective customers since practically all surfers have access to a phone or cell. They will be pleased of having the option of paying you this way for trials, not least since they will not be leaving a digital one – a simple phone call is all that is needed to gain access.

You can then up-sell regular monthly credit card subscriptions to surfers that want to pay you that way. How much access time you grant per password sold is up to you, but most webmasters prefer to stick to our default timeout of 30 minutes.

Since half an hour is not usually long enough to enjoy a site it its entirety, the customer is left with three primary choices when his time is up.

He can either walk away; or possibly come back again another day and pay you again; or he can immediately buy another 30 minutes by phone.

The third and most desirable outcome is that the content is so compelling that he will whip out his credit or debit card and commit to a full monthly recurring membership for the convenience of then having instant access to the desired content at anytime.

Lest I forget, for "he" also read "she" – according to some industry observers, women are the adult web's hottest growth market!

The correct implementation of pay-per-call trials with geo-targeting and multiple languages will help take your brands global and hand you an instant new revenue stream from surfers all over the world who probably cannot pay you by credit card even if they wanted to, since they simply do not have one.

This "pay-as-you-go" business model can comfortably sit alongside a more traditional one for monthly subscriptions. Credit card is and remains the best way to process long-term subscriptions, but alternative payment methods such as phone billing are perfect for the 'sneak peek' army who would prefer a test drive to try before they buy.