Practical Ecommerce

The PeC Review: TrialPay Creates Additional Revenue

A payment and promotion platform originally built to boost conversion rates for merchants selling downloadable software may also help all types of online retailers increase sales.

If your typical affiliate marketing program had a hip big brother, his name would be TrialPay. Aimed at customers who are less likely to convert, TrialPay rewards shoppers with discounts or free products from your site in exchange for completing or accepting offers from other companies.

Boiled down to its essence, TrialPay places ads for other goods and services on your ecommerce site—a concept with which not every merchant will be comfortable. But for taking a unique approach to converting customers that would have otherwise clicked the “back” button and done their shopping elsewhere, I am awarding TrialPay three and a half out of a possible five stars in this “The PeC Review.”

“The PeC Review” is my weekly attempt to introduce you to the products or services I believe can help you improve your ecommerce business, and this week, I think you should consider trying TrialPay.

Video: How TrialPay Could Boost Your Sales

The TrialPay Alternative Payment Model

When Chris Lacey, a TrialPay business development manager who works mostly with gaming sites, spoke to me about TrialPay, he started by describing the company’s origins as a means to convert customers that had downloaded the trial version of a software product, but who had not actually made a purchase.

In the downloadable software market, consumers are often able to download a free trial version of the software and use it for a month. But according to Lacey, only about 1 percent of those customers actually come back and buy the software product at the end of the trial period.

Enter TrialPay. TrialPay offers consumers a trade. In exchange for completing some offer from another merchant or vendor, the consumer can get the software they tried out for free. For example, instead of buying the software directly, I can take a trial from The Wall Street Journal; sign up for’s service; or apply for a new credit card; and the software is mine free of charge. On the backend, TrialPay pays the software merchant every time a customer completes an offer.

TrialPay on McAfee Site

TrialPay on McAfee Site

A Real World Example: McAfee

Imagine that I am looking for antivirus software for my computer. I navigate to the McAfee website and end up on a page that encourages me to try out McAfee’s Virus Scan Plus software. When I click the “Try Now” button, I am presented with an offer. I can download the trial version or I can get the full version of the software free for one year—a $39.99 value—just for accepting an offer from Sony, Blockbuster, Netflix, Discover Card, or other brand-name consumer product or service companies.

If I click on those offers, I am taken to a McAfee-branded page on the TrialPay server, where I can pick from a list of products or services. If I decide not to take an offer, I can still make a purchase or download the trial software from McAfee.

TrialPay Offers on McAfee-branded Page

TrialPay Offers on McAfee-branded Page

Using TrialPay At Your Ecommerce Company

Software aside, I believe there are at least three ways merchants can use TrialPay to boost sales for just about any kind of products from toys to tools.

The key to remember is that a merchant gets paid when a customer accepts a TrialPay offer. So in the McAfee example, if a customer signs up for Netflix and gets their antivirus software for free, TrialPay sends McAfee a predetermined payment—probably close to the software’s $39.99 retail price. So McAfee still gets paid for its software and the customer gets the software as part of a package or bundle with Netflix.

Stopping Shopping Cart Abandonment

TrialPay offers merchants a free cart abandonment widget in the form of a few lines of JavaScript code that you can insert in your shopping cart. When shoppers abandon a cart by clicking the browser’s back button or otherwise navigating away from the site, they are offered the option to (1) get the products in the cart for free or (2) get some set discount—say $20 off the cart’s total—in exchange for accepting one of several TrialPay offers. Thus, a merchant might close a sale that otherwise would not have happened. TrialPay will pay the merchant a bounty to offset the cost of the offer, so the merchant presumably gives up nothing if the shopper accepts the offer.

Encourage Repeat Sales

TrialPay might also help encourage repeat customers. Every good online merchant sends his or her customers an order confirmation email as part of the normal course of business. So why not encourage your new customers to become repeat customers using a TrialPay offer? At the bottom of the order confirmation, you could offer these customers a $10 off coupon on their next order for completing a TrialPay offer. In some cases, TrialPay will actually pay you more than the $10, and your customer now has an incentive to return to your site.

Make Your Own TrialPay Offers

Finally, as a merchant, I can use TrialPay to advertise my products. If I sell gift baskets, I can register as an advertiser, and if accepted, TrialPay will serve up my offer (i.e., buy a gift basket) alongside, say, Netflix, FTD flowers, and The Wall Street Journal. If someone buys my gift basket, I pay TrialPay. TrialPay then pays the merchant that served up the offer and keeps a percentage for itself.

Summing Up

Three and one half stars

TrialPay gives ecommerce businesses new ways to encourage customers to buy and new ways to monetize those customers who might not have otherwise purchased. It can benefit a merchant in two ways. On one side, you can offer customers discounts in exchange for accepting offers. On the other side, you can distribute your product offers across thousands of other websites at a predetermined cost per action.

TrialPay will even provide you with a series of best practices and marketing ideas as well as provide free creative services for developing landing pages and email campaigns.

Some merchants are not going to want to present their customers with offers from other companies, no matter how much they get paid. But others might find TrialPay to be a good way to boost conversions by 2 to 4 percent, which is why I awarded it three and a half out of a possible five stars in this review.

Armando Roggio

Armando Roggio

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  1. Buckscaper October 20, 2009 Reply

    Thank you for this write up. I was considering Trialpay but found the information on their site did not explain the details of their service very well.

    The generalities are well presented but how one can actually integrate it, what choices one can make regarding where and when the Trialpay offer is made – these things are hardly touched on.

    In your example "shopping cart abandonment", it appears that one could invoke Trialpay only after a cart is abandoned. But (unless something has changed) that isn’t made clear on their site. That is unfortunate because while I don’t really want a big Trialpay button front and center on my checkout screen, having something pop up only AFTER a cart is abandoned anyway might not be too unappealing.

    I’d love to hear from folks who have used or are using Trialpay. I hope some will comment.

  2. TrialPay October 29, 2009 Reply

    Hi Buckscaper,
    My name is Lisa Contoyannis and I am the Director of Marketing at TrialPay. I just wanted to thank you for your comment and provide a few resources that could be helpful. First up, please see our "Top Touchpoints" demo that’s available on our site: There are also individual 1-pagers on a few of our Top Touchpoints, which are available on the sidebar throughout the "products" section of our site. This piece in particular talks about in-product messaging options:

    I really appreciate your comment that this kind of information isn’t available prominently enough on our site. I will try to remedy that by tweaking our site over the next few weeks and highlighting this demo.

    Finally, if you are intrigued by TrialPay and you want to Get Started, this section should point you in the right direction:

    Thanks again for your comments and interest. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us by writing to merchantsupport at trialpay dot com.

  3. Tony Johnston April 9, 2012 Reply

    One thing that was left out here is how they effect the consumer and how it looks on the actual client of trialpay.
    It is too easy with this company to "rip-off" consumers, even if it is a free offer for payment it is still a rip-off if you do what is requested and it is not paid for.
    Examples that have happened to me:
    1. Watch video for ____ credit and click banner. The video never has a banner in it and I clicked all over the screen thinking it maybe an invisible banner. Nope, try 5 more times and nothing. THEN the email support. (I will get to later)
    2. Do survey for ____credits. (requirements ONLY say complete it) So I do like 6 or so questions about the topic and then it says I don’t qualify…excuse me? You already asked me 6 questions THAT is a survey! If they needed to know if I qualify they should have listed the requirements prior to me taking the survey. Thing of it this way, I need 6 questions answered and on the 7th I just say if client says anything other than he is age 200+ years old he doesn’t qualify and I still get my information. It should have been explained up front to the consumer.
    3. Watch video and you get ____ credits. About 95% of the way through the video it seems to end and fb, twitter etc things pop up to share…but no credit? I do this a couple of times and realize what happened is the video did stop prior to completing because of the share stuff popping up is my guess, so I press play to get credit. BUT how many people watched the video for free and got ripped off because of it?

    These things seem like very simple fixes yet, they don’t care and I have about 20 emails proving that.

    Check reviews on the internet, not following through on offers and no support is what you find all over.

    Now when you go to support it is always this email returned and I quote:

    "Please note that in order to successfully complete the _______ offer, you must follow the instructions and complete the offer as per the full offer terms of completion. I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience, but as it is left to the discretion of our offer partner to establish the requirements for completion and customer eligibility, we are unable to credit you at this time.

    If you would like to receive additional credits, please return to our checkout and select an alternate offer to complete. If you have any other questions or concerns, please let us know."

    So they don’t help at all, if you respond they add like 2 words to it and resend it, like "Like we said previously" ….they don’t try helping AT ALL…like the no banner in video, they didn’t care, all they knew is it wasn’t completed, they didn’t care what I thought, where or what was going on….the absolute worst support there is.

    I dare and member of Trialpay staff to go against this, I have proof.

    So maybe as a client they may work, but if you like your reputation as I do as a business owner, I would stay away.

    This is just my opinion, but what is stated is facts and you can take them or leave them. I hope this helps people looking at the company from the other point of view. And this is from 4-2012 as well.