Vajra Blog

How to prevent SaaS free trial abuse? September 23, 2017

There are many instances where SaaS free trial abuse might take place, that too when there are absolutely no payment details collected upfront, the chances are higher. Don't you wish that the best practice would be to collect the payment details upfront on a free trial to ensure that anyone who enters the trial is serious? Unfortunately, that is not the case!

You might come across people who don't intend to buy your solution but just want something for free. You cannot completely stop this at your will, but you have to find a way to deal with it. One such way is to know what exactly makes your SaaS solution attractive to abusers.

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Identifying if your SaaS solution is in danger of free trial abuse:

Can anyone just sign-up to your service without having to talk to any of your representatives?

  • Is setting up an account fast?
  • Does setting up an account not require clicking on a confirmation link sent to the user's email or text message on phone?
  • Are there no advanced integrations or no special codes to be created, or an API accessed?
  • Are there no customisations or data imports required?

If the answer is Yes to the above questions, it is likely that your solution will attract abusers.

Ways to prevent SaaS free trial abuse:

#1 Payment information request:
If your SaaS solution allows the users to create an account and use the tool with just an email address, and later the account locks after the free-trial asking for payment details, there are chances that users might use dummy emails to setup a new account and avail your services for free. This can be prevented if you request for payment details upfront. Be sure to notify them that they will not be charged until the trial period ends. This might turn off some legitimate users, but not as much as you imagine! Neil Patel, Quicksprout founder tested this concept where free trial was offered with payment details or the service was paid from the beginning with a money back guarantee. It turned out that the free trial with payment details was the choice for many.

#2 Mobile phone number request:
Most people have only one phone number. Here are a few exceptions

  • Their friends might let them use theirs, however there is a limit to that.
  • They might buy a few other numbers, which is rarely a possibility
  • They might set up Google voice numbers and forwarding, but requires a lot of effort

This is why requesting for a phone number and returning the confirmation code sent to that number can help reducing abusers.

#3 Place cookies on the computers of your free trial sign-ups:
During the account creation process, you can install cookies on the computers of prospects who have signed up for a free trial. . This will however not stop abusers completely as they can be easily removed, but for those abusers who don't clear their browser, this is going to be a problem!

#4 Track IP address:
If multiple accounts get created from the same IP address, make sure that you are alerted. If you get any such alerts, investigate if there is something writing happening and take necessary action.

#5 Paid usage model
MailChimp allows its users to use services for free until the users have 2000 subscribers after which they are charged. As subscribers rise, the fee also rises. This is a great way to avoid problems due to abusers.

The above are a few ways to prevent free-trial abuse. Use these ideas and provide value through your SaaS solution to genuine users!

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