Also, I suck at completing timed trials. I sign up for a service, play with it for a bit, and might not come back for a few weeks - usually when the trial has expired. Having to enter credit card information is exactly one of the roadblocks that causes me to abandon ship and put it in the "This is a pain and taking more time than I thought, so I will just do this later." category.
So, while I don't think you are losing any customers that already know they need your service, you may be losing some who might need your service, but aren't sure yet.
The best onboarding process gets me signed up as quickly as possible (you are clearly doing that) - and takes me through an interactive tutorial (i.e. "Enter your project name here") where you are actually entering information into the system, not just completing some demo that isn't useful.
Show users how to do something useful with your service as quickly as possible and you will have their attention. The CC info will be secondary - they will happily enter it when the time comes!
But once you have a real life project that you're getting paid for, then you come back and kick off your formal trial.
We experimented with removing the credit card at signup and it killed our conversion rate from trial to happy paying customer.
We now invest a significant amount of support resources into trial users which we wouldn't be able to do if we opened the floodgates to every uncommitted tire kicker.
As a customer, I would abandon your site faster than anything, no matter how slickly you'd done the presell.
And yes, I tried making an account. It's very jarring to suddenly be hit with a credit card wall to actually do anything in the trial. A free trial where I give you my credit card number isn't free. I don't feel this is going to help your conversion rates.
It is when you aren't charged for anything. It's basically a way to qualify a (future) customer.
...Also, what paywall were you hit with when creating the account you mentioned above? Right now, you can create an account and activate your timed trial without entering anything in. After 11 days, I send out an email stating "If you don't plug in your credit card soon, your account will be deactivated."
I think I might do a post sometime about all the fun ways I've sacked my annoying customers. Keeps me interested anyway :)
Software doesn't sell itself guys...honest, insightful posts about the reasoning behind business decisions that directly affect a product's bottom line are really important and should not be dismissed because they contain "marketing speak".
edit: I rescind my comment, I'm not adding anything useful to the discussion here. I still hate the term, but I guess there's not anything better.
It didn't really stop me from reading the article, I kept going after I finished cringing.
What do you call post signup new user education?