Pricing is the eternal challenge.
How can you get honest, accurate answers about how much customers might pay, i.e., what is the value of the product/service to them in dollars?
What I've considered (and problems with each):
and here are a couple of resources:
Pricing category on Andy's blog:
http://successfulsoftware.net/links/ Patrick's video
http://www.kalzumeus.com/2013/05/23/selling-your-software-to-businesses-twiliocon-2012-presentation/ Any other suggestions?
Who is your target market?
If you're targeting low income people, then the price difference between you and a competitor is very relevant.
If you're targeting the middle class, then as long as the price is within the same magnitude as the competitors, then it boils down to convenience (eg how close is it to where they live / work), services offered, etc.
If you're targeting a niche (eg body builders) / upper class market, then you can push the price quite a bit and enforce some kind of exclusivity via price.
Start of with one price that's competitive and on par with competitors, then track the number of signups you get per month. After a certain period of time, increase the price for new signups and see if people run away (if your existing members covers your running cost, then doing this experiment shouldn't be too critical).
Draw two curves, one for loss of income due to people running away or less people signin up, this should increase exponentially as you increase the price. The second curve should show how much more money you're generating with the increase in price than on the original price. Then you can slowly increase the price up to just before the point where you see your losses of not getting new signups is becoming more significant than the increase in revenue due to price increases.
Obviously, if they try and negotiate the price with you saying that you're more expensive than xyz, then at least you still have a lot or bargaining power to drop the price to not lose the individual.
Asking the customer is useless, even if they are not trying to game the system there is a lot of research that shows the answer is more dependent on whatever they were doing (or thinking about) before you asked than the actual service.
Offering different prices to see if people click is nice but can get you into (probably a little bit of) trouble if the same person sees two different prices.
I suggest just starting somewhere, select a price based on:
Just pick a price and go with it, after you start getting customers its time to start raising the price until people stop buying :-)
What people say and what people do are often very different, so I don't see 1) working.
2) might possibly work. But it is expensive and time consuming to get traffic. You don't want to waste that opportunity on dummy pages.
3) doesn't take account of the complex (and often) irrational psychology of pricing.
I guess the best you can do is to price based on your gut, then add a bit (most people underprice) and then periodically vary the price and see what effect this has on profits.