No String Attached! Who doesn’t love a free trial?

Free trials offer the best of both worlds.  Businesses and consumers both win.

This summer, Netflix and Healthworks both wooed me with their awesome services, but in the end I just didn’t have enough time (or discretionary money) for either.  Sprint, on the other hand, offered me the most attractive option, and right at a time when my 2-year mobile contract had just ended, of an affordable data plan with the ability to try out the service before making a final decision on its 30-day “Sprint Free Guarantee” trial, a program which the carrier started on April 1, 2010.

As I was signing up for my service, it made me wonder how many customers of the other three carriers (AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless) may be interested in giving Sprint a test drive.

At Compete, we track the number of unique visitors who exhibit online customer behavior on each of the carrier’s websites every month.  The following graph highlights the percent of AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless online customers who also demonstrated customer behavior on Sprint’s website in the same month but that previously did not the three months prior.  These are likely customers giving Sprint a try.

Spring Customer Same Month

-    Although these are a small percentage of total customers, they number from 45k to 150k per month, and may reflect customers who could have purchased a new service online or in stores
-    Between April and May (the first month of the Sprint Free Guarantee program), there was a noticeable increase in Sprint trials by all three carriers
-    Sprint’s announcement in March and subsequent launch in June of the HTC EVO 4G phone also likely contributed to this increase

However, trial only matters if customers decide to leave their original carriers for Sprint.  The next graph shows the average percentage of AT&T/T-Mobile/Verizon Wireless customers who continued to exhibit customer behavior with Sprint in the next month (after their 30 day trial ended) but were no longer exhibiting customer behavior on the websites of AT&T, T-Mobile, or Verizon Wireless as a percentage of those who were trying Sprint.  These are customers who were on the Sprint trial who then likely converted to Sprint.
converted to spring customers

Conclusions:

-    After the implementation of the program, from April to June, there was an increase in the number of converters for AT&T and T-Mobile, with a slight decrease for VZW
-    However, as a percentage of converters over trials, there was only an increase for T-Mobile, while AT&T’s converters remained flat and VZW ‘s decreased
-    Although the Sprint Free Guarantee helped increase the volume of competitor’s customers trying the service, it did not increase the rate of those converting

Based on the analysis of customers’ online behavior, while the Sprint Free Guarantee program may not have caused the switching of carriers, it certainly has attracted many customers from the other carriers to explore the possibility.  Whether it’s the 4G network, low cost plans, or the new phones, can Sprint entice you to give them a try?