Marketing tripwire

A marketing tripwire is aimed at converting interest in a product or service into a purchase by reducing perceived risk and cost, so encouraging someone to purchase more immediately.

Tripwire offers are effective in increasing conversion since they require less consideration, so encouraging a more immediate purchase (known as increased purchase velocity). Conversion can also be assisted since an individuals credit card details are provided and they enter into a contract with a business which involves the subscriber paying more in future unless they cancel.

The classic headline tripwire offer is usually a very low fee or no fee for access to a service, but it could be a more modest reduction.

Tripwire offers have grown in popularity as demand for digital services has increased. They are particularly appropriate for online digital subscription products, but are also offer risk reduction for e-commerce products. Examples include:

  • $1 subscription to an online magazine for the first three months
  • Free access to a training course
  • 20% discount for on the standard price of a subscription during a promotion month
  • 10% discount off first purchase for a retail product

The first two examples involve significant deep tripwire discounts, the second two are more modest. When modelling conversion rates for deep discount tripwire offers, the overall profitably needs to be factored in. Plus, they also rely on the quality of the tripwire offer, onboarding or time to value and follow-up Ad retargeting and remarketing including automated email follow-up.

Although tripwire offers may appear spammy, smack of desperation and may be an indication of a poor quality product. Tripwire offers are today used more widely in traditional industry sectors than were previously including :

  • Telecoms: Initial 6, 12 or 18-month discounts on broadband or mobile phone usage
  • Financial services: Insurance coverage of an additional month or a cashback
  • Publishing: Significantly lower first-time subscription cost as used by the Economist, New York Times and The Guardian.

Crazyegg have more tripwire examples and an explanation of the process.

Here is an example of a £1 for 4 weeks subscription tripwire trial at the FT with the irony of a self-referential title.

Different marketing tripwires are often tested as part of growth hacking.


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