Perceived Value on the Web

One of the major aspects of any marketing campaign is to manage perceived value. Perceived value is simply the amount of money that one is willing to pay for a product or service (note: Not necessarily that you charge for a product, but the amount one would be willing to pay).

Now I have talked with people who are under the impression that you want to maximize perceived value at all time, after all you are looking to make as much as possible per sale right? This is not always the case, in fact trying to maximize perceived value can scare off potential customers/clients if you go overboard.

The real trick here is to find your current perceived value, look at a potential perceived value and shoot directly for that realistic goal. If you shoot too high, you run the risk of looking “too expensive” for anyone looking for said product/service.

For example if you were to look for “blogging t-shirts” and came across three sites selling them:

  • The first one was cafe press, you wouldn’t expect to pay more than $15 for a shirt here
  • The second one is a well designed site with an integrated ordering system, but no flash/frills
  • The third one is a fully flash site, including interactive movies detailing the thread count, imported fabrics, and superior printing processes of the shirts

Sure the third site is going to describe a product that “should” have a much higher perceived value, but even if it is the same product many people would be likely to simply dismiss the site with the thought “Wow I don’t need a shirt this fancy, a normal one will do.”

Not reaching a certain level of expectation in presentation/quality of a site can have the opposite effect.

If you are asking for $50 a month for your web application, yet it looks like it was designed in front page it is going to immediately turn the user off. Would you buy a car that looked like bottom of the line Honda while paying for the cost of a Ferrari? Not many people would, even if it functioned the same.

What you can do

In many instances you can alter your perceived value through a website, that is to say that the user coming to your site expects to pay a given sum for your product/service yet when they leave they think “Wow, I would pay a little more for that.” The trick is to design and develop the site to just exceed the average cost of the service. Keep the presentation a little more classy, clean, and well planned. Make sure the navigation is usable, and spend the extra time/money to throw in a few more features such as a demonstration video, interactive tools, etc.