The basic Law of Reciprocity states: To give and take mutually.


I have thought about this a lot over the last few months. We use this concept very effectively in conversion optimization by giving white papers, special offers etc. on landing pages.


The idea is if the person gives something, you then give something of value in exchange. But think about it… you asked for the value FIRST. The visitor had to give you their name in order to get your value.


Isn't that backward? 

Shouldn't you give the value first then ask for the mutual value back?


Amazingly enough, this backward give and take works well; but recent events have made me start to wonder HOW WELL?


Earlier this year we launched ShowroomMagnet, our incentive based behavioral targeting engine for websites. We knew it would work well for conversion because these kind of popovers have always had a positive impact on conversion.


In addition, we’re making and offer and a single clear call to action (something too many websites lack).Not to mention we tested it, as we do EVERYTHING.


BUT there was a surprising side effect.  A few of our dealers started using this in a way we didn’t expect.


It started with Andy Wright at Lehigh Valley Honda, who by far was selling more cars from the program than most of the dealers.  I asked Andy, “What are you doing?” and the answer was so simple it was a little bit scary.


As customers came to the showroom with their gift card validation in hand (or smart phone as the case may be) Lehigh Valley Honda sales people would take them right to the desk and validate their gift card INSTANTLY. They would put it right on the customer’s  smart phone before they even took a test drive!


LeHigh “kept the promise” the website made. And they made it instant – as soon as the customer walked in the door.


There was no hook. There was no caveat.  They had promised a gift for visiting, the customer visited…so the dealership handed over the gift card. 


Here is the surprising part…


I thought when we started this we would see closing rates in the 30% to 40% range and that would be great!


Lehigh Valley Honda’s closing rate…. 68% over the last six months!


Bottom Line – WHEN YOU MAKE A PROMISE… KEEP IT! You’ll be amazed at the number of


customers that will reciprocate… it goes back to The Law of Reciprocity.


Too often in our business we think we have to trick people… hook them into doing what we want them to do when really all they want us to do is keep the promise that we made.


Simple right?


So simple it’s a little bit scary!


Tim James and I are doing a case study on this at DD13 AGAIN! Hope to see you all there. 


Great Video From Rober Cildini on the Law Of Reciprocity

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Comment by Larry Bruce on October 21, 2012 at 12:22pm

Amen James,

Its so easy to get sucked into thinking you can somehow control the customer with a "Hook" like a bread crumb effect. The best method is to make them want to buy from your than to think they have to do something to get something they want.

I would rather attract customers than "Hook" them.   

Comment by James Russell on October 21, 2012 at 9:18am


This goes back to it is better to give than to receive.  If you do give, you will receive. People trust you more after you deliver what you have promised and not before. Keep your promise up front.

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