Reciprocity – it’s a bit of a tongue-twister isn’t it? It’s actually quite fitting that it’s so hard to pronounce really. After all, the reciprocity principle is part of the study into the psychology of human relationships – a HUGELY complex subject whichever way you look at it.

Not keen on the idea of an in-depth psychology lesson? Don’t worry. In this post, we’re going to focus on how reciprocity can be used to encourage shoppers to buy more. You’ll want to stick around and read this – it’s truly fascinating stuff.

Introducing the Reciprocity Principle

Let’s begin with a definition. The Reciprocity Principle: This social psychology principle dictates that humans feel the need or obligation to give something back when something is received. Basically, the reciprocity principle dictates that it’s in our DNA to want to help those who have helped us. When approached and implemented correctly, the principle of reciprocity is a powerful tool in e-commerce.

As humans, we have an innate desire to repay kind acts with similar gestures of gratitude and kindness. Examples of reciprocity in action might include:

  1. Sending a Christmas card to a colleague simply because they sent one to you.

  2. Offering to buy a round of drinks after someone else buys the first round unprompted.

  3. Inviting an acquaintance to your wedding because they invited you to theirs.

  4. Receiving a free coffee at your local café for being a regular customer.

If any of the examples above seem familiar to you, you shouldn’t be surprised. Our day-to-day lives are jam-packed full of reciprocity in action – it’s one way we help to build trust and form deeper relationships with people in our lives.

In his seminal book on advertising Influence: The Power of Persuasion, Dr Robert Cialdini outlines the six key principles that enhance our ability to influence others – and it’s no surprise that reciprocity takes centre stage. Although the book was written well over 30 years ago – 1984 to be exact – marketers and conversion optimisation specialists still use Cialdini’s principles to boost conversions.

How to use reciprocity in ecommerce: Give and you shall receive

If you want to use reciprocity to drive sales on your website, it’s easy. You don’t have to spend thousands to reap the rewards of reciprocity. Here are a few examples:

1. Add a Special Surprise

Including an unexpected surprise gift with your orders is a really simple way to establish customer loyalty and help create a real sense of gratitude, appreciation and indebtedness. It doesn’t have to be anything huge – even something as small as a pack of smarties has worked for brands in the past. From handwritten thank you notes to discount vouchers – your options are endless.

2. Share Valuable Insights

Content marketing – blogging specifically – is a great way for businesses to utilise the reciprocity principle. Your knowledge is valuable and your customers know this. Giving it away for free in the form of advice, tips and hints on your blog is seen as a selfless, kind act by your readers. Because they are grateful for your help, they’ll be so much more likely to subscribe to your blog or follow you on social media – valuable avenues for nurturing and converting leads.

3. Offer Exclusives

We all want to feel special. Remember the example above about the free coffee for being a loyal customer? Next time you launch a new product or start a seasonal sale, give your existing customers a heads up in advance. You could give them access to your new product or service before the set release date or offer an extra discount on sale prices – the choice is yours. The purpose is simply to make your customers feel valued and important.

Do your sales need a boost? 

Want to form deeper, more meaningful relationships with your customers and boost sales, all at the same time? At Fluid Digital, we help B2B and B2C retailers increase sales online with an award-winning combination of Magento e-commerce, Pay Per Click and Customer Relationship Management services. What are you waiting for? Get in touch with our team today to find out how we can help your business go further this year.

Posted in CRO on 26th Sep 2016