TrialPay results

trialpayTrialPay is an interesting idea. In basic terms:

  • merchants (e.g. microISVs like me) want to sell products, such as software
  • customers want to get a product without paying for it
  • advertisers (such as Netflix and Gap) want to sell their goods

TrialPay brings the 3 together by letting the customer get the merchant’s product for ‘free’ by buying something from the advertiser. The advertiser then pays the merchant, with TrialPay taking a cut. The merchant gets paid, even though the customer might not have been prepared to pay the price of their product. The customer gets your product ‘free’ by buying something else, which they might have wanted anyway. The advertiser gets a new customer. TrialPay get some commission. Everyone is happy. I decided to give it a try and signed up in October last year.


I decided not to mention the TrialPay offer on my main payment page. I could visualise eager potential buyers of my table plan software, credit card in hand, being distracted by the TrialPay ‘Get it free’ logo. Off they would wander to the TrialPay pages and become so engrossed/confused/distracted by the offers there, they would forget all about my product. Sale lost. Instead I modified my Inno setup Windows installer to pop up the following dialog when someone uninstalls the free trial without ever adding a licence key:


If they click ‘No’ the software uninstalls. If they click ‘Yes’ they are taken to the PerfectTablePlan TrialPay page. I hoped that this would entice some of those who had decided not to part with $29.95 to ‘buy’ PerfectTablePlan anyway through TrialPay.

TrialPay allows you to set the mimum payout to any level you like. You can also vary the payout by customer country (e.g. less for poorer countres). The lower the minimum payout you set, the more advertisers deals are available to customers (and presumably the higher the chance of a conversion).

The Minimum Acceptable Payout (or MAP) is the lowest amount you are willing to accept per transaction and determines which advertiser offers are available to your customers. The lower the minimum, the more offers that will appear for your product and the more likely a user is to find an offer that compels him to complete his transaction. While you may set a low MAP, your average payout will greatly exceed the minimums you set. (from the TrialPay website)

It quickly became apparent that very few advertisers offer deals that pay the $29.95 I charge for my product (possibly none, in some countries).

trialpay map

I set a minimum payout of $25 in rich countries and $20 in poorer ones. After a few weeks with no TrialPay conversion I reduced the mimum payout to $20 in rich countries and $15 in poorer ones. TrialPay suggested that a $2 minimum payout was optimal in Africa and Central America if I was accepting $20 in the USA. $2? I don’t think so. That doesn’t even cover the cost of answering a support email. Especially if they aren’t a native English speaker.

I also gave the TrialPay option a mention in my PerfectTablePlan newsletter. Most of the recipients already have licences, but I hoped that that they might forward it to friends and colleagues.

The results to date have not been encouraging. Lots of people have gone to the PerfectTablePlan TrialPay page (approximately 1 for every 10 downloads), but the conversion rate has been dismal. The total number of TrialPay sales since I signed up over 7 months ago is two, for a total of $43.60. That certainly isn’t worth the time it took me to sign up, modify the installer and test the ecommerce integration with e-junkie. I am not sure why the conversion rate was so poor:

  • The TrialPay landing page isn’t compelling enough?
  • The advertiser offers aren’t attractive enough?
  • The concept of TrialPay is too complicated?
  • People are suspicious of ‘free’?

TrialPay’s poster child LavaSoft claim an impressive  5,000 additional sales per month through TrialPay. At $26.95 per licence this is an additional $1.6 million per year. But the numbers look a bit less impressive on closer inspection. 5,000 additional sales/month from 10 million visitors/month is only an extra +0.05% conversion rate[1]. And TrialPay probably didn’t pay out the $26.95 per licence Lavasoft normally charge. It is also noticeable that TrialPay only seems to get a mention on the download page of their free product, not the products they charge for.

Obviously the only way to know for sure whether TrialPay will work for you, is to try it. Your results might be very different from mine. If you do still want to try TrialPay, you can find out some details of how to integrate it here [2].

[1]I am being a little unfair here, as the quoted 10 million visitors probably aren’t just for Lavasoft’s Ad-Aware product.

[2]Note there is a bug in some older versions of Inno setup which means you can’t continue with the uninstall if they click “No” when you display a dialog, as shown above. So, if you are using Inno setup (which I recommend highly), make sure you are using v5.2.3 or later.

9 thoughts on “TrialPay results

  1. Richard Downer

    By chance I was looking for Adaware a few days ago and ended up on its TrialPay page. I saw the list of top offers and dropped out there and then.

    Why? The first offer was for a service that I had previously been a member of but cancelled (so didn’t want to go back.) The next two were for services that I am already a member of. The final three were for products that I don’t need or want. So, the list of advertisers offers was just not compelling to me.

    Add to this my general reluctance to give personal details to advertisers.

    This is just my personal opinion, of course, but in the light of your experiment I thought you might like to know how this is seen from one user’s POV (albeit with a different product.)



  2. Dennis Crane

    Andy, thanks a lot for the detailed review (as always) and honest figures. I have been thinking about TrialPay regarding one of our consumer (non niche) products and now I likely will postpone this idea for a while.

  3. Chuck Brooks

    Thanks for the heads up and review. Seemed like a good idea, and may be for some, but I susoect your experience would be typical for ISVs, whose products have to sell on their own merits.
    Chuck Brooks
    FutureWare SCG

  4. Dan Hite

    I’ve used TrialPay for three products in the past. It worked very well for me – definitely worth the while. The majority of my TrialPay conversions were not from the uninstall offer. I offer. Offering a TrialPay option on your web site is a good way of catching casual visitors who will look but not buy. All of my sites’ links to TrialPay used target=”_blank” so that if the user got distracted on the TrialPay page and eventually closed it they would still have my site open in their original browser instance.

  5. trialpay

    I work for TrialPay so I thought I’d chime in here. More than 7,500 online merchants use TrialPay to increase conversions and turn browsers into buyers. However, results vary because revenue, transactions and conversion rates depend on how the TrialPay platform is implemented.

    By far our most profitable touchpoints are the Download Interstitial and Direct Payment Option. The Download Interstitial (such as the Lavasoft example you’ve referenced) can help convert customers before they have a chance to download your trial version by giving them chance to get the full version for free through TrialPay.

    The Direct Payment Option doesn’t always have to be placed on your on your main payment page. Many of our merchants incorporate TrialPay as a direct payment option on their home pages or other pages of their site as a special promotion.

    Abandonment screens and e-mail/newsletter campaigns are generally used as supplemental placements to one or both of the placements above. As an example, I recently analyzed the revenues of our top ten performing merchants, and only 2% of their revenues came from abandonment screens and 1.5% came from e-mail campaigns.

    Please don’t hesitate to contact your account manager to learn more about best practices and to discuss how you can improve your TrialPay performance.

    Melissa A.

  6. Andy Brice Post author


    I would be worried that pushing TrialPay more aggressively (e.g. through a ‘Download Interstitial’) would just distract customers and cannibalise my existing sales.

  7. Vlad

    Let me share with you my experience – I’ve followed TrialPay’s suggestion, and placed their Get it Free button on Buy page of my web-site. What a disaster! It was there for long 3 days, and for all this time I had ZERO sales :((( Whereas in that period of time I was supposed to sell 3-7 copies per day.

    Through Trial Pay I got only one sale, which turned to be just $10. Compare it to usual $34/unit!

    Therefore, do not consider Trial Pay serously, and never put them on your Buy page. Perhaps uninstall option is a good choice, but not more.

  8. Software developer

    It is probably good solution for some cases, this can provide you with additional sales.
    But in our case, when we need to share profits or use advanced money flow/licensing it doesn’t provide enough functionality.

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