When we initially designed Sourcing.io we decided to require a credit card for the signup process even though we were offering a weeks free trial. This was for a few reasons, but mainly because we felt our data was too valuable to give away for free and requiring a credit card showed commitment while striking a good balance between charging up front and a freemium model.
Additionally we had some compelling data indicating that requiring customers to enter their credit card dramatically altered their perception of the product, and made them more likely to pay in the long run. That's a subject for another post though.
There's no doubt about it though, requiring a credit card up-front lowers your sign-up conversion rate. Since we were using the Stripe Checkout (which I had the pleasure of working on whilst at Stripe), we had no choice but to split our signup process into two steps — one step to enter your account information such as name, password etc, the other step to open the Stripe Checkout overlay and collect payment information.
Clearly we were going to get some people dropping off the registration form between the two steps when they realized they need to enter some credit card information. What we realized though, was that this was actually an excellent sales opportunity.
We started to record the partially filled in form, and send an automated email to us whenever a user dropped off registration before the second step. We call these draft signups. Once a day, we manually go through these draft signups and reach out individually to companys who look like a good fit for Sourcing.io, offering them a free trial without having to provide a credit card.
In other words, we get to have our cake and eat it. We get to keep the upfront credit card without lowering the conversion rate too much. We also get to start a valuable conversation with customers we'd otherwise have lost. The results speak for themselves: we've converted countless draft signups into paying customers and many of our biggest clients were converted via this process.