Does anyone have personal experience, good articles, or case studies that document the pros and cons of offering a free trial with no obligation (i.e. you don't collect credit card information at signup, just the minimum amount of information needed) versus requiring credit card at signup for a B2C website?
We currently offer a no obligation free trial. The theory being that we will have higher total numbers by allowing customers to experience our product and service risk free. So far conversion rate is low, but about on par with the industry standard.
However, over the last few weeks we've gotten more popular and better search exposure thanks to ongoing blogging and some media spots. Consequently, we're also getting more people starting free trials that really have no intention of ever converting (high school students, college kids doing research, or people we personally email after signing up to help with any questions and never respond).
What makes this situation unique is that our site has a large community component, and I don't want to disturb what we're building in that area by people who aren't serious about using our service (i.e., welcoming new members, new users posting silly questions, those sorts of things).
Lately, I've been thinking of moving to a credit card required free trial system. However, I don't want to lose out on potential customers who don't want to take the risk, despite our moneyback guarantee.
Thoughts, experiences, and literature would be appreciated. Please let me know if I can provide any helpful info.