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We did a small analysis to find how much of the content do the free trial users view.
To our surprise, we found that a sizable chunk around 40% of the users who sign up for free trial, don’t even login into the site and thereby end up viewing nothing.

We were dismayed at the results. Given that we did not have a nosy registration form, given that we did not force it on anyone, given that it has been the user’s conscious choice to visit us and try out stuff, why … why should 52 % of the users go away without even logging in once !

We concluded the data must be wrong or the way we got this data is incorrect. We immediately got down to look at the code that records user login, it was fine ; looked at the database records, they were fine; looked at the query used to fetch the data for the above analysis, it was fine. re-ran the query, still the same results. We had to swallow the lump … indeed 52 % of the users who voluntarily signed up did not bother to login even once !

Given this bitter truth, we set ourselves into figuring out how to reduce this. We looked into the existing process … the user gets into the site, Clicks on the free trial option, fills up the form, then upon successful registration, receives an email. Now we EXPECT the USER to check the email, see the login, password details and then login back into our site. The login name is not chosen by the user, but a lousy alphanumeric concocted by a piece of legacy code.
There is quite some things that we expected the user would do.

These 52% did not bother to check the email and login back. Perhaps, some might have checked it, and not received the email, or it went into the spam folder. The reason could be many. But it highlights a very interesting point about user behaviour.
In the web,
Make your product as sticky as possible as quickly as possible.
Presume all users are lazy and want the easiest and quickest way out.

Since the application generated the login IDs soon after the registration process is complete, we auto-logged in the user the very first time (subsequent access requires login/password to be keyed). Of course, we did email them as well. Next, we hid the concocted alphanumeric ID from the user and instead used their email ID as their loginID.

With these changes, the figure dropped from 52% to around 15% as all most users clicked on the auto login option. However, this time we were interested in knowing how many bothered to read some content. To our satisfaction, this figure was more than 80%. This has been a fantastic learning for us and has been influencing our designs a lot since then.

Update : The stats have been updated to reflect our latest analysis.