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Conversion Optimization

11 Next-Level Reciprocity Marketing Examples (eCommerce)

Ensure your customers don't leave empty-handed. From product discovery quizzes to bundle discounts and more, check out these 11 next-level reciprocity examples in eCommerce.

11 Next-Level Reciprocity Marketing Examples (eCommerce)

The evolution of mankind has been witness to the give-and-take principle that’s been prevalent for ages. While the barter system of trade dates back to 6000 BC, the present day eCommerce system still practices the underlying principle—Reciprocity. 

What is Reciprocity Marketing?

This is for the ones who have just started exploring Reciprocity Marketing: 

By definition, reciprocity marketing refers to offering value upfront to motivate customers to give something in return. It stems from the psychological tendency to want to offer something in return when we receive something. 

While eCommerce has been practicing reciprocity marketing for quite a while, there’s still a lack of know-how.  Common mistakes that brands commit include unhealthy obsession with receiving something in return, not keen on building relationships, and the absence of efforts to offer highly memorable experiences. 

Here’re 11 examples of reciprocity marketing that will help you understand them on a granular level. 

1. JoyMode: Persuade with a risk-free trial 

Humans are psychologically risk averse. They need something concrete to persuade. Joymode offers free shipping and returns plus 10% off for a limited time to convince users to buy the product. 

reciprocity in marketing example: Persuade with risk-free trial

An example of reciprocity marketing that gets straight to the point.

What stands out

The above-the-fold copy grabs the user’s attention by effectively communicating the outcome with nothing but natural ingredients. 

Breaking it down, the copy uses the AIDA framework—Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. This sells the value and experience. The law of reciprocity is in action here where you offer a solution to a monstrous problem—erectile dysfunction.  

Why it works 

Compelling CTA: The CTA is a power word that nudges customers to reciprocate. The word Risk Free evokes a subconscious urge to click. The CTA color aligns with the brand color ensuring visual hierarchy. 

Emojis: Emojis humanize your brand and add depth to your messaging. It acts as a contextual cue to make the message evident. 

2. Manukora: Offer a product discovery quiz 

Customers may not be sure about what they want. Since 38% of eCommerce customer journeys begin on a retailer’s website, product discovery becomes your onus.

Manukora offers a product discovery quiz to customers to help in finding products based on their inputs. It uses open-ended questions to find the best product that suits their needs. 

What stands out 

The page explains the meaning of MGO giving customers a context and then proceeds to offer help to customers. This evokes reciprocity in marketing. It follows a step-by-step approach where it explains the nutrients and the benefits of MGO and higher MGO levels mean great. 

The quiz elicits authority where customers follow the advice of legitimate and credible experts.  

You wouldn’t get into something where you lack the slightest understanding, now. Would you? 

reciprocal marketing: Product Discovery Quiz

Why it works

Product info: Manuka educates about the percentage of antioxidants that distinguish between regular honey and their product. This is a value proposition done right. 

Image: The image shows the product in context—pure honey has a high viscosity, a reflection of its high quality.

Read eCommerce Product Discovery: 3 proven strategies (+ great examples)

3. Beast: Encourage first-time shoppers with site-wide discounts

Resolutions cost zilch but the efforts to achieve them are herculean. It has been found that 41% of Americans fail to achieve their resolutions. 

eCommerce reciprocity examples: Offer sitewide discounts

While it's common knowledge, Beast leverages the problem and offers site-wide discounts as a way to help customers maintain their resolutions. Site-wide discounts encourage new customers to buy. 38% of customers opine that discounts encourage them to shop online. 

What stands out 

The copy uses a storytelling approach—making the brand the protagonist. The depiction of Beast brand as a person is an emotional hook. The copy is clever for two reasons. One, it addresses a problem and two, offers a solution to meet their health goals. 

The hero image is a visual cue demonstrating the product in context. It adds a personal touch while capturing the visitor's attention. This is a pertinent thing in the age of diminishing attention spans. 

Why it works 

Limited-time offer: Limited-time offers trigger a sense of urgency nudging users to act fast. Since they are time-sensitive, it creates scarcity. Lastly, they can quickly boost short-term sales.

Media logos:  Media logos work as social proof. It gives a positive impression of the reputation and credibility of the brand.  Works great for newer brands trying to build trust.

4. Ritual: Offer bundles in exchange for email opt-ins 

Email lists are where the money lies. Ritual uses an email pop-up offering product bundle discounts in exchange for emails. A brilliant way to email lists and the ROI is commendable. For every $1 spent, brands earn an ROI of $40

law of reciprocity: Product Bundling offers

What stands out

The copy drives home the point—building healthy habits. The large font enables cognitive ease and makes it apparent while making it easy for customers to read. By giving $15 off bundles, Ritual is evoking reciprocity in marketing. It grants customers the satisfaction of getting two products at a lesser price. 

Product bundling increases the perceived value of products. Further, it motivates customers to pay less as opposed to individual products sold separately. The image is a visual representation of the bundle heightening the curiosity of the customers.  

Why it works

Privacy policy: With 92% of users worried about their privacy while using the internet, a privacy policy assures customers that their data is safe. It also gives them the right to opt-out if the privacy policy isn’t reassuring. 

5. Warby Parker: Start the conversation with a home try on 

Customers love shopping online but have certain hesitations. Why? 

Lack of in-store experience is the culprit. It robs customers of convenience and flexibility—two factors that drive customers to shop online. 

Warby Parker offers home try-on up to 5 frames. The best part is it’s free! Not to forget that free returns and return shipping are on their tab. 

Example of reciprocity: Offer home try ons

The Try-Before-You-Buy concept brings forth the reciprocity principle because it offers customers to try frames without having to leave their doorstep. More so, for 5 days! 

What stands out 

The copy incites convenience and flexibility for customers. You don’t have to step out of your house if you don’t feel like it. Simultaneously, you also save on fuel. 

Plus, customers have 5 frames to choose and compare from. A key reason why 65% of customers shop online is because of the advantage of comparing similar products online. 

The image of the box is a visual cue denoting the 5 frames. It piques the customer’s interest in conveying awareness and inducing consideration. This reduces the returns rate. 

Why it works 

First-timer discounts: New customers feel encouraged to buy from unfamiliar brands when offered a discount. A 20% discount can nudge customers to buy. 

Volume discounts: Customers receive a 15% discount on the purchase of two or more pairs. Volume discounts like these motivate customers to purchase in bulk. 

6. Finn: Reinforce subscription offer with savings 

Subscriptions have become quite popular in eCommerce and for good reason. Humans by and large are time-poor. Customers have started prioritizing value access and usage of a product over ownership. 

Finn applies the law of reciprocity by giving customers 15% off on subscriptions. 

principle of reciprocity in eCommerce: Offer savings on subscriptions

What stands out 

The product description presents the Comfy Pup Bundle as a solution to digestive problems and allergies prevalent in dogs. It addresses the dog parents who will want the best for their fur babies. This targets the right emotion goading customers to buy. 

The savings nudge reinforces the psychological pricing which influences customer perception and behavior.  

As per the Rule of 100, percentage-off discounts work well for products priced under $100. The credit goes to the framing principle; a percentage discount comes across as a larger discount in contrast to a dollar discount. Picture this, a 10% discount on $100 is perceived differently as opposed to a $10 off, though both mean the same. 

Why it works

Average rating: The 5-star rating is based on 1004 ratings which makes it highly credible since customers prefer higher ratings over averages. 

Dog size & Weight Guide: The size and weight guide demonstrates authority as a persuasion tactic. Customers are highly likely to trust legitimate experts in a domain. 

7. Haus Labs: Demonstrate cause marketing efforts 

Socially responsible brands have a positive brand image in the public eye. 81% of Americans strongly prefer brands that bat for social issues. 

Haus Labs is a staunch advocate for mental health and wellbeing. 

psychological reciprocity: Demonstrate cause marketing initiatives

What stands out 

The highlight of the product description is the benefit-driven approach. It uses the cause and effect principle to highlight the materials that bring about a particular benefit. Case in point, fermented arnica that helps reduce redness

Haus Labs is demonstrating its initiative to champion the issue of mental health. Through its donation of every dollar to the mental health movement, it’s addressing an issue that Americans feel is alarming. 90% of American adults opine that the US is facing a mental health crisis. 

This is a brilliant example of reciprocity in marketing. 

While this echoes the public sentiment, Lady Gaga who happens to be the founder is a vocal exponent of mental health herself. Haus Labs has made its purpose. 86% of customers are attracted to purpose-driven brands. 

Why it works 

Three-column layout: A three-column layout allows you to divide content into structured groups. They help highlight key information in diluted form and with images, the outcome is a stellar UX. 

Color swatches: Color swatches help customers find the best options without going to the category pages and then individual product pages. This provides visual information and creates a friction-free user experience. 

8. Dollar Shave Club: Encourage new product trials at minimum price 

Customers are reluctant to change. Mainly because change might bring forth uncertainties and possibilities. 

reciprocity examples in eCommerce: Value-based pricing

Dollar Shave Club offers its razor at 5 pounds bringing the reciprocity theory into play. 

What stands out 

The copy begins with a question. This acts as a rational trigger. Questions stimulate the brain—the neocortex(new brain) responsible for sensory perception, generation of motor commands, spatial reasoning, and conscious thoughts in humans and language. 

Second, the word SMOOOOTH is a cue reinforcing the prime benefit of the razor. 

At 5 pounds, Dollar Shave Club is offering the razor at a lower price, implementing value-based pricing. Value-based pricing is a strategy where eCommerce brands set a price based on the perceived value of the customers. The average razor price in the UK is around 10 pounds. This convinces customers to give this product a try because there’s no dominant risk. 

As this is a subscription-based service, customers can cancel anytime. A win-win for both customers and the brand. 

Why it works 

Visual hierarchy: The headline and the CTA are large, directing users to look at them and take action. 

9. Le Col: Invite loyalty program sign-ups (for free) 

If there’s a foolproof way to facilitate new customer acquisition and reduce churn, what can you think of? 

Loyalty or Rewards Program, it is! 

Le Col offers customers to sign up for its cycling club loyalty program making it one of the smart reciprocity examples in eCommerce. 

Law of reciprocity: Invite loyalty program signups

What stands out 

The cycling club creates interest clubs. It offers a sense of exclusivity—from training advice from pro cyclists to rewards for riding, it offers an experience reward that others don’t get. 

Along with increasing the lifetime value, it creates a community that increases customer lifetime value. Above all it's free. 

Loyalty programs such as Le Col Cycling Club drive recurring purchases from your customers. Courtesy—discounts, free gifts, cashback, coupons, and gift cards. 

Additionally, it helps in segmenting your customers generating customer data for personalized offers, content, email marketing, and ad targeting. 

Why it works 

Above-the-fold: Placed between the Add to basket CTA and the product description, the positioning ensures high visibility bringing it to the attention of customers as part of the above-the-fold content.

Don't miss out on 14 eCommerce Loyalty Programs Backed By Science (Examples)

10. Lululemon: Use virtual shopping as a reciprocator 

Shopping in an online store of an unfamiliar brand can be quite perplexing. When customers are brimming with questions, expert guidance becomes the need of the hour. 

Lululemon includes a virtual shopping service on its product page, a reciprocation example worth noting.  

example of reciprocity in eCommerce: Virtual shopping

What stands out 

The virtual shopping copy is conversational. It feels like a conversation between two real people. It makes it easier for customers to ask questions and clear answers about products. 

The term educators invoke the principle of authority. It states that customers instinctively pay attention to people knowledgeable about a certain domain. This positively influences conversion rates as it drives more sales, improves customer engagement, delivers personalized experiences, and encourages virtual store exploration. 

Why it works 

BNPL options: Buy-Now, Pay-Later options help split the financial burden into interest-free payments for customers. 45% of customers use BNPL to make purchases that are beyond their budget. 

Product recommendations: The product recommendations are placed on the right side of the above-the-fold page making it highly visible. This makes it easy to scan and helps explore the site.

11. Blu Dot: Offer free fabric swatch(literally) 

Decision-making becomes tough for customers in industries having higher loss aversion bias. Case in point, the furniture industry. 

Blu Dot offers a free fabric swatch to customers to make well-thought out decisions, an example of reciprocity in online sales. 

Reciprocity principle: Offer free fabric swatch

What stands out 

The positioning of the Request Free Swatch in above-the-fold content of the product page deserves a thumbs up. While this stands out due to high visibility, the fabric swatches elicit heuristics—mental shortcuts that help customers make decisions and solve them quickly. 

Offering fabric swatches to customers help in:

Color matching: Fabric customers allow customers to match their interior and decor with a swatch sample. 

Texture experience: With a fabric swatch as a reference, customers can get a clear idea about the touch, feel, and appearance of the material.

Ambient lighting: Customers can get first-hand experience of how the furniture looks in natural lighting and artificial lighting. 

Why it works

Color scheme: The page uses a black and white monochromatic scheme that makes the product page visually appealing. While they are memorable, they make the content pop out, without drawing attention to itself. 

Bottom line 

Reciprocity has its roots in human psychology. “I scratch your back, you scratch mine” is a layman’s version of the reciprocity principle. As we conclude, the reciprocity principle should be easy for the customers to reciprocate. The effort-to-reward ratio should be minimal or you’re bound to fail. 

The 11 examples can help you take steps in the right direction leading to small but crucial wins. 

Over to you!

Reciprocity Marketing 101

1. What is reciprocity in business marketing?

Reciprocity in business and marketing is providing value to the customers by offering something legitimate and motivating customers to offer something in return. 

It is based on the feeling of indebtedness. Humans are wired to offer something in return if someone offers them value. 

2. What is reciprocity in selling? 

Reciprocity in selling refers to material gifts, financial discounts, and emotional nudges that create memorable experiences for customers. It influences the customers to reciprocate with a particular action.

3. What is the rule of reciprocity in sales? 

Reciprocity in sales acts as an incentive for customers to reciprocate with the desired action in return. As per the law of reciprocity, when people derive value from certain things, they are bound to offer something in return. It’s these experiences that create customer loyalty. 

4. What are the 3 types of reciprocity? 

Reciprocity in marketing consists of 3 types:

a) Material Reciprocity 

When customers are given or loaned tangible products, they feel the need to return a favor the next time with a positive response. 

For instance, a brand offers home trials and customers want to buy them in return.

b) Financial Reciprocity 

Financial reciprocity refers to a situation where customers are allowed a concession or a window period to pay the money. For example, BNPL options 

c) Emotional Reciprocity 

Emotional reciprocity is a practice when brands appreciate customers and thank them for their support. It includes appreciation emails, social media features, and asking them to create user-generated content. 

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