Why I Now Trust HootSuite a Little Less Than I Did Yesterday

by Mack Collier

I like and use HootSuite’s basic/free version quite a lot, especially for scheduling tweets and it’s dead simple to use.  So this morning when I got an email from HS telling me how I could get 60 days of HootSuite Pro for free, I was intrigued:

HSNow normally I hate these ‘give us a tweet and we’ll give you this’ offers, but I do use and like HootSuite, and I have been curious about trying out HootSuite Pro, so I decided to send the tweet.  And as promised, I immediately received my email telling me how to get my 60 days of HootSuitePro for free:

HS1Yep, I’ve just been had.  After I send the tweet that HS told me would get me 60 days of HootSuite Pro for free, I am then told that I can only get the 60 days free if I am ALREADY a Pro subscriber.  So why not just tell me that to begin with?  From my POV, HootSuite just punished me for trusting them.  So I am now less likely to make that mistake again.

I see this sort of stunt all the time, and it doesn’t build brand loyalty, it builds brand distrust.  I get why HootSuite made this offer, they want me to sign up for Pro, and then I can apply the coupon and get the first two months free.  At least I think that’s their motivation.  If the goal is to drive Pro signups then just give me a 60-day trial.  If the service is worth paying for, then I will.

I’ve talked about this before, but as a customer, I cannot advocate for a brand that I do not trust.  So if your brand wants to cultivate fans that love you (and customers that stick around) then the trust of your customers is your most prized asset.

Here’s what HootSuite should have done instead: Since the goal is to drive new signups, then instead of 60 days free, give me 30 days, no strings attached.  And in those 30 days, give me access to training (via videos, screencasts, etc) that will show me how to get the most out of HootSuite Pro and help me understand how to use the new features so that I see for myself why HootSuite Pro is a service worth paying for.  Then tell me if I agree to stay on with HootSuite Pro after the 30-day trial is up, that you’ll give me 50% ($5) off my first two months as a ‘thank you’.  That gets me hooked into using HootSuite Pro for 3 months, which gives me time to use the features and become familiar with them.  If the service is worth my time and money, I’ll stick around.  But even if I don’t, I will still feel like I got a ‘deal’ because I got 3 months of premium service for $10 and HootSuite does get my $10.

And no, I don’t want someone from HS to read this and offer me the free Pro trial the email promised, that’s not why I wrote this post.  I wrote this post to give YOU a real-world example of how an offer such as this can drive new business if positioned correctly, and how it can do the opposite if not positioned correctly.

{ 7 comments }

Lisa Marie Mary April 15, 2014 at 11:38 am

It’s exactly like every. single. time. I get the “$100 free for adwords” ….which is only for brand new customers who have never had an Adwords account. Drives me crazy. Why keep sending them? And why not know who your customers are and leave them out of the campaign?

Mack Collier April 15, 2014 at 5:56 pm

Yes Lisa Marie I know exactly what you are talking about! All offers like this do is irritate current and potential customers. I’m sure it makes sense to the company, but then again the company isn’t looking at this through the eyes of the people receiving the offer, obviously.

Colin O'Hearn April 16, 2014 at 6:51 pm

Hey Mack!

I’m Colin O’Hearn, the Offer Manager at HootSuite.

Your blog post was forwarded on to me, and I just wanted to take some time to reach out to you directly to clarify the promotion.

This campaign is intended only for HootSuite free users like yourself. In taking advantage of the offer, you would receive 60 free days of HootSuite Pro and all Pro services. Basically, a 60 day trial.

To fully clarify – to take advantage of this offer, you do not have to be a current HootSuite Pro user. The intent is to upgrade to a Pro trial, then redeem the coupon to receive the full 60 days.

All HootSuite users are offered a 30 day trial, and the incentive through this offer is to double that. The offer is a means of saying “thanks” for tweeting out the message.

In our promotional email that you’ve highlighted, the “monthly plans” caveat refers to a user’s choice of billing cycle. When signing up for a Pro account, users have the choice between a monthly or annual billing plan. Unfortunately, this promotion would not apply to someone choosing an annual plan, which is why we’ve added this note.

I do apologize for the confusion caused around this promotion. The fact that you’ve pointed this out provides us with the best possible feedback on how we can improve our offers, as well as how they’re presented. The last thing we want to do is confuse or mislead our users!

​I hope that this provides clarification, but should you have any further questions I’m happy to answer them personally.

Cheers!
Colin

Mack Collier April 16, 2014 at 8:23 pm

Hi Colin, thanks for chiming in! You said this:

“This campaign is intended only for HootSuite free users like yourself. In taking advantage of the offer, you would receive 60 free days of HootSuite Pro and all Pro services. Basically, a 60 day trial.

To fully clarify – to take advantage of this offer, you do not have to be a current HootSuite Pro user. The intent is to upgrade to a Pro trial, then redeem the coupon to receive the full 60 days.”

I would add this to the offer moving forward. As you can see from the screenshots of the emails I got above, that’s not clearly explained. Appreciate you taking the feedback as it was intended!

Carrie Chwierut April 17, 2014 at 3:26 pm

Kudos to HootSuite for responding..and quickly!

Ann Marie van den Hurk April 22, 2014 at 8:26 pm

Mack – So good that Hootsuite was listening to the conversations and have responded back to you. It does seems confusing and I hope your blog post helps them reword the email.

Stacy Liszewski May 8, 2014 at 9:50 am

Hi Mack: Thanks for the blog and point of view-I completely agree. You always have great insight. Hootsuite, thanks for clarifying the offer! As an IM student and marketing manager I am overwhelmed with all of the offers, information etc. that I am bombarded with on a daily basis. I am in the market for a product like Hootsuite and I’m trying Hubspot (on free trial) right now. I’ll check it out.

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