I’m working on some home improvements and I have been pricing out all of the costs, including renting a dumpster. I quickly became frustrated when the majority of websites I visited didn’t include the prices. They wanted me to call or fill out a form for a “free quote.” For one thing, this was on a Sunday afternoon and they were all closed, so I couldn’t call and get someone right away. Second, I don’t want to have to wait for an email or call back and have someone sell to me. I just wanted the price of a 10 cubic yard dumpster. That’s it. It should be easy. It wasn’t, I left, and I’ll use one of the companies that made my job easy.
Make It Easy For Your Audience
I say this a lot, but that’s because it’s true – your website represents you online 24/7. Your audience is making quick judgements about you. If your website is difficult to use, people will think you’ll be difficult to work with. Oftentimes this is subconscious, but we make associations based on experience, so it stands to reason that if someone has a bad experience on your website, they’ll have a bad experience with you. That means lost business, which means lost revenue. A bad website is literally costing you income.
Why Prices Are Left Off of Websites
Many times businesses don’t want to include pricing on their website because they feel like they’re missing the opportunity to sell themselves, to have a personal touchpoint, and to get a potential customer’s information. This is the wrong reason, and here’s why: your website is a touchpoint. It is your opportunity to sell your business online. Most people won’t call or even fill out an online form to get a price – if it’s not right there, they leave.
The second reason is that businesses don’t want their competitors to know their pricing. I understand this, but guess what? Your competition already got my business because their information was easy to find and clearly defined. So you lose anyway. Boo!
But Visitors View the Price and Leave
This is a debate I’ve had many times, and I’ve seen the traffic. Oftentimes, your pricing page is one of your top exit pages on your website – meaning that it was the last page they viewed before leaving. But that’s OK! It’s very possible that the price was what they were looking for. They got the information they needed, and they left. You need to understand the behavior of your audience to know if this is good or bad. Google Analytics can help you see how people travel through your website.
People are rarely ready to buy when they first visit your website. They need to do research. They want to know who you are, what you offer, and for how much. Then they do the same thing with your competitors and compare the results. Of course, there’s a chance that they’ll take the time to call you or submit a form, but every time you add an additional step customers drop off.
When to Include Pricing
If your service or product is repeatable, include pricing. When you have an inventory of 100 yellow hats, they will all be sold for the same price. That’s repeatable. Going back to my dumpster story, renting a 10 cubic yard dumpster costs the same for each customer. The only possible variance might be mileage, but that can easily be explained with a base price that explains delivery and pickup within a certain range is included, and for every mile outside of that it is an additional $X.
When to Leave Pricing Off
There are times when adding prices to your website doesn’t make sense. I’m sure you’ve notice that I don’t have pricing on this website. That’s because I really need to know what you need. When someone asks me “what’s a website cost?” I say, “It depends.” That’s not because I’m being evasive, but because each project is different and each client has different needs. The services I offer are not cookie-cutter repeatable. Do you need branding, audience research, a marketing strategy, a website, social media accounts set up or refreshed, am I going to need to hire outside help… there are so many variables that I need to take into consideration. It’s OK to leave off your pricing when you have a product or service that isn’t repeatable.
When It’s Murky
It’s not always cut-and-dry. I was recently talking to someone who makes custom furniture, and each piece he makes has a different price depending on how much work goes into it. He has past projects that he made and sold, he has inventory ready to sell, and he takes custom requests. Here’s what I recommend for his website:
- Post examples of past products with the price – this gives people an idea of the price range.
- Post current inventory with the price. Ability to purchase online optional (he may not have enough inventory to justify supporting an online store).
- Include a Shipping & Delivery section that explains how each works and the potential costs involved.
- Include a Custom Order Form where someone can enter their contact information and give him an idea of what they want. He’ll have to follow-up to get more details., which is acceptable in a case like this.
In this example, all of his bases are covered. When someone visits his website, they’ll understand the price range so there won’t be any surprises later on. When they contact him, they’ll already have enough information to know if an item is in their budget.
Don’t Forget Shipping
This only applies to businesses selling physical products online.
One of the biggest problems I have with shopping online (and there’s tons of studies to back me up) is when I want to buy a product but I can’t find out what the shipping cost is. Often times, the only way to find out is to go through the process of “buying” the item. When this happens, the online store considers this an abandoned shopping cart, but the reality is I was gathering information at the time and wasn’t ready to purchase the item.
Shipping matters. A lot. People don’t like to pay for shipping. They will literally pay more for the product if shipping is free, even if the final price is the same or even less! There’s a lot of psychology around it, but basically, when we shop in a store, we aren’t charged a “shipping” fee, even though the cost of getting the product into to the store is rolled into the price and it costs money to put gas in your car and get there. We don’t associate the cost of traveling to the store with actually shopping. When we want to buy the same exact thing online, paying for shipping feels like an extra fee.
I’m not suggesting you have to offer free shipping (although if at all possible, I highly suggest it), but make sure your shipping fees and policies are clearly explained before someone goes through the checkout process. This type of transparency also builds trust with your audience because you are forthright with information that they need.
If you don’t know if you should include pricing or if your competitors are, I created a free worksheet to help you analyze three competitor’s websites in the areas of the home page, design, navigation, and services or products. It’s important to take stock of what others are doing in your field and make sure you are meeting industry standards on your website – and to see how you can do better than them!