Marketing Sherpa is my favorite site for catching up on the latest case studies on user behavior online; followed by another excellent publication called Alertbox. Marketing Sherpa’s latest article does us all a service by illustrating how important it can be to have more transparent pricing for prospects visiting your website.

First ask yourself the question that Marketing Sherpa asked its respondents:

“Can you recall a technology/business purchase where a vendor got the sale (or the inside track) because they were more open than other vendors?”

The response (see the larger image):

A chart showing results from a Marketing Sherpa case study on open pricing models
From personal experience I can say that I am most certainly a part of the demographic negatively affected by sites that give no indication of pricing. Of course, as is carefully noted in the Marketing Sherpa article there are cases where accurate pricing is impossible or unlikely; where accurate service/product pricing requires customization based on interviews with the buyers. StepForth’s SEO services are a good example of an exception since our services are heavily customized; however, even we decided to give some indication of the starting costs for any service we offer. I expect that is the least any business should do online. I know that seeing a starting cost (“Starting at $xxx”) appeases my curiosity in most cases when I am shopping; at least I know if I should even look into the service further.

In the Marketing Sherpa article they provide a real life anecdote of a company shopping for print quotations. As it turned out the buyer ran into way too many inadequate sites but what won them over was a site that had a JavaScript service calculator that allowed them to estimate the cost which turned out to be only 5% different than the final ‘real’ quote provided by the business. Nice work, in fact I was curious enough to look into JavaScript and DHTML calculators myself to see how StepForth might incorporate one in the future.

What do you think? How do you feel about websites that require you contact them any indication of pricing?

by Ross Dunn, CEO, StepForth Web Marketing Inc.