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Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

Offering email registered trials?

I am considering moving from our current trial mode, which limits features unless user activates a payed license, to a 30 day trial whereby the user registers for the trial via their email address on our website and then receives a 30 day license for the product which is fully featured (and in thirty days the product will revert to the feature limited version, e.g. cant save and so on).

One concern I have is how to effectively prevent (in so far as its is possible) a user from getting a 30 day trial license and then in thirty days, registering on our website and getting another 30 day trial, and so on, removing the need to ever purchase.

I can trivially prevent the same email address being used more than once.

I can prevent certain domains from being allowed to register at all (popular free email accounts), Although I'd prefer not to do this.

I could try allowing only one trial license to ever be used on a given installation. Perhaps set a registry flag to indicate the product has already gone through a 30 day trial period. Easily thwarted I know but at least its something.

What other ways could I prevent the same user getting multiple concurrent free 30 day trial licenses?
maxr Send private email
Monday, July 27, 2015
Does your app save data? If so, encrypt it with the email address, so that if a user registers another address, their saved data won't work with it.
PSB136 Send private email
Monday, July 27, 2015
Also, if you set a registry flag, make sure it doesn't stop other users on the same PC from using your trial (it could be a totally different user trying it).
PSB136 Send private email
Monday, July 27, 2015
You cannot stop determined cheaters from cheating.
They will use trial freezers, different emails, proxies, VMs, etc...
If they are desperate (or stupid) enough, they'll just download the crack (no crack out yet? it will come).

Sure, you could have all sorts of complicated systems to try to stop some from cheating, but in the end you will be wasting your time working on stuff that will not bring you more income.

IMHO, you should aim for a simple system that will encourage/remind honest people that it's time to pay. Simply checking if the email has been used already is good enough for most of your honest users. Don't worry too much about the rest.

There will always be 'leakage'. If you can't accept this, move to a SAAS model.

Also, think of it this way: would you rather have people cheat and use your software without paying (and probably talk about it with their friends), or switch to a competitor's software?
Calvert Send private email
Monday, July 27, 2015
Why compel users to register?
I think a timed trial is better than a limited feature trial (personal opinion).
However I have read that each barrier you put up (e.g. demanding an email) reduced trials (and subsequently sales) by 'X'%.
Marcus from London Send private email
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
It isn't clear why you think a timed-trial would increase sales over a feature-limited trial. This is really the key question.

One advantage to a feature-limited trial is that the potential customer may re-visit the app at a later date (and decide to buy), if it is still installed on their machine. They won't be able to do this with a time-limited trial.

Instead of thinking in terms of a time- versus a feature-limited trial, consider if there might be a different set of feature-limitations that you could offer that would give the user a better experience with your app (and more compelling reason to buy when they try it for the first time).
bcpro Send private email
Wednesday, July 29, 2015

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