How many times have you signed up for something online and have ticked the box to accept terms & conditions, without looking into further detail?

In many cases you’d be justified to because:

  1. You feel like you have no power against the organisation anyway (e.g. Apple, Facebook).
  2. They’re so long that you wouldn’t plough through it all.
  3. The cost of the purchase/commitment was small so didn’t warrant worrying too much about terms & conditions.


Our experiment

We’ve been running an experiment to see how long it would take for someone to read our own terms & conditions in enough detail to pick up on something that would benefit them.

We assume that people should read our terms & conditions because although A1WebStats isn’t a hugely expensive product, nor has any contract lock-in periods, it does deal with the subject of how website visitors data is handled.

We added this paragraph into our terms & conditions and waited to see how long it would take for people to take advantage of that:

6. Smallprint – Purely as an experiment to demonstrate how few people actually read the terms & conditions in detail, we are offering a few readers 6 months A1WebStats Gold subscription totally free purely for contacting us with an email containing ‘Terms & Conditions’ in the subject line and in the body of the email including your contact details and the words “Yes, I’ll benefit from your experiment – set up my free 6 month Gold subscription right now!”.

And we waited.

And waited.

Over 6 weeks later, after 142 people had been to that website page and many others had signed up for trials or purchased (in the process, ticking to say they agreed with the terms & conditions but often without looking at that website page) …. someone made contact to take advantage of the free offer.



Something gained for attention to detail

While we wouldn’t try to pretend that a 6 month subscription to our software is a hugely expensive purchase, it’s still money that could be re-utilised within the business if that 6 month subscription was provided for free.

That’s one person out of so many people who either went to that terms & conditions page, or had the opportunity to go to that page (as part of the signup process).

They were followed by others in the days after.

Each of those have been given their free 6 month subscription to A1WebStats and we’ve since taken the experiment off the terms & conditions page.


So what can you learn here?

Whatever website visitors analytics solution you choose to use, why not keep an eye on how many people get as far as your terms & conditions pages?

If there are high numbers then it could imply that people are cautious before making a buying decision.  That should be information that’s valuable to you.

If there are low numbers then it could imply that you could put whatever you like in your terms & conditions and people would happily agree to something they’ve never looked at, or have hardly looked at.

And if you really want to get a view on whether or not people look at your terms & conditions page then why not run an experiment similar to ours?   We’d love to get your feedback on how your experiment helped to shape your thinking about your website.

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