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October 11, 2022
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Did you know that you could maximise your sales even further by simply changing the way you advertise prices? Here’s how A/B testing your pricing display can make or break a sale.
A/B testing is a tool used by many marketing strategists that’s commonly used to test how an audience reacts to two variable pieces of content. It can be applied to a number of things including paid ads, landing pages, even permanent pages on your website. The idea is quite simple – you want to find out which variation converts more leads into sales.
For example, a car dealership may be having a sale on a certain make and model of car. So, they’ll produce two similar Google ads with a subtle difference, and see which one works best. One might offer a $2,000 cashback, while the other offers $2,000 worth of accessories. The idea here is to find out which offer is more appealing to customers.
A/B testing can drill down even further, of course, and even assess the effectiveness of certain wording in a Google ad. Advertisement #1 may start with ‘Huge Sale…’ while advertisement #2 may start with ‘$2,000 off…’. The dealership can then test what type of wording their customers respond to best.
Today, we’re specifically talking about A/B testing for pricing. Now, there are numerous places you might list product pricing. In-store, in brochures, in marketing emails, paid ads, landing pages and on your website. The way you advertise the price of something can have a profound effect on the customer’s decision to purchase or enquire further.
As humans, we have a very complex psychological makeup, and that certainly applies to the way we see numbers. In many cases, if a customer has a perception of receiving value, that’s more important than the actual value itself.
So, testing the way your audience responds to pricing is crucial when it comes to maximising your advertising spend. Whether it’s designing and printing a brochure or paying for a social media advertising campaign, it all costs money. You want the best return possible for your investment, and testing allows you to do that. No marketing campaign should be set in place and never adjusted. Great marketing evolves as more data becomes available, so that you constantly increase your ROI.
If you could make more sales simply by changing the way you advertise your pricing, wouldn’t you want to do that?
There are a few counter-arguments to the practice of A/B testing for pricing. In the instance where two customers are shown ads with different pricing, one of them is going to be annoyed if they find out they could have gotten a better deal. The concern here, of course, is alienating your customers. This is certainly true, however this only occurs if you actually offer different prices during your A/B testing. We’re merely suggesting you test the way your pricing is displayed.
There is also a concern that it’s hard to get a big enough sample size, however this really only comes own to how long you’re willing to test for, and how much you want to invest. A longer testing phase will deliver a larger sample size from which to draw your data.
So, if you agree that price is everything and you want to test out some different methods on your audience, how do you go about it? Here are a few of the different things you can test. Bear in mind, we’ll give some recommendations here for what works best, but every business and audience is different. So, just because one target audience likes to see pricing advertised a certain way, that doesn’t mean it applies to everyone.
Firstly, you can perform a pretty simple test by removing the additional zeros in your pricing. For example, if an item costs $20, you can do half your ads displaying $20.00, and the other half displaying $20 (with no added zeros).
There have been some results to suggest that removing the zeros results in better ad performance, simply because the number looks smaller. On mobile, this is particularly true, because the price already looks larger, so removing some zeros give the perception of a ‘smaller’ price.
If you find that removing the zeros has a good effect on pricing, when might you want to add those zeros back in? If you’re advertising a certain dollar value discount, it can be worth testing your ads with or without the zeros. Because in the same way that people perceive they’re getting a better deal if the price looks smaller, they can also perceive they’re getting a larger discount if the number looks bigger.
Along much the same lines of testing how the physical size of the number affects prospective customers, you can try this out by removing commas in more expensive items. For example, the correct way to write a price for an item is $1,500.00. Even if you’re leaving those zeros in at the end, try taking away the comma so that it reads $1500.
Psychologically, the comma highlights the fact that the product or service costs over a thousand dollars. To most people, that’s a benchmark figure where they will seriously reassess the purchase. So, while the price remains the same, it looks smaller and doesn’t focus on the ‘thousand dollar’ factor.
Another way to test your price advertising is to remove the currency symbol altogether. Partly, this works in the same way the previous suggestions do. It makes the figure appear smaller. But removing the currency symbol has the added effect of removing a sense of paying for something. It may sound strange, but it has been referred to as ‘the pain of paying’, and removing the currency symbol takes some of that pain away. You might have noticed that expensive restaurants usually won’t include a currency symbol, and some even drop a zero from the end, so that a meal appears on the menu as 40.5, rather than $40.50.
It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book, and you’d that we as humans are immune to it by now, but apparently, we’re not. One of the most effective ways to encourage sales is to play with the way you use round numbers – for example, $99.99 somehow seems a lot cheaper than $100.00. But there are some different tests to apply depending on the type of purchase.
For emotional, impulse purchases, the use of round numbers can sometimes be more effective. This is because the customer sees something they want, and they just need to justify the price to themselves. A round number is easier for the brain to process, and therefore easier to rationalise.
For rational purchases, however, the opposite can be true. When people buy everyday items, they want to get the best value possible. This is where using unrounded numbers can help. For example, when you fill up the car at the service station, do you ever see the price per litre advertised as $1.70? Nope, it’s always 169.9c. The price is practically the same, but people can rationalise 169.9c easier than they can $1.70.
Along the same lines of using unrounded numbers, you might be surprised to know that some odd numbers seem to perform better than others. This is because we often look at the far-right digit of a price before anything else. 9 is the most common, and can actually perform better than other lower numbers. In fact, our brains are so trained to see the number 9 at the end of a price and think we’re getting a better deal, that we might be more inclined to pay $19.99 for something than we would, say, $19.93.
The other favourable number here is 7, and to be honest, we can’t even work out why. It just seems to perform well. Perhaps it’s because many of us do see a price ending in ‘99’ as a bit of a marketing ploy, so dropping it back by a further 2c to ‘97’ makes us feel like we’re getting a better deal.
In conclusion, the A/B testing ideas above are helpful in determining the way you advertise and display your pricing. It doesn’t necessarily change the price (at least not significantly), but it changes consumer perception of the price. And as we know, perception can be everything! Just remember to account for the plasticity of demand —higher priced items may not sell as frequently. On the other hand, fast-selling, low-price items may not generate enough revenue.
Starting an online store? Check out our blogs on Which E-commerce Platform to Use and our Tips on Ecommerce Website Design. Or, simply hire a professional marketer with Cemoh to get your online store up and running, hassle-free.
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