I am creating a very high end B2B SaaS, subscription based, online product. The person doing my information architecture and I have very differing views on the subject of when pricing tiers should be introduced. Before you answer or fully form your opinion, please consider the following:
-There will be a FREE version with limited features that will still be highly useful and valubable to many of the subscribers which they can use for an infinite period of time without giving my company any payment information whatsoever.
-Everyone will get a trial period of an undecided period of time (30-90 days) where they get to enjoy all of the features for FREE before being downgraded to the base FREE level. If they decide they do not even want to continue with the FREE services and think there is a better solution they would prefer to use, they can easily export all the data they have, so there is no risk involved whatsoever. Everyone starts off with this type of account. I will not be selling anything when they sign up or taking any payment information until a certain point just before their free trial expires.
-The service is extremely unique but contains a feature set that solves many of the challenges my market experiencs but in way that has never been done before by leveraging technology. (I wish I could be more specific, but I think and hope many of you can understand why I cannot on here at this point.)
-Considering the uniqueness of the solution, there really is not a way to adequately describe it well, without being people trying to draw their own conclusion as to exactly what they it is, what it does and how much easier it will make their job. The only real way for people with-in my market to fully grasp the power of it is to use it...hence the free, truly no risk offer.
The dilema and point of disagreement is whether we list pricing grid, tiers and feature sets before the user even signs up for the free account and uses it or is it acceptable to make it available to them immediately upon being welcomed as a new Free Member once they have signed up?
FYI, they will be told before signing up, as a free member, that full access to functionality is for a limited time after which they will need to upgrade their account in order to continue enjoying all of the features. That part would NOT be just sprung upon them.
I am arguing that it is best to wait until the user accepts the free acount with full functionality to introduce pricing options. My fear is that if a potential user just sees a high price without throughly understanding what they are getting they may never find out and just leave. They really need to try it to understand and fully appreciate it. A grid chart with feature sets (and/or video) with price points just cannot do it justice.
I equate it to a satellite radio subscriptions. When I bought my car, it was there as a free offer...I did not even have to sign up for the 90 day trial. It was very clear the trial was only for 90 days and then I would have to pay something to retain it. I did not know the price until after I was already enjoying it and became a subscriber. Absent having that experience first, I may have thought I did not need it and a radio or i-pod would be just fine. Only by experiencing it did I realize how enjoyable it was and that it really was something I wanted. I would have written it off prior to that and not even given it a chance without the free offer.
My Information Architect/User Experience professional argues that he would just leave if he did not know the "end game" before he became a Free Member. He has provided me with countless examples of other businesses who do have specific pricing information clearly available before people sign up, even a free account.
I contend that those products are easier to understand because they are not the first one of their kind and/or they are not as involved of an offering.
Please weigh in on this debate. I would really appreciate your input.
Thank you, in advance.