This is a response to Chris Lema’s recent post WordPress Plugin Prices Are Too Low.
There are several important issues that Chris points out about the current state of WordPress premium plugin prices.
The “race to free” is definitely a scary one. Many mobile app developers can relate to this. They work for months (or even years) on a complex app only to be able to sell it for $0.99. There are actual reviews out there of customers complaining that a useful mobile app is “not worth it” at $2! And this trend seems to be heading the same direction a decent portion of the premium WordPress plugin marketplace.
Set your price according to the value it provides
What do you value your time at? Chris points out to consider how much time you’re saving when you buy a premium plugin. How many hours did it shave off your various projects and how much is your time worth? That will give you perspective when thinking about purchasing a $19 plugin vs. a $199 plugin.
This is obviously a subject that has a wide variety of views and opinions, so I highly recommend reading at least some of the huge number of comments in response to Chris’ post.
For the most part I tend to agree in that you need to price at the value your providing the customer. Many developers and product creators tend to undervalue their products and the time spent supporting them. You probably need to raise your prices more than you think. This is something that’s been drilled into my head over and over by successful SaaS startup entrepreneurs like Jason Cohen, Patrick McKenzie and Rob Walling. All three have slashed lower price plans multiple times personally and made huge strides forward in their businesses, and they aren’t afraid to talk about it.
Here’s a portion of my comment in reply to Chris’ post:
While I agree with you on leaning towards pricing higher, like John Turner said you need to test and find that sweet spot that works. I also tested my single site license (with annual renewal) at $19 for a short period but then moved it back to it’s original $29. Same sales in dollars in the end, but with more support and refund requests.
Recently I tested eliminating my single site license altogether, and I haven’t yet gathered the data, but I believe it may NOT work. Like Syed Balkhi mentioned I think that’s only because of my target audience. I think too many of my customers are non-technical single-site owners that don’t make a ton off their sites. But I’m going to dig into the numbers and post more on this soon.
If you have a plugin that’s more B2B or appeals mainly to other WP consultants, I bet your chances are better of a higher price for your cheapest plan working. Or maybe you don’t need a single site license plan at all. But you won’t know until you test, even if it’s only a split test and/or only for a couple of weeks. As part of your test don’t forget to include support costs, whether it’s your own time or support staff.
As for lifetime licenses, I believe they should rarely be used. Following the common model of other non-lifetime plugin plans, I’m using a discounted annual renewal rate as well. However, I haven’t quite yet reached a year since selling my first premium plugin so the jury’s still out how many renewals come in.
I agree on eliminating lifetime licenses except for one scenario: Quick cash injection (but very infrequent). When launching a plugin maybe offer a lifetime license only for your higher priced premium plan, possibly doubling your current highest plan. State that it’s time or quantity limited. A boost of cash when launching a plugin can be a huge motivator for keeping the project going. Another cash boost where you might consider lifetime licenses is when using a deal newsletter like AppSumo or Mighty Deals, especially since you’re discounting it pretty heavily already.
But I don’t have a documented test to prove the lifetime license exception. It may only work for motivation and probably not a good move financially for established plugin businesses.
You won’t know until you test
In short, you need to test, test, test to find your ideal price points. I like testing new pricing plans for 2 weeks. Others will run A/B split tests. Any test is good as long as it’s gathering valuable data over a reasonable amount of time.
Sometimes a price increase doesn’t decrease sales quantity at all, and that’s awesome! Sometimes eliminating the lowest plan decreases the total revenue a little, but you’ve just cut out 80% of your support requests, which is also a huge plus.
Finally, as a WordPress plugin shop it’s tough to sell monthly recurring plans, so the next best thing is annual recurring. Lifetime licenses should only be used in a few cases. But again, you’ll need to test. Every plugin has a different value point and is targeted towards different audiences.
Have you tested different prices for your plugin? What have you found that works or doesn’t work?
Updated May 30, 2013
The discussion continues with some great follow-ups.
Jeff at WP Tavern believes that there’s room for both consumer and consultant price points for the same plugin as the value is quite different for the two audiences.
Chris Lema followed up to his original post with some more perspective on the idea of variable pricing based on value and offering add-on options for your customers.
Thomas Griffin introduced support tokens for his Soliloquy plugin last month instead of charging an annual renewal.
David Peralty of Gravity Forms posted his take on lifetime vs subscription licenses, add-ons vs packages, and what (hypothetical) costs might look like to support a larger plugin business.
Updated June 3, 2013
I ran two pricing tests for one of my premium plugins and posted the results. One price increase resulted in 21% more plugin sales. Dollars and units sold revealed.