March 10, 2014
How to Personalize Your Pricing Strategy for the Price of a Latte

We all know humanizing the customer experience can have a huge impact on the bottom line, but there’s more to creative engagement than putting the “personal touch” on emails or making colorful team member bios for your website. The devil is often in the details, and one method for improving customer interaction that’s easily overlooked is contextualizing your prices.   

The actual numbers on your pricing page don’t tell the whole story, and they can often seem intangible without inspired copy and design to make them relatable. A big part of creating an awesome pricing page is purely psychological. In addition to demonstrating value with features and benefits, you can make your final gateway far more inviting by creating a frame of reference for your buyers.

Contextualizing? Frame of reference? This is all a little vague, so let’s dive into exactly what contextualization on your pricing page entails and why it works before we take a look at a few excellent examples from some great companies.

contextual pricing

What is contextual pricing and why should I use it?

Simply put, it’s putting your prices in context and helping customers relate to the numbers. We’ve covered this before in a previous post about innumeracy, but mathematical ignorance is a big consumer weakness, and customers yearn for boosted value rather than attractive digits.

This can translate into some subtle strategies that have a huge impact on the overall effectiveness of your pricing page. Contextual pricing can be as simple as utilizing innovative plan names or appealing visual representations in each pricing tier, or it can get slightly more interesting, such as providing a caption that claims the monthly rate is equivalent to the cost of a few cups of coffee.

Tactics like these not only make your prices more tangible, they foster a connection between a customer coming through the door and a particular plan. Sure, labeling your pricing tiers “basic, plus, and enterprise” gets the point across, but generic plan names and barebones pages can also come off boring and cold. Your pricing page needs to be simple enough to understand, but you also want to inspire visitors to explore the page further in addition to quickly demonstrating which plan is best for them.

pricing page

Great, but where have you seen contextual pricing done right?

Contextual pricing strategies come in all shapes and sizes, especially with regard to pricing page design. Let’s analyze some great examples of pages that demonstrate these methods to give you a better idea of how companies use price contextualization effectively (and how they’ve used it in the past).

1. OnePager

OnePager, a company with a sweet solution for building small business websites, used to have one tier pricing for a mere $9/month, and used contextualization to make the price even more attractive. As you’ll see below, they included a short blurb underneath the price that states “costs the same as about two lattes a month” with a small picture of two cups of coffee. While that may seem like a small detail, it reinforces the value provided in the features and benefits on the right of the page by contextualizing what the price means for the customer.

contextual pricing

OnePager has since expanded to four tier pricing, and consequently they’ve removed the contextual content to reduce clutter on the page. The plan names aren’t riveting by any means (agency, premium, plus, and starter), but we love the elegant design and the simple way they display monthly vs. annual billing.

2. SaneBox

SaneBox, who provide a service that filters and prioritizes emails, used to have a killer pricing page that we praised in our SaaS Pricing Page Pageant last summer. Each of the three tiers humanized the buying process. The lowest tier cost “less than a snack,” the middle tier stated “you pay more for a lunch,” etc. Each tier also had a corresponding illustration to go with the copy, as you’ll see below.

describe the image

It’s a beautiful pricing page, but as you can see, it’s also a little busy. They’ve sinced simplified their pricing page significantly and taken out the extra text, but luckily they preserved the original concept by using the plan names “snack, lunch, and dinner.” The contextualization is still there but it’s not quite as distracting for potential customers.

pricing page

3. Mailchimp

Additional text and pictures can improve engagement and lower the barrier to entry for your prices, but as you can see from the evolution of the SaneBox page, sometimes you can get the point across with a lot less. Mailchimp uses visual representations without extra text, and it’s a very cute way to make you feel inadequate about choosing the lowest tier. As Stephanie Irvine pointed out in her recent post on pricing page design, “Do you really want to be the little lamb when you could be THE ELEPHANT!?”

pricing page

However, I agree with her that the lack of upfront pricing is annoying. They make up for it with crystal clear pricing once you follow through, but having to click on “learn more” under each plan to see some real prices isn’t a huge plus.

4. Grove.io

Many SaaS companies keep the design of the page simple but go for gold when it comes to plan names. Grove.io, a company providing hosted IRC (Internet Relay Chat), is a perfect example. They have a simple, elegant page that uses a different species of tree for the title of each tier, which obviously matches up nicely with the company name. It’s not a huge detail, but plan names like “birch” and “spruce” correlate well with the brand while emphasizing the differences between the packages.

plan names

5. PlanGrid

The ultimate combination of contextual pricing and clarity is demonstrated by PlanGrid’s page. PlanGrid provides a planning app for the construction industry, and they emphasize their ties to that market with every part of their pricing page design. As you’ll see below, the plan names are different sized tools and machines used in construction, from the hammer to the crane, and each of the tiers has a beautiful illustration as well.

pricing page

PlanGrid does a superb job of using the design of the page to relate to their ideal buyers. Yes, pricing the product along one simple value metric (the number of storage sheets) gives them lots of space for pretty pictures, but even if they had other features to differentiate the tiers they’d have the real estate to make it happen. Avoiding an endless scroll of checkmarks and product features gives PlanGrid that capacity to contextualize prices with more than creative plan names. 

Want to Learn More?

If you want to dive deeper into pricing page best practices, check out our latest eBook, The SaaS Pricing Page Blueprint, which offers in-depth data and analysis on building the perfect pricing page. 

If you want a detailed analysis of your own pricing strategy, don’t hesitate to sign up for a free Price Optimization Assessment with an expert here on the team.

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