Earlier this week, Unbiased unveiled four new pricing plans.
We’ve spent the last few days getting to grips with the new options. We’ve also discussed the changes with Unbiased, and with advisers and planners. Now, we’re ready to explain what’s changed and give our view on the new options.
In this blog you can:
- Find out more about the new plans in detail
- Discover what’s changed, and what hasn’t
- See some examples, comparing the new plans with those previously available
There are a few important points you should remember as you read this article:
- Every time we mention a price these exclude VAT
- ‘Direct’ refers to an enquiry that a consumer has made after searching the directory, then making a conscious choice of who to contact
- ‘Matched’ refers to an enquiry resulting from a consumer answering Unbiased’s filtering questions with their algorithm then matching the enquirer to multiple firms. The first firm that accepts receives the enquiry.
Before we look at the new plans, let’s remind ourselves of the options which were previously available.
The legacy plans
Until the new plans were announced on Monday 13th July, Unbiased offered three plans:
Free: This gave your firm a very basic listing, which didn’t immediately appear in a consumer’s search results.
Lite: This cost £29 per month and entitled your firm to unlimited direct or matched enquiries, with each one costing £45.
Plus: The most popular plan in our experience. This cost £59 per month and entitled your firm to unlimited direct or matched enquiries. The first enquiry each month was included in the monthly subscription, with further enquiries charged at £45. The ‘Plus’ subscription also allowed you to include links to your website, blog and social media channels.
Update (20th July): We should have also included the legacy Plus Unlimited plan in the above options. This predates the plans outlined above. Those advisers and planners who have Plus Unlimited do not pay for direct enquiries, but do pay £45 plus VAT for each matched enquiry they accept.
The new plans
Four new plans have been launched. Three (Simple, Essential, Growth) are aimed at small and medium-sized adviser/planning firms while the fourth (Enterprise) is for businesses with national coverage.
In our experience, most advisers and planners are interested in Unbiased providing three things:
- A steady stream of new enquiries
- Good quality enquiries
- A return on their investment.
So, that’s where we will concentrate right now. If you prefer, you can see a full rundown of the features and benefits of each option by clicking here.
The four new plans can be summarised as follows:
Additional locations mean that a firm can have a second (or indeed, third or fourth) profile in a different location to ensure they get wider geographical coverage. For example, a firm could have a profile in NG1 but take an additional location in NG5. The first additional location is included in the monthly Growth subscription. Up to two additional locations can then be purchased for £50 per month each.
Once on the new plans, firms can upgrade, and downgrade, as they wish and as their needs change.
In addition to the above, other new features (available on all plans) include:
- New pipeline monitoring and management functionality
- Automated welcome message to give an immediate response to consumers. Accepting the enquiry, whether it is direct or matched, triggers the email, the text of which can be edited by each firm
- Different permission levels for different members of your team
So, that’s a recap of the old plans and a summary of the new options. Let’s now look at what’s changed, but first…
What hasn’t changed?
Unbiased has said that firms who currently use the Lite and Plus plans can continue to do so indefinitely. This is welcome news and Unbiased has a good track record here. Indeed, we have some clients who still have Plus Unlimited plans, which go back many years.
Firms who continue with the legacy plans can change locations as necessary, for example, if they move office, without having to switch to the new plans. Furthermore, firms can continue with legacy plans and take out new plans if they want to cover a wider or different geographical area.
A word of warning though. If you move away from the Lite or Plus plans onto the new plans you can’t go back. So, think carefully before making the change. Hopefully, some of the worked examples later in the article will help.
What has changed?
No inclusive leads: The legacy Plus plan (£59 per month) includes one enquiry per month, with all other accepted enquiries charged at £45. None of the new plans has any enquiries included within the monthly subscription.
Verdict: This will push costs up for firms if they move from the legacy Plus plan to the Growth plan (the only viable option for most firms among the new suite which provides unlimited matched leads). Please see the next section of this article for some worked examples.
Multiple locations: Under the legacy Lite and Plus plans, any firm who wanted to cover a wider geographical area had two choices; Location Plus (more of which below) or take out an additional plan at £29 or £59 per month.
The new Growth plan will include an additional location. For example, your office might be in NG1, but you want to cover NG2 as well. This will be possible under the new Growth plan with one additional location included in your monthly subscription. Furthermore, you can purchase up to two further locations for even wider geographical coverage for £50 per month each.
Verdict: Potentially good news, if it helps firms get a wider geographical coverage which they can genuinely service.
Splitting lead types: The two legacy plans gave firms unlimited access to both matched and direct enquiries. Of the new plans, only the Growth and Enterprise options do the same. The Simple plan only gives access to direct enquiries (which in our experience make up a small, and reducing, proportion, approximately 10 – 20% of all enquiries) while the Essential plan limits the number of matched enquiries to two per month with no cap on the number of direct enquiries.
Verdict: We’ve got no issue with multiple plans if it gives more choice and allows firms to select a subscription which suits them.
Location Plus: This feature allowed firms to place their listing at the top of a search where it would otherwise not normally appear. Not only was the listing at the top of the page, but it was also given greater prominence. The Location Plus option is now being removed. Although firms who have signed up will be able to complete the period for which they have signed up (a maximum of three months).
Verdict: We’re delighted it’s going. We never liked or recommended this feature as we felt it was relatively poor value, while ‘pay for prominence’ went against the fair order in which search results were otherwise displayed.
Greater prominence for national firms: Firms who select the Enterprise level will get an “enhanced directory listing for even greater business profile promotion”. Unbiased has confirmed to us that these listings will gain no priority in positioning, which was the case with Location Plus. However, listings for Enterprise level firms will be designed to highlight their profile.
Verdict: We look forward to seeing the differences between Enterprise profiles and others. However, the concept makes us extremely nervous:
- We fear it will alienate smaller firms
- It isn’t ‘unbiased’
- There is no research (that we know of) which shows that larger firms give better advice than small firms. So, why should they be given greater prominence?
We believe it should be a level playing field for all firms, irrespective of size.
Annual subscription discounts: If you decide to pay for a full year up front, you will receive an 8% discount on your monthly subscription of £29, £49 or £69. The £45 lead cost remains unchanged.
Verdict: If you’re committed to Unbiased and happy to sign up for a year, this is good news.
Examples: How do the new and legacy plans compare?
As we said earlier, most firms we work with want Unbiased to provide a steady stream of high-quality new enquiries.
That means they, generally, don’t want to place a cap on the number of leads and will accept both direct and matched enquiries, where the quality is right. This is possible on both the legacy plans however, in our experience, most use the Plus option.
Assuming firms don’t want to cap the number of leads (and they aren’t a national firm) Growth is the only option which is available to them under the new plans. So, how does that compare with the legacy Plus option?
Let’s consider a couple of scenarios.
Scenario A: A firm with a single legacy Plus plan compared to the new Growth plan
The monthly cost to the firm will vary depending on the number of enquiries accepted each month.
We could continue the table, but it’s clear that the pricing structure of both plans means that for every level of enquiry acceptance the cost differential is £55 per month. The trade-off is that the Growth plan gives you access to a free second location, which logically should increase enquiry levels.
It’s also worth considering the difference between the legacy Plus plan and the new Essential plan in case you wish to limit your number of new enquiries. However, the new Essential plan works out to be more expensive as it doesn’t include the first enquiry within the subscription.
Scenario B: A firm with four legacy Plus plans compared to the new Growth plan
Some firms we work with have multiple profiles to cover a wider geographical area. So, let’s consider the cost implications of a firm with four legacy Plus plans, covering different areas, compared to a single Growth plan with three additional locations (the maximum allowed), one included in the monthly subscription cost and two purchased for £50 each.
Please note, we have not included any potential discounts firms receive from Unbiased for taking multiple profiles.
The differential remains the same apart from in the first example.
However, this time, the comparison is on a like-for-like basis in that both the legacy Plus plan and the new Growth plan cover the same number of areas/locations.
Should you switch plans?
The Growth and Enterprise plans provide an unlimited number of matched enquiries. However, for small and medium-sized firms it’s the Growth plan which is relevant. So, if you don’t want to cap the overall number of potential enquiries your choice is between the legacy Plus plan and the new Growth plan.
If you have a single legacy Plus plan, moving to a new Growth plan increases the overall cost. However, it might be worth it if the additional location increases the number of enquiries you receive.
If you have multiple legacy Plus plans, moving to Growth also increases costs. In return, you will get an additional location for free (with the ability to buy more), giving wider geographical coverage and potentially more enquiries. Furthermore, Unbiased informs us, you will get a dedicated account manager, streamlined management of accounts, advanced analytics with call stats, and additional enquiry statistics. These are not available on the legacy Plus plan.
The decision is a trade-off; lower costs versus the potential for more enquiries.
So, stick or twist?
It probably depends on your existing return on investment (ROI). If that’s currently attractive for your firm, you might decide to take a chance and switch over to the new plans. If not, it might make more sense to stick with the lower-cost plans, while investigating all other avenues of generating new enquiries by developing a comprehensive marketing strategy.
Update (20th July): Firms who have the legacy Plus Unlimited plan tell us that they are unlikely to change to one of the new plans, as it provides an unlimited number of direct enquiries for no additional cost, other than the monthly subscription. Firms who want wider geographical coverage can then take one of the new plans.
We welcome your thoughts
We know that Unbiased is an important source of new enquiries for many firms. So, we wanted to spend a few days to get make sure we gave as detailed a response as possible. Hopefully, you feel that we have achieved that.
We’d love to hear your thoughts about the new plans. Please feel free to email [email protected].