Several psychological studies have shown that there is a social feature of human beings which psychologists call “the rule of reciprocity”. What this means is that if I meet you in a social situation and offer to get you a coffee, for example, you feel more positive towards me. If I met you at a conference and we were chatting in the breakout areas and I simply grabbed a coffee for you, without you asking me to do it, you’d experience high positive emotions for me. You feel duty bound to do something in return for me. The “rule of reciprocity” says that if one person does something almost unprompted for another, they form a closer bond.
Well, I’ve been attending the annual convention of the National Speakers Association in Orlando, Florida, where Fred Gleeck, an information marketing expert, proved the rule of reciprocity exists in the online world as well. He said that his testing had shown conclusively that you need to provide a valuable free offer to web site visitors before they become customers. In his own case he provides free ebooks, not just reports but complete 200-page books. The result is that his web site visitors feel more positive emotions towards him and are more likely to buy things from him.
Fred’s lesson is clear. The rule of reciprocity applies on the Internet. If you are trying to sell things online, you need to do something for your potential customers first, something of value. Don’t expect them to buy from you if you haven’t given them something first.