The Ultimate Guide To SaaS Pricing Models

January 20, 2024
saas pricing models

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If you plan to start a SaaS business or have already started one, you require a robust and scalable SaaS pricing model. 

It’s important because a well-crafted SaaS pricing model determines your revenue and influences customer perception. 

This article will teach you to adopt the best SaaS pricing model for your software product. 

The right software pricing strategy should align with your value proposition, meet customer expectations, and contribute to long-term customer retention.

What are SaaS Pricing Models?

Software as a Service pricing models refer to the strategies providers employ to determine the cost of their cloud-based software solutions. 

The most commonly used SaaS pricing models are:

  • Flat-Rate Pricing: Charges a fixed, flat-rate fee regardless of the number of users or usage, simplifying the pricing structure for customers.
  • Tiered Pricing: Different packages at varying price points, offering diverse features. 
  • Usage-Based Pricing: Charges are based on the extent of usage or consumption of the service. 
  • Free Trial/ Freemium: Provides a free version or trial period for users to experience the product. 
  • Custom Enterprise Plans: Tailored pricing options for larger organizations with unique needs. 
  • Annual vs. Monthly Billing: Offers flexibility with options for yearly or monthly payment structures.

Also See: How to Pick A B2B SaaS Marketing Agency

Different Saas Pricing Models Explained With Pros and Cons

SaaS Pricing ModelDescriptionProsCons
Subscription-Based PricingUsers pay a regular fee for accessPredictable revenue, steady cash flowPotential resistance to commitment
Usage-Based PricingCharges based on actual usageCost-effective for varying usage levelsDifficult to predict revenue, potential for high costs
Freemium ModelBasic version is free, premium version at a costAttracts a large user base, upsell opportunitiesConversion challenges, revenue dependence on upgrades
Tiered PricingDifferent tiers with varying featuresAppeals to different customer segmentsComplexity in managing multiple tiers
Per-User PricingPricing based on the number of usersScalability, clear cost structureCan be expensive for large teams
Dynamic or Real-Time PricingAdjusts pricing dynamically based on various factorsOptimal pricing for demand and market conditionsRequires sophisticated pricing algorithms, potential complexity
Seat-Licensing ModelPricing based on the number of seats or usersClear scalability, straightforward pricingLimited flexibility for varied user needs
Bundled PricingOffers a bundle of products or services for a single priceSimplifies purchasing decisions, potential cost savingsLimited customization for specific needs
Per-Feature PricingCharges based on specific features usedOffers flexibility, users pay for what they needCan lead to a fragmented user experience
Contract-Based PricingPricing based on contractual agreementsEstablishes long-term relationships, potential for discountsRigidity in changing terms, may limit adaptability
Geographic PricingPricing varies based on geographical locationReflects regional market conditionsPotential for perceived unfairness, complex to manage
Customer-Based PricingTailored pricing for different customer segmentsAddresses diverse customer needsManagement complexity, potential for confusion
Penetration PricingInitially setting low prices to gain market shareAttracts price-sensitive customers, market entry strategyMay not be sustainable, potential profitability challenges
Dynamic DiscountingOffers dynamic discounts based on various factorsEncourages quick decisions, flexibilityMay reduce perceived product value, potential revenue loss
Partner or Reseller PricingPricing involves partnerships or resellersExtended market reach, leveraging partnersDependence on partner performance, revenue sharing

Also See: Influencer Marketing For SaaS Companies: The Complete Guide

How To Price Your SaaS Product?

Customer SegmentationIdentify different SaaS buyers based on their needs, usage patterns, and willingness to pay.
Value-Based PricingSet prices based on the perceived value of your product to customers rather than just production costs.
Competitor AnalysisAnalyze the pricing strategies of competitors to position your product competitively in the market.
Cost StructureConsider development, hosting, support, and marketing costs to ensure your pricing covers all expenses.
Free Trial/ Freemium ModelDecide whether to offer a free trial or a freemium model to attract users and convert them into customers.
Subscription ModelsChoose between monthly, annual, or tiered subscription models based on customer preferences and needs.
Feature TieringCreate different pricing tiers based on the features offered, allowing users to choose the level they need.
Discounts and PromotionsPlan for introductory discounts, annual discounts, or promotions to encourage sign-ups and customer loyalty.
ScalabilityConsider scalability for customers as their usage of the SaaS product grows. Adjust pricing accordingly.
Feedback and IterationGather customer feedback on pricing and be willing to iterate based on market changes and user preferences.
Customer SupportFactor in the level of customer support provided and how it impacts the overall perceived value of the product.
Exit StrategyPlan for adjustments in pricing if market conditions or your business strategy change over time.

Also See: SaaS Marketing Agency Pricing (How Much Do SaaS Agencies Charge?)

Saas Pricing Hacks Based on Psychology

Psychological Pricing HackDescription
Charm PricingSet prices just below a round number (e.g., $9.99 instead of $10.00) to make them appear more appealing.
AnchoringIntroduce a higher-priced option first (anchor) to make other options seem more reasonable in comparison.
Tiered PricingPresent multiple pricing tiers to provide a sense of choice and cater to different customer preferences.
Decoy PricingIntroduce a slightly less attractive option (decoy) to make the main offering seem like a better value.
Limited-Time OffersCreate a sense of urgency and encourage quick decision-making by offering discounts or promotions for a limited time.
BundlingBundle products or features together to create a perception of added value compared to purchasing items individually.
Pricing TransparencyBe transparent about your pricing to build trust with customers. Hidden fees can lead to negative perceptions.
ScarcityHighlight limited availability or a limited number of licenses to trigger a fear of missing out (FOMO).
Social ProofShowcase customer testimonials, reviews, or the number of users to build trust and demonstrate the product’s value.
Trial PeriodsOffer free trials to allow users to experience the value of your SaaS product before committing to a subscription.
Pricing Psychology MetricsUse specific pricing psychology metrics such as the number 9 (e.g., $19.99) or 7 (e.g., $27) for added psychological impact.
GamificationIntroduce elements of gamification in your pricing structure, such as rewarding loyalty or offering badges for different subscription levels.
Perceived CustomizationAllow customers to customize their plans, creating a perception that they are paying only for what they need.
Emphasize SavingsHighlight the savings customers receive compared to purchasing individual features or opting for a longer subscription.
Risk ReversalOffer a money-back guarantee or a satisfaction guarantee to reduce perceived risk and encourage sign-ups.

Also See: How to Define Your SaaS ICP

Examples of SaaS Pricing Used By Brands

Subscription-Based Pricing: Salesforce

Pricing strategy used: Salesforce utilizes a subscription-based pricing strategy where users pay a recurring fee per user per month.

Why did Salesforce use a subscription-based pricing strategy? This strategy aligns with the ongoing value that Salesforce provides in terms of customer relationship management (CRM) services. Subscription pricing ensures a predictable revenue stream and encourages long-term customer relationships.

What are the advantages of a subscription-based SaaS pricing strategy?

  • Predictable Revenue: Subscription-based models provide a steady and predictable stream of revenue, aiding in financial planning.
  • Customer Loyalty: Monthly subscriptions encourage customer loyalty as users commit to the service over an extended period.
  • Scalability: Easier scalability for users as they can adjust the number of subscriptions based on their evolving needs.

Freemium Model: Slack

Pricing strategy used: Slack operates on a freemium pricing model, offering a basic version for free with the option to upgrade to premium plans.

Why did Slack use a freemium pricing strategy? Freemium attracts a large user base, serving as a powerful marketing tool. Users can experience the product before committing to a paid plan, driving adoption.

What are the advantages of a freemium SaaS pricing strategy?

  • User Acquisition: Attracts a broad user base with a free offering, increasing brand visibility.
  • Product Showcase: Allows users to experience core functionalities, encouraging them to upgrade to advanced features. 
  • Virality: Users within organizations often share the platform, leading to organic growth.

Tiered Pricing: HubSpot

Pricing strategy used: HubSpot offers tiered pricing with plans like Free, Starter, Professional, and Enterprise, each providing different features.

Why did Hubspot use a tiered pricing strategy? Catering to businesses of varying sizes and needs, tiered pricing allows users to choose a plan that aligns with their specific requirements.

What are the advantages of a tiered pricing strategy?

  • Customization: Users can select a plan based on their current needs, providing flexibility.
  • Upselling Opportunities: Gradual feature increments in higher tiers create upselling opportunities.
  • Targeted Offerings: Differentiated plans target specific customer segments, improving market coverage.

Per-User Pricing: Atlassian (Jira and Confluence)

Pricing strategy used: Atlassian uses per-user pricing, charging customers based on the number of users accessing their collaboration and project management tools.

Why did Atlassian use a per-user pricing strategy? This aligns with the collaborative nature of their products, ensuring that pricing scales with the number of users within an organization.

What are the advantages of a per-user SaaS pricing strategy?

  • Scalability: Pricing adjusts to the size of the organization, providing a flexible and scalable model.
  • Fairness: Users pay based on actual usage, ensuring fairness and transparency.
  • Targeted Offering: Different plans cater to teams of various sizes, addressing different market segments.

Bundled Pricing: Microsoft 365

Pricing strategy used: Microsoft 365 offers bundled pricing, combining a suite of productivity tools like Word, Excel, and Teams into a single package.

Why did Microsoft 365 use a bundled pricing strategy? Bundled pricing encourages users to adopt the entire suite of Microsoft’s applications, providing a comprehensive solution.

What are the advantages of a bundled SaaS pricing strategy?

  • Comprehensive Solution: Users get access to a range of tools in one package, enhancing user experience.
  • Cost Savings: Typically, bundled pricing offers cost savings compared to purchasing individual tools separately.
  • Unified User Experience: Users benefit from a seamless and integrated experience across various applications.

Contract-Based Pricing: Adobe Creative Cloud

Pricing strategy used: Adobe Creative Cloud operates on a subscription-based model with contract-based pricing. Customers commit to annual plans, choosing between Single App or All Apps plans.

Why did Adobe use a contract pricing strategy? Contracts provide a commitment from customers, ensuring a stable revenue stream for Adobe.

What are the advantages of a contract-based SaaS marketing strategy?

  • Revenue Stability: Contracts ensure a predictable and stable revenue flow for the business.
  • Customer Commitment: Annual commitments demonstrate customer commitment to the Adobe Creative Cloud suite.
  • Access to Full Suite: Users opting for All Apps plans gain access to the complete Adobe software suite.

Customer-Based Pricing: Shopify

Pricing strategy used: Shopify employs customer-based pricing, offering different plans tailored to the needs of businesses of varying sizes.

Why did Shopify use a customer-based pricing strategy? Different plans cater to the unique requirements of small businesses, mid-sized enterprises, and larger corporations.

What are the advantages of a customer-based SaaS marketing strategy?

  • Customization: Plans can be tailored to the specific needs and budgets of different customer segments.
  • Targeted Offerings: Different plans address the diverse requirements of businesses at various stages.
  • Scalability: Users can upgrade to more feature-rich plans as their business grows.

SaaS Pricing Implementation Tips

Here are some of the best SaaS pricing implementation tips: 

  • Understand Customer Value: Conduct thorough market research to understand the value your SaaS product brings to customers. Identify key features and benefits that resonate with your target audience.
  • Pilot Pricing Models: Before a full launch, consider piloting different pricing models with a subset of users. Gather feedback to understand how users respond and refine your pricing accordingly.
  • Freemium Model Consideration: Evaluate whether a freemium model aligns with your product and market. Offering a free version can attract users, serve as a marketing tool, and potentially lead to conversions.
  • Collect Customer Feedback: Establish a feedback loop with customers to understand their perceptions of value and pricing. Regularly collect and analyze customer feedback to make informed adjustments.
  • Optimize Trial Periods: Optimize the duration and terms of your free trial period. Ensure it is long enough for users to experience the product but not so lengthy that it delays conversions.
  • Scalability Planning: Consider how your pricing model scales with customer growth. Ensure that it accommodates both small businesses and enterprises, providing room for expansion without causing significant price increases.
  • Discount Strategies: Implement discount strategies for annual plans or long-term commitments to incentivize users to opt for higher-value plans. Clearly communicate the cost savings associated with such commitments.
  • Data-Driven Decisions: Leverage analytics and data to make informed pricing decisions. Monitor user behavior, conversion rates, and churn to continuously refine your pricing strategy.
  • Dynamic Pricing Experiments: Consider experimenting with dynamic pricing based on user behavior, market demand, or other relevant factors. Test different pricing structures to identify the most effective approach.

Also See: Top SaaS VCs | Venture Capital Investors in SaaS


What factors should I consider when choosing a SaaS pricing model for my business?

You should take into account factors such as your target audience, competitive landscape, features offered, and the perceived value of your product to users.

How can I determine the optimal price point for my SaaS product?

Conduct market research, analyze competitor pricing, gather customer feedback, and perform pricing experiments to find the price point that balances value and affordability.

Is it better to start with a freemium model or a paid model?

The choice depends on your software product, target buyers, and business goals. Freemium can attract users, while a paid model can generate revenue upfront. Consider your product’s value proposition.

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