What is a pricing matrix? Examples inside

Alvaro Morales

Determining prices for your SaaS product can be time-consuming and quite stressful. 

Instead of relying on guesswork for pricing, use a pricing matrix. This approach eliminates the need to constantly reassess your charges whenever you add new features or the market changes.

In this primer, we’ll analyze how a pricing matrix works and why you should consider it as a key lever for your monetization strategy.

We’ll go over:

  • What is a pricing matrix?
  • What are the main components of matrix pricing?
  • Some real-world examples of pricing matrices
  • Advantages of using a pricing strategy matrix
  • Pitfalls to avoid 
  • A step-by-step guide for developing an effective pricing matrix 

Let’s get started.

What is a pricing matrix?

A pricing matrix (or price matrix) is a framework that helps SaaS businesses find the right price for their software products. It's like a pricing roadmap, outlining different price points and what influences those prices. 

Here's what a SaaS pricing matrix often considers:

  • Usage levels: The extent to which a customer utilizes features or the amount of data they store. Higher usage often leads to a higher price tier.
  • Number of users: The number of individual accounts or licenses required for a team or organization. More users generally mean a higher price.
  • Type of customer: The size and industry of the customer. Small startups often have different pricing needs than large enterprises.
  • Contract length: The duration of the subscription agreement. Longer contracts may offer discounts or incentives.

The key advantage of using a pricing matrix is that it eliminates guesswork when setting prices. Instead of a single, unchanging price tag, you have a system for finding the best price based on different situations. 

It's different from both static pricing (one price for everyone, always) and dynamic pricing (prices that change constantly based on real-time market conditions). With a pricing matrix, you’re getting the best of both worlds: pricing is stable but has built-in flexibility.

A breakdown of the matrix pricing components 

A pricing matrix works like a puzzle where each piece plays a crucial role in defining your SaaS pricing. Here’s how the core components work together:

Base price: The foundation of your pricing

The base price is the starting point for your product or service. It's the cost before any adjustments are applied to create multiple price points within the matrix. Determining your base price requires careful consideration. You'll need to factor in:

  • Cost of goods sold (COGS): These are the direct costs associated with producing or delivering your SaaS solution. This could include expenses like software development, server hosting, and customer support.
  • Desired profit margin: Every business needs to make a profit to survive and grow. The desired profit margin reflects the amount of profit you want to earn on each sale. This consideration is vital for long-term business sustainability.
  • Market conditions: It's important to know what competitors in your niche are charging for similar SaaS offerings. This competitive analysis will help you establish an attractive base price for your target market while remaining profitable.

Adjustment criteria: The factors influencing your pricing

Adjustment criteria are the variables that cause the price to go up or down from that base price. Think of these as the levers you pull to customize pricing for different customer segments and situations. 

Here are some common adjustment criteria that can influence your pricing strategy:

  • Purchase volume: Larger purchases, like bulk subscriptions (think annual versus monthly billing), often qualify for significant discounts. This tiered pricing structure incentivizes customers to commit to larger upfront purchases.
  • Customer demographics: The size and type of customer can significantly impact pricing decisions. A small startup likely has a different budget than a large enterprise. A well-designed pricing matrix with tiers can address these different needs.
  • Buying frequency: Rewarding loyal customers is key to building a strong business. Consider offering discounts for repeat purchases or providing incentives for long-term subscription commitments.
  • Product or feature tiers: If you offer different versions of your software with varying levels of functionality (e.g., basic, premium, enterprise), this will naturally create a tiered pricing structure. Different feature sets cater to specific customer requirements, and the pricing should reflect the value proposition of each tier.

Price points: Where strategy meets numbers

Price points are the specific dollar amounts you'll charge within your pricing matrix. These are strategically set based on a combination of your base price and the adjustment criteria discussed earlier.  

For instance, a large enterprise customer making a high-volume purchase might qualify for the lowest price point in your matrix. Conversely, a new startup customer with a smaller purchase and a shorter subscription term would end up at a higher price point within the matrix.

These scenarios highlight how a pricing matrix allows for targeted pricing. A large enterprise customer making a high-volume, long-term commitment represents greater revenue potential and lower risk, often earning them favorable pricing. 

On the other hand, a new startup with a limited purchasing history and a smaller budget may initially pay more. However, it’s important to remember that pricing matrices offer flexibility — a promising startup might still secure a good deal based on its potential for growth.

Real-world examples of matrix pricing

Now, let’s dive into how different industries can use pricing matrices to their advantage. Here are three real-world examples:

The retail industry

Think of your favorite grocery store or online retailer. Chances are, they use a pricing matrix. Consider the "buy two, get one free" deals or discounts for buying larger quantities. 

This is a classic volume-based pricing adjustment. Plus, many stores have loyalty programs. Members who spend a certain amount or make frequent purchases might unlock special pricing tiers or exclusive discounts. This incentivizes repeat business and rewards loyal customers.

B2B services

When it comes to B2B services, pricing matrices often reflect service levels and commitments. 

For instance, a marketing agency might charge a monthly retainer fee with pricing tiers based on the scope of work, hours included, or the speed of deliverables. Longer contracts can sometimes lead to discounted rates, providing predictability for both the agency and the client.  

Additionally, agencies might offer pricing for bundled services — a package of website design, SEO, and social media management could cost less than those services purchased individually.

SaaS products

The subscription model of SaaS is perfectly suited to a matrix pricing strategy. Consider a project management tool. They might offer a basic free tier with limited users and features, then paid tiers that scale up as needs grow.  

More users, advanced reporting, or additional storage space might push you into a higher price bracket. This allows businesses of all sizes, from solo freelancers to large enterprises, to find a pricing plan that fits their budget and requirements.

What are the advantages of using a pricing matrix model?

Now that we know what are the elements of a pricing matrix, let’s explore the key advantages of using a pricing matrix model. 


Using a pricing matrix is about finding the price that works best for different types of customers. By designing price adjustments based on factors like purchase volume, customer segment, or product features, businesses can cater to a wider range of needs. 

 This customized approach has several benefits:

  • It leads to happier customers: Customers feel like they're getting fair value based on their specific situation. This can significantly boost satisfaction and lead to repeat business.
  • It gives your business a wider market reach: With a well-designed pricing matrix, you can attract customers with diverse budgets and requirements. This opens up your business to new market segments you might not reach with a single-priced offering.
  • It incentivizes and rewards specific customer behavior: Pricing tiers can reward high-volume purchases or loyal customers, encouraging behaviors that benefit your business growth.


It’s no secret that the market is constantly changing. A pricing matrix lets you stay agile in response to these shifts.  

Let's say your main competitor drops their prices, or your materials costs increase. A matrix makes it easier to adjust your pricing without a complete overhaul of your pricing strategy. This ability to adapt quickly offers notable advantages:

  • Remaining competitive despite market shifts: By responding quickly to market changes, you avoid losing customers to competitors who offer better prices and maintain good standing in a dynamic industry environment.
  • Making sure you’re still making a profit: If your internal costs change due to external factors, you can use your pricing matrix to adjust pricing accordingly, ensuring that your margins remain healthy.
  • Keeping risk low: Pricing matrices give you the leeway to test different price points and strategies. This allows you to gather data, assess the results, and make adjustments as needed, helping to mitigate the impact of potentially risky pricing decisions.

Strategic control 

A pricing matrix isn't just about individual price points. It allows you to link your pricing decisions to your overall business goals and strategies. For example:

  • Penetrating a new market: You can use strategic pricing tiers in your matrix to attract new customers. Offering attractive introductory prices or discounts for certain customer segments can incentivize them to try your product or service.
  • Creating opportunities for upselling and cross-selling: By offering a variety of plans or feature sets, a pricing matrix can lead to customers self-selecting into higher-priced tiers, boosting your bottom line.
  • Aligning with where you fit in the market: Your pricing can reinforce your brand identity. Premium pricing supports a high-end image, while competitive pricing might suit a value-driven approach.

Challenges and considerations when using a pricing matrix

Though using a pricing matrix can be helpful to increase your profits as well as your customer satisfaction, there are some key considerations and challenges you should look out for.

Management complexities 

Designing and maintaining an effective pricing matrix isn't always a simple task. Before setting up your matrix, invest time in a thorough market study. This means understanding your competitors' pricing, the value your product or service brings to different customer types, and what those customers are willing to pay.  

Without this research, you risk selecting adjustment criteria that don't align with your market or creating price points that either leave money on the table or deter potential customers.

Additionally, a matrix needs regular review. Market conditions change, and your costs may fluctuate. Revisiting your matrix periodically ensures it stays relevant. Consider making it part of your quarterly or annual business planning to re-evaluate your pricing strategy.

Issues with how customers perceive your pricing

Even a well-designed pricing matrix carries the potential for customer dissatisfaction.  

If your pricing adjustments appear arbitrary or if the differences between tiers seem unjustified, customers might feel they're not getting a fair deal. 

This highlights the need for transparent communication. Clearly explain the reasoning behind different pricing tiers, whether it's based on volume, features, or customer type. This transparency helps build trust and avoids the perception of unfair practices.

Finding the right balance

The key takeaway here is that a pricing matrix requires careful planning and ongoing management. It's a balancing act.  

Too many pricing tiers or intricate adjustments can become overwhelming for both you and your customers. However, too few options can limit your ability to reach different market segments. Finding the right level of detail for your specific business model is crucial for success.

How to develop a matrix pricing strategy

Building a robust matrix pricing strategy requires careful planning and execution. Here's a breakdown of the key steps involved:

1. Conduct a deep market analysis to understand your pricing ecosystem

A well-designed pricing matrix isn't built in isolation. Before diving into construction, a thorough market analysis is essential. This goes beyond simply checking competitor prices. Here's what you need to consider:

  • Competitive landscape: Conduct an in-depth analysis of how similar products or services are priced. This includes the features and benefits offered at various price points. Look for potential gaps in the market where your unique pricing tiers can give you a competitive edge.
  • Customer profiles: Developing a buyer persona is crucial. Gain a deep understanding of your target customers — their budgets, pain points, what value propositions resonate most, and the factors that influence their purchasing decisions.
  • Internal cost structure: Have a clear grasp of your own expenses, including production costs, and customer service overhead. This is essential for establishing a baseline price that ensures your profits remain steady within your pricing matrix.

2. Select the right criteria for your adjustments 

The adjustment criteria you select act as the levers within your pricing matrix. These should be carefully chosen to align with both your business goals and how your customers typically make purchasing decisions. Let’s look at some of the key criteria you should consider:

  • Volume discounts: Consider offering significant discounts for higher-volume purchases to incentivize customers to buy in bulk.
  • Customer segmentation: Target distinct industry segments or company sizes by offering tailored pricing tiers based on their unique budget constraints or needs.
  • Feature access and usage: For SaaS products or subscription services, create tiered plans that vary in price depending on the features or usage levels customers need.
  • Contract length: Promote customer loyalty and reduce churn by offering discounts for longer contract commitments.

3. Make sure you build a matrix that’s easy to understand

With your market analysis complete and your adjustment criteria selected, it's time to design the actual pricing matrix. Your goal is to create a structure that's both logical and easy for potential customers to understand.  

First, consider the formatting — think about the user experience. Choose a visually appealing and intuitive layout, whether that's a traditional table, a modern card-based design, or a more interactive approach that best suits your target audience.  

Next, focus on clear communication. Make sure all price points, the corresponding adjustment criteria, and the specific benefits included in each pricing tier are clearly labeled. This level of transparency builds trust with potential customers and helps them make informed purchasing decisions. 

4. Implement, monitor, and adapt your pricing matrix as you use it

Launching your new pricing matrix shouldn't be considered the final step. Think of it as the beginning of an ongoing process. 

Consider a gradual rollout strategy, perhaps starting with a pilot group of customers to gather valuable feedback on the new structure. Here are some key metrics to monitor regularly:

  • Sales volume: Analyze whether you're seeing a desired uptick in purchases at specific price points within the matrix, helping you understand which tiers resonate most with your customer segments.
  • Customer feedback: Actively solicit feedback from your customers to determine if they understand the pricing structure and feel it's fair and reflects the value you offer.
  • Profitability: The success of your pricing matrix ultimately depends on its impact on your bottom line. Measure and analyze whether you're reaching your desired profit margins.

Next steps

You now know what a pricing matrix is and how it can help your business. Now, it's time to make your matrix a reality. 

Implementing a complex pricing matrix, especially one that incorporates usage-based and hybrid models, can be a technical challenge, potentially diverting valuable resources from your core product.

Partnering with a specialized platform is the fastest and most efficient way to translate your pricing matrix into a revenue-generating engine. 

That's where a platform like Orb becomes invaluable.

Orb is a powerful billing platform designed for usage-based and hybrid pricing models. It simplifies billing and is extremely useful for correctly implementing your pricing matrix.

Here’s why you should consider using Orb:

  • Pricing that is based on data: Orb's detailed usage tracking allows you to establish granular pricing tiers based on precise metrics like API calls, credits, or other units that directly relate to customer value.
  • Flexible billing models: Orb's versatile pricing engine accommodates a wide range of pricing models, from straightforward volume discounts to complex hybrid structures. This flexibility lets you implement and adapt your matrix in step with your evolving needs.
  • Effortless experimentation: Plan versioning empowers you to test new pricing strategies, launch limited-time offers, and refine your matrix over time without extensive development work.
  • Financial transparency: Orb's reporting features, including its customizable SQL editor, provide deep insights into how different pricing tiers affect your bottom line. This data is essential for optimizing your pricing matrix to maximize revenue.

Learn more about how Orb can help you solve your pricing matrix strategy.

May 17, 2024

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