People feel obligated to give something back when they get something from others. When people receive a free ticket to a concert, get an invitation to a comedy show or get a free drink from a colleague, they want to return these gestures somehow.
In Dr. Robert Cialdini’s research about what persuade people to say yes, reciprocity is the first principles of persuasion. That means that people are more likely to be influenced if they have received something first from someone.
When you want to exert influence, convince and persuade your customers to make a purchase, you should prioritize giving your customers something — a gift. It’s not about what you give and how much you give, it’s more about the fact that you’re willing to give them something for free.
Netflix — free trial
Several streaming service providers, like the industry giants Netflix, HBO, and Viaplay, persuade new customers through a free trial period during which customers can watch all the movies and series they like for one month. If people have enjoyed the streaming services, they can take out a paid subscription.
Red Bull — Free products
In Aarhus, you often see a little grey car with a blue line and a red bull on the car dor. The car is owned by Red Bull, and the car is driving around Aarhus where Red Bull girls are giving away free energy drinks. A few weeks ago, Red Bull cars were driving around again giving away free energy drinks to people who were on their way to a Superliga match between AGF and Odense.
Red Bull cars and Red Bull girls are visible in many public areas in Aarhus, for instance, Aarhus University, the beach, the harbor, etc. giving away free energy drinks to persuade potential customers to choose Red Bull while they are shopping for a drink that can kickstart their working day and improve their performance.
Spotify — free trial
Customers can use Spotify for free, but if they want to avoid ads from Spotify and other companies, they should upgrade their Spotify Free account to a Spotify Premium account. With a Spotify Premium subscription, customers can enjoy their favorite music while they are at the gym, having a dinner party with friends or when they’re relaxing on the sofa — without being interrupted by Spotify ads.
To persuade customers to use Spotify Premium whereby customers pay for having a Spotify account, Spotify offers a free trial, so customers can decide whether they want to use Spotify Premium or not.
Streetammo — Ship a surprise
When Streetammo customers open their parcels, everything is there. The sneakers and hoodies they ordered are there, as expected, but there is something else the customer didn’t expect — a surprise. The surprise is a packet of candy from Streetammo. How do you ship your order? And are you doing something unexpected to give your customer a nice surprise?
Other surprises you can include when sending parcels to your customers could be a unique 20% discount code to make people want to visit your shop again, a personal note from the owner or product samples that introduce your customer to new product lines you have in stock.
Stylepit — Free delivery return
Stylepit gives their customer a good reason to buy from their shop without thinking about the short time limit on the returns policy and the price customers normally have to pay when returning orders to a shop.
Stylepit has a free returns policy, and instead of the usual time limit on returns policies whereby customers have to return their orders within 14 days, Stylepit allows their customer to have 50 days. The main thing here is, that Stylepit persuades customers to buy while offering free returns.
Trendhim — Free knowledge
“8 things everybody needs to know about scarfs” and “Rings for men — your ultimate guide” are two articles written by Trendhim. Trendhim persuades customers by sharing free knowledge and tips about accessories in their shop.
Exclusive discount codes with email sign up
Trendhim also offers 40% on new collections and exclusive discounts if their visitors sign up for their weekly newsletter. By offering special discounts to customers that sign up for their newsletter, Trendhim is able to persuade them to make a purchase by giving them something extra like an exclusive discount code and informing customers about new products and special offers through their weekly newsletter.
Now you know what you can offer your customers free of charge if you want to persuade them to become a customer at your shop. You might try different gift ideas to see what customers will be most persuaded by. Give something for free, make it personal, do something unexpected and make the offer unique. The principle of reciprocity can also be combined with Dr. Robert Cialdini’s other 5 principles by:
- Letting an influencer give her followers a discount code on Instagram (Liking)
- Offering a free gift for a short period of time, for instance, 24 hours (Scarcity)
- Asking customers to post a picture with their free gift if they like it (Consistency)