Thursday, September 28, 2006

An Asterisk that Cost 2 Million Dollars

This just in: a colleague of mine pointed out an analysis that showed a sudden spike in the number of new trial subscriber signups for one of our clients. In early 2005, they had just introduced a new product version and through mid 2006, they were averaging around 3,000 new trial subscribers each week -- which was less than half of what they were getting with the previous product version.

What had happened?

Turns out this client had several product feature descriptions listed during the trial sign-up process. One of these product descriptions happened to have an asterisk next to it, which was explained at the bottom of the page saying it required a credit card number upfront to use it. For a casual observer, it wasn't clear to which product feature the asterisk actually belonged. So, during a content review session, someone caught this and said -- wow, people are looking at our new product and they think they need a credit card to subscribe, which they really don't, and they get very hesitant.

So, in July, a quick content change was made. The asterisk was removed.

Since we are tracking all the transactions, within 7 days after this change, we started seeing a sudden spike in new trial subscriptions, which has levelled off above 7,000 new trial signups a week (for now). More than double of what was happening prior to the removal of the infamous asterisk.

My colleague did a quick calculation on revenue impact, and it basically translated roughly $2,000,000 in additional revenue in the coming 12-months because of the asterisk removal.

I hope you don't have a similarly expensive asterisk ANYWHERE on your website.

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