Besides delivering an excellent product that serves a genuine market need, few things are as important to the success of a SaaS product as its price landing page. This critical piece of communication is usually the most-visited page on the application’s website, and it’s often the last point of contact with the prospect before they purchase—or leave.
With so much riding on this one page, a smart SaaS marketer is wise to turn to brain science for insights into good pricing strategy and page design. Here are three ways understanding neuroscience can increase your SaaS conversions.
Align with the Buyer’s Story
Brain scans reveal that the act of talking about oneself lights up the pleasure centers of the brain—a very useful phenomenon for designers of price landing pages to exploit. While we can’t literally let the buyer do the talking on the landing page (though that would be an interesting experiment), we can create a similar experience for them by talking to them about them.
To accomplish this, start by listening when your target customers talk about their problems. What questions do they ask? What matters to them in a solution? What’s stopping them from making a decision?
Take the time to build buyer personas and map the buyer’s journey. Then use what you know to build a landing page that contains all the elements of a great conversation:
- Start with what’s at stake for the buyer, as Jake Sorofman puts it. Focus on their story, not yours.
- Make them feel important. Focus on how your offering will help them boost their own impact and accomplish what matters to them.
- Demonstrate your similarity. Show how you are like them, and how your product solves their problem.
- Be supportive and constructive. Offer strategically streamlined solutions that make it simple for them to follow through.
Engage System 1 Thinking
I recently worked with a client who wanted to use their desktop product’s pricing model for their new SaaS, so we took a look to see how it could be adapted. Their existing model consisted of a three-page worksheet filled with questions for prospects to answer with the assistance of a salesperson. It was a deep dive into the details of how the client would use the product, with the goal of arriving at a finely tuned price that gave them precisely the features and capabilities they needed, nothing more and nothing less.
This detailed, precise approach to pricing might be useful for enterprise engagements with thousands of moving pieces, but for a SaaS landing page it’s self-defeating. Why? Because, as neuro-scientific research teaches us, the brain is a fundamentally lazy organ.
Daniel Kahneman, Nobel-prize-winning author of the best-selling book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, explains that the brain operates by dividing thinking into two systems: System 1 and System 2.
System 1 is fast, automatic, and largely unconscious. It’s the engine behind habits and insignificant decisions such as which hand you use to reach for a cup of coffee. It filters out noise and simplifies each action to its basics, enabling thousands of unconscious decisions to be made instantaneously. It is, despite our illusion of constant conscious thought, our brain’s preferred method of operating.
System 2, in contrast, is slow, effortful, calculating, and conscious. It consumes valuable energy resources. Anything that requires the engagement of System 2 had better be important to justify the effort. To SaaS developers and owners, a new product is definitely important enough for this effort. During development, we engage massive amounts of System 2 thinking to create a product that serves a genuine need in the market.
It’s an understandable mistake to design complicated pricing models that reflect the amount of thought we’ve put into them, but it’s the wrong approach. When System 2 is engaged, the body has an interesting reaction. Muscles tense, blood pressure rises, and heart rate increases. If that sounds familiar, it’s because those are the same physical symptoms that are engaged in the fight or flight response. You do not want your buyers engaging fight or flight responses when they visit your pricing page.
Instead, engage your System 2 thinking to develop a simple model that engages the buyer’s System 1 thinking. Here’s how:
- Aggressively group features into packages to simplify choices. In nearly all cases, offer no more than 5 options, and 3 is even better in many cases.
- Align packages with the right value metrics to optimize revenue growth.
- Present options in a pleasing graphic interface that’s easy on the eyes and calls attention to the most important elements.
- Keep the entire page clean and clear of clutter. Remove navigation panels, calls to action, footers, and any other information that might distract the brain from the carefully chosen pricing options.
Let’s do a little experiment. Below are two sets of questions. Without reading on, choose whether you will complete the first set or the second set, then scroll to your chosen set without reading the other. Better yet, share with a colleague and ask them to read the opposite set. Note your answer.
- True or false: Gandhi was more than 114 years old when he died.
- How old do you think Gandhi was when he died?
- True or false: Gandhi was more than 35 years old when he died.
- How old do you think Gandhi was when he died?
We predict that if you answered Set One and your colleague answered Set Two, then you guessed a significantly higher age than your colleague. When researchers asked similar questions of two sets of volunteers, they discovered exactly that: those who answered questions with a higher number in the framing question gave a much higher average age than those who answered questions with a lower number.
This is an example of the phenomenon called “anchoring,” which refers to the brain’s tendency to anchor expectations around context, rather than around an absolute sense of value. For retailers, this means that including the original price tag on a discounted item increases sales, because buyers anchor their price expectation on the higher number, and feel that they’re getting a “deal” on the discounted price. For SaaS sellers, it means you want to provide at least one price option above the “ideal” that you want buyers to select.
Anchoring also goes the other way. When presented with multiple options, the brain “hedges bets” by choosing something in the middle rather than at either extreme. Nobody wants to go cheap, so providing a low-cost version increases conversions on mid-range options.
Bonus Take-Away: Iterate
As every great general knows, planning may be crucial to success, but no plan survives contact with the enemy (or with the marketplace). What you learn after you deploy a landing page is every bit as important as your planning process. Create a system for split testing landing pages and pricing models, and iterating them against results. Listen to your market and adapt to continually increase your conversions and profit margins.
Heather Head—Chief Content Officer—Scopcity