January 2, 2014
The Saddest SaaS Pricing Pages of the Year

Discuss on Hacker News here. 

Your pricing page is the center of your universe. Everything you do, from your marketing and sales to your product development and support, works to drive people to that page, convert them, and keep them coming back. 

Yea. It’s that important. 

We’ve documented some amazing SaaS pricing pages in the past, chiefly in our annual SaaS pricing page pageant, but we decided to point out some pages that need a good New Year’s resolution. Many of the following pages have a lot going for them and come from phenomenally great companies (they’re clearly doing something right). Yet, they’ve fallen short in two key areas: design clarity and simplification. Let’s look at these two big points, apply them to some examples, and get you on your way to creating a better page. 

Overcoming the “Too Many Check Marks” Problem

If you’re a product person, I reckon you’re pretty proud of every single feature that you put out to the world (at least in theory). If you weren’t, then why the heck would you build them, right? You’re a maestro of the command line and the right customer will appreciate every subtle detail you’ve pushed live. As a result, you need your page to look something like Qualaroo's pricing. Look at all those beautiful checkmarks. Over 50% of the features displayed are included in every plan.

Qualaroo's Pricing 

Qualaroo Pricing
You’re making the purchasing decision 10x more difficult

Here’s the thing though: most customers don’t care about every detail; they only care about what’s important to them. Including every single checkmark on the page limits your prospect’s ability to make a quick decision between your tiers. You want them to place themselves in a bucket without having to wade through rows and rows of features trying to figure out what’s core to the product and what’s included in each plan. You’re also allowing doubt to slip into their mind with questions of, “wait, is that feature I was marketed included in this plan or not?”

This is why pricing pages like UserVoice's pricing are so effective. Customers come in, see exactly what’s differentiated between the plans, and can make a quick decision. UserVoice even gives them an option to see the floodgate of features, but only if they want to click through.

UserVoice's Pricing

Uservoice pricing
You’re not allowing yourself to market these core features effectively

Calling something “Deeper Analytics” and putting a small description below the tag or in a hover over question mark isn’t effective product marketing. It’s deeper analytics; it’s value goes well beyond a tiny blurb. Buffer falls prey to this crevasse with their Buffer for business product by having a beautifully built site and page, but taking up 70% of their pricing matrix with features that are included in each plan. How slick would it be if they eliminated this block of checkmarks and created a section that said, “All business plans include:” and then had a product marketing rich overview of each of the features. 

A phenomenal example of this style of marketing is Wistia’s pricing page. They keep it so simple by including all features with all plans (and marketing accordingly), displaying their differentiation only along their value metrics of videos and bandwidth.  

Buffer for Business Pricing 

bufferapp pricing

Wistia's Pricing

wistia pricing
You’re making it harder to upsell me

On the eighth day when the powers that be created pricing pages they realized the beauty that the tiered structure had on anchoring and upselling customers. Suddenly, customers who were typically basic customers saw four plans and thought, “well, I’m not basic, but I’m not enterprise, so I guess I land in the second plan.” Boom. MRR boosted. 

Here’s the problem though: confusing pricing pages not only hurt the decision making process, they destroy this upgrade potential. Look at DocuSign’s page. Great company, but there are more checkmarks here than I know what to do with, leading me to just pick the cheapest option out of frustration, rather than choice. 

Docusign's Pricing

docusign pricing

The “We only have one customer” or “We have so many types of really specific customers” problem

Products start out as problems that real individuals have in their lives. The beauty of developing a SaaS product remains in your ability to quickly and nimbly respond to those individuals’ needs. This malleability in feature prioritization is a blessing and a curse though, as you could theoretically build something for every group of people on the planet (or build something for no one on the planet). Your product and your business need to therefore start with identifying and quantifying your customer personas

Your business then becomes a game of cloning your customers, focusing all of your efforts like a laser set out on world domination. Yet, far too often we see companies both successful and struggling who haven’t honed in on this key step in the process. 

This is easy to spot in pricing pages that are either too simple with minimal tiers or too complicated with convoluted or too many tiers. Both ends of the spectrum result in cash being left on the table and even more confusion for customers coming through the door. 

Too few tiers leaves cash on the table

Take Hootsuite's pricing for example, a killer company with over 8 million users. The problem is they only have one main tier along with a simpler freemium plan and a “contact us” enterprise plan. You mean to tell me that in eight million users there’s only one main person? We’d buy this if the product were much simpler, but this page alone has sixteen points of differentiation and I’m sure there are more features not even mentioned that could be helpful. What’s worse is that this page suffers from some of the simplification elements discussed above, as well. It’s sad to see so much potential cash being left on the table. 

You need to make sure you quantify your customer personas and ensure your pricing tiers align to those personas. One tier for each persona and each tier should be mutually exclusive. 

Hootsuite's Pricing

hootsuite pricing
Too much differentiation is just as bad

A lot of companies miss out on sales opportunities by utilizing too much differentiation or too many plans, as well. The result is mainly the dissonance in the mind of the customer we discussed above, but look at Onelogin and their pricing page for example. There’s so much going on with this page that, as a customer, I’m not really sure where I fit in initially. The plan labels do help, but as I dig into the features I get more confused. They’ve over optimized the differentiation between their plans. 

OneLogin's Pricing

onelogin pricing

Dyn has a similar problem with their transactional email pricing where the email send thresholds and the feature differentiation leads to a lot of confusion (although some of this could be cleared up by stylistically getting rid of those “X”s).

Dyn's Transactional Email Pricing

dyn pricing

Keep Your Pricing Page Simple and Focused on the Customer

We say it all the time, but it bears repeating: your pricing, just like your product, marketing, sales, and the like, all starts with your customer. Check out some of our other posts on SaaS pricing pages (including our SaaS pricing page pageant), as well as the big study we did on the top 270 SaaS pricing pages to learn more about constructing your page and your pricing strategy as a whole. 

We'll be following up with more content to walk through how to solve each and every one of these problems, so subscribe to the blog by downloading our SaaS Pricing Page Bluepring ebook below. You'll also get a heads start on how to fix these problem now, by seeing what the top folks in SaaS are doing with their pages. 

Discuss on Hacker News here. 


CEO and Co-Founder
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