What should I do if I don’t want to list my prices on my website?

Well what if I don’t?

It’s understandable.

This topic comes up whenever I set up a company website.

With some service-related businesses, prices are shown for all to see. But with others, you want to be a little more strategic and deliberate.

There’s often some aversion at first to the to the idea of listing prices. While many people need some convincing, they’ll usually warm up to the idea after considering the facts. In this post, I’ll go over some things to consider.

Reasons for NOT wanting to list your prices.

When people are uncomfortable with the idea, it’s usually based on one of the following fears:

  • Your competitors will see what you charge – then undercut you
  • Your potential customers will be scared off before they even become a potential lead
  • You’ll break away from tradition – “It’s just not done in our industry” for example.

When we buy stuff, we always gravitate towards the easiest options. This means we want to research and make a decision on our own schedule. If we can find the price for a service we need on the internet, great.

When a company forces us to talk to a sales person first in order to get a price, ugh. We don’t like that. It’s just one more hurdle we have to jump over to go from interested party to paying customer. It often makes our purchase just a little more difficult.

This becomes even more true as the years go on. It seemed crazy that you could buy a car without hardly talking to anyone, but it’s now an option many people take. Having the ability to buy things like this affects what we expect and what we know is possible.

Think about how we become customers

When we are searching a purchase online, we like being able to:

  • read some information
  • ask a few questions
  • maybe read some reviews
  • leave… anytime we want

When buying, we don’t want to become a “sales lead” because of what that often means. It could mean unsolicited emails or sales calls, or getting signed up for yet another email newsletter. Everyone has experienced this, so we tend to put our guard up.

But the fact remains – If given two or more options, we favor companies that make things easy for us. We don’t like to jump through a lot of hoops just to get the price of something.

Getting on the customer’s short list

It’s all about making your company look like a contender in the buyer’s eye. They reach a point where they are almost ready to make contact. This could be by phone, email, or your website’s contact form.

During this comparison process, companies that have listed prices are more likely to be considered. The companies that don’t provide that info get brushed aside. Your website will most likely be open in a tab along with several other competitors, and price is a factor.

It depends on what the competition is doing. A company that hides pricing information can look like it has something to hide. Saying “Contact us first” can make other companies seem more honest than you.

What can happen if you don’t list your prices on your website

When you make customers ask you first, you are at the mercy of whatever fantasy number pops into their mind. If they think they can’t afford it, even if they are wrong, then they won’t stick around long enough to make contact and find out the truth.

You can also open the door to manipulation by your competitors. If you haven’t listed prices clearly, your competitors can get in the way. They can gossip about your prices in a way that that favors their own.

Often the the only way to stop this is to release your prices into the wild.

What if the cost of my services is “It depends?”

Sometimes the answer to – “How much does it cost?” is not a simple answer. Even my web design business has a lot of “It depends” when it comes to negotiating the price.

If it doesn’t make sense to show your exact prices, you can still do a few things without giving it all away.

At a minimum, you can help the customer’s decision by establishing a baseline figure. An example would be “packages start at X dollars” or something similar. Sample prices can at least keep you in the decision making process.

Professionals like wedding photographers often do this on their websites. They want to qualify leads before they come in, to make sure they don’t waste time with people who are not serious. They give a number to put themselves in a category, but hold back on giving a full list until they talk to the lead.

In these cases you can give a baseline price, or give a range of cost for a typical project. It help’s to frame the cost in the customer’s mind.

In most cases, something is almost always better than nothing.

So what is “Content Marketing“ and why is it important to SEO?

Content marketing is a term that you may have heard about recently, but what I have found is that a lot of my clients don’t fully understand the benefits of why they would want to expand the amount of content and pages on their website. Content marketing can really be a huge topic (mostly because of the sheer amount of things that can be considered “content”) but I will only be explaining the idea as it relates to adding pages to your website about your industry.

The more unique pages you have, the more opportunities you have to get traffic through the search engines. Therefore, expanding what is available on your site can be a good idea, as it will allow you to go after search engine traffic on an ever expanding list of keywords that are relevant to your subject matter. The trick is to make sure you don’t adversely affect the top tasks on your site by making anything harder to find or cluttering up the layout.

It’s not just about expanding for the sake of expanding, in that publishing crap content will do very little for you, and will potentially make good content harder to find and increase your bounce rate. You want your content to address your customer’s questions, give them valuable information and really just be there to solve their problems. At the worst case, a custom page about a certain subject will get a few more people finding your website. However if the content is really good, people will share it and blog about it which can exponentially grow your traffic.

Optimization is easier with more content

It is hard to go after a large segment of keywords when your website is tiny, or if your content is mostly centered on you talking about how great your company is. You can really only optimize a page for 2-3 keywords at a time effectively on given page. If your website only consists of a few pages; then your site has limited potential of what can be found by search engines.

Say your company has 5 different services you want to advertise. But you only have a “services” page that briefly lists everything you do on one single page. That means that all of the keywords relating to all your services are all fighting with each other for Google’s attention, which isn’t going to look as relevant to Google’s ranking algorithm as a page that is devoted solely to content about a particular service that you offer. Also, people don’t search for “services”; they search for the individual keywords pertaining to exactly what they are looking for.

Getting more specific won’t necessarily make your website more complex as long as you keep your content concise and to the point. People searching today have a lot of choice and will usually go with the provider that can give them the best answers to their questions. Search engines usually give results that are relevant to the terms people enter in the box. In order to be relevant, you have to be specific.

How do you write website copy that people actually read?

When I first was given the task of writing for the web, I went at it the same way as a lot of people. I thought that all I had to do was make web content that used the same big words as I read everywhere else. Words that made whatever the website was about sound important, well-to-do, and “corporationey”.

The world yawned…

That approach didn’t work then, and really nothing has changed.

I have assembled these tips to hopefully give you some insight on how to write engaging copy that gets people to do what you want them to. Good Luck.

Give your users something to do!

The ideal website will not only make you look professional and enhance your credibility, but will have a logical conversion path for people to take and perform the action you want them to. This could be filling out a contact form, signing up for a newsletter, or buying something. Every page on your site should have a call to action where people can complete the action that you want them to do and where you give them a reason to click on that link.

Be helpful, don’t just talk about yourself and how great you are

This is probably the most important thing to remember when writing your copy. While you want to explain what you do, resist all the urges to make you or your company sound big, important or "the best". This kind of copy makes people leave your website before doing anything. Readers are very good at distinguishing info that they need from "marketing" that they don’t.

Being helpful simply means giving answers to people’s questions, concerns and explaining complicated things to them in ways that save their time, make them bookmark your pages for later, and make them think that your site is worth sharing with a friend.

Do your keyword research

SEO is something of a complicated subject. A lot of people know they need it, but don’t really know what it is. Sort of like a vaccine. The fact is that while good on-page SEO is important in order to rank well, writing keywords into your copy needs to be taken into the grand scheme of what the page is meant to do, and what action the reader is meant to take after reading it.

Concentrating on creating really good content that people will likely link to out of merit is really the best traffic getting strategy you can have, which ultimately is what you are after with SEO.

Make it fun and interesting

If your audience are just normal folks like you, then they probably like to read the same stuff as you. With the growth of Facebook and social media, a lot of the rules of writing have gone out the window. Maintaining attention is priority number one. If you don’t particularly like reading dry textbook-like copy, your readers don’t really either.

In addition to just writing as if you were writing to one person, you can do things like add fun pictures to your posts or articles that break up large blocks of text and keep the mood light. Things like the meme generator can give your post original content and make it more fun to read. If you are going with stock photos, choose something interesting that relates to the topic. But as always, carefully consider what you want to accomplish with stock photos because if your information looks too much like marketing, they can also turn off your readers.

It boils down to what kind of voice you want your site to have – ideally it should fit within your own. Give people praise when thanking them for filling out a form, use figures of speech they understand in your messages, and make your copy sound more "real".

Don’t use big words just to sound smart.

On a lot of business websites, you wonder if the person writing the copy had a thick six-sigma marketing textbook at their side while writing out the copy. There are so many terms in that kind of material that people NEVER use in normal speech, other than when they are trying to bullshit someone into thinking they are smart. Best-of-breed, utilize (just say use), expertise, all your (X) needs, are all things that you shouldn’t have in your copy.

Think about your customers as they are first introduced to your company and to your industry. They’re uneducated in that stuff. They don’t know all the jargon and words that you use in your daily operations, and you have to find out what words they do use. You never want to go above someones head because the moment they don’t understand anymore, they leave your site and hop onto a competitors.

Spell check – some people won’t notice, but it’s a big deal to others

Spelling and grammar still matter, but not to everyone. People who are bad at it probably won’t notice or care when you make a mistake. People who are good at it will think your are some kind of idiot. It’s best have someone read through your copy who knows grammar well, and can make edits in that department for you. It’s not worth it to lose an educated customer who respects spelling and grammar just for a tiny error. People can be petty.

Say what you need to say in as few words as possible. People like websites that care about their time

While this goes for all writing in general, it is especially true on the web where attention spans are slim and distractions are plenty. The best thing you can do is write a lot of content to explain things as you would say them, then edit down that content to get the main points across in as few words as possible. There is a bit of difference between a blog post which would be more conversational, and a services page where people just want to understand what you offer in as little time as possible.

In general people like websites that respect their time, don’t try to BS them with frilly or extraneous copy, and never try to pull a fast one on them.

The web is filled with a lot of junk, but don’t be afraid to write something good

If someone likes and shares a particular post, then it will be a source of traffic for your site for a long while. The time you put into coming up with great content for your own website is not lost. It either gets you closer to writing the good stuff, or you hit gold with something that really resonates with your audience.