Earlier this week, Elementor announced a significant pricing hike coming in March 2021 for new customers:

On March 9th, 2021, Elementor will be adding new Studio and Agency Pro subscription plans and adapting the Expert plan, to best accommodate users’ growing needs. These changes will only apply to new purchases. If you’re on an existing active subscription plan, nothing changes for you.

The most radical change is coming to the Expert plan, which previously offered 1,000 sites for $199/year. The plan has been pared back to support 25 sites. Users who need support for 1,000 websites will need to purchase the Agency plan at $999/year, a 400% increase on the price for what was previously offered under the Expert plan.

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Elementor emphasized that customers with an existing active subscription will not be affected by the pricing changes. The company is also giving customers a chance to purchase the current Expert plan ($199/year for 1,000 sites) before it is discontinued before March 9, 2021. Existing customers on the Expert plan have the option to upgrade to the Agency plan at a 50% discount (valid from March 9, 2021 until June 9, 2021).

Over the past 48 hours, Elementor’s announcement has received 270 comments primarily from disgruntled customers. Some of them are opposed to the pricing hikes and others are unclear about what it means for their subscriptions long term. Elementor representatives’ responses to questions on renewal have been studiously unclear.

One customer points out that the announcement does not explicitly say that existing subscriptions will retain the legacy pricing past the end of the billing period for this year. It does not state that existing active subscriptions will remain at the same price indefinitely, nor does it specify a term after which the pricing will go up.

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Elementor Evangelist Ben Pines, head of the company’s web creator program, has left the question regarding renewals open, saying he “cannot see into the future.” Customers were left wondering whether the lack of clarity on the future of renewals is a foreshadowing of prices going up after the current billing year.

“No one can predict the future, and offering a lifetime price guarantee is irresponsible for any future-facing company,” Pines told the Tavern. “What we can guarantee for sure is the extent to which we value user loyalty. This is why they have never experienced any price change in 4.5 years. We value our users’ trust, and have taken every step to ensure that our loyal users’ active subscriptions are not affected.”

The company has not confirmed whether existing active subscriptions will be guaranteed the lower pricing forever and reserves the right to eliminate legacy pricing at any point in the future.

In the announcement, Pines said the pricing model for Elementor Pro has hardly changed since it was introduced in 2016 and that it is time to update it to best accommodate customers’ evolving needs. Elementor is now installed on more than 7 million websites and caters to a wide community of users with varying levels of expertise. The new plans have access to 24/7 live chat support and a handful of other benefits, but many customers participating in the comments said they do not require chat support.

The upcoming pricing hike has heightened tensions for customers who feel the dramatic increase is unjustified for the software in its current state. They cited usability issues, persistent bugs, and performance problems that remain unfixed. Additional support features do not make the higher prices more compelling for this segment of the company’s customers.

Some who were disturbed by the radical price increase called for the company to consider creating a middle ground offering for the updated Expert tier.

“I agree that 1,000 websites for $199 is low,” one customer commented. “Many small people will never create 1,000 websites. What bothers me is $199 for 25. Would it be more reasonable if it was $199 for 50, to have some middle ground? Or maybe you do not want the little people around any more.”

A handful of customers commenting were unfazed, noting that anyone who builds 1,000 websites using Elementor and cannot afford $1 per work order should reconsider their business model.

Pricing changes can be a major source of friction for existing customers, as GitLab recently discovered when dropping its Bronze/Starter Tier and imposing a 5x price increase on those features in a higher tier. Although the immediate impact of pricing increases will primarily hit new customers, it’s the existing customers who have been paying for subscriptions for years who have the strongest opinions on the changes.

Raising prices to introduce more value for customers or to account for the increased support burden is a natural evolution for companies that experience rapid growth over a short period of time. Getting existing customers to lock in their auto-renewals by offering legacy pricing is also a strategy for ensuring a more predictable financial future for the company. But Elementor’s lack of clarity regarding term length for the discounted renewal pricing is the primary reason for all the agitation in the comments on the announcement.

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