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Free Trials

CloudxtnyHostCloudxtnyHost Member, Host Rep
edited March 2012 in General


As you guys know we are new to the low-end market and I wanted to get your opinions on free trials. Do people tend to use the free trials for 2 weeks - 1 month then leave or are they actually worth it for retaining customers?



  • HC_RoHC_Ro Member

    Its a good way to attract spammers and network abusers. I doubt there much retention after a free trial. =\

  • well actually i do need a spare free trial as all my vps-es are live. I need a spare one to test radius to all the rest of my other vps.

  • Free trials == Lots of DoS traffic.

  • FranciscoFrancisco Top Host, Host Rep, Veteran

    @HC_Ro said: Its a good way to attract spammers and network abusers. I doubt there much retention after a free trial. =\


    You'll end up with people that keep trying to keep the freebie, or use it for spam or as cheap DDOS boxes.


  • CloudxtnyHostCloudxtnyHost Member, Host Rep

    I was thinking more within this community. DDos and spam isn't something we want our network doing, but I guess if we've got the free nodes sitting their people may as well use them!

  • raindog308raindog308 Administrator, Veteran

    I recommend extended 12-month free trials for LET members whose names start with the letter R.

    Thanked by 1Mon5t3r
  • CloudxtnyHostCloudxtnyHost Member, Host Rep

    haha, now wouldnt that be nice!

  • I don't think free trials are the way to go at all. Have you tried to get a post on LEB?

  • @Kairus said: I don't think free trials are the way to go at all. Have you tried to get a post on LEB?

    Ya I haven't seen any httpzoom offer on LEB :)

  • The only way to sell fast on LEB is to have ridiculous offers.

  • CloudxtnyHostCloudxtnyHost Member, Host Rep

    We submitted, but unfortunately they never appeared, a day later a buyvm advert did appear tho :)

    This was more about people's opinions on free trials rather than us getting new customers. We've actually done pretty well the last week with Dedicated and VPS!

  • CloudxtnyHostCloudxtnyHost Member, Host Rep


    We are kind of against going for silly offers etc. Everything we do is sustainable (unfortunately! hehe)

  • u4iau4ia Member

    @raindog308 said: I recommend extended 12-month free trials for LET members whose names start with the letter R.

    Isn't linux case sensitive? :)

    Thanked by 1raindog308
  • raindog308raindog308 Administrator, Veteran

    Yes, @u4ia, but due to @httpzoom's extreme marketing prowess, their free trial offers are not.

  • MaouniqueMaounique Host Rep, Veteran

    I also wouldnt go for free trials. However, free for the active community ppl would be cool. We do have a few ppl around that have a problem with few bucks but are big fans of VPSes and could spread the word. You wont be making money on this, but will probably get warm feelings.
    The way to keep abusers out will be to just request a PM for allocation and then, based on user input here, decide if they are worth it or not + ask what will they put on it.
    Depending on how many ppl are responding, you can taylor some plans, based on what you have available and then divided by 2. If all goes well you will soon add paying customers on those nodes.
    My 2 cents.

  • Free trials are not so bad, but you should definitely get some verification process in place. It can be either a 99% discount of first month or some refundable fee from a verified account. This way you will at least get users who are able to buy your services in the future and they will be more careful with abuse because they used a verified account.
    Its also best no to accept trial orders from countries with known high abuse history.

  • MaouniqueMaounique Host Rep, Veteran

    @torqhost said: Its also best no to accept trial orders from countries with known high abuse history.

    I deeply resent that. China has a high abuse history, but that is because they are so many, for example. Also, India, Pakistan.
    It would also mean Romania, not because there are many ppl, but every joe, dick and harry has here 30 Mb+ connections, even in the countryside, in many areas there are big lan ISPs so many ppl will have access, as such, there are many kids on the net trying everything because net is so cheap.
    I think some verification is perfectly fine, denying stuff because ppl are from a country or another, no.

  • It may be the case that there are many people and I do agree not all orders end in abuse. The problem is, legitimate customers suffer because of this.
    We got /24s blacklisted because of fake shops hosted on the servers, frequent DDOS, spamming, etc.
    Accepting any order is a high-risk experiment and from my experience just not worth it and will cause headaches for legitimate users.

  • I agree with what @torqhost said; see also @prometeus 's current "first month 90% off" offer. It's best to make it a small amount, possibly refundable if you want to claim "free", rather than make it completely free, no-strings-attached.

    This should keep out the majority of abusers/skiddies, and also give you more folks who have the desire/wherewithal to continue as regulars if they are happy with the service.

  • MaouniqueMaounique Host Rep, Veteran

    Legitimate customers will always suffer from abuse, no matter what you try, important is to have a good balance and have many resources available at start so the abuse wont matter to the rest of customers. In a month or less after a big offer the abusers will be kicked already. Preemtive measures are probably not worth it, unless there are in place just for clear cases, such as screening for fake address, ROKSO and the like.
    However, making the offer only to the ppl which actively read and contribute here is much safer than anything else, besides can yield the most benefits since there will be benchmarks and the word of mouth will work, even if those ppl are allowed for perpetual trial. Of course, dont try to offer VIP stuff for good reviews, it will only backlash later.

  • They will be booted yes, but it will be a terrible first month for the legitimate users. Resources are also not the problem. Subnet blacklisting is, however. A couple of abusers with 3-4 IPs on a /24 is enough to get it blacklisted. Imagine someone starting a web hosting company off a VPS and nobody can send emails. I feel legitimate users just do not deserve this.

  • prometeusprometeus Member, Host Rep
    edited March 2012

    Today I terminated the 90% off offer and can make a first balance of this.
    Why decided to make this offer in first place? You know we are new to this market and this is a project I started out of curiosity. Prometeus need to build a reputation, we are financially solid and don't depend from this particular business to succed to stay (I hope) 15 years more in business, so large discount and "free" are marketing expense at this point.

    I think all of you agree that a big recurring discount is preferable to a single month "free", but the fact is that some aren't confident with companies that aren't supported by review, mentions and such. So I let clients try one month "almost free", the payment of less of 1$ (handed almost 100% to paypal) serve us to reduce abuse.

    The promotional code was used 227 time, 10% were orders incomplete or fraud. So we had 203 vps activated. At present 5 were cancelled and 18 suspended for abuse (spam, frequent dos incoming, network abuse, etc).

    More than 70% of clients are from Asia (China for a big part), then Europa and US.

    How much was successfull? I'll know next month :)

  • MaouniqueMaounique Host Rep, Veteran
    edited March 2012

    There is a solution for everything.
    Dont give rDNS without justification, block port 25 by default unless they ask to open with a good reason, listings will expire in 7 days, legitimate ppl complaining can be moved to another IP, whoever expects to buy a LEB and move their life on it and begin production the first day without testing anything is a bad business.
    If you are to offer free trial, do it on already blacklisted IPs till they expire, dont put them on same servers as paying customers, sort them on criteria such as unused, rarely used, normal usage and resource hogs and then put them on nodes accordingly, I agree a free trial involves some extra work and also booting the abusers, but that is to be expected, it is part of the advertising campaign, a cost for it. If you screen out from start too many ppl, it may be that the campaign will not reach the expected results and you did the effort for too little anyway.
    @prometeus from what you say looks like promissing.
    You became known better, there have been some good reviews (including from me), you have some new customers, etc. If the costs werent too high, I think it is very good.
    P.S. What do you mean by network abuse ?

  • prometeusprometeus Member, Host Rep

    @Maounique said: What do you mean by network abuse

    Port scan, http script, password guess scan, etc.

    I'm writing some script to analyze sflow data to detect network anomaly, but it require a lot of time :(

  • torqhosttorqhost Member
    edited March 2012

    Well, we do not have blacklisted IPs assigned to VPS nodes and offering trials on blacklisted IPs is bad practice in my opinion (repeated abuses are not really the best way to show responsibility to blacklists. If you do that with spamhaus they will just stop replying to your unlist request later). But, we had abuse before even on normal non-trial packages, so it is not easy to predict if you accept orders from everywhere.

    In contrast to what @prometeus is saying for example. We had 100 codes for the trial and it was running for 8 days. We accepted a total of 67 trials and rejected the rest (about 60% of that was non payment, ~35% was outright fraud with obviously wrong info and only a few was due to location). But, we did not have any suspension due to abuse.
    In this end its is a business decision about whether you want to police orders more or suspend on abuse later. Its up to the owner to decide what is best.

  • MaouniqueMaounique Host Rep, Veteran

    Have you tried L7 gateways ? It does slow down traffic and introduces latency even on fast machines, but I used with pretty good results over the years. At least it can raise flags.

  • CloudxtnyHostCloudxtnyHost Member, Host Rep

    @prometeus sounds like the perfect balance, giving people something 90% free, but being able to verify things from a fraud point of few!

    China can be abusive however I've managed the support team for companies were 80% were Chinese customers and they pay well and do not ask for support. I guess they should just be considered like the rest of the world, some bad people some good people.

    Also sounds like its best to have a "staging area" for any promotions to shield your existing customers.

  • MaouniqueMaounique Host Rep, Veteran
    edited March 2012

    @torqhost said: In this end its is a business decision about whether you want to police orders more or suspend on abuse later. Its up to the owner to decide what is best.

    Exactly, I was just offering some advice based on my Economist formation and little experience that I have living in a blacklisted country. Like in many other parts, I dont demand anything, I just point out some aspects both pro and against some widespread "common knowledge".
    In the end, the success of an offer or another depends a lot on the ppl that make it, rarely on luck. Prometeus runs a not-so-bad (so far) promotion and they didnt block me even tho there could have been some grounds for that.
    @httpzoom nice to hear that, I dont have experience with the Chinese per se, but I could imagine it is very similar to eastern europe. Seems like you are preparing a successful trial :) Good luck !

  • prometeusprometeus Member, Host Rep

    @Maounique said: Have you tried L7 gateways ?

    When you have 10G ports in place everithing become costly :(

    Our core router/switch is an Extreme Networks X480 with 4x10G ports (two connected to our upstream, the other company I'm CTO at):
    System Type: X480-48t(10G4X)

    We have a peak traffic of 4-5Gbps / daily and you need high wire speed to handle that...

  • MaouniqueMaounique Host Rep, Veteran
    edited March 2012

    I understand that, but i doubt you put your promotional almostfree customers on same nodes with long term faithful ones, as such you could filter just the new ones to have some kind of an early warning system.
    P.S. I asked what do you mean by network abuse because I met some providers that consider using the BW they had in offer for your plan as "abusive behaviour" which hinders the other customers because of the overselling they did.

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