With Internet products it's always a bonus and in some cases critical to be able to get first time visitors into the sampling process. The sampling process an opportunity to try the product and get some level of gratification and understanding of the value proposition quickly.
In some cases, a product is so simple and intuitive, that the sampling process is actually using the product. In other cases, you have to bend over backwards to make it work. (Note to self: if that's the case, overhaul). For instance, when I was at Jangl, we had this ability to let people talk and text on the phone without exchanging real phone numbers. There was a bunch of geeky shit going on there, but it was real hard to package, position and sell on a home page. So much that we began doing things like this. It's funny actually, but it wasn't funny for long. We finally found a way to simplify the product marketing down to reeling visitors into a sampling process. We had a headline that said "Call anyone, now". And then there was a field to enter someone's email address. No matter who's email address you entered, we'd cough up a phone number. When you called or texted that number, your voice mail or text would be forwarded to that person's email. That person would also get a number to call/text you. There was a bit of a wow factor in it, but all in all it was too contrived. The lipstick and the entire Avon collection was all over a solution that was just too complex.
This time around, at Cc:Betty, we started by saying "Hey, just Cc:Betty on any email and she'll organize and track it". Very simple, and gratifying the first time around. But it was hard to get people to just leave the website and open their email client and write a message and Cc:Betty, all to get into our sampling process. That's a lot to expect. So then we added an START flow from our home page, which people could click and fill out a little form without even having an account. This has served us very well. But that method of sampling, however forward thinking, goes against the great laws of people's expectations. The last thing a startup needs is to get in its own way for the sake of the clever. When 90+% of any web service starts with a SIGN UP link or button, that's what people are conditioned to expect, so that's what we needed to do.
We'll learn more soon enough, but I think the moral of the story is
-the sampling process is important
-but make it as natural as possible
-and bust out the lipstick to make it so, but leave the whole Avon kit behind
-get out of your own way (and your customer's way)
-try stuff, measure, learn and try stuff again