Understanding Product Feature Gating

By 3rd November 2015 January 14th, 2016 iControlWP: Manage WordPress Better

“Feature Gating” is a sales tactic that blocks access to the services and features we each need that make us unique service providers.

We get this, and we strive here at iControlWP to offer our services in a fair and equitable way. We don’t want to lock you out of the features you need by forcing “business” features into higher pricing tiers.

If we do that, you’ll resent paying higher prices just to avail of a service that comes with bells and whistles you just don’t need.

The practice by service providers to include certain features only in higher pricing tiers is called ‘feature gating‘, and we hate it.

A simple example of feature gating

We use MandrillApp as our 1st (and only) choice for “transactional emails” in our App.

Why? For several reasons, but primarily their reputation (since they’re the same crowd as that behind Mailchimp) and their pricing strategy. An alternative is Sendgrid.

MandrillApp basically say this:

“Send X number of emails and we’ll charge you a factor of X.  Oh, and if you want other perks, such as your own dedicated IP address, just pay us $25 extra (regardless of how many emails you send).”

Sendgrid says:

“Send X number of emails and depending upon which tier it falls, we’ll charge you a certain amount. If you want to use the API, you must pay us for at least 40,000 emails. Or if you want DKIM, again, pay us more. What about a dedicated IP? Well then you need to pay to send at least 100,000 emails per month.”

But what if you only send 5000 emails, and having your own dedicated IP address is a real business need? Tough luck buddy.

API? No, you have to pay to send at least 40,000 emails. With MandrillApp, you get the API as standard

But don’t get me wrong, I’m not debating the “value” of MandrillApp vs Sendgrid.  If MandrillApp charged extra to send emails using the API as they do for dedicated IP addresses, we would pay it.  Why?  Because our business needs it.

You see, when a service employs feature gating, the sole purpose is to squeeze out more money from your pocket. You have zero flexibility.
Our App doesn’t send 40,000 emails in a month so we don’t want to pay an email service provider for 40,000 emails… we just need to pay for the API option.

This is a simple example, but it illustrates our point: we hate feature gating.

iControlWP’s approach to pricing that avoids feature gating

The simple truth is this – if you want more features, you need to pay for them. Feature gating just forces you to pay more than you really should just to gain access to a feature you need.

Our pricing is split into several tiers… the more you’re prepared to pay up-front in your subscription, the more features (and value) you will get. But we know that everyone is different – smaller businesses simply don’t have the same needs as the bigger players.

So what choice do we offer the smaller organisations? Well you can still subscribe to the cheaper tiers… this will afford you the standard WordPress management service. But, if you need an add-on that is included within the price of higher tiers, that’s no problem.  We make all our add-ons available for purchase from any pricing tier.

This means you can use our Starter package and still subscribe to Client Reporting (for an extra fee), you will not be locked into paying for the higher tiers.  That has been our promise from the outset – we want to make all our services and add-ons available to everyone.

So, when you’re reviewing our pricing, don’t worry that certain features aren’t included in your initial budget – you can add them whenever you want!

If you have any questions about our services and our pricing, please get in touch… we’re happy to help!

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