What are the sweetest pledge levels for long-term support?

I just asked this question to Laura in one of the Creator Workshops on Crowdcast, but I thought I’d ask it here now, so Patreon folks have a chance to think about it and hopefully respond.

I shoot for $5 being my “main” reward level. I frontload my most popular rewards there to encourage folks to pick that tier. I do that because I think that’s the most sustainable for my patrons over the long term. And ultimately, for me, that’s what matters—long-term, consistent support without big peaks and valleys.

But another creator here successfully uses $25 for their “main tier.” And it’s not like I’ve tested different tier levels (and, obviously, I don’t think it would make sense for me to shift benefits to higher tiers just to see if people quit sooner.)

Patreon does lots of testing. Any data for what pledge levels have longest durations? If so, does the kind of creator matter (podcaster, webcomic creator, 18+, etc.)?

I know y’all often look at a 3-6 month patron lifecycle, and that information could be nice to know. But a lot of us are in this for a much longer time-frame. I’d love to see lifecycle data in relation to tiers and benefits at the 12+ month level.

Can this data be surfaced and shared?

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Hi Alex! Cassidy here from the Creator Success team : ) First off, it seems like you are thinking about all of the right things when it comes to building out your tiers and benefits. Finding that sweet spot of price and benefits offered is definitely a personal journey for everyone, because so much can depend on each creator, their business model, how clearly the value is being portrayed, and what exactly is being offered at a specific price point.

So generally speaking, I recommend focusing on what feels right and authentic for you and your audience rather than comparing with another (though just fyi I’m not able to click through the link you posted as the example to comment on that).

However, we have learned that certain benefits retain patrons better than others. In particular, gated and bonus content are our highest retaining benefits. Our most common benefits, particularly ‘gated community access’ (which essentially refers to access to patron-only posts), early access, and fan recognition, are popular across all mediums. And in general, there is less differentiation in benefits among creators of different mediums than one might expect. Lastly, tiers that offer merchandise both retain patrons at better than average rates and are typically priced at twice the average overall pledge size. This makes sense, because bonus content and merchandise have a very clearly defined value to them, but data doesn’t always show the whole picture–as we do have many very successful creators who have no paywalled bonus content or merch at all.
In this case, if you do not have explicit bonus/paywalled content, just make sure you are very clear about the value of community, support, or the other benefits available through your membership model.

Last but not least, you don’t need to have tiers or benefits that don’t serve you. If you are overwhelmed, uninspired, or just want to experiment, change them! This is YOUR business, you are free to get creative.

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Thank you, Cassidy. That’s really good overall advice. And I’ve set up my Patreon to follow most of it. :slight_smile:

But I was actually looking for an answer to a more specific question. I know that Patreon does research backed by data on what are the most effective pledge levels. It’s one of the reasons y’all now recommend a starting pledge level that is higher than $1—your data shows much better results overall for the creators whose first Tier is higher than $1. (I’ve even seen the graph during the workshops.)

That’s what I’m looking for here. What does the data show about the longevity of certain pledge levels? Are patrons with $5 pledges more likely to stick around for 12+ months vs. patrons with $10 pledges? How about vs. $15 or $25? Or does it not matter in any significant way?

This is information that Patreon likely has access to that, I think, could be beneficial for those of us deciding what should be the Tier we promote the most. Especially those of us who are focused on long-term, consistent support.

Maybe the answer is: it doesn’t matter. Or that it’s so different between creators, it might as well not matter. But if we could get some data about this, like y’all have put together regarding lowest pledge level, I think that would be helpful.

Is that data available?

P.S. Sorry about the link. It’s for the 18+ Category on this site. Do you not have access?

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@laurab just shared a new graph on the workshop today, and it showed that the $5-8 level is the best for pledge retention.

The individual prices for the graph in the livestream unfortunately got cut off, so Laura is going to recreate it. (And hopefully y’all can post it here when she does.) But it looks like it directly addresses the question I had. (Before posting here, I’d raised it in a previous livestream.)

FWIW, the data also feels in line with the intuitive sense a bunch of us have gotten that around $5 would be a truly sustainable pledge level for most patrons (while still being a healthy level of support for creators.)

Questions I would have related to that data are:

  1. Over what time period are we looking at for retention? Only 3-6 months? Does the data hold up over longer periods?

  2. The graph has a “retention 77.8%” callout. I think it was showing that the average retention rate was 77.8% overall. I’d like to know what that means exactly. Over what time period? Does that mean that on average 77.8% of patrons stick with their pledge level and keep pledging over that time period?

Anyway, big props to @laurab for putting that together so quickly. I’m eager to learn more. :slight_smile:

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Hi Alex! Thanks for following up on this and sharing the graph. Here is an updated version of the graph, though it is still a bit complex given how many different benefit types are included in the graph. Ultimately, the most significant take away from the graph that relates to your question is that it is true that pledges at the $5-$8 tier range are our best retaining pledge compared to other amounts across the board. It is great to hear that this makes sense to you intuitively as well, and I agree–the $5-$8 range feels like it values your membership but is also affordable long term. I hope this helps and as soon as we come out with more analysis and graphs we will be sure to update you and include them in future webinars as well!!

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Thank you very much for this, Cassidy! That’s very helpful. :slight_smile:

It’s good to know that the $5 pledge is as sustainable as we hoped.

And, just by eyeballing this, it would see that pledges in the $12.50-$15.00 level might be a good step-up pledge from there.

It would be interesting to know how these were calculated. For example, while $12.40 is fairly strong at 85% retention, the 2nd to worst is $9.5 (64%) which you would suspect would be more sticky because it’s less expensive. I imagine it’s because some of the more appealing rewards are placed closer to $15 or $20 and that this gives the $12.40 average a little goose over $9.50.

It might be cool to bring in someone from the Data Science team to share their insights from this data for us laypeople. At the very least, we could all say thank you to them directly as well for their work on this. :slight_smile:

Thanks again!

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Hey @alex, thanks for making the post! It’s great to see you thinking so deeply about this and we often see creators wanting this kind of info - a magic tier number that will help with their patron retention. Sadly, I’m the bearer of bad news as we don’t have that level of precision to be able to help on this one. The answer I can give you is not very exciting :smiley: but I’ll share what I can.

Our research does show that…

  • Across Patreon there isn’t one optimal pledge level for creators
  • A creator’s retention rates greatly depend on what benefits they offer, which can make it confusing quickly when looking at the raw numbers without context. For example, if a creator was offering a custom drawing at the $3 level, it may retain really well as that’s a bargain and something fun to get every month vs a creator who was offering a custom drawing at the $30 level, where a patron might get it for one month and then leave as they got what they wanted. That’s not to say one is performing better than the other, they are just very different.
  • We typically look at 3 month retention as it lends itself to business metrics and how we do reports within Patreon, so I would be unable to help with the 12 month and beyond data at this point.
  • We do see that creators know their community and art best; if you’re $5 tier is retaining really well, you might not want to fix what isn’t broken! But it’s up to you how much you’re willing to experiment and try new things with your Patreon page. @MelissaSueStanley recently spoke at our Chicago meetup about how she experiments a lot, for example.

We’re going to discuss how we share this kind of data going forward as that screenshot is missing crucial context on that data study. I’m discussing this with the team to see how we can improve the way we share this research going forward, thank you so much for bringing this up!

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Thank you, Mindy.

That makes sense. A $3 reward that offers something truly special on an ongoing basis will be stickier than a $3 reward that offers something one-time and of limited value. I do appreciate y’all sharing the chart because it does seem to confirm that, all other things being equal, $5 or so might be the stickiest reward level. But I understand that there are confounding factors.

When you can, please invite the Data Science team to share their insights here with us. (Like the Open Studio folks are doing.) There are a number of suggestions given to creators that sound plausible—give your Tiers compelling names, don’t show your total earnings if you make over $X/month as a creator, use images in the text under your video, use images in your Tier descriptions, have a unique description for what kind of creator you are (not just “Alex creates comics” but “Alex creates comics with gay heroes”), etc. It would be great to know if the data backs up those choices.

This is still a brave new world. And anytime we can get actual data to support our choices, the more we’ll all succeed.

Thanks again, Mindy!

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